Life can be hectic. Sometimes a month will pass before you remember to check on that plant in the corner. And by the time you do check on it, you notice something seems off...
Not to worry! Most common houseplant species are pretty hardy and can tolerate a surprising amount of neglect. Or, let’s just call it forgetfulness.
Few of us have the time to be a part-time botanist in training, which is why we’re starting a Plant Care FAQ series to help answer some of the most commonly asked plant care questions out there.
FAQ: When and how much do I fertilize my plants?
Fertilizer is a plant supplement that replaces the essential nutrients in potting soil inevitably lost over time. It’s important to understand the basics of fertilizing and which plants do and don’t need a nutrient boost. Not all plants require fertilizing; recently potted and low-light plants are fine and dandy without it. Similar to overwatering, it’s much more damaging to over-fertilize a plant than to under-fertilize or not fertilize it at all.
Choose a fertilizer with a N-P-K (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) ratio of 15-30-15. Note that the higher the ratio, the more concentrated the fertilizer. There are often other micronutrients added to fertilizers, such as calcium, iron, zinc, magnesium, and copper. Generally speaking, the more nutrients included, the more complete your fertilizer solution will be.
Fertilizers can come in liquid, powder, and pellet form, and fall into the categories of organic and chemical. Which form and category of fertilizer you choose is entirely up to you. It’s more important to identify and follow the specific nutrient needs of your plant.
Spring is the best time to fertilize your plants, as this is their growing season! When it comes to frequency, a good rule of thumb is that faster growing plants should be fertilized more often than slow growing plants, such as succulents. Most houseplants don't require fertilizing more than once or twice a year.
It's worth mentioning twice: it's always better to under-fertilize than over-fertilize your plants. So dilute your fertilizer with water!
When in doubt of whether to fertilize a specific species of plant, ask your local nursery or reach out to us at any time by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org. Happy fertilizing season!
Photo by @shelovesmedc