February 1, 2023
Placing your plants in the right pot, watering it as per rules and requirements of the specific plant, pruning it, and de-posting the plant all work well and increase the decency and longevity of the plant, but this is not enough. Plant fertilizers form an integral part of gardening, whether it is outdoor or houseplants. In this article, let us find out more about these fertilizers under the following sub-heads-
- What is a fertilizer?
- What is the role of a fertilizer?
- Types of fertilizers
- How to apply fertilizer to plants
Let us take these sub-heads one by one.
Fertilizer for plant growth – Pro Tips and Tricks
So, before we delve deeper into the topic, let us understand the basics.
What is a fertilizer?
Fertilizers are chemicals or natural substances that can be added to the land or the soil, so fertility improves. These fertilizers contain essential nutrients like nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) that the plants require to maintain healthy growth. When plants meet these nutrients, they use sunlight, water, and air to process their food by a process that is known as photosynthesis.
What is the role of a fertilizer?
Here, instead of mentioning the role of a fertilizer, let us find out the advantages of using the best fertilizer for plants at home, irrespective of whether it is the best fertilizer for flowering plants or the best fertilizer for vegetables in pots. The benefits are as follows-
- Using fertilizers improves the yield of crops.
- Plants can grow healthily
- You will be able to protect the plants against pests.
- The farming space can be utilized well.
- Using fertilizers can guarantee the livelihood of the farmers.
- Yields are stable and predictable
- Helps in optimizing the pH value of the soil.
- It is a cheap means of improving plant health
- Reduced incidence of soil erosion
The fertilizer you use will depend on the plant you use, whether it is for a pot of vegetables or flowers or a pot of ornamental plants.
Types of fertilizers
Nitrogen is the so-called “workhorse” nutrient, supporting the growth of the leaves of the plant. Root growth and flowering are taken care of by phosphorous, and all-round plant health is taken care of by potassium.
The amount of each of the nutrients a plant will require depends on the type. For instance, succulents with fewer leaves will need succulent specific fertilizer at a 5-10-10 ratio, usually referred to as the n-p-k ratio.
Remember, the n-p-k ratio for vegetables will not be the same for flowers or other plants, as we have seen above. Details of the same amount you need for any specific plant can be better understood in the fertilizer n-p-k chart.
On the other hand, for the flowering plants, a higher value of P is desirable. Ideally, for a houseplant, if the ratio is even or the same for all three nutrients, it is optimum for the plant.
Liquid fertilizers are most widely used due to their ease of application and can be added directly to the soil. Alternatively, granular fertilizers can be used after dissolving them in water.
Slow-release fertilizers are quite common, and another type of fertilizer is widely used. These fertilizers need to be applied infrequently, perhaps just once a month. However, the slow-release fertilizers will not give you a clear picture of how much fertilizer the plant requires in the first place due to the confusing frequency of application.
Making your fertilizer or plant food is the best you can do for your plant. However, experts say that unless you understand the underlying concept of using stuff like eggshells, banana peels, salt, and sprinkled coffee well, it can cause more harm than good.
Moreover, using uncomposted kitchen leftovers can lead to a bacterial or fungal infection that can damage the roots and the different parts of the plant. So, before you try your hands on homemade fertilizers and use them for your houseplants, you must exercise caution for the same. Seek advice from professionals to save your plants and let them live longer.
How to apply fertilizer to plants
Experts say that the golden rule for applying fertilizer is that you must never over-apply them, especially a synthetic fertilizer is what you are using. If you are using synthetic fertilizers, it is best to cut the proportion to half of what you would have applied had it been a homemade or natural fertilizer. In the case of houseplants that are not very large but tiny, one-fourth will suffice well.
As far as the time of application is concerned, from the time you plant it in a pot, you will not have to use fertilizer for at least two months since the plant is in new soil. Also, use less fertilizer at the beginning and end of the growing season since the plant’s uptake of the ingredients will not be much, and the plant’s uptake will not be active.
Another important aspect you must consider while administering the fertilizers is the concentration of the N-P-K ratio. If the concentration of the three ingredients is higher, the fertilizer is strong, and you must apply it only after diluting it in water.
In a nutshell, applying fertilizers will help replenish the nutrients required by the soil, which in turn will be used by the plant.
Josie Patra comes with 7 years of blogging experience. She has completed her degree in medicine and studying post-graduation in veterinary science. Josie has two dogs of her own and is an ardent pet lover.