When houseplants need water, they show it by wilting but knowing when they need fertilizer is slightly trickier.
Fertilizer is not food for the plants but rather something a plant needs to boost its health. It is a combination of minerals that help a plant grow better.
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Do Houseplants Need Fertilizer?
Outdoor plants enjoy the privilege of natural rain and also of sending new roots to search for food. However, houseplants have limited nutrients available, and they also depend on how much soil there is in the pot. For healthy and continued growth, houseplants need fertilizer in the long run, even though it is by no means a daily requirement.
What does Houseplant Fertilizer contain?
Houseplant fertilizers are mostly made of micro and macronutrients. Among the three most important macronutrients are potassium, phosphorous, and nitrogen.
However, not every fertilizer can be used for houseplants, and it is essential to check the “for houseplants” label on the package before purchasing.
Types of Houseplant Fertilizer
It is important to understand that not all houseplants have the same requirements in terms of fertilizers. Therefore, understanding what kind of fertilizers are there for houseplants is essential.
Granular Houseplant Fertilizer
Granular fertilizers are either found as loose pellets or compressed spikes. The best quality compressed and pelletized fertilizers for houseplants are made of ingredients that are naturally derived.
The ingredients often include blood meal, potash sulfate, limestone, worm castings, rock phosphate, and other plant and animal-based ingredients.
Liquid Houseplant Fertilizer
As a general rule, liquid fertilizers tend to be used more than granular fertilizers. They contain ingredients that come from animals and plants, but additionally, they also contain nutrients from mined minerals.
The main components of an organic liquid houseplant include fish emulsion, liquid kelp, worm tea, compost tea, rock phosphate, liquid bone meal, humic acids, and plant extracts, among many others. In comparison to granular fertilizers, liquid fertilizers come with a lower chance of burn.
Moreover, they do not only provide nutrients to a houseplant but also work as growth enhancers. There are a number of elements in them that enhance the vigor and overall health of your houseplants.
Some of them include plant hormones, trace elements, amino acids, vitamins, and micronutrients.
Slow-Release Houseplant Fertilizers
These types of fertilizers are often created with nutrients from a synthetic source. The liquid nutrients are enclosed in a coating that gradually breaks down and releases low doses of nutrients over an extended period of time.
With a product like this, you would not need to fertilize frequently. Moreover, even though it is not made from environmentally friendly ingredients, it is convenient.
How to Choose the Right Fertilizer?
When it comes to looking for fertilizer, the N-P-K ratio is more important than the brand name. N stands for nitrogen, P stands for phosphorus, and K stands for potassium.
These are the macronutrients your houseplants need the most. The ratio of these macronutrients would look something like 15-30-15.
The fertilizers that have higher ratios are usually more concentrated. Even though the priority should be to look for the N-P-K ratio, a fertilizer also needs micronutrients to be complete.
Six Essential Tips to Fertilize Your Houseplants
Tip 1: Make sure to never over-fertilize and always dilute your fertilizer. If there is a genuine need to fertilize, such as in the case of nutrient deficiency, the potency of the fertilizer can be increased by diluting it less.
Tip 2: Spring is the ideal season for growth as opposed to winter. Hence it is also the right time to fertilize houseplants.
However, plants that do not grow fast should not be fertilized as much as the ones that grow fast.
Tip 3: Find the right ratio of macronutrients your plant needs and then carefully check the N-P-K values on the package.
Tip 4: If a plant provides us with flowers or fruits, it would need to be fertilized more often. This is because when we pluck out their flowers or fruits, we take away their essential nutrients and must restore them.
Tip 5: Even though it is totally up to you to decide whether you would like a chemical or organic fertilizer, it is better to use a chemical one. This is because chemical fertilizers have the right balance of both micro and macronutrients.
Tip 6: Micronutrients play an important role in the developmental functions of a plant. However, plants require micronutrients slightly lesser than macronutrients.
Organic Versus Chemical Fertilizers
Chemical fertilizers have a near-perfect amount of micro and macronutrients and are made of ground-up minerals. If compared to organic ones, they are more affordable and also more concentrated.
Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, are the mildest and are made from natural ingredients. However, due to the higher concentration of natural elements in them, they tend to stink.
Frequently Asked Questions About Fertilizer For Houseplants
What types of houseplants do not need fertilizer?
All houseplants require a fertilizer except the ones that have recently been potted.
How often do I need to fertilize my houseplants?
The schedule of fertilizing them depends on the type of product you use and the N-P-K ratio. Based on the given factors, the schedule varies from after every two weeks to maybe once in four months.
Can houseplants be fertilized in winter?
It is often recommended to fertilize houseplants in summer and spring. Because, in winter, most houseplants do not grow actively. Hence they do not need fertilization.
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.