Pansies are such a welcome relief, blooming brightly in late fall, and bursting into a riot of color in late winter or early spring.
They flower at such an unlikely time, you may be too busy appreciating their cheer in a bleak landscape to notice that different varieties have their own distinct appeal.
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Viola × wittrockiana plants are hybrids, and centuries of horticultural experimentation have gifted us gardeners with a vast array of colors to choose from, including many bi- and even tricolor options.
While pansies do resemble other members of the Violaceae family, like violas and violets, the three have different growing profiles. You can learn how to distinguish the three in our guide to 39 of the best violet varieties.
Winter pansies (V. heimalis) are a distinct species that keeps blooming in the cold months. I won’t cover them in this list, but you can learn lots more about this cold-weather garden color option in our guide.
You can readily start pansies from seed, though giving them a head start indoors is highly preferred over direct sowing. In a lot of cases, you can also buy them as bedding plants online or from a local nursery.
Our guide to growing pansies provides information on how to cultivate these colorful flowers.
Sound appealing? Let’s take a look at 19 of the best varieties of pansies available to the home gardener.
The sweet, bright pansy is a compact, cool-weather ornamental.
It’s especially popular in garden borders and mass plantings, spreading eight to 30 inches and attaining four to 12 inches in height, depending on the cultivar.
As you might expect with a flower that’s been cultivated at least since the 16th century, the names people use for the basic types of pansy tend to vary a bit.
“Plain” or “clear faced” are the widely-used names for those with blooms of a single color and no markings.
The ones with a dark center in a contrasting color to the rest of the bloom may be called “blotch,” “monkey-faced,” or simply “faced” pansies. They’re the most common.
Both the clear and blotch groups have members with ruffled petals, too.
Yet more varieties have spidery, dark lines that fan out from the “face,” earning them the moniker “whisker pansies.”
Bloom size varies, too. Some types have lavish three- or four-inch flowers, on plants that are sized just right to serve as the anchor for window boxes or flower beds.
Others, the multifloras, produce one- to two-inch blooms in profusion, and are popular in mass plantings or borders with good reason. And some are right in between, producing two- to three-inch blooms.
Cultivars of different colors that share certain traits and growing habits are often grouped into series. These usually have catchy names, like Swiss Giants™.
Ready for more details? Let’s go ahead and take a closer look at 19 top pansy series and cultivars:
1. Blue Skies
So you thought only petunias could wave?
Think again. A member of the Cool Wave® series, ‘Blue Skies’ has a trailing growth habit, spreading 24 to 30 inches with a height of six to eight inches.
Ideal for spilling over the sides of hanging baskets and planters, or growing as a ground cover, the two-inch blooms are delicate light purple with yellow centers and dark purple whiskers.
These vigorous plants herald spring and add color into autumn, blooming profusely for three seasons.
Keep in mind, though, ‘Blue Skies’ is winter-hardy only to Zone 5. Plant to enjoy it as an annual elsewhere.
‘Blue Skies’ seeds are available in packets of 30 from Harris Seeds via Walmart.
2. Frizzle Sizzle Mix
Blotch faces with delicate “whisker” patterns, ruffled petals, and lots of colors within a single mix? Could you ask for more from a pansy collection?
This mix of cultivars from the Frizzle Sizzle series, introduced by PanAmerican Seed Company, features blooms in different colors, including purple, light yellow, magenta, orange, and bicolored.
The plants themselves are compact, with a mounding growth habit reaching six to eight inches tall and spreading eight to 10 inches. The large, ruffled blooms are three to four inches across.
They’re hardy in Zones 8 to 10, but you can of course grow them as annuals elsewhere. And the ruffles are more pronounced in cool conditions.
Find 50-seed packets of the Frizzle Sizzle Mix available from Harris Seeds via Walmart.
Oh, those delicate, whimsical whiskers. A trait that makes Plentifall ‘Frost’ extra special are its delicate, dark lines that leave its light blue-gray petals looking a bit feline.
‘Frost’ is a member of the Plentifall series, all of which spread readily and produce one-and-a-half- to two-inch blooms on vigorous plants that are winter hardy in Zones 6 to 9.
This pansy is quite attractive spilling over the sides of hanging baskets or containers.
It could also cover a lot of ground (literally!), spreading 18 to 24 inches.The color goes well with ornamental kale in a spring or late-winter window box, too.
Plentifall ‘Frost’ is available from Burpee.
4. Majestic Giants Mix
They’re Majestic, boogie woogie woogie!
This series is both awe-inspiring and energetic, with its blotch and clear-faced blooms that are four inches in diameter.
And yet, the plants are just eight inches tall, with a spread of eight to 10 inches, which gives you maximum color in minimal space.
