How Long Do Pansies Live: Will My Pansies Come Back Each Year

How Long Do Pansies Live: Will My Pansies Come Back Each Year

By: Bonnie L. Grant, Certified Urban Agriculturist

Pansies are one of the spring’s charmers. Their sunny little “faces” and wide variety of colors elects them as one of the most popular bedding and container flowers. But are pansies annuals or perennials? Can you grow them year round or are they short-term visitors to your garden? The question depends upon your zone or region. The pansy lifespan may be a fleeting few months or a spring to spring companion. Some further pansy plant info should sort out the question, no matter where you plan to grow.

Are Pansies Annuals or Perennials?

How long do pansies live? Pansies are actually quite hardy, but they bloom in cooler weather and hot temperatures can reduce flowering and make them leggy and unsightly. In their natural state, plants start out as biennials. By the time you purchase them blooming, they are in their second year. Most commercially sold plants are hybrids and do not have cold hardiness or longevity. That being said, you can get pansies to survive into future years in temperate climates.

Will My Pansies Come Back?

The short, quick answer is, yes. Because they have little freeze tolerance, most will die in sustained winters. In areas with moderate temperatures, they may come again in spring, especially if they were mulched to protect the roots.

In the Pacific Northwest, pansies will often come back the next year or their prolific seedlings will provide year after year of color. Gardeners in the Midwest and South should assume their plants are annuals. So pansies are perennials but only in areas with short freezes, cool summers and moderate temperatures. The rest of us should treat them as welcome but short lived annuals.

Most pansy varieties are suitable for United States Department of Agriculture zone 7 to 10. Hotter regions will enjoy them for only short periods and colder regions will winter kill the plants. There are some varieties that can survive to zone 4, but only a very few and with protection.

Even in regions where the plants can be used as perennials, they are short lived. The average pansy lifespan is only a couple of years. The good news is that a wide variety of the plants are offered as easy to grow seeds and, in some areas, they will naturally reseed themselves. That means the flowers may reappear the next year but just as second generation volunteers.

Hardy Pansy Plant Info

For the best chance of successful perennial plants, select those with extra hardiness bred into them. There are several with both heat and cold tolerance, although actual temperatures are not listed. These include:

  • Maxim
  • Universal
  • Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow
  • Rococo
  • Springtime
  • Majestic Giant
  • Lyric

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