Winter hardy pansy seeds can be planted in the spring or early fall directly into the garden soil and can also be started indoors for transplanting outdoors at a later date in the season. Pansies are fairly unique in their ability to sprout bright blooms in extreme cold conditions and even up through shallow snow. Pansies bloom from the fall right through winter and into spring. What they do not like is extremely warm, dry or overly humid conditions.
Prepare a well-tilled planting bed of nutrient-rich and loose soil in a location with a full sun exposure. Amend your garden soil with a few pounds of compost and well-aged manure to boost the nutrient level and aid in moisture retention. Alternatively, if starting your pansy seeds indoors, fill nursery pots or trays with fresh sterile soilless planting medium.
Sow your pansy seeds into the prepared soil with a few seeds every inch or so. Bury the pansy seeds approximately 1/8 inch deep, sprinkle a bit of soil over the top and press very gently to settle the seed. For indoor planting, store the seed pots in an area with a temperature between 60 and 75 degrees Fahrenheit, but no warmer.
Water in the seeds deeply and well but gently so that the seeds and soil are not disturbed. Keep the soil evenly and consistently moist throughout the germination and seedling periods, never allowing the soil to dry out. Depending on the climate and time of year, this may mean watering every day to every 3 or 4 days.
Provide a dark cover for your pansy seeds during their germination period. A thick paper or cardboard can be set atop the nursery pots or trays. In the garden, an empty overturned nursery pot or box can be set over the seeds and soil. Leave the darkening cover in place through germination that will occur in 10 to 20 days' time. Check on the seeds every other day to make sure the soil remains moist. When pale green leaves break through the soil, remove the darkening cover. If starting the seeds indoors, move the pots or seed trays to a bright sunny location.
Transplant the seedlings started indoors out into the garden soil when they are 4 to 6 inches in height. Mulch around the base of the plants with shredded bark or compost to insulate the roots, hold moisture in the soil and keep weeds down.