For the best and brightest, beautiful pansies, the perfect time to plant depends on your climate. Bright colorful pansies, with their friendly "faces," are one of the first harbingers of spring. These hardy little annuals make great color spots early in the season and will continue to bloom for several months. The best time to plant pansies depends on where you live. In temperate climates, you will find pansies in commercial nurseries in the fall, around mid-October. In cooler northern states, pansies show up in late February or early March. Pansies are a hardy annual which means that they can tolerate light frost, and in warmer climates, can even winter over.
The cheerful pansy is a descendant of the viola. Around the 4th century B.C., a plant similar to the viola was found growing in open areas, in bright sunlight, on rocky ledges, and in outcroppings of stone. This plant was named the wild pansee, perhaps by someone of French origin as the name "pansee" is believed to be a derivative of the French "pensee," or thought. The pansy has come to be known as a token of remembrance.
In areas with temperate climates, set pansies out in the fall, around mid-October, to give them time to get established before cooler temperatures arrive. As the thermometer dips lower, soil temperatures will fall too low. An over-wintering pansy should be planted in soil temperatures between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit for the best start. Once established, the pansy may wilt and appear to die. However, the pansy is a hardy little plant and will bloom again in the spring when the soil warms back up. For added winter protection, you might consider adding a layer of mulch.
Northern states, where temperatures often fall below freezing for long periods of time, are not friendly to over-wintering pansies. In these climates, buy your pansies in the spring and set them out in late February or March. Pansies like to be in cooler soil, so plant them in a shady spot to prolong blooms throughout the summer months.
Pansies will eventually die from the heat in Southern states. In the North, you might be able to keep them blooming into the fall if they are shaded. However, Northern winters will do them in. Either way, expect to plant new pansies every year.