One of my favorite ways to add some color to my container garden is by planting pansies. These flowers love cool weather, making them an excellent choice for spring and fall gardens. While I have seen great success with pansies, I’ve also had to deal with the dreaded droop! Pansie flowers are notorious for losing some life and looking a bit drab.
Why are my pansies drooping? Your pansies can be drooping because of too much heat, not enough air circulation, root rot, or water problems. You can revive the pansies by taking care of these root issues like planting them in shade, providing sufficient water, and keeping good space between the plants.
I knew that if I wanted to keep my garden looking fresh, I had to learn more about why pansies droop and how to stop it. Keep reading to learn more details on how you can avoid this problem in your own garden as well.
What Causes Pansies to Droop?
Pansy plants are winter hardy and can grow in most of the country. But, that doesn’t mean that they’re immune to issues. Here are some of the most common reasons for drooping pansies.
Too Much Heat
As we mentioned earlier, pansies are a cool-weather crop that does best during the spring and fall months. The plants flourish when soil temperatures are between 45 and 65 degrees Fahrenheit.
Pansies can even tolerate some freezing. Most will bounce back once temperatures rise again!
One thing they do not tolerate, however, is excessive heat. Temperatures about 65 degrees are hard on the plant. Most will not bloom during the summer months.
Ample shade throughout the day is a must if you live south of hardiness zone 7. Otherwise, your flowers will start to droop!
Not Enough Air Circulation
Ideally, pansies should have between six to ten inches of space between them. Without that room to breathe, your plants can overcrowd as they grow.
This has a couple of disadvantages. First, overcrowding leads to fungal problems. Issues like Downy Mildew can make your flowers look worse for wear. The fungal will stunt growth, weaken the stems, and cause drooping.
Secondly, overcrowding forces the plant to fight for sunlight. The plant will become leggy. When this happens, the plant will attempt to grow more stem before blooming. Unfortunately, the stems of the pansy are too weak to support that growth.
If your pansies are growing in soil that doesn’t have good drainage, they can develop root rot. A lack of proper drainage causes the soils to sit in standing water. As a result, they can develop mold.
You’d think that more water access would be beneficial. However, the mold and fungus that develops wreak havoc on the plant. It stunts its growth and causes the plant to droop.
Finally, pansies can droop because of water stress. Any plant will react negatively to a lack of water or too much of it. Pansies are no different.
Because pansies grow in cool weather, the soil often dries quicker than most gardeners anticipate. Without hydration, the flowers and foliage will start to look a bit worse for wear.
The same goes for overwatering. Watering the plants too much can lead to the aforementioned root rot issue as well as other diseases.
You can read this post to learn when you need to water the pansies, how often to water, and how you should water the plants.
How to Revive Drooping Pansies?
The best way to breathe new life into your pansies is to address the issue that’s causing the problem.
The first thing you’ll need to do is address any fungal problems that your plant is dealing with. Whether the issue is from overcrowding or too much water, you need to get rid of the fungus to help your plant recover.
You can use standard fungicides to take care of the problem. Apply the fungicide in the early spring and reapply every two weeks until your plants are healthy again. To be on the safe side, you can also apply some natural pesticides to prevent future disease.
For temperature and spacing issues, consider transplanting your pansies. These flowers do very well in containers. You can also move them to a bed near some shade.
Place the plants in a cool spot that doesn’t get too much direct sunlight. Doing so will keep the plant cool and prevent any temperature shock problems.
Next, you can address water concerns. Ideally, pansies should receive about an inch of water every week. Check the soil around your pansy plants. If it’s too dry, consider applying some mulch.
About two to four inches of mulch can slow down the rate of evaporation. Not only that, but the mulch can keep the soil cool and protect the plant from freezing. It’s a win-win all around!
Here is a post that will show you the different options of mulch and how you can use it to benefit your pansies.
The last thing you should do is apply some fertilizer. A 5-10-5 fertilizer for gardens should do the trick. The fertilizer will enrich the soil with nitrogen, phosphate, and potash. It gives the plant a good boost of nutrients and improves its overall health.
