Pansies bloom profusely in early spring, bringing a bright splash of color to garden beds before many other flowers bloom. These robust flowers are part of the viola family. Derived from violas grown in ancient Greece for medicinal purposes, modern pansies are larger but maintain the same overall shape. According to High Country Gardens, in the early 1800s, William Thompson, an English gardener, crossed several species of viola to develop the traditional pansy seen today. By 1880 over 100,000 packets of pansy seeds had been sold in America.
Start pansy seeds inside 8 to 10 weeks before the last expected frost for early spring blooms.
Fill individual pots or flats with seed starter. Sprinkle pansy seed over the top of moist seed starter and barely cover with soil. Mist to moisten soil.
Place in the refrigerator, or in an area that maintains temperatures of 40 degrees F, for 5 days to cold stratify the seeds.
Place in a cool dark place to germinate. Pansies germinate at temperatures below 70 degrees F and require darkness to germinate. Check daily and mist to keep soil moist.
Move to a sunny location once seedlings emerge in about 14 to 21 days. Avoid direct light from western or southern windows. Pansies prefer cool temperatures and thrive on a cool eastern or northern windowsill in temperatures between 55 and 65 degrees F.
Transplant to the garden when danger of frost has passed. Pansies like direct sun, but may suffer from direct afternoon sun in hot climates. Select a location with bright morning light and filtered afternoon sun for best results.