Pansies are such a great early spring plant. They're colorful, cheery, and even delicate-looking. Yet they're also extremely cold-tolerant and hardy. Plus, there are so many types and colors to choose from- you could do all one color; a mix of bright hues; all purple and white combinations, etc. This spring, I decided to go with bright mix of the solid color type (no "faces" or second shade in the middle)
You'll want to wait until danger of frost is over and night time temps are over 40 at night.They'll be happiest in full/partial sun with the soil kept moist. Frequent dead-heading will keep them from getting too leggy.
Pansies were popular in the 1800's as a symbol of secret courting or separated lovers. Like roses, the color of the pansy had significance. (Red/Violet=passion, Yellow=happiness, blue=trustworthy, orange=nice booty). [ed: just checking if anyone is reading this drivel]
Pansies are also edible. They contain salicylic acid, the same ingredient used in aspirin for headaches, and saponins, which have expectorant and anti-inflammatory qualities. Just don't eat pansies from the nursery, the pesticides will probably outweigh the benefits. Fine foods stores carry organic pansies used for cooking, or you could grow your own organically.
A pansy window box or container is the perfect way to start off your spring gardening (and drinking).