Plan the perfect garden with our interactive tool →

How to Trim Pansies

pansy image by DOLPHIN from

Colorful pansies add interest to spring and fall gardens and containers. In areas with mild winter weather, these hardy annuals can bloom all through the season when other plants are dormant. Cold weather, overgrowth and just the rigors of the outdoors can leave the pansies looked ragged and unkempt if they are not trimmed correctly. Trimming pansies also prevents seed from setting and prolongs the blooming period, as once plants set seeds they no longer have reason to flower.

Inspect the pansies once weekly during the blooming period and trim away wilting flowers as they are found. Cut the flower stem off at the base with a small pair of shears or pinch the stem off with your fingers.

Trim off dead or yellowed leaves from the plants when you are removing the spent blooms. Cut these and any damaged leaves off where they emerge from the stem.

Pinch back container pansies and pansies that are becoming leggy and overgrown. Pinch off the top 1 to 4 inches of each growing stem. This encourages full, lateral growth and leads to a bushy plant.

Cut off the top one-third of pansies that have suffered from frost burn or have become extremely overgrown. Leave at least two sets of leaves on each stem when pruning severely or the plant may not grow back.

Water the pansies and fertilize with a soluble 10-30-20 fertilizer, following label application recommendations, after severe pruning. This encourages the pansies to grow back and bloom further.

Trim Pansies Without Killing Them?

Far from harming or killing your pansies (Viola x wittrockiana), properly timed trimming improves flowering and rejuvenates leggy plants. In regions with hot summers and mild winters, they flower from fall through spring then go dormant during the summer. Make the cut or pinch right above where the flower stalk meets the first set of leaves. As you’re deadheading, use the opportunity to check for aphids, especially under the leaves. Pansies are compact plants that grow 5 to 7 inches tall in a dense mounded shape. Use a pair of small clippers to cut the delicate stems. Garden tools can spread diseases from one plant to another. Fill a bucket with 1 part water to 9 parts bleach, or use rubbing alcohol full strength.


Cover pansy beds with a layer of straw mulch during prolonged freezing temperatures. This prevents the foliage from frost burn. Remove the mulch as soon as temperatures rise.


Remove the dead plant material from the bed after pruning, as insects and disease organisms can breed in the dead material.

Garden Guides