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One of the great things about our climate zone is that we get to enjoy cold-hardy flowers like pansies most of the winter. Sometimes, though, a pansy-bed doesn’t look as cheerful as we would prefer.

A pitiful appearance can be a natural response to very cold temperatures. The leaves usually turn dark and appear wilted as the temperature drops below about 25 degrees F. However, there can be other reasons for sad-looking plants.

UGA’s Gary Wade and Paul Thomas provide helpful information for planting and keeping a pansy-bed at its best in the publication Success with Pansies in the Winter Landscape.

Much of the information is about planting, including the best timing (early October for us), soil preparation (well-drained, with pH 5.4-5.8), plant spacing, and fertilizing. It is too late now to change elements of planting that might not have been exactly right, but one element still under a gardener’s control is the fertilizer type and schedule for winter.

For pansies, Wade and Thomas recommend applying a liquid fertilizer that contains at least half of its nitrogen in nitrate form, and to apply it every 14 days until mid-March. For complete information about the recommended fertilizer and additional tips for pansy care, see Wade and Thomas’s publication.

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