Food and Fertilizer

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Spring is here!

And it’s my favorite season for so many reasons! It’s the re-emergence of plants (and animals) after winter’s hibernation and the promise of sunnier days ahead. A little sun goes a long way for my disposition. (shown: Philo Red Emerald)

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when should i fertilize?

Your cue to begin fertilizing your plants should be based on the appearance of new growth and/or blooms and not necessarily the season. The nutritional needs of plants—up, down, and all around—can be the difference in a plant that looks healthy and actively growing vs sad and wilted.

(shown: spring cactus)

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light=food fertilizer=vitamins

Understanding the light requirements of your plant is important before you even purchase a plant, as well as the placement in your home or office. Stand where your plant will be placed and ‘look for sky’. More sky=more light=more food for your plant through photosynthesis. Note: generally speaking, houseplants cannot tolerate direct sun as this will scorch them. Without adequate light, plants will gradually starve appearing wilted and losing leaves. It’s possible to move the plant to a brighter location in an effort to perform ‘plant CPR’ if it isn’t too far gone. Fertilizer is not a miracle cure for a starving plant. (shown: Monstera Deliciosa)

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what does N-P-K mean?

Let’s understand the basics of fertilizers. There’s 3 numbers that represent the concentration of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium or N-P-K. These numbers will be different depending on the fertilizer you choose.

Nitrogen (N) is to aid leaf cell growth or the UP. Nitrogen deficiency in plants causes a lack of chlorophyll and yellowing of older leaves.

Phosphorous (P) is to aid root development and maturity or the DOWN. Phosphorous deficiency in plants will fail to grow to their expected size.

Potassium (K) has a major role in biological and chemical processes or ALL AROUND. Potassium deficiency in plants may cause yellowing leaves, stunted growth and poorly developed roots.

So what numbers are best for houseplants? If you’re unsure of the fertilizer requirements of a specific plant, an all-purpose concentration is 10-10-10. ALWAYS read the package label to understand proper application and/or dilution.

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what about succulents?

Succulents and cacti require a lower concentration of N-P-K as their leaves are more water cells than leaf cells. Look for nitrogen less than 2.

(shown: Echeveria Purpusorum)