University of Illinois Extension

Fall Pansies

“Several varieties of pansies are specifically bred for fall planting and over wintering. said a University of Illinois Extension horticulture educator.

“These types promise blooms long after the cold sets in, surviving to produce some of the earliest flowers in spring,” said Jennifer Schultz Nelson. “Two names to look for at your local garden center are Polar® or Icicle® pansies, which are available in more and more gorgeous colors each year.”

Nelson said that although pansies are one of her favorite annual flowers, it is only in recent years that she has planted pansies in the fall--against the well-meaning advice of friends and family.

“Many of the people I know considered it wasteful to buy new annuals in the fall, arguing the remaining growing season was too short,” she said. “Eager to prove everyone wrong, I planted pansies in window boxes to see how long they would hold on as the cold winds began to blow.”

Happily, she related, her gamble produced results. Not only did the pansies continue to bloom well into October and November, but they were still blooming in December.  A below-zero cold snap in January brought the colorful display to an end.

“Even in window boxes, a few of my plants survived and bloomed in the spring,” she said. “A friend who had planted her pansies in the garden fared better. Every one of her plants came back triumphantly in the spring.”

Planting pansies in the fall can be a worthwhile investment, she said. One can enjoy the blooms for over four months, plus a few may make it through the winter.

“Most summer annuals struggle to last that long, and will not survive if they are frost-sensitive,” she said. “Give fall pansies a chance--you may be rewarded with some of the earliest flowers on the block next spring.”