Question: Should or can oleanders be fertilized? We have one that we keep in a pot and bring inside during the winter and back out in the late spring in Tennessee. Thanks for your help.

Answer: Plants in containers do need fertilizer because they will use up existing nutrients in the soil and roots can't expand outwards to seek more. Feed with a fertilizer geared to flowering plants or shrubs according to package instructions, even reduce the amount by half. Oleander are tough plants that don't need a lot of coddling!

Here?s some basic info on fertilizer and nutrients that plants require. The 3 numbers on a fertilizer bag refer to the percentage of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K (potassium) in the bag. There are different formulations for different purposes. In general terms, nitrogen produces lush green growth, phosphorus helps strengthen stems and produce flowers, and potassium keeps the root system healthy. If you're applying fertilizer to fruiting (e.g., tomatoes) or flowering plants, you're not as interested in the plant developing leaves as you are in it flowers and fruit, so you'd use a formulation lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus, such as Miracle-Gro's Plant Food at 15-30-15. Bone meal is an organic source of phosphorus.

Organic sources of nutrients:

Nitrogen: alfalfa meal, blood meal, coffee grounds, cottonseed meal, fish emulsion, seabird guano.
Phosphorus: bone meal, rock phosphate
Potassium: greensand, seaweed, kelp

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