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Pansy Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Pansy Flower Meaning and Symbolism

Pansies are cold-hearty flowers with five overlapping, heart-shaped petals that come in a huge range of bold colors and patterns. But these flowers are more than a pretty, colorful face. 

These edible blooms have specific pansy flower meanings, multiple names and appearances, and a long history. However, the most significant implication is, “I’m thinking of you.” These flowers can grow in pots, as privacy barriers, or planted in the ground, nearly year-round in some climates. But, typically, pansies grow in early spring or fall while doing poorly in the heat.

Overview of a Pansy Flower

Yellow Pansy

The pansy is a relative of the very common wildflower grown throughout Europe – viola (violet). Careful crossbreeding of various viola species by an English noble – Lord Gambier – and his gardener William Thompson led to the first pansies in the mid-1800s.

Pansies made it to America by 1888, becoming the most popular flower species to be grown from seed. In today’s flower market, pansies are the most popular plants worldwide. There are now over 250 different pansy cultivars.

The pansy flower goes by many names throughout history. A shortlist of common nicknames for Viola tricolor var. Hortensis include:

  • Love in idleness
  • Monkey faces
  • Peeping Tom
  • Johnny jump up and kiss me
  • Three faces in a hood
  • Heartsease
  • Godfathers and godmothers
  • Call-me-to-you

Are Pansy Flowers Annual or Perennial?

Technically, pansies are annuals, meaning that the plant will only grow for one year. Once the weather turns too cold for the plant to survive, it will die. Normally, you would need to plant a new flower in the same spot to replace the deceased one.

However, two factors affect what happens during the next growing season. In warm climates, you can successfully grow pansies nearly year-round. Planting your flowers during the cooler fall months will allow you to enjoy flowers that bloom throughout winter and into spring.

Another thing that can make many people believe that pansies are perennials is that these flowers reseed themselves. The seeds dropped from a pansy will often grow into a new plant the next year, taking the place of the previous one that died. 

How to Care for the Pansy Plant

Pansies are easy to grow, largely leading to their heavy popularity. However, these flowers do need regular watering. Underwatering is the main cause of poorly developed pansies.

These flowers can also benefit from an all-purpose general fertilizer. But stay away from products with heavy nitrogen levels, which will stunt the growth of blooms but boost the foliage growth.

Pruning is also crucial for healthy growth. It’s important to remove faded, wilted, and deadheads to extend your pansies’ blooming period. 

It would be best if you planted pansies in fall or early spring. Growing your pansies from seeds can be more tricky than established plants.

Start seeds indoors eight to ten weeks before spring’s last frost for spring and summer plants. Or, for fall blooms, start your seeds in late summer. It can take seeds one to three weeks for germination – shoots sprouting out of the ground. 

Once the ground temperature reaches between 45°F and 65°F (7°C and 18°C), you can put your plants into the ground. But don’t put them outside if there are still risks of frosts or freezing ground temps.

What Is the Pansy Flower Meaning?

Pansy comes from the French word “pensée,” dating back to the 1800s. Or even further back to the mid-15th century “penser.” Translated to English, we get “to ponder” or “to think.”

Shakespeare used pansy petal juice to create a love potion in the literary classic A Midsummer Night’s Dream. This inspiration came from Ancient Celts and Greeks’ history, who used pansies in multiple potions and herbal remedies. Pansies are also anti-inflammatory and cough expectorants (which clear mucus). 

What Do Pansies Symbolize?

The most symbolic meaning of pansies is to express feelings of platonic love and affection. You can give pansies as a gift to a parent, friend, or partner for a non-romantic gesture.

You can also use pansies to represent consideration and free-thinking, as a get-well gesture or as a sign of sympathetic understanding of a person’s distress and pain.

What Is the Cultural Significance of a Pansy?

Pansies are the birth flower of February. Purple pansies are the most popular color for this month, largely due to February’s birthstone – amethyst – being purple. 

But pansies also bloom early, making them one of the first flowers found growing in February, with less significance towards Valentine’s Day.

Pansies are a symbolic flower for the Trinity in a biblical sense due to their tricolor. And once upon a time, a pansy growing in autumn was a precursor to a coming plague. 

Ancient Greece

In ancient Greece, pansies helped someone calm down from a rage due to pansy flowers having sedation properties – salicylic acid (aspirin). But a Roman scholar, Pliny, also believed that you could use pansies to treat dizziness and headaches.

And picking a pansy flower with fresh dew still on the petals is tempting fate to cause the death of a person you love. Or plucking a pansy during a drought can cause it to rain. Even dreaming of pansies is a bad omen, predicting that you’ll experience problems with a close friend.

