Garden Havoc in the Pansy Bed
This year in Georgia winter temperatures have been unseasonably warm, which is causing problems we don’t often experience with winter annuals, pansies in particular. Fluctuating temperatures (typical in March and April) began last December, and the resulting high humidity has been favorable for disease development. Botrytis blight seems to be the biggest aggressor this year.
Temperatures in the 50’s and 60’s, combined with higher than normal humidity and overhead irrigation or rainfall, create an ideal environment for botrytis development. Botrytis causes blotches and brown spots on flowers and leaves, and some plants may collapse and die. The higher than normal humidity creates a grey web-like growth at the base of pansies, which spreads by spores to nearby plants.
As soon as problems are detected, it is important to begin treatment on pansies. Remove and dispose of diseased plants and apply a protective fungicide, available from local garden centers. Follow directions carefully, and repeat as necessary according to the instructions.
Preventive action against disease development: water plants at mid-day so that foliage and flowers have time to dry out before nightfall. When plants need water, water the soil only, avoiding overhead irrigation as much as possible.