The Q&A Archives: Pansy Wilt

Question: Some of my pansies are wilting and several days later they are dead, or close to dead. I consulted an old copy [c. 1978] of Reader's Digest Illustrated Guide to Gardening under "Plant Disorders" and found the following: "Pansy Wilt: Symptons & Signs - Wilted plants w/rotted crowns. Plants can be lifted easily. Treatment - Don't grow Viola species in same position every year (this is 3rd yr I've grown them in same area). If trouble appears, use quintozene or terrazole in planting holes (too late) and repeat weekly if trouble appears." I've called local nurseries--they've never heard of these products. What product currently available can I use? I've never had a problem growing pansies before and I really want to save them if I can, but each day I check them, several more are in the process of wilting/dying. There is no mold or blight on them, nor is anything eating them, so: A) do you think it IS pansy wilt? B) how do I treat it? or C) what else can you suggest? I appreciate any help you can give!

Answer: I have not heard of these products, but it's very possible that they are no longer approved. Many older pest control chemicals are being prohibited as new, less toxic, more effective ones become available.

It does sound like pansy wilt, caused by several different fungi. Since these fungi can remain in the soil, it's best not to replant pansies in that area for a few years. You might consider planting them in containers, in purchased potting soil, instead. Or you can try amending the soil heavily with compost -- compost contains many microorganisms that can minimize problems with disease. (Occasionally drenching the soil with "compost tea" may also help.)

I love pansies, and I know how disappointed you must be. I hope this helps!

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