Pansy’s Place in History: Meaning, Myths, and Magic

Pansies are some of the most beautiful and prized garden flowers. These pretty perennials can bring carpets of color to any outdoor space. But pansies are also rich in symbolism and meaning. These beautiful flowers are cherished by everyone from priests to poets. In this post, we’ll investigate the various meanings and symbolism of pansy flowers.

Ultimate Guide to Pansy Flower Meaning & Symbolism

Pansy Symbolism – Key Takeaways

Pansy flowers are traditionally seen as symbols of love – both romantic and platonic. In Victorian floriography, pansies often represented forbidden love between secret lovers. Pansies also symbolize qualities like compassion, remembrance, and nostalgia. Pansies also embody thoughtfulness.

Etymological Meaning

Pansies get their name from “pensee,” an old French word meaning “to think.” When this word was incorporated into English, it was used as another name for the viola flower. The original plant that pansies come from, heartsease (wild pansy), is derived from the Greek name for St. Euphrasia. This translates as “cheerfulness of mind,” which certainly reflects the cheery blooms of pansies.

The modern horticultural name for pansies, Viola x wittrockiana, is named after Veit Brecher Wittrock, a 19th-century Swedish botanist.

Pansy Flower Colors and Their Meaning

The Meaning, Symbolism, and Cultural Significance of Pansy Flowers

Pansies are beautiful in both looks and symbolism. These cheery flowers are primarily associated with all kinds of love. Pansies don’t just symbolize romantic love but also represent platonic love and general affection for someone.

Pansies get their name from a French word, “pensee”, which translates into English as “to think.” To signify this, pansies are associated with free thinking and thoughtfulness or consideration. Pansy flowers are also linked to feelings of remembrance and nostalgia. In times of loss, the gift of a pansy can be a beautiful gesture of sympathy.

Pansies have hundreds of cultivars, which leads to an astonishing array of available colors. But within these colors, some are mainly symbolic. Let’s check out some common pansy flower colors and their meanings.

Blue Pansy Flower Meaning

Blue pansy flowers vary from striking electric blues to cooler sky blue shades. Regardless of the shade, blue pansy flowers symbolize qualities like devotion, honesty, and loyalty. Blue pansies make versatile gifts and are great for giving to colleagues.

Orange Pansy Flower Meaning

Orange pansy flowers are pretty rare compared to other colors but are no less beautiful. The orange pansy represents hope and optimism but can also be used to congratulate someone on an achievement.

Purple Pansy Flower Meaning

Purple has been associated with rulers and royalty in most cultures for thousands of years. The purple pansy continues this symbolism by embodying dignity and nobility. Due to their rich hues, purple pansies also symbolize beauty.

Red Pansy Flower Meaning

Red pansy flowers are the ones most associated with love. Although red traditionally represents the romantic love we have for a significant other, red pansies can also symbolize platonic love. Red pansies are great gifts for Valentine’s Day to show your passion and love for someone.

White Pansy Flower

Like many white flowers, white pansies epitomize innocence, purity, and virtue. White pansy flowers are also strongly associated with spirituality. Choose a white pansy if you want to give someone a pansy but aren’t sure what you want to convey.

Yellow Pansy Flower Meaning

Yellow flowers never fail to make us smile, including pansies. The yellow pansy represents happiness, joy, and positivity. If you know someone who’s struggling, yellow pansies make an excellent gift.

Pansy Flower Meaning in the Victorian Language of Flowers

Pansy Flower Meaning in the Victorian Language of Flowers

The Victorians loved assigning specific meanings to flowers – a practice known as floriography. In Victorian times, people would often send pansies to their secret lovers. Pansies, therefore, symbolize forbidden love in the Victorian language of flowers. Due to the clandestine nature of the message, pansies were often hidden in bunches of herbs.

Cultural & Historical Significance of Pansy Flowers

In Ancient Greece, it was believed that violas, the ancestor plants of pansies, could be a key ingredient in love potions. This may have helped various cultures interpret pansies as symbols of love. Many Celtic peoples also adopted this practice for love potions.

Pansies represent love in works of literature as well. In one of Shakespeare’s most famous plays, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, pansies are used as part of a love potion. Shakespeare would’ve been referring to the heartsease or wild pansy.

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Pansy Flowers

Suitable Gifting Occasions for Pansy Flowers

Pansies represent various meanings, often depending on the color of the flowers. This versatility makes them fantastic gifts for most occasions, especially in instances relating to romantic or platonic love.

Red pansies are perfect for occasions like Valentine’s Day because they embody romantic love. Orange or yellow pansy flowers represent hope and happiness, making them excellent gifts for anyone recovering from an illness. Blue pansy flowers symbolize devotion and loyalty and would be suitable for a friend’s birthday.


Pansy Flower FAQs

What does a Pansy flower symbolize?

Pansy flowers mainly symbolize forms of love like romantic love and platonic affection. Pansies also embody thoughtfulness, compassion, remembrance, and free-thinking.

Are Pansy flowers lucky?

Pansy flowers aren’t typically considered lucky, but orange pansy flowers are a great gift when congratulating someone on an achievement.

Do Pansies come back every year?

Although usually sold as annuals, pansies are actually perennials. While they can come back every year, excessively cold conditions will completely kill pansies.

How long do Pansy flowers last?

Most pansies will typically live for two or three years. As cut flowers, pansy flowers can survive for approximately two weeks.

Do Pansies flower more than once?

Because they’re perennials, pansies will flower more than once. However, they only produce foliage during their first year.


Wrapping Up

Pansy flowers are beautiful symbols of love, both romantic and platonic. This makes them ideal gift plants for anyone that you have affection for. Pansies also represent compassion and thoughtfulness and are perfect presents for anyone who may be recuperating from illness. For anyone grieving a personal loss, pansies can be tactful symbols of remembrance.


Editorial Director | andrew@petalrepublic.com | Full Bio

Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.

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