We are going to continue on the topic of fertilizing your houseplants focusing on how much fertilizer is needed, other ingredients you should consider looking for in your fertilizer, and should you use organic or synthetic fertilizer. Other tips included are how to fertilize your houseplants and when not to fertilize.

How Much Fertilizer Is Needed?

As we previously mentioned, less is better. If you think you need to drench your plant in fertilizer, you are mistaken.  You will wind up burning the plant.  Plants only require a very small amount of fertilizer.  Remember when in doubt restrain yourself.  Also, some of the labels on the fertilizer bottle might tell you to fertilize them every time you water the plant.  If you have plants in a southwest window, you might water the plant more than once a week especially in the summer.  It is better to understand the plant to figure out how often you should fertilize.

What Else Do Plants Need?

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium are not all that your houseplants will need.  There are other macro and micronutrients that are needed.  Look for these fertilizers that have other nutrients.  For instance, here are some nutrients that are integral in helping plants through their life cycle:

Boron
Copper
Iron
Manganese
Molybdenum
Zinc

You will often find these micronutrients listed on a synthetic fertilizer bottle.   Organic fertilizers do have micronutrients but they are not listed because when using organic ingredients it is difficult to guarantee the exact amount of micronutrients. Some of the micronutrients you might see listed on an organic fertilizer bottle include:

Calcium – can get from eggshells
Bacillus – helpful bacteria found in soil
Trichoderma – a fungus that works with plant roots and helps prevent diseases

What Is Better Organic vs Synthetic Fertilizers?

A plant does not really know the difference between the two different types of fertilizers.  If you are trying to build -up helpful microbes that help your plants stick with the organic fertilizers.  Synthetic fertilizers do not normally help with building up microbes for your plants.

How To Fertilize Your Plants

Find a gallon container and fill it with water, then mix the fertilizer in with the water. If you are using a synthetic fertilizer use half the suggested amount.  Next, pour the water into your watering can.  Water the plant thoroughly, so the micro and macronutrients are given the chance to absorb through their root tips and root hairs. The larger the plants the more it will need the micro and macronutrients.  If there is excess water make sure you get rid of it. 

If you have an air plant, mist the plant or soak it in water and then apply the fertilizer, which is in a spray bottle. You do not soak the plant in the fertilizer.

When Not To Fertilize Your Plants

Don’t think if you fertilize your plant it will revive the plant if it is dying. It can actually make it worse.  During the plant’s dormant season, do not fertilize the plants. There are some succulents that go dormant in the summer, so make sure you know the seasonality of your plants. Another time not to fertilize is if you have not watered your plant in a while. This is not the time to dump fertilizer on the plant. 

When you purchase or receive a new plant make sure you wait 4 – 6 months before you fertilize.  The grower has probably been fertilizing the plant to make it grow to sell. 

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