Why do my plants need nutrition (during the warmer months)?
Being a PLNTSparent can be confusing! Plants do not cry when they are hungry or uncomfortable (unlike human babies). Instead, they respond to their environment in other, much more subtle ways. Knowing when it is time to feed plants is a challenge, even for experienced PLNTSparents. But don’t worry! The PLNTS team is here to help, and we’d love to share with you the ins and outs of plant nutrition/fertilizers. So that you become more and more proficient at feeding your plants.
What are the needs of my plants?
Plants in pots can survive without extra nutrition or fertiliser. But that does not mean that extra nutrition is not necessary. Just that extra bite will ensure that the plant develops new growth faster and stays healthy and very beautiful. Hi handsome! So when we talk about feeding plants, that’s not exactly what we do because plants can feed themselves quite well. What you as a PLNTSparent do is fertilise the plants and provide them with certain nutrients they need to grow well.
There are 16 different elements that plants need for healthy and strong growth. Quite a large menu, right? Carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen are the foundation for photosynthesis. Those are required in large quantities. Plants get these from air and water. Plants also need relatively large amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These elements are called the primary nutrients, and this is why they form the basis for most fertilizers.
Calcium, magnesium and sulphur are needed in smaller quantities. These are the secondary nutrients. Although they are usually present in sufficient quantities in soil, they may be lacking in soil-less mixtures, especially those with few ingredients.
The micronutrients (yes.. you guessed it) are needed in even smaller amounts! They include iron, manganese, copper, boron, molybdenum, chlorine, and zinc, and perhaps others. Researchers are still studying the nuances of plant nutrition. This proves that sometimes it really is a challenge when it comes to feeding your plants.
The different types of fertilizers.
Now that you know why to fertilize houseplants and what nutrients plant fertilizers should contain, it’s time to look at the different types of houseplant fertilizer to determine which one is right for you! 😊
Liquid houseplant fertilizer
Liquid fertiliser for houseplants needs to be applied to your plant a little more often than granular fertiliser, but liquid fertiliser is still our personal favourite. Then, of course, our own PLNTS nutrition. It is 100% biodegradable, non-toxic, and even comes in a recyclable bottle. Love your PLNTS, love your planet! Liquid fertilizers also come with a reduced risk of fertilizer burn. Good to know right? Another benefit of using liquid fertilizers made from naturally-occurring ingredients is that in addition to providing your plant with nutrients, they also act as growth enhancers. They are full of dozens of micronutrients each of which plays a vital role in the health and vigor of your green family!
Granular houseplant fertilizer
Granular fertilizers for houseplants are found in one of two formulations: as loose, granular pellets or as compressed fertilizer spikes. Pelletized granular fertilizers for houseplants are sprinkled on the surface of the soil. Compressed fertilizer spikes are pushed down into the soil to come in close contact with plant roots.
The best pelletized and compressed granular houseplant fertilizers are made from naturally derived ingredients. These include dehydrated worm castings, bone meal, blood meal, rock phosphate, and other animal-, mineral-, and plant-based ingredients. Synthetic chemical-based granular fertilizers are available for houseplants too. Though we recommend to avoid them. A quick check of the ingredient list on the label tells you what the fertilizer is made from. Good to know and watch, if you don’t see an ingredient list at all, it’s a synthetic fertiliser. Better leave those on the shelf!
Slow-release houseplant fertilizers
Slow-release houseplant fertilizers are made from a synthetic source of nutrients. The liquid nutrients are encapsulated in a coating. This coating breaks down slowly and releases the nutrients in low doses over a long period of time. Products like these mean you’ll be fertilizing less frequently. This is very handy because it means you don’t have to fertilise your plant as often. But keep in mind that they are often made of a non-environmentally friendly ingredient.
We can recommend our Osmocote fertiliser granules. By mixing them into your potting soil, they will release nutrients very slowly and in a very controlled manner over a period of six months. This way, your plant is always provided with sufficient nutrients during this period. But doesn't a plant need different nutrients in the summer and winter? Osmocote can help you with this too. When the ambient temperature is warmer, the grains release more nutrients than when it is cold. You can spread the fertiliser granules over the potting soil but you can also add them while repotting. In both cases, do this once every 6 months to keep the nutrient level up.
Why do my plants need nutrition especially during the warmer months?
You have to fertilize houseplants when they are actively growing, and they grow actively during spring and summer. Also with the longer days, plants are exposed to more sun, and require additional grow nutrients to stay healthy and create new growth.
When should I fertilise my plants?
It is difficult to know when your plants need fertilizing, a little puzzle! There is no clear signal from your plant except perhaps a slowed or stagnant growth, which many PLNTSparents hardly notice. It’s a pity plants can’t talk, isn’t it? So, instead of waiting for a signal from your plant, you need to take matters into your own hands! We have made a handy schedule for you, it is based on the growth cycle of plants.
- Start fertilising your plants about 8 weeks before the last expected spring frost
- The first three fertilisations should be carried out with half the recommended amount.
- When summer arrives, it is time to switch to a slightly different menu! To a more regular fertilisation programme for your plants.
- Base the frequency of summer fertilisers on the type of fertiliser you are using.
- Follow this schedule whether you move your houseplants outside for the summer or not.
- About 8 weeks before the first expected autumn frost, reduce the amount and frequency of fertilizer (reduce by half).
- This season is the easiest! You do not have to fertilise your plants in winter. Plants are not able to grow actively in winter and therefore should not be fertilised. If you do, it can lead to fertiliser burning and brown leaves and you would of course prefer to avoid this!
However, there are two exceptions to these rules:
- If you live in a climate where it does not regularly freeze in winter, you can continue to fertilise your plants throughout the winter. Just make sure that you do this at half the strength and frequency of your summer applications. This has more to do with the light level which is different in winter than with the temperature.
- And if you live in a tropical climate where it is always warm, you can fertilise your houseplants all year round and follow the summer fertilisation schedule!
After reading this blog and using the schedule, your plants are bound to shine and enjoy the summer as much as we do!
Plants make Lisa very happy and she is secretly addicted to buying lots of BabyPLNTS. She loves to inspire the community with fun content, from styling tips to plant care to new products!