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How often should I fertilise my indoor plants

 indoor fertilizer for plants

One of the most contested areas for indoor plant lovers. My watching in past years of caring for hundreds of indoor plants is that houseplants don’t really need all that much fertilizer. To elaborate a bit more on fertilizer and interior plants,

how often should you fertilize indoor plants

A) Less is more

B) Fertilizer make schedule should be based on sunlight

C) Newly purchased plants don’t need fertilizer for 6 months - 1 year

D) Leach plant-soil once a year

Less is more

More fertilized is maybe one of the important causes of indoor plant demise. Most indoor plants are all native to the forest - so that plants evolve to have a minimum amount of nutrients enough. If you follow the package directions, which usually say to fertilize once a month, your plants will look great for a year or two; then, inexplicably, they’ll start to decline - dropping leaves, yellowing, fading. 

If you analyze the soil, you'll find a high salinity level, screwed up pH, and mineral toxicity The reason - too much unused fertilizer, which is the same thing as saying elevated salt level (minerals in fertilizer have to be in mineral salt form to be absorbed by roots.) Too much fertilizer = too much salt. And organic fertilizer doesn’t protect, because the minerals in that still have to be changed into mineral salts by soil microorganisms before the plant can absorb them. It just takes salt longer to build up, because organic fertilizer is less concentrated than chemical types.

Also, the amounts for chemical fertilizers as printed on package directions are too strong. Fertilizers for indoor plants work much better if they’re mixed at 1/2 strength of package directions. Avoid sticks, slow-release pellets, granules - all too strong for indoor plants.

Fertilizer make schedule should be based on sunlight

 The less light plants have, the less fertilizer they need. A good basic schedule is a low light, 1 - 2 times a year; medium-light, 2 - 3 times a year; high light, 3 - 4 times a year. Marlie Graves' answer to What’s your preferred schedule for fertilizing house plants, and why?

Newly purchased plants don’t need fertilizer for 6 months - 1 year

Newly purchased plants shouldn’t be fertilized. So many times, people think they need to rush their “new babies” home and save them from the horrible conditions of the nursery store by immediately repotting them (because the soil is so awful and cheap) and fertilizing them (because they must be starving because those money-grubbing growers don't care about them at all.) My dears, let me explain the industry to you. 

First, the store didn’t grow the plants; they were purchased from a large greenhouse growing operation. Second, if the plants do not grow well and quickly, the grower has no income - so they use good potting mix (often better than the stuff you buy from the store in packages) and fertilize the plants as much as they will take to encourage lush growth. When you get a plant, it’s not going to need fertilizer for at least 6 months, quite probably more. And it doesn’t need to be repotted, either.

Leach plant soil once a year

 Leaching - this means to run a lot of water through the soil of the plant, something on the order of 5X’s pot volume, for the purpose of washing out unused fertilizer. Which is what makes the salts that “burn” plant roots. 

Just pour it on and let it run through - you’ll need to put your plant outside, or in the sink, shower, or some other place with a drain. (And no, you don't need to use rainwater, distilled water, or anything other than tap water. Really, I can't imagine how any place in the US would have tap water "so bad" that it can't be used on indoor plants.) Doing this once a year will go a long way toward keeping your plants healthy and beautiful.


Peoples Gardening

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