Darrell Blackwelder column: Tips to help pansies survive winter

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 4, 2021

Pansies look very good now even though we had some unusually cold weather last week. A friend asked what they needed to do for these pansies so they would survive our upcoming winter. Below are some tips that will help pansies survive our winter into the spring.

Add mulch — Finely ground bark or mini-nuggets are excellent mulching materials that insulate the plants during freezing weather and also conserves water and reduces weed pressure. Add at least 2-3 inches of bark or pine needles for added security.

Pinch spent blooms — Pansy plants may need to be pinched at least once to promote branching. Blossoms should be periodically pinched and deadheaded to promote continuous bloom throughout the growing season.

Proper fertilization — If possible, deadhead and fertilize them but not when temperatures are warm — above or near 60 degrees. Fertilize them in cool weather with liquid bloom booster fertilizers. Applications during warm weather often promote aggressive growth and the plants usually become weak and spindly.

Water periodically — Pansy plants are shallow rooted, requiring ample water during the growing season with supplemental irrigation during dry winter periods. It’s also very important to keep them properly irrigated before freezing weather.

Check often — Pansy plants can withstand freezing weather, however constant freezing and thawing may heave plants out of the soil causing the roots to dry out and die. Periodically check plants during inconsistent weather.

Darrell Blackwelder is the retired horticulture agent and director with the North Carolina Cooperative Extension Service in Rowan County. Contact him at deblackw@ncsu.edu.