Garden & Landscape Tips

Pansies in pots on the porch
Put pots on the porch, by the mailbox or along the deck so you can enjoy the fragrance.
Olga Miltsova / GettyImages

Pansies and Violas are two favorite, easy-to-grow spring annuals that can be used to not only beautify the yard and give awakening landscapes a pop of color - they can be used to sweeten salads, cheeses, cookies, biscuits, teas and more. Pansies and violas are colorful, gorgeous, fragrant and edible. These annuals tolerate the ups and downs of spring temperatures so they are often one of the first flowers you’ll find available at garden centers in early spring. So, next time you see them, think beyond the garden because when it comes to incorporating them as an edible, you’re limited only by your imagination.

Pansies in a salad
Mix viola or pansy flowers with spinach and other spring greens.
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Colorful Flavors

The sweetest and most fragrant violas are in the purple to blue range, and are used frequently in desserts. Top a cake, cupcakes, ice cream and other sweet treats with fresh flowers or ones that you have candied (more on how to candy a viola or pansy, below). Other colors are a bit less sweet and can be used in savory or sweet dishes. The flowers and leaves of violas and pansies can be added to salads for a perky flavor. They are often described as tasting slightly spicy, with a lettuce-like  flavor.

Top a cupcake with fresh pansies
Top a cupcake with fresh pansies or violas for a stunning decoration
ThitareeSarmkasat / GettyImages

Pansy and Viola flowers are also beautiful when frozen in ice cubes and used to brighten lemonade or other refreshing drinks. Just a quick reminder, that if planning to use a Pansy or Viola as an edible, confirm the plant source and that it was grown without pesticides. If unsure – plant your own from seed so you’ll have no worries.

Viola and Pansy Growing Tips

Pansies and violas grow well whether in pots or in the ground. Because these are early season annuals, there’s less concern about how much sun they get. Trees and shrubs are not leafed out yet, and the sun this time of year is not as strong as it is in summer, so the light exposure should be fine.

Put pots on the porch, by the mailbox, along the deck, wherever you walk and can enjoy the violas and pansies fragrance. Plant a few in the ground along a walkway from the house to the garage so you can appreciate the flowers and distinct, perfume-like fragrance.

Candied viola flowers
Candied viola flowers add an unusual, flavorful decoration to sweet treats.
Photo Heiki Rau/

Candied Pansy or Viola Flowers

  • Lay out a piece of parchment paper
  • Fill a shallow bowl with superfine granulated sugar
  • With a fine brush, paint each side of the flower with a thin layer of egg white
  • Place the flower in the bowl and sprinkle it with sugar
  • Place the flowers on the parchment paper to dry overnight
  • Decorate cakes, cupcakes or other treats with the flowers
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