Most people think of sunlight, water, and proper soil mix for house plant care. Unfortunately, people sometimes overlook the importance of a plant’s fertilizer. So how does fertilizer help plants, what is the best to use, when should someone fertilize a house plant, and more? Find out these answers in this blog post.
What is Fertilizer for Plants?
Plant fertilizer is similar to vitamins that humans take to get extra nutrients in their system. Feeding houseplants fertilizer gives them that same benefit. Getting a boost of nutrients might be what your houseplant needs to stay strong and healthy in your home.
How Does Fertilizer Help Plants?
Indoor plant fertilizers give three critical nutrients to plants, which are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.
- Nitrogen: Helps with a plant’s overall growth
- Phosphorus: Helps the plant’s roots stay strong
- Potassium: Helps the plant with blooming
Fertilizer helps get these extra nutrients above into a plant’s system lacking in the soil. By itself, the nutrients inside the soil will slowly drain away when watering the plant, for example.
Can Fertilizer Help Combat Bugs?
If there are diseases or insects on the plant, fertilizer will not help. If the plant stops growing, you should not give it fertilizer. Finally, don’t add fertilizer to a plant if it makes the leaves burn.
Instead, you should either wash the plant outside or take rubbing alcohol on a tissue or cotton swab to remove the insects from the plant. Fertilizer is not the answer to combat bugs on a plant.
Organic and Non-Organic Fertilizers for Houseplants
There are two types of fertilizers you can use for houseplants, organic and non-organic. You can tell the difference between organic and non-organic fertilizer by looking and the ingredients. For example, an organic fertilizer might have fish, manure, banana peels, or other natural earth materials in the mix, while non-organic have artificially created components.
However, both will have nutrients your plant needs to thrive: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It comes down to the personal choice of which you would like to use in your plant. Below is a breakdown of the pros and cons of each.
Pros and Cons of Organic vs. Non-Organic Fertilizers
Organic fertilizers produce fewer fossil fuels when in production, which is vital to reduce emissions. However, organic fertilizers tend to be more expensive than inorganic fertilizers. It comes down to a personal choice in which is more important to you.
Ways to Make Your Own Natural Fertilizer for a Houseplant
For anyone looking to make organic fertilizer, there are several standard components that people use. Some pieces include plant extracts, banana peels, kelp, eggshells, and worm team. Other times, you can use coffee grounds as a fertilizer if a plant likes the acidic soil, like a snake plant.
Common Non-Organic Types of Fertilizers to Buy
There are three types of all-purpose fertilizers to use for indoor plants that you can buy.
- Liquid Houseplant Fertilizer: You add the fertilizer to the water
- Granular Plant Fertilizer: You mix the nutrients into the soil, and they react to water when they become wet
- Slow-Release Fertilizer: A slow release of nutrients that work best when repotting a plant in new soil.
When Should I Fertilize My Houseplants?
Fertilizing houseplants can be done during the Spring, Summer, and Early Fall if you live in a warm enough climate. However, it must be done in a certain way for each season, unless you live in the tropics, in which the summer schedule is the proper way to do things all year. Otherwise, this will cause a lot of problems for the plant, such as wilting.
You should spray the leaves during a cooler part of the day to prevent burns to the plant for liquid fertilizers. For example, early in the morning would be better to use a liquid fertilizer than earlier in the afternoon. A granular fertilizer works best during the spring and summer.
During the fall, take care of problems with fall frost early on. This can be done by just simply using less fertilizer eight weeks before the start of the fall frost.
How Much Fertilizer Should I Give a New Plant?
Give a new plant half the recommended amount of fertilizer if the plant is beginning to grow. Doing any more than this can result in over-fertilizing, which could stop the plant’s growth altogether. Giving too much fertilizer can be from organic or inorganic fertilizer.
What are the Signs You are Giving a Plant too Much Fertilizer?
In general, it is best to give a bit less fertilizer to plants if you are new to plant care. However, sometimes you might give too much fertilizer even as an experience plant caretaker. Here are some common signs that your plants either have too much fertilizer or the fertilizer is not working well.
- Slow to no growth
- Yellowing leaves
- Brown tips
- A crust of fertilizer at the top of the soil
If you find these signs happening with your plants, you have a few options to fix the fertilizing problem. First, you can dig up a bit of the soil to remove any extra fertilizer there. Second, you can cut off any brown or yellow leaves to help preserve the plant’s strength.
Does Light Play a Role in How Much Fertilizer I Give a Plant?
If you are growing the plant in low-light areas, you will not need to fertilize the plant as often as you usually do. With low lighting and just the right amount of fertilizer, the plant should thrive without too much fertilizer.
Conclusion – How Often Should Houseplants Be Fertilized
In summary, fertilizer plays a critical role in the success your plant will have. Sometimes people overlook the importance of fertilizer, but getting the correct amount of fertilizer can be the secret tip to a happy and healthy plant. Finally, you can experiment with different types of fertilizer to see what works best for your plant!