Should You Fertilize Houseplants

You are aware that indoor plants require water and sunlight, but what about fertilizer? Fertilizing indoor plants during the growing season can provide them the nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) they require to thrive (K).

Similar to learning how to repot a plant, feeding your houseplants can seem intimidating at first. However, after you master the fundamentals, you’ll wonder how your plants ever survived without it. The numerous types of fertilizer available, what fertilizer is (hint: it’s not plant food), and how and when to fertilize houseplants are all covered in the sections below.

What is fertilizer?

First and foremost, plants do not eat fertilizer. Photosynthesis is the process through which plants produce their sustenance while utilizing sunlight. Fertilizer promotes fresh, healthy growth in a similar manner to a multivitamin. Additionally, it can be utilized to replenish the vital minerals that our plants’ potting soil loses as they mature. The main ingredients, or macronutrients, in fertilizers are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), which we will discuss in more detail later. Fertilizers can also contain a variety of other nutrients.

When should I fertilize my houseplants?

like excessive amounts of light or water Your plants may suffer if you use too much fertilizer. During the growing season, which runs from early spring to late summer, we advise fertilizing indoor plants moderately. Plants will gain the most from new nutrients at this period, while they are actively growing. Depending on the fertilizer you’re using, you can typically fertilize your plants monthly or every other week. Read the label carefully because each brand may have a different suggestion for dilution and timing.

Fertilizer will not help newly potted or repotted plants. They haven’t even begun to use all the nutrients in their fresh potting mix! Wait 23 months after a fresh repotting before fertilizing actively growing plants during the growing season to prevent potentially harming recently replanted plants. You can postpone fertilizing until the following growing season if you potted during the autumn and winter.

Because of their decreased metabolic activity, plants in low-light conditions don’t require fertilizer. They don’t consume nutrients as efficiently as individuals who are in brighter light.

What do the numbers on fertilizer mean?

Three of the approximately 17 necessary plant nutrients are prominently featured on the front of the majority of fertilizers. The N-P-K ratio is represented by the three numbers you see: N stands for nitrogen, P for phosphorus, and K for potassium. The main macronutrients that your plant requires are these.

A fertilizer label can include an N-P-K ratio that looks like 10-5-8. Higher ratio fertilizers are more concentrated than lower ratio fertilizers. Do not assume that a fertilizer with greater numbers is superior than one with fewer numbers just because it has higher numbers. It just needs more water to be diluted with because it is more concentrated.

Micronutrients could be included in your fertilizer, making it a complete fertilizer. These can contain things like chlorine, iron, manganese, zinc, copper, boron, and molybdenum. Each micronutrient plays a part in the cellular, enzymatic, and developmental processes of plants, but they are not as essential as the NPK macronutrients. Your fertilizer’s micronutrient content will probably be listed on the back of the container.

For your indoor plants, you can use any all-balanced fertilizer (for instance, 5-5-5) or one with a ratio that fits the goal you want to achieve. In order to stimulate leaf production, for instance, a fertilizer with a higher nitrogen to phosphorous ratio is best, whereas a higher phosphorous to nitrogen ratio aids in promoting fruiting and blooming.

Is solid or liquid fertilizer better?

There are various types of fertilizers. It is mainly a matter of preference when selecting the type of fertilizer to use. Both give the vital nutrients that plants require, yet they each have advantages and disadvantages.

The two types of fertilizers used most frequently for indoor plants are liquid and powder. They may also be the most economical depending on how concentrated they are, or how high their N-P-K ratio is. Fertilizers in liquid and powder form are also simple to use and diluted in water. You can also immediately add a variety of powder fertilizers to the potting soil.

Perhaps less frequently used for houseplants are solid fertilizers, sometimes known as dry or granular fertilizers. Because some granular fertilizers (fertilizer pellets) release nutrients over time, you run the risk of overfertilizing a plant or fertilizing it when it is dormant or growing slowly because of poor light.

Is chemical or organic fertilizer better?

Another option is selecting between synthetic fertilizers, commonly known as chemical fertilizers, and organic fertilizers. The macro and micro nutrients in synthetic fertilizers are typically more precisely balanced and concentrated. They might be more affordable, particularly if you buy them in liquid form to dilute. With less, you can obtain the same amount of nutrients.