This mix of Majestic Giants cultivars features blooms in an assortment of colors, which may include blue, scarlet, cherry red, purple, yellow, pink, orange, and pure white.
These plants are hardy in Zones 6 to 8, where they may be grown as perennials, and they bloom from spring through late autumn in all zones.
A five-pack of one-quart Majestic Giants plants in a mix of bloom colors is available from Home Depot.
5. Moulin Rouge
With their ruffled petals and tri-color jewel-tone color schemes in shades of violet, cream, yellow, red, purple, and brown, these two-and-a-half-inch blooms would certainly be worthy of painting like French girls.
But if you’re a stickler on these issues, know that the variety is Italian, not Parisian.
While it’s hardy grown as a perennial only in the warm climates of Zones 8 through 11, ‘Moulin Rouge’ will still thrive in colder climates as an annual.
Plants grow eight inches tall and spread eight to 10 inches, making them worthy of star billing in a window box or planted along a pathway.
Packets of 35 ‘Moulin Rouge’ seeds are available from Burpee.
6. Neon Violet
Part of the Delta™ series, this dwarf cultivar sports two-inch, vibrant purple blooms with dark center blotches.
The plants have a mounding growth habit and grow just four to six inches tall, with a spread of six to eight inches.
They are hardy in Zones 4 to 10, which means they’ll still be blooming any time the temperature breaks through the freezing range in many areas.
Use them to fill containers or in borders, or add them to a bald spot on a bank or near a water feature.
Find packets of ‘Neon Violet’ seeds available from True Leaf Market.
7. Ocean Breeze Mix
The Matrix series is hardy in Zones 7 to 10, so it’s not one that northern or Midwestern gardeners can plant as a perennial.
They are so pretty in spring or autumn that these flowers are well worth growing as annuals in all regions.
The Ocean Breeze Mix features bi- and tricolored three- to three-and-a-half-inch blooms in lavender, purple, and white hues, with yellow centers.
The blooms look appealing offset by buttercream frosting atop a spring celebration cake, too! Just make sure to grow them without pesticides or herbicides if you want them to be foodsafe.
The stems grow eight inches tall and plants spread about the same amount, so they’re a good choice for mass plantings and window boxes.
But they’re a wee bit short to thrive in the middle of a garden filled with taller ornamentals. Remember that pansies need full sun!
Ocean Breeze Mix mix is available in four-plant bundles from Burpee.
8. Orange Sun
One of the Swiss Giants™ series of large-bloom pansies, ‘Orange Sun’ has plain, three-inch flowers in warm, peachy orange.
The plants are compact and sturdy, reaching six to eight inches tall and spreading about a foot, which makes them suitable for small spaces and container gardens. They’re winter-hardy in Zones 5 to 9.
The vibrant color of the blooms complements green foliage in a cottage garden or window box, and the monochrome color can unify a border of spring bulbs.
You can find packets of ‘Orange Sun’ seeds in a variety of sizes available from Eden Brothers.
9. Pastel Mix
This collection of pansies that bloom in pastel shades also comes from the Cool Wave® series.
Some of them have cute little whiskers, some have clear faces, and all trail like ground cover petunias, spreading about 24 to 30 inches, topping out at six to eight inches tall.
Like ‘Blue Skies’ described above, they feature two-inch flowers that bloom for a long time, starting in spring and continuing through autumn.
Winter hardy down to Zone 5, you probably won’t mind too much if you lose them to the frost in cooler regions since they provide all-season color in hanging baskets – and make great compost afterwards.
Find a 30-seed packet of Pastel Mix Cool Wave® pansies available from Outsidepride via Walmart.
10. Pure Golden Yellow
All bright, no blotches. That’s the look you get with ‘Pure Golden Yellow’ flowers from the Delta™ series.
The two-inch flowers are sunny but delicate, and look great atop a salad or cupcake as edible blooms.
In the garden, the plants are compact, reaching just four to six inches tall with a spread of six to eight inches, so use them for borders, container gardens, and hanging baskets.
The plants are hardy in Zones 4 to 8.
This cultivar is available in 500-seed packets from True Leaf Market.
11. Pure Light Blue
This Delta™ Premium series member is a clear face pansy with baby blue petals and light yellow centers.
It’s sweet and delicate, with two-inch blooms on plants that top out at four to six inches tall and spread just six to eight inches.
Anyone who doesn’t have much space but does love delicate colors and cool-weather blooms should be jazzed about ‘Pure Light Blue.’
The cultivar is winter-hardy in Zones 4-8, and it’s available in 500-seed packets from True Leaf Market.
12. Raspberry Swirl
This cultivar allows you to enjoy Ice cream colors with no threat to your waistline!
