Planting & Landscaping

Pansies and Violas – What’s The Difference

Pansies and Violas what's the difference? The Pansies flowers and leaves are larger than Viola's, but they have fewer flowers. Both are members of the Violet (Violaceae) family and belong to the genus Viola.

The difference between Pansies and Violas may be obvious when looking at the two, but there are some differences that you may not know. These happy cold tolerant little plants never cease to amaze gardeners every fall and winter and into the spring and summer

Violas And Pansies


Of all the plants that you need to plant in the fall for winter color, Pansies and Violas are the best of the bunch. Both these plants will provide months of bright color and cheerful faces, and both do well in the cooler months.

I'm always amazed at waking up on a frosty morning to see these happy faces still doing well on a cold winter morning. Some varieties can tolerate freezing temperatures.

Although Pansies and Violas are perennials, they are planted as annuals in many areas as they become leggy when the weather warms above 65F (18C). One testament to their hardiness is their ability to withstand cold.

Both Pansies and Violas are edible and delicious in salads, adding vitamins and color.

About Pansies


Hardiness Zone for Pansies - Zone 4 - 9

Although Pansies have larger flowers, they do not do as well as Violas during freezing conditions and take a few days to recuperate.

Pansies will tolerate temperatures between 5F and 65F (-15C and 18C). Once the temperature warms up above 65F (18C), they start to fade.

About Violas


Hardiness Zone for Violas - Zone 3 - 9

Violas are cold tolerant and do well for 7 - 8 months of the year during the colder months. They have smaller flowers and leaves than Pansies.

They are sometimes called Johnny Jump-Ups because their seeds "jump-up" and re-seed themselves in the garden bed if the flowers are left to go to seed. So remember not to deadhead if you want them to self-seed.

Difference Between Violas and Pansies

  • Technically all Pansies are violas, but not all Violas are Pansies.
  • Pansies have bigger but fewer flowers.
  • Violas can tolerate colder temperatures.
  • Violas recover better from a hard freeze.
  • Violas are sometimes called Johnny Jump-Ups because they self-seed readily.
  • Violas lie lower on the earth than Pansies, which are more upright.
  • Pansies have a wider variety of colors.
  • Violas are a tougher plant in winter.
  • Pansies give a fuller coverage of color due to their larger flowers.
  • Violas can take more shade.
  • Violas can trail if planted on the edge of a hanging basket.
  • Pansies flowers get bigger in spring.
  • Violas have a more pungent sweet scent.
  • Violas are slightly more heat tolerant.
  • Pansies will need deadheading to push out new flowers.
  • Violas flower better in part sun.

Planting Pansies and Violas


Both plants love well-drained rich soil, slightly on the acidic side with a pH of 5.4 - 5.8. Don't let them dry out and remember to keep them moist, not soggy.

Violas and Pansies are very versatile and look great in most settings. Plant in amongst the flower beds, excellent in containers and hanging baskets and in border plantings.

Please give them a cut back in the summer months and good mulching.

They may not flower as well in the shade or part shade during the hot months as they will not be in an active state of growth.

Plant them in containers in warmer climates and move them into the garden's shadier part in summer. Give them a good mulch and cut them back in fall and move them back into the sun.

Planting Pansies and Violas From Seed

  • Grow seeds late summer in a warmer climate for fall planting. Or late winter to early spring if you are in a colder climate for spring planting.
  • Use a good seedling germination mix.
  • Sprinkle seeds over the mix.
  • Keep soil moist.
  • Germination should take place after about five days.
  • Thin them out by cutting off some at soil level.
  • Transplant out into the garden once they have a few true leaves on them.

Planting Pansies and Violas In Fall


In warmer climates, purchase the seedlings in late summer to fall and plant them in the garden, and you will get 6-8 months of flowers before the heat when they will begin to wilt.

Planting Pansies and Violas In Spring


Plant in containers in the sun in springtime, then move them into the shade or part shade once the weather warms and back into the sun in the fall.

Feeding Pansies and Violas


Just because they thrive during the winter months doesn't mean you can forget about them.

Give them a weak solution of an excellent all-purpose organic fertilizer every second week, and they will reward you.

Ensure the leaves stay a dark rich color but do not give them too much nitrogen, which will end up will all foliage and few flowers.

Problems With Pansies And Violas

Insects aren't a problem for these plants, but rabbits and deer love the taste.



Pansies and Violas are cold tolerant.

Pansies and Violas do not thrive in scorching areas.

Plant in slightly acidic soil.

Keep them moist.

Violas do better in colder areas.

Pansies have larger flowers.

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