Organic fertilizers are typically less concentrated because they are created from all-natural components, such as reprocessed food waste. However, mild is a benefit, not a drawback, of houseplant fertilizer. Although it can be slightly more expensive than other forms, organic fertilizer is a safe, chemical-free choice. Choosing an organic fertilizer may be the finest option if you have pets who share your space.

Chemical and organic fertilizers both supply nitrates, potassium ions, and phosphates to plants, but in different ways. It strikes a balance between your personal preferences and those of your plants.

Quick Tips for Fertilizing Houseplants

First tip: Since plants begin to actively grow in the spring, it is the optimal time to begin fertilizing them. Fast-growing plants should get fertilizer more frequently than slower-growing or dormant plants, such as cacti (i.e., most plants in winter.)

Second tip: Dilute your fertilizer. Less fertilization is preferable to more fertilization. If the potting mix is deficient in nutrients and you haven’t fertilized in about a year, you can improve the efficacy of the fertilizer by diluting it with less water.

3. Plants that produce fruits or flowers over their lifetimes will need extra fertilizer. Picking off fruits or flowers depletes them of their nutrients, which we should replenish.

Know your N, P, and K values. The ratio of macronutrients that should be present in your fertilizer is the one that your plant requires. It resembles the numbers 10-8-10. Find another fertilizer if this isn’t stated on the package.

5. Plants only require a smaller amount of micronutrients than they do of macronutrients, notwithstanding their importance. Micronutrients are typically present in fertilizers, however they aren’t usually highlighted on the front of the fertilizer container.

How frequently should indoor plants be fertilized?

When indoor plants are actively growing in the spring and summer, fertilize them. Use a fertilizer that is complete and contains potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen. Fertilizers for indoor plants can be found in liquid, crystal, granular, spike, and tablet form. Depending on the product, application frequency might range from once every two weeks to once every three to four months. Read the directions on the label attentively.

During the winter, avoid fertilizing indoor plants. Winter is when most indoor plants do not grow vigorously and do not require fertilization.

What occurs if indoor plants aren’t fertilized?

Recently, I’ve been asked a lot of questions regarding fertilizing houseplants. All of my correspondents appear to be of the opinion that fertilization is crucial to the survival of their plants. However, that is not at all the case. In actuality, fertilization has a negligible impact on the development and wellbeing of their green pets. Your houseplants will still thrive even if you never fertilize them. I won’t dispute that their growth will be a little slower and that there won’t be as many flowers, but I think it’s crucial to cross all the ts and stress that fertilizer is not really necessary.

What indoor plants actually require to survive

The two most important components are enough lighting and proper hydration.

People err when they refer to “feeding their plants,” as in applying fertilizer. Light is the real food for all green plants. Plants transform solar energy into the sugars and starches they require for growth thanks to the chlorophyll in their leaves and stems. If a plant doesn’t get enough light, it will eventually die, usually slowly from starvation. Its days are still numbered, no matter how much fertilizer you give it. Each plant naturally has a preference for the amount of light it requires (full sun, partial shade, shade, etc.), but all plants require light to survive.

Watering is just as crucial as light. Lack of water causes plants to frequently fall over extremely quickly. Because withering plants are so visually apparent, most gardeners quickly realize they need to water their houseplants frequently. Those who fail to understand this concept quickly label themselves as having “black thumbs” and give up on indoor horticulture. Of course, too much water is no better than not enough because rot can develop when plants are left in soggy soil for an extended period of time. Always remember the Golden Rule of Watering: Don’t water again until the soil feels dry to the touch.

Houseplants need the right temperature to survive as well. If you leave your jade plant outside over a winter in a northern region, you’ll quickly realize that most indoor plants require tropical temps. We already heat our houses to tropical degrees, so temperature isn’t often seen as a big component in caring for houseplants. As a result, the majority of us currently provide the ideal temperature for the typical houseplant. Dispute settled!

Atmospheric humidity is the fourth crucial element for the survival of indoor plants. Most indoor plants, with the exception of succulents, like consistently humid air, but this isn’t often the case in our houses, especially in the winter or when the air conditioner is running. You might need to figure out a means to raise the ambient humidity in such circumstances.

So, I hope we can all agree that taking care of your plants’ demands for light, water, temperature, and humidity will lead to success with houseplants. You shouldn’t worry about fertilizer until you have taken care of them.

Why? Because plants only require relatively little amounts of minerals (plant nutrients), many of which are naturally present in their environment without the need for commercial fertilizer.