These steps should help revive your plant. It will take some time, but your pansies should perk right back up. Pansies recover nicely if you address the droopiness early.
When Should I Replace My Pansies?
Contrary to popular belief, pansies aren’t annual flowers! They’re actually short-lived perennials that can return the next year if the roots stay in good shape.
That said, most gardeners don’t treat them as perennials. Pansies have a shorter lifespan than most perennial plants. The growth cycle only lasts a couple of years.
At that point, the plant will die off. Unless you preserve seeds or let the plant’s seed spread naturally, the cycle of the plant ends after only two years or so.
For this reason, pansies are typically treated as annuals. So when do you know it’s time to replace those pretty flowers with something else? Here are some good signs that it’s time to move onto something else.
When They Get Too Leggy
Healthy pansies aren’t very tall. Many consider these flowers to be good ground cover between larger plants. When they’re in good shape, the flowers only get to be about nine inches tall at the most.
If the plant gets any taller than that, it might be time for a replacement. You can address legginess early on with pruning.
In some cases, you may be able to rejuvenate leggy pansies by cutting them back to about five to seven inches. But that only works if it’s still pretty early in the growing season.
Say, for example, that you have a fully bloomed pansy that’s drooping due to legginess. There’s not much you can do to salvage the plant at that point.
When Temperatures are Too High or Too Low
Major temperature changes aren’t great for pansy plants. The flowers will sag when daily temperatures rise above 70 degrees. At about 80 degrees, they will experience severe heat stress.
When temperatures are consistently hot, there’s no way that you can save the plant.
The same goes for extreme cold. Pansies are very tolerant of cool temperatures. But they will wilt and die when the climate is consistently around 25 degrees Fahrenheit.
When the Seasons Change
There’s no hard and fast rule of when you should replace your pansies. As long as they’re looking good, you can continue enjoying them!
That said, most pansies will start to experience issues when the seasons change. The plants are at their best during the spring and fall. But the summer heat will cause them to droop and die.
As a result, most gardeners will start thinking about replacing the plants come late April or early May.
Why Are My Pansy Leaves Turning Yellow?
Drooping isn’t the only problem you might have to deal with when caring for pansies. Oftentimes, yellow leaves accompany the droopiness.
Yellowing is not a product of water or temperature issues. They can lead to wilting, but the color of the leaves usually stays green.
Instead, yellow leaves are a sign of disease. Here are the most common causes of yellow leaves on pansy plants.
Earlier, we talked a bit about root rot and how it causes drooping. There are many different types of root rot that can affect pansies. Two of them can cause yellow leaves.
The first is Black Root Rot. Leaf yellowing is the most common symptom. With this form of root rot, fungal spores turn the roots deep black. It’s common in the latter parts of summer and usually affects plants in very hot climates.
Phytophthora or Fusarium fungi can also affect the roots. These are soil-borne fungi than can quickly spread to other plants. It attacks the roots, resulting in yellow leaves. The fungi also weaken the stem quite a bit.
You should protect your pansies from overwatering that can be a major cause of root rot. Read this post to understand more about overwatering and how you can protect your pansies from it.
Nutrients in the soil have a big impact on pansy plants. While the plants react to a wide range of nutrients, nitrogen is particularly important.
Nitrogen deficiencies stunt growth. The plants absorb nitrogen and use it to grow. Without it, the lower leaves will turn yellow and purple.
Luckily, this issue is easily addressed with some nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
You can find a list of 27 natural fertilizers to use for your pansies. Make sure to pick one that is rich in nitrogen.
Leaf Spot Disease
Leaf spot disease is a common issue that plagues pansy plants. The disease is a result of a pathogen called Cercospora.
The pathogen affects the lower leaves of the plant. Initially, the leaves will take on tiny purple spots and flecks. Over time, the disease worsens. The leaves turn yellow from the center before wilting and falling off.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.