Q. I’d planted several half-barrels of pansies earlier this fall and now they are looking a bit puny. What can I do for them this time of year? L.V., West Side, Albuquerque
A. First, I’d make sure that you are watering the barrels. A dried-out pansy looks horrid when they’re cold. Next, you might consider tenting the half-barrels in the evening and then remember to uncover in the morning. Pansies can take quite a bit of cold weather but maybe they are a tad too cold or there is a stiff wind knocking them down so to speak.
Then it could very well be time for a fertilization. Now remember pansies are peculiar. Most flowering things prefer and require a fertilizer that contains a bit more phosphorus in it since it’s the phosphorus that “feeds” the bloom. Well, pansies will benefit from a fertilization that contains more nitrogen it the mix.
Most all of us know that nitrogen is meant for good green growth and by itself it’s considered quite “hot” in nature. That’s why a high nitrogen-based fertilization is preferred for growing spaces like lawns. It’s the nitrogen that feeds the grass blades so perfectly. Here’s the peculiar part. Offering your pansy plantings, a dose of fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen (like a lawn food) rather than a fertilizer that is meant to feed bloomers could be just what your plantings need.