First of all, the potting soils you use to cultivate your plants already include minerals; additionally, as the potting soils gradually disintegrate over time, more minerals are released. Additionally, every time you repot your plants, you provide them with new nutrients. Remember that tap water contains minerals that plants can use to develop as well. Additionally, plants take in dust from the air around them, which also contains nutrients. For all those reasons, plants that are never fertilized yet manage to thrive and even grow.

Therefore, fertilizer is not absolutely necessary for your plants. Rather, consider it a “growth supplement.” Use it sparingly, and ideally only when the plant is actively growing. And keep in mind that any fertilizer will work when you decide it’s time to fertilize your indoor plants. Plants can’t read fertilizer labels, after all!

When should you begin fertilizing indoor plants?

  • Approximately 8 weeks before the last anticipated spring frost, begin fertilizing indoor plants. For instance, in Pennsylvania, where I currently reside, the risk of spring frost usually disappears by May 15. Thus, I start fertilizing my indoor plants around the middle of March. The days start to get visibly longer at this time, and indoor plants transition from dormant to active growth.
  • Half the suggested strength should be used for the first three fertilizer applications. Use half of the recommended amount if the product is granular. If it’s a liquid fertilizer for indoor plants, dilute it by half (more on these two types of fertilizers in a bit). This feeds houseplants at a time when they are just beginning to grow actively and don’t yet need more nutrients to support rapid growth.

Which plants ought to be fertilized sparingly?

Butterfly weed (Asclepias tuberosa), false indigo (Baptisia australis), asters, pinks (Dianthus spp.), rock roses (Helianthemum spp.), sea holly (Eryngium spp.), bee balm (Monarda didyma), speedwell (Veronica spp.), and coneflowers (Echinacea spp.) are perennial plants that thrive without

Does Miracle Gro work well on houseplants?

All indoor plants, including edibles, respond well to Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food! Instantly feed Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food to all indoor houseplants, including edibles. Apply the mixture straight to the soil or combine it with water.

How can indoor plants be naturally fertilized?

Fertilizing indoor plants will enable them to flourish and maintain their beautiful appearance all year long. Natural fertilizers for indoor plants are a fantastic choice because they are risk-free, efficient, and offer a consistent delivery of nutrients into the soil. They are also environmentally friendly and will eventually raise the caliber of the potting soil.

How can you naturally fertilize houseplants? You can utilize natural organic material to offer nutrients for organic fertilization of your indoor plants. Homemade waste materials like coffee grounds, egg shells, banana peels, and green tea leaves work well, as does commercially available natural houseplant fertilizer.

When should plants not be fertilized?

Roses are among the shrubs that are most frequently planted in our landscapes because people adore them. Landscape roses that are hardy and trustworthy are usually incor…

In general, when landscape plants start to grow vigorously is the best time to fertilize them. The conclusion of a plant’s growing season is the worst time to fertilize it. For instance, trees wake up and start growing in the early spring, and they normally receive one fertilization in February or March. We often fertilize shrubs once in the spring or early summer when they are at their most active. Late March or early April is the time to fertilize lawns, and midsummer is the time to fertilize again.

Vegetable gardens and flowerbeds are often treated right before planting. It’s crucial to fertilize plants, especially flowers and vegetables. These plants should perform at their highest potential, and fertilizers can help.

Not all growth starts in the spring. For instance, Louisiana irises reach the end of their growing season in the spring and go dormant during the summer. In October, when they start to grow, is when you should fertilize them. On the other hand, trees and shrubs should not be fertilized in the fall because they are going dormant.

Is fertilizer actually required?

Farmers must make sure their soil is healthy if they want to produce nutrient-rich, healthy crops. Nature tries to replace the nutrients in the soil without fertilizers.

Important nutrients are taken from the soil when crops are harvested because they follow the crop and are consumed during food preparation. Crop yields will gradually decrease if the soil is not fertilized to replace its nutrients.

A chain that produces nutrient-rich food for people is made possible by careful crop analysis and fertilization:

  • The soil is fed by the nutrients.
  • The plants are fed by the earth.
  • Animals and humans are fed by plants.

The three most popular types of mineral fertilizers are phosphorus, nitrogen, and potassium-based.

According to the International Fertilizer Association (IFA), 85 percent of the world’s soils are nitrogen deficient (1). Phosphorus deficiency affects 73 percent of the soils, whereas potassium deficiency affects 55 percent.