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Jean Genie

We all know that anything growing in a container or basket needs feeding and watering regulary during growing season as we have to replace the nutrients they require but what about during the winter ? Do we give them an occasional feed or just leave them until spring. The reason I ask is because I have just put some winter pansies in baskets and the label  says to feed every week.

The whole subject of feeding plants sometimes makes me confused. We are told that certain feeds promote good flowering but I was under the impression that plants flower to produce seeds for its survival so if its well fed why would it want to?

Other plants , we are told not to feed as we would only get foliage and where these plants grow in their own native soil , no-one feeds them but they manage fine.

It really confuses me.


I would keep it simple-if it is the growing season for a certain plant then it needs feeding-if it is dormant then it doesn't-it is just a waste

So the pansies may need a feed at some point but I have found even with winter ones if it gets too cold they shut down

It is a question of using the right feed-but for flowering plants tomato food is fine you want to encourage flower-it is high in potash- but for veg you would use something like growmore to encourage leaf -depending on the veg

And some you don't need to feed at all-my runner and french beans just get a sprinkle of chicken manure at the beginning and left to get on with it.

In the wild plants just cope because they can sprawl to reach nutrients but in a garden environment where we restrict them to certain areas they need help

Still confused?

Jean Genie

Not as much but what about stuff that flowers in poor soil e.g. Nasturstiums and Ipomea ? Read you're not to feed them at all as you'll just get loads of foliage and no flowers.


Oddly enough I grew some nasturtiums in containers this year and it didn't really work as I tried the no feed regime and they were not happy- moved some to the garden and they are healthy with green leaves and flowers- in the containers they just looked sad

That is when it becomes tricky and confusing

Jean Genie

I agree. I grew some morning glory , put some in a pot and didn't feed them. Loads of flowers. Had some spare , so put them in hanging baskets which were fed every week - same result !

Oh well. keep calm and carry on ,

Thanks Geoff.


Is multi purpose compost a kind of feed as well?



Kitty Jingga wrote (see)

Is multi purpose compost a kind of feed as well?



Multi-purpose has food in it that last around 6 weeks-so it is not a feed as such.

Alina W

Going back to the original question, if you planted up your pansies in commercial compost then you won't need to feed them for 4-6 weeks because of the food in the compost. There's no real point in feeding plants in winter because they're not growing, and so won't use the food.

Also, if they do grow, they will just produce soft growth that will be killed by frost - this is especially true of shrubs.

If plants are over fed they produce growth and little flower. I have always felt it better to feed the soil rather than the plant. Good "humussy" soil is better than a poor soil with loads of fertiliser. Back to the original question, I would not feed annuals during the winter generally. But things like Hellebores fed now will help them flower during winter and I do this by mulching and light fish blood n bone or potash only.
Jean Genie

Thanks for all your replies, everyone. Just a subject that always baffles me but things are a lot clearer now.

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