When To 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 low 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.

When should indoor plants be fertilized?

As a general rule, only fertilize indoor plants when they are actively growing. While they are dormant, feeding them might cause their foliage to burn or even result in their death.

Don’t overfertilize your plants. Follow the instructions on the product you’re using because using too much can be just as bad as using too little. You should halve the concentration of liquid fertilizers if you want to be safe.

Do you fertilize indoor plants before or after watering them?

The biggest cause of indoor plants dying in people’s homes is improper watering practices, such as using too much or too little water. Of course, watering isn’t the sole reason some plants die, but most of the time, improper watering causes plants to wither. Here are some general recommendations for watering your houseplants, followed by some advice for fertilizing them.

  • Make sure your plants are in a container with a drainage hole and that the container is sitting on a saucer. You can water them well without worrying that your floors will become flooded or soiled if you use a saucer that is deep enough to capture a significant amount of water.
  • Every four days, check on your plants to see if the soil seems and feels dry. Squeeze it. Check to see if there is a gap where the dirt has separated from the pot. That’s yet another indicator of the soil’s dryness. Smaller pots may be lifted to determine their weight, and by frequently doing so, you can determine how much a dry plant weighs.
  • When a plant is dry, give it enough water that the saucer below fills with water. The plant will be able to absorb all the water if the pot is left submerged in a saucer of water for a few hours. The next day, if you see that there is still a sizable amount of water in the saucer, blot it up with a cloth or a turkey baster.
  • Because the soil and roots aren’t adequately hydrated, providing too little water, watering infrequently, or applying “a lick and a promise” is just as terrible as not watering at all. Do not skimp on your waterings.
  • Roots will decay if they receive too much water. For this reason, you should water well before waiting a few days before doing so again. The roots will decay in pots that are left submerged in deep water for more than a few hours.

If your plant is housed in a beautiful pot, make sure to remove any leftover water after watering. Give the plant plenty of water, let it sit in the pot for one or two hours, then drain any extra.

Look at the saucer on the right where water has gathered. That can remain in the saucer because it is not much. However, it indicates that this plant did receive thorough watering.

Trays are under the plants in this window to collect water. The Maxsea fertilizer bottle is one that the staff likes to use when synthetic fertilizer is required.

  • Never feed a plant that needs water. Water thoroughly first, and fertilize the following day. This is particularly valid if you’re using synthetic fertilizer.
  • From October through February, you shouldn’t fertilize indoor plants unless they flower in the winter, like some orchids and all citrus. The plants typically take a break from growing during this period of short days and don’t require those extra nutrients.
  • Between mid-February and mid-March, start fertilizing once more. Throughout the summer growing season, fertilize frequently.
  • For information on how much fertilizer to give your plants, refer to the package instructions.

Two organic fertilizers made by Coast of Maine are made specifically for indoor plants. A nice fertilizer to use on flowering plants, including African violets, is Tiger Bloom.

This organic fertilizer is a popular since it contains minerals and soil-feeding elements like earth worm castings. Given that most houseplants are produced for their foliage and that this fertilizer contains a higher dose of nitrogen to encourage leaf growth, it is particularly beneficial for houseplants.

This is just one of the numerous products we provide that include living soil organisms like mycorrhizae. It’s especially beneficial for plants that have spent more than two years in the same container and soil.

In the winter, should I fertilize my indoor plants?

Do indoor plants need fertilizer throughout the winter? Because most indoor plants are not growing throughout the winter, fertilization is typically not required. In the spring and summer, when plants are actively growing, indoor gardeners should fertilize their houseplants on a regular basis.

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

Why are indoor plant leaves yellowing?

To figure out why your favorite houseplant has suddenly started to produce yellow leaves, you don’t need to be Sherlock Holmes, but you will need to perform some investigation. This is due to the fact that yellow leaves might indicate a variety of conditions. Here are seven typical causes of yellow leaves in houseplants.

1. Water

Yellow leaves can be caused by either too much or too little water. Your plant may eventually sacrifice some of its foliage in an effort to conserve moisture if it is not given enough water. Conversely, too much water will frequently cause the death of your plant’s roots because they are unable to breathe in saturated soil. Yellow leaves will also grow on your plant as a result of this.

Start by making sure your plant is in a pot with drainage holes at the bottom if you want to avoid any of these issues. Between waterings, the extra water will be able to drain via these holes. When the top inch of soil seems dry to the touch, water your plants only then. From pot to pot, frequency may vary depending on factors like size (larger pots with more soil generally need less frequent watering), season (most plants don’t use much moisture during the dark days of winter), and plant type (succulents, for example, don’t need as much water as heavy drinkers like peace lilies).

2. Light

If houseplants receive too much or too little light, their leaves may also become yellow. If plants that prefer shade, such as tropical ferns, nerve plants, and calathea, are forced to dwell in a bright location, their leaves will gradually start to turn yellow.

Conversely, if cultivated in gloomy settings, sun-loving indoor plants like succulents, crotons, and jade plants may begin to yellow. When purchasing a new houseplant, always read the label and put it in a location that meets its light needs. Most types of houseplants will thrive in direct, bright light.

3. Delivery

It might not be a problem if your houseplant begins to drop yellow leaves as soon as you get it home from the garden center. Most likely, your plant is simply shedding leaves it can no longer support as it adjusts to the lower light levels in your home. Some species, like the ficus, for instance, will occasionally drop their yellow leaves when they are relocated. But don’t worry; usually, after a little period of adjusting, your plant will produce a new crop of foliage.

Repotting houseplants shouldn’t be done for at least a week or two after you get them home, to give them time to become used to their new surroundings and reduce transplant stress.

4. Resilience

Lower leaves on older plants frequently turn yellow and drop off. Your plant is not sick as a result of this. It simply means that the plant no longer requires those lower leaves because they are now shadowed by higher foliage. Additionally, keep in mind that many typical houseplants are actually trees in their original habitats, and that when they grow larger, they attempt to develop a trunk by shedding their leaves. For instance, Norfolk Island pines sometimes sacrifice their lower boughs as they get taller and taller.

Five. Hunger

If a houseplant lacks some essential nutrients in the soil, they will also grow yellow or splotchy leaves. Since plants are typically cultivated and marketed in nutrient-rich potting mix, this is typically not an issue when you initially purchase a plant (and most of our plants come with a time-release fertilizer added). To retain healthy leaves, however, your plants will eventually exhaust the food that they were given and require a little boost of plant food. Every time you water your plants, give them a small amount of diluted liquid fertilizer to keep them healthy.

6. Pests

Yellow leaves on your houseplants can also be caused by indoor plant pests like aphids and spider mites. Both suck plant juices, which makes the leaves appear aerated and fading. Aphids have tiny rice-grain-like attachments at the ends of their stems. Spider mites produce fine-hair-like webs on the undersides of the leaves of your plants, but they are nearly impossible to notice with the naked eye. An organic insecticide for houseplants can be used to control both pests. Maintain a high degree of humidity around your plants because these pests also thrive in dry air.

7. Thermometer

Because they are tropical plants, indoor plants don’t like harsh weather. Your plants may drop yellow leaves if they are forced to dwell too close to a heat vent, fireplace, air conditioner, or drafty window or door. Most houseplants grow in a range of 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.