Knights of King Arthur

And another interesting folklore story, largely believed by the Knights of King Arthur, says that to predict your lover’s future, pluck an upper petal and count the veins. 

  • Four = hopeful future
  • Seven = forever in love
  • Eight = fickle lover
  • Nine = a change of heart is in the future
  • Eleven = the love of your life will meet an early death

According to the knights, the directional pattern of the veining is also meaningful. For example, thick veins that go to the left mean you’re in for a difficult time. But if the veins go the opposite way, expect to experience abundance and prosperity. 

Victorian Times

But in Victorian days, a pansy meant a secret love or secret courting. People were not allowed to show public displays of affection or passion back then. 

To express romantic feelings, a partner would secretly send pansies nestled in many herbs and wrapped in a doily. This bundled floral arrangement is a tussie mussie. These bundles stood for “I am thinking of you,” “I miss you,” “I have thoughts of you,” or “I have amorous feelings for you.” 

German Folklore

Curious about why pansies are a beautiful sight to behold but largely non-fragranced? A German story says that the first pansy had such an amazing scent that too many people came to test its scent. As a result, too many people caused death to the grass, which caused the cows to be without food.

The pansy prayed for God to help the cows. He answered by taking away the pansy’s smell and giving it a beautiful tricolor face. 

Pansy Flower Color Meanings

The various pansy colors can have individual meanings. Although over 200 different colored pansies, this flower species come in three designs: solids, bi-colors, or tricolors. Many pansies come in three colors formed into a face. \

Potential pansy colors include:

  • Pastels (shell pink, peach, apricot).
  • Bolds (deep orange, purple or light purple, copper, burgundy, white, black).
  • Slight variations of these bright colors. 

Yellow Pansy

Yellow pansies have significant meanings to consider before gifting them to another person. This color signifies happiness, positivity, and joy. It’s also great for showing remembrance or support.

If you’re looking for an energetic, cheerful flower color to give someone to bring them out of a funk, yellow pansies can convey the appropriate message. 

See: 30 Types of Yellow Flowers

Purple Pansy

Purple is the symbolic color to translate the unspoken message of dignity, regal royalty, and bold beauty. This color is also a symbol of luxury and beauty. But in other situations, purple is a sign of power and wealth. 

But as an even more powerful statement, purple pansies represent a person’s resilience against the challenges of being powerful and wealthy.

Red Pansy

Red is the color of passion and is universally known as the symbolic color of love and romance. You can give red pansies to another person to convey feelings of romantic interest, affection, and serious infatuation or love.

See: 67 Types of Red Flowers

Orange Pansy

You can send orange pansies to someone as a way to portray the unspoken message of expressing congratulations for a special occasion. 

Or you can use them as a way to convey warmth, happiness, optimism, hope, or to express pleasure with that person. 

See: 46 Types of Orange Flowers

White Pansy

A white pansy represents spirituality, virtue, innocence, and purity. And white pansies are often a symbol of a peaceful afterlife. But beyond that, white pansies are the safest option for gifting flowers to another person. 

You can use white pansies for any occasion or as a gift without significance to the gesture. White is also the best choice when you’re unsure what color flower to choose. You can also give white pansies to survivors of a recently passed loved one. 

See: 65 Types of White Flowers

Blue Pansy

Blue flowers are often symbolical for representing devotion and honesty. But other meanings for blue pansies include peace from woes and worries, serenity, and calmness. In addition, lighter blues have a spiritual link to the heavens, serving as a reminder of the connection between Earth and Heaven.

Pansies in blue are popular in corporate situations for their non-romantic significance. You can give blue pansies to coworkers, acquaintances, or other professional relationships. 

What Is the Symbolism of a Pansy Tattoo?

Many people choose tattoos with significant meanings. For example, a pansy tattoo is a delicate design that can mean compassion and love. But like the actual flower, the tattoo’s meaning can change by the flower’s color.

When Should You Give Someone a Pansy?

Any occasion is a good time to gift a pansy to someone. These flowers are versatile and can have multiple meanings and symbols. 

The occasion can help you decide on a color – and the unspoken message – for your pansy bouquet. 


Pansies are one of the most beloved flowers throughout the world. There are over 500 pansy species in over 250 colors in three potential patterns – solid, tricolor, or bicolor. You can use this flower to convey multiple meanings. The most common meaning is that I’m thinking of you, get well, or congratulations. Overall, pansies are the most versatile platonic flower species.