General Fertilizer Know-How

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Blooming, Care and Culture, Classification, Growing Indoors, Growing Outdoors

The primary energy force for plants is light, but they also need nutrients that support strong growth. Here are some fertilizer guidelines:

General Fertilizer Know-How

  • As a general rule, fertilize plants whenever they are actively producing new growth, which for most plants is in the spring to fall, when light levels are high. Plants kept under lights should also be fed in winter, but keep in mind that feeding plants that are resting in weak winter light can do more harm than good.
  • Feed plants when the soil is moist. Plants that have been stressed by dry soil conditions may take up more nutrients that they can use when fertilized before they have a chance to re-hydrate roots, leaves and stems.
  • Withhold fertilizer from newly purchased plants or plants that have been moved to a new place, because the task of adjusting to new conditions is difficult enough without the additional pressure to produce new growth.
  • As a broad general rule, wait at least 6 weeks after repotting plants in fertilizer-enriched soil before you begin feeding them again. Plants usually need no fertilizer for several weeks after they are repotted into potting soil that includes fertilizer. Most potting soils do include a bit of starter fertilizer, and it is best to allow plants time to make use of these nutrients before giving them additional food. Knowing when to begin feeding freshly repotted plants is part of the grower’s art, because several factors influence the rate at which the plants use the fertilizer, including light, temperature, frequency of watering, size of the root mass, and overall growth rate of the plant.
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