14 Pretty & Unusual Pansy Varieties

Red, yellow, and purple pansies

SBrogan / Getty Images

If gardeners and bumblebees are holding their breath for an early sign of spring, then there should be a mighty exhale at the sight of the season's first pansy blossoms. Once considered as weedy as its wild cousin the common blue violet, breeding efforts have produced fantastic new cultivars with both blotched and clear faces, along with ruffled petals and extra-large flowers in a brilliant range of candy hues. Fill your borders, hanging baskets, and window boxes with one of these cheerful varieties of pansies, which bounce back from late winter squalls of snow and ice with ease.

Pansies are short-lived perennials usually grown as annuals—or sometimes as biennials in warm-weather climates. The modern pansy was developed as a hybrid from several species of the Viola genus, especially Viola tricolor. The parent species are native wildflowers in Europe but became widely naturalized in North America. Pansies are therefore sometimes known as violas or violets, though most horticulturalists reserve the name "pansy" to refer to the hybrid varieties with large multicolored flowers.

Pansies are cool-weather flowers that often succumb to the heat of summer. In some regions, they're planted both in spring and fall when the weather cools again. In warm-weather zones, they can be planted in fall to overwinter into the following year.

Here are 14 unusual pansy varieties to consider for your spring garden.

Gardening Tip

More unique pansies will be hard or impossible to find at garden centers, so you'll need to buy seeds and start them indoors about two months before the last frost date in your area. Spread the seeds over a tray of seed-starting mix, moisten, and keep covered until the seeds sprout. Then, uncover, and move the tray to a bright location to continue growing the seedlings until it's time for outdoor planting, just after the last frost.

  • 01 of 14

    'Matrix Solar Flare' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Matrix Solar Flare')

    'Matrix Solar Flare' pansies with orange and dark-brown coloring

    National Garden Bureau

    The 'Matrix' series was developed by PanAmerican Seed to withstand the warmer temperatures of autumn without bolting or flopping. Can't you imagine the burnished gold and crimson tones of 'Solar Flare' glowing beside your fall asters and mums? 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 6–10; usually grown an annual
    • Height: 8 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 02 of 14

    'Cool Wave White' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Cool Wave White')

    'Cool Wave White' pansies with white petals

    National Garden Bureau

    Many winter holiday flower baskets are short on blooming material,​ but that needn't be the case if you choose a cold-tolerant flower, like the 'Cool Wave White' pansy. Hanging baskets of pansies can last through weeks of winter weather if you bring them inside each evening to protect them from the deepest chills. This plant was created by the developers of the Wave petunia. The plants have trailing stems that can reach 20–30 inches.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 6–8 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 03 of 14

    'Delta Premium Marina' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Delta Premium Marina')

    'Delta Premium Marina' pansies with blue petals and dark centers

    National Garden Bureau

    Many garden flowers that claim to be blue are actually more of a purplish shade. Not so with the 'Delta Marina' pansy. The sturdy stems of the 'Delta' series hold blooms upright, keeping their faces out of the mud after spring storms. Pale blue flowers have a darker blue center, punctuated with an inner spot of yellow.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–9; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 4–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 04 of 14

    'Black Accord' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Black Accord')

    Black Pansy
    Photo: Joshua McCullough/Getty Images

    If you want to create an eye-catching garden design with black flowers, few are as dark as the moody 'Black Accord' pansy. Pair these black blooms with chartreuse tulips for sizzling contrast, or plant them alongside white or yellow pansies for maximum effect. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 4–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 5 of 14 below.
  • 05 of 14

    'Inspire Plus Mardi Gras Mix' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Inspire Plus Mardi Gras Mix')

    'Inspire Plus Mardi Gras Mix' pansies with yellow and purple coloring

    National Garden Bureau

    For some gardeners, a pansy just isn't a pansy without the typical "blotch" markings that give the blooms the appearance of a face. The extra-large blooms that develop on pansies in the 'Inspire Plus' series, including 'Inspire Plus Mardi Gras Mix,' mean you'll be better able to enjoy those faces when looking out your window if the weather is too disagreeable to venture out. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 7 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 06 of 14

    'Delta Rose Surprise' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Delta Rose Surprise')

