Dappled Pansy Gardens

PAN WonderFall Rose Shades with Face Garden
A dappled garden of ‘WonderFall Rose Shades with Face’


One of the roles Pansies perform in the landscape is to paint the ground with color. They do this job well because they have bright shades, thick coverage, frost tolerance, and a low cost. Clear Pansies combine all these factors to create big beacons of color at the start of the season.

However, a single blast of color is not the only trick Pansies can play. They also do stained, watercolor, morphing, shimmering, swirls, fire—pick your adjective. Certain Pansies deploy all sorts of color effects, and these effects become amplified when you deploy a single variety as a mass planting. We've picked out 13 Pansy cultivars that do the dappled garden effect well, so let's see how it all works.

PAN Matrix Blue Frost 1
Cool blue and white move around ‘Matrix Blue Frost’


Pansies, by their nature, prefer to show every combination possible so it’s best to approach them by color families. For example, cool tone varieties like ‘Cool Wave Frost’ and ‘Matrix Blue Frost’ stick to variations of blue and white to blend a monochromatic mix of similar colors, a look that is very popular right now.

By restricting the color choices to similar hues, we randomize the garden between dark and light versions. Names like ‘Delta Fire’ and ‘Cool Wave Strawberry Swirl’ that play with reds and yellows hint at the flickering or shimmering colors they bring to a bed.

PAN Cool Wave Strawberry Twist
Light and dark versions of Pansy ‘Cool Wave Strawberry Swirl’


Other varieties go wide with a huge range of variations, like ‘Wonderfall Rose Shades with Face’, ‘Matrix Lavender Shades’, and ‘Matrix Blue Frost’. All three generate swatches of dark flowers right next to nearly white ones tinged with an accent. They produce gardens with the biggest dappling effect.

Of course, since these are Pansies there are two varieties that blend both warm and cool tones into the same flower. ‘Cool Wave Violet Wing’ has cool lavender shades over warm yellow cheeks. ‘Matrix Midnight Glow’ has a small pale yellow face surrounded by nearly black color over the top and around the edges.

PAN Matrix Midnight Glow 0001
‘Matrix Midnight Glow’ blends warm and cool tones in the same flower


Two cultivars even vary the faces themselves. ‘Matrix Rose Blotch’ does have a heavy beard on some faces but it disappears on others. While this is happening, the background color rotates through variations of light pink, rose tints, and dark burgundies.

‘Delta Pink Shades’, the most playful of this Pansy collection, has beards, mustaches, and kitten whiskers scattered among purple, lavender, and white flowers.

PAN Delta Pink Shades
Beards, whiskers, and almost clean shaven faces of Pansy ‘Delta Pink Shades’


All these sophisticated garden looks are easy to build because we plant just one variety and walk away from the bed. In fact, for the best effect we recommend creating a solid mass planting of just one cultivar and letting the plant handle the garden design.

You can try this technique in larger containers and hanging baskets as long as you plant a big enough container to see the massed effect. For container work we strongly recommend the Cool Wave varieties since they do two things—they like to grow wide, and they hold their leaves and blossoms on stiff stems. This provides a large flat display area for the color to come over the top.

PAN Matrix Rose Blotch 0012
‘Matrix Rose Blotch’—beards come and go in a range of shades


As you can see, the joyfulness comes from the Pansies’ willingness to explode into all sorts of color mixes and styles. Because names don’t always hint at the features, we’ve pulled together a list of thirteen cultivars that randomize their colors well to achieve these dappled color gardens.

Cool Wave and WonderFall are spreading Pansies:

  • ‘Cool Wave Fire’ (reds over yellows with kitten whiskers)
  • ‘Cool Wave Frost’ (light blue over light yellow with kitten whiskers)
  • ‘Cool Wave Strawberry Swirl’ (maroon over yellow with kitten whiskers)
  • ‘Cool Wave Violet Wing’ (dark lavender over deep yellow with tiny kitten whiskers)
  • ‘WonderFall Rose Shades with Face’ (deep rose that stains out to nearly white; well-trimmed beard)

Delta and Matrix are larger standard Pansies:

  • ‘Delta Fire’ (classic reds over yellows with a stubby beard)
  • ‘Delta Pink Shades’ (all kinds of whites, pinks, lavenders, and an occasional purple; beards, mustaches, whiskers, and well-shaven faces)
  • ‘Delta Premium Yellow with Purple Wing’ (creamy yellow face surrounded by purple—or not)
  • ‘Matrix Blue Frost’ (dark blue to light blue to clear white, all with beards)
  • ‘Matrix Blue Wing’ (purple to lavender trim over white faces with thick, bushy beards)
  • ‘Matrix Lavender Shades’ (wide swings from purple through lavender into white; usually clear faces but whiskers do appear)
  • ‘Matrix Midnight Glow’ (tight burst of yellow surrounded by very dark trim all around)
  • ‘Matrix Rose Blotch’ (pink to burgundy but usually rose; sometimes the blotch appears, sometimes it doesn’t)

For available sizes please consult the Availability section of our web site.

PAN Matrix Blue Wing horizontal
Pansy ‘Matrix Blue Wing’ has different hair styles