Pansies are much tougher than their name implies. They not only survive cold winter weather, but also put forth a very impressive floral display during a time when few other plants are in bloom. In spite of their toughness, they do need a little help to look their best. UNCW uses the following practices to maintain the beauty and vigor of its pansies.
1. Pansies expend a great deal of energy during their short life cycle. Their rapid growth fosters the need for regular fertilization. We apply a granular fertilizer every six weeks. Normally, we apply specially formulated flower fertilizer with a N-P-K ratio of 10-30-20. We do not use slow release (polymer coated) fertilizer on pansies. We have found that during the winter, slow release fertilizer breaks down too slowly. On occasion, we use a water soluble fertilizer to supplement our granular applications.
2. To prevent a pansy from expending energy on the production of seeds, wilted flowers should be removed. This leaves more energy available for the production of new flowers. Both the flower and its stem should be removed. They can easily be pinched or clipped off at the base. You should also remove any yellowing or diseased leaves. This helps maintain a clean appearance and prevents the spread of fungal diseases.
3. In beds with excessive shade or in late spring when temperatures rise, pansies can become "leggy." Leggy refers to unusually long shoots/stems on the plant. Pinching back these shoots helps maintain a dense and compact plant.