    'Delta Rose Surprise' pansies with multiple colors

    National Garden Bureau

    By designing with the 'Delta Rose Surprise' pansy, gardeners get a coordinated color palette in one six-pack of flowering plants. Creamy yellow and white blooms with rose and purple picotee edging contrast with deep violet blotches on the central petals. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 4–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 07 of 14

    'Nature Orange' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Nature Orange')

    'Nature Orange' pansies with orange blooms

    National Garden Bureau

    When it comes to piercing the dull gray of a rainy spring day, few flowers shine like a clear face pansy. 'Nature Orange' will stand out in your landscape like a beacon, especially when planted at eye level in a hanging basket or window box

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 3–6 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 08 of 14

    'Inspire Deluxxe Mulberry Mix' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Inspire Deluxxe Mulberry Mix')

    'Inspire Deluxxe Mulberry Mix' pansies in berry and white hues

    National Garden Bureau

    The 'Inspire Deluxxe' series of pansy features blooms up to 3.5 inches across, so it won't take many open flowers to fill your containers with wall-to-wall pansy petals. The series offers several varieties in clear face and blotch, or you can buy customized mixes like 'Inspire Deluxxe Mulberry Mix.'

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 7 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 9 of 14 below.
  • 09 of 14

    'WonderFall' (Viola × wittrockiana 'WonderFall')

    'WonderFall' pansy with purple petals and a yellow center

    National Garden Bureau

    If you're a fan of ombré, you'll love the graduated color shading of the 'WonderFall' blue and purple pansies. As the name suggests, this series exhibits a waterfall-like, trailing growth habit, making it perfect for spilling over the edges of your containers and hanging baskets. These plants spread three times further than traditional pansies, meaning more flowers on fewer plants, which stretches your gardening dollar. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 8–10 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 10 of 14

    'Jolly Joker' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Jolly Joker')

    'Jolly Joker' pansies in purple and orange

    Kim Bergstrom / Getty Images

    The seldom-seen color combination of blazing orange and rich purple seen in 'Jolly Joker' took the gardening world by storm when it was introduced. This variety was both the All-American Selection and the Fleuroselect winner in 1990.

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 6–8 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 11 of 14

    'Chalon Supreme' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Chalon Supreme')

    'Chalon Supreme' pansies with white-edged purple petals and yellow centers

    Michael Davis / Getty Images

    Ruffled pansy varieties like 'Chalon Supreme' add a romantic finishing touch to Victorian and cottage gardens. Ruffled pansies are no more difficult to grow than conventional types, although you may need to visit a full-service nursery, rather than your local DIY store, to find these uncommon varieties. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 6–12 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 12 of 14

    'Cool Wave Morpho' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Cool Wave Morpho')

    Cool Wave Morpho Pansy
    Photo: National Garden Bureau

    Named for the iridescent tropical butterfly, 'Cool Wave Morpho' brings shimmering shades of blue to your cool-weather garden. The bloom count and cold hardiness of this spreading pansy (up to 30 inches) make it a top-notch pick for any hanging basket or container. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 6–8 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
    Continue to 13 of 14 below.
  • 13 of 14

    'Nature Rose Picotee' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Nature Rose Picotee')

    Nature Rose Picotee Pansy
    Photo: National Garden Bureau

    The white edging of the 'Nature Rose Picotee' pansy acts like a frame, helping the purple hue stand out, even at a distance. The 'Nature' series is more heat-tolerant than others, making it a good choice for late spring and early fall plantings. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 7–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 6–10 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade
  • 14 of 14

    'Cool Wave Blueberry Swirl' (Viola × wittrockiana 'Cool Wave Blueberry Swirl')

    Cool Wave Blueberry Swirl Pansy
    Photo: National Garden Bureau

    In spite of its delicate appearance, you can expect the 'Cool Wave Blueberry Swirl' cultivar to bounce back even after winter temperatures of 20 below zero. Fertilize every two weeks to keep the plant as productive as possible. 

    • Native Area: Nursery hybrid
    • USDA Growing Zones: 5–10; usually grown as an annual
    • Height: 10–12 inches
    • Sun Exposure: Full sun to partial shade