A cultivar from the Cool Wave® series, ‘Raspberry Swirl’ is a whiskered, blotch variety in mixed shades of rose and yellow.
It’s one of the multiflora pansies with one-and-a-half- to two-inch blooms, a kind you don’t see as often as the ones with medium-sized or large blooms.
A trailing type, it spreads 24 to 30 inches, with a height of six to eight inches, and is ideal for ground cover and hanging baskets. It is known as one of the fastest to bloom, and it’s winter-hardy to Zone 5a.
‘Raspberry Swirl’ is available in four-plant bundles from Burpee.
Big, bright yellow blooms that reach three inches across are the main appeal of Swiss Giants™ ‘Rhinegold.’
The flowers also have distinctive dark brown blotches in their centers. Fanciful folks might see a sort of beard in the flower faces.
Winter-hardy in Zones 3 to 9, the plants grow four to six inches tall, and spread about a foot.
This variety blooms profusely from spring to autumn.
Find packets of ‘Rhinegold’ seeds in a variety of sizes at Eden Brothers.
14. Ruby Mix
A mix of plain and blotch pansies from the Matrix series in shades of rose, magenta, yellow, and lavender, plants have a mounding habit and grow about eight inches high, with a similar spread.
The colors are painterly, and the three- to three-and-a-half-inch blooms look especially appealing when highlighted by an autumn sunset.
This mix is suitable for ground cover, as an addition to a winter window box, or combined with muted colors of pom-pom chrysanthemums for blooming fall color.
Ruby Mix pansies are available in four-plant bundles from Burpee.
The silvery-white petals on this pansy feature dramatic, deep purple blotches.
And if you’re looking for elegant floral ruffles, here you go!
Part of the Swiss Giants™ series, ‘Silverbride’ has three-inch blooms on green stems that grow just four to six inches tall with a spread of 12 inches.
Plants in this series are some of the toughest, winter-hardy in Zones 3 to 9.
‘Silverbride’ seeds are available in a variety of packet sizes from Eden Brothers.
Wakey wakey! The sight of these ruffly, layered, sunshine-hued blooms from the Matrix series will make you glad to be alive.
Each flower is subtly different, but all of them look painterly and cheery. The three-inch blooms grow on eight-inch, stocky green stems and the plants spread about the same distance.
They are hardy grown as perennials in Zones 7 to 10.
If you like to pick flowers, ‘Sunrise’ makes a pretty nosegay or even a boutonniere, and that “no two blooms are alike” feature doubles as a nice visual metaphor when you present one to your love.
‘Sunrise’ is available in four-plant bundles from Burpee.
The Swiss Giants™ series has produced some beautiful hues, but if you ask me, none are more arresting than ‘Ullswater.’
The three-inch blooms have electric blue petals set off by midnight blue blotches that are almost black.
The plants are compact, reaching just six inches tall with a 12-inch spread, which is extra beneficial for flower gardeners looking for deep, evocative color to feature in small spaces.
‘Ullswater’ plants may be able to overwinter even in areas with cooler temperatures, and they’re winter-hardy in Zones 5 to 9.
Find ‘Ullswater’ seed packets in various sizes available at Eden Brothers.
18. Viva La Violet
Are you one of those “the bigger the bloom, the better” types?
If so, Mammoth series pansies could be your next favorite flowers, and I heartily recommend the one named ‘Viva La Violet.’
This cultivar has tricolor blooms that are three to four inches in diameter, with rich purple and cream-white faces, and spritely yellow centers.
The plants are compact, with stems that grow six to eight inches tall, and a spread of about eight inches. They’re hardy in Zones 5 to 9.
Find 50-seed packets for ‘Viva La Violet’ from Outsidepride via Amazon.
19. Yellow Blotch
A traditionalist’s pansy, Matrix ‘Yellow Blotch’ has an old-fashioned chocolate-colored face on bright yellow petals. Like other cultivars in the Matrix series, flowers are three to three and a half inches wide.
The plants grow nine to 12 inches tall and spread about the same amount, making them suitable for window boxes or garden borders.
I’ve been delighted with the way my ‘Yellow Blotch’ pansies look planted in a circle beneath the mailbox, and I bet you’d like them too.
This variety is hardy in Zones 5 to 10.
Find bundles of four ‘Yellow Blotch’ plants available from Burpee.
Which Pansy Strikes Your Fancy?
It’s so much fun to have a flower that comes in so many appealing varieties, and still blooms in cool or even cold weather. I hope this list encourages you to find some new options, or to take up growing pansies if you haven’t before.
Do you have a favorite among these options, or maybe one you like that didn’t make this list? Kindly add your top picks to the comments section below. Photos from your own garden are also more than welcome!
To learn more about growing these cool-weather bloomers, check out these pansy guides next: