We know that you love your plants and hate to see them go hungry. However, how and when do you apply fertilizer? Follow our step-by-step guide on how to fertilize your plants!
Figuring out how, what, and when to feed your plants can get overwhelming, especially if you’re a beginner. For some plant parents, they skip the whole process of feeding their plants since they already know what exactly their plants need, but there’s a great disadvantage to this. If you’re not feeding your plants, they likely won’t grow healthy and well, especially indoor plants because the nutrients available to them are strictly limited by the amount of soil in their containers or pots.
Omysa Plant Care Tip: Feed your houseplants in the growing season, which is spring and summer, to give your plant a little boost and to promote growth. Avoid feeding your plants in the fall and winter.
What is Fertilizer?
According to BYJUS, fertilizers are chemical substances supplied to the crops to increase their productivity. These are used by the farmers daily to increase the crop yield. The fertilizers contain the essential nutrients required by the plants, including nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. They enhance the water retention capacity of the soil and also increase its fertility.
Think of fertilizers as nutritional supplements for your plants. They need different types of life-sustaining nutrients in their soil for them to grow well and to improve their health. If your plant is lacking nutrients in their soil, it will not blossom or might be prone to rot due to lack of calcium, the leaves will turn to yellow because it lacks nitrogen, reduced flowering since it needs phosphorus, and it will have weak stems from lack of potassium.
However, we mentioned that some plant parents skip the whole process of feeding their plants since not all soil needs fertilizer. For example, outdoor plants in a natural setting where fallen leaves and plants decompose in its place. If your plant’s soil is rich in nutrients, you don’t need to fertilize it because too many nutrients can upset your plant, which may lead to fertilizer burn. Signs of fertilizer burn may appear within a day or two. Symptoms include browning or yellowing and withering leaves.
Omysa Plant Care Tip: Always follow the instructions on fertilizer labels since too much can kill your plant. We know that you mean well, but too much fertilizer is unhealthy for your plant.
Types of Fertilizers
There are different types of fertilizers you must learn: granules, liquids, slow-release, sticks, and tablets. For your houseplants, the two best fertilizers are liquid and slow-release. Granular fertilizers are best for outdoor plants, while sticks seem inconvenient since you have no control over its release.
Omysa Plant Care Tip: Always take a soil test to truly determine the level of nutrients in your plant’s soil and to avoid fertilizer burn or shock.
Granular Fertilizer: More commonly used for outdoor plants, granular fertilizer are dry pellets of pure fertilizer. It is mixed into the potting soil by hand. It can also be used for indoor plants, but it can be tricky because it releases all of its nutrients at once when the pot is watered, which makes it hard to control.
Liquid Fertilizer: One of the best fertilizers for indoor plants is liquid fertilizer because it provides a steady supply of nutrients that you can precisely control. It’s diluted into water and can be poured using a watering can. Read the feeding requirement of your plant to learn how frequent you should feed it.
Slow-Release Fertilizer: One of the top choices of plant parents. Slow-release fertilizers release a small, steady amount of nutrients over a course of time. It adds nutrients to your plant’s soil by naturally breaking down and decomposing. It’s covered with plastic resin or sulfur-based polymers that slowly break down from the heat, soil microbes, sunlight, and water.
All general-purpose fertilizers contain the basic macronutrients that houseplants or indoor plants need to grow healthy and well, like nitrogen for healthy foliage growth, phosphorus for bigger, healthier blooms, and potassium for strong room system. We recommend that you do your research and study the fertilizer label to check what nutrients it contains and if it’s suitable for your plant.
How Often Should You Fertilize Indoor Plants?
The answer depends heavily on the type of plant you have and what kind of soil your plant has. Some houseplants require much more intensive feeding than others to maintain good growth and health.
However, it’s best to feed your houseplants every two weeks to once every few months, depending on the type of plant and the type of fertilizer you’re using. For houseplants or indoor plants, they should be fertilized regularly during the growing season. Avoid feeding your houseplants or indoor plants during cold months or winter.
Signs of an Unhappy Houseplant
It’s so easy to identify if a houseplant or indoor plant is not doing well by the way it looks. Here are signs of malnutrition or neglect in a houseplant:
Brown Leaf Tips: A sign of over-fertilizing is if the leaf tips of your houseplant or indoor plant are turning brown.
Scorched-Looking Leaves: To be simple, plant burn from over-fertilizing or too much direct sunlight.
Spindly or Weak-Looking Plants: If your houseplant or indoor plant looks feeble, it might be lacking food, proper light, or both.
Too Many Leaves, No Blooms: This is typically due to having too much nitrogen in the soil or over-fertilizing.
Different Methods on How to Fertilize Your Plants
OK, now that you know what fertilizer is, the different types of fertilizers, and how often you should fertilize your plant, let’s talk about the different ways on how to fertilize your plants.
1. Check Your Plant’s Soil and pH
If your plant’s soil has any deficiencies, you have to add a balanced fertilizer and supply whatever nutrients your plant’s soil is deficient in. Most houseplants prefer a pH balance of 6.0-7.0 to effectively absorb the nutrients.
2. Choose a Well-Balanced Fertilizer
These are the fertilizers labeled 5-5-5 or 10-10-10, which means they are balanced in key ingredients (nitrogen, phosphate, and potassium). Ask for help, or do your research to know what’s best for your plant.
3. Feed the Leaves
Your plant can absorb 8x to 20x more nutrients through their leaves, so it’s important to feed the leaves with a liquid fertilizer from time to time.
4. Feed the Roots
Use compost and manure to feed the roots of your plant during planting and before the growing season.
Steps on How to Fertilize Your Plants
Step #1: Remove dead or dying leaves from your plant with pruning shears or sharp scissors. Be sure to wipe it with rubbing alcohol between each snip. Trimming your plant will help send energy to the healthiest leaves.
Step #2: Never apply fertilizer to dry soil. Always make sure that your plant’s soil is evenly moist by watering your plant properly before applying the liquid fertilizer.
Step #3: Dilute the liquid fertilizer with water to half strength, or as instructed because over-fertilizing your plant can lead to fertilizer burn or shock.
Step #4: Carefully and evenly pour the liquid fertilizer over the top of your plant’s soil. Be sure to discard any water left in the saucer.
Advantages of Fertilizers
- Fertilizers are easy to transport, store, and apply.
- Fertilizers are predictable and reliable.
- Fertilizers are water-soluble and can easily dissolve in the soil.
- You can select a specific fertilizer due to its nutrient specific nature.
Disadvantages of Fertilizers
- Excessive use of fertilizers can lead to fertilizer burn or shock.
- Some fertilizers are expensive.
- The ingredients in the fertilizers are toxic to the skin and respiratory system.
There are two types of plant killers: overwatering and too much fertilizer. We know that you only want your indoor plants to be healthy, and one way to do this is to keep a record of how often you feed your houseplants and when to avoid problems such as reapplying too soon, which can cause damage to your plant.
If you’re a beginner or new plant parent, bookmark this guide on how to fertilize your plants to prepare you for the next growing season! Grow your plant knowledge. Check out our Plant Care blog to learn more about different houseplants and tips on how to keep your plants alive and healthy.