Ask a Question forum: fertilizing with Miracle Gro

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choochoo
Aug 22, 2013 9:18 PM CST
Is Miracle Gro beneficial for lilies and peonies?
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
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RickCorey
Aug 23, 2013 3:57 PM CST
I think "it depends".

Are they growing in the ground or in containers?
Is the soil or soilless mix rich, highly organic and fertile, or mostly sand, bark, or Perlite?
Are they in their growing season or dormant where you live?
What kind of lily are they? I see 9 "Divisions" and many genuses (genera?).

Are they already dark green and growing well? Or are they yellowing and hungry when they should be growing rapidly?

You might look here, at the "plant parent page" and see if it helpss to narrow down yourquestion:
Lilies (Lilium)

Someone who knows more than I do about lilies and peonies would know what parts of their life cycles are heavy feeders and which are best left lean.

"Starve a cold but stuff a fever" has analogies in the plant world.

For example, and these are just guesses:
- they might want more fertilizer including nitrogen when fairly young
- but no fertilizer as tiny seedlings and while getting ready for cold weather
- they might want extra phosphorus but less nitrogen right before blooming.
Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 23, 2013 4:13 PM CST
Miracle-Gro vs. organic compost, kelp, fish extract, blood meal, bone meal, alfalfa pellets etc

In my opinionated opinion, the question of "soluble chemicals" vs "organic feeding" depends more on the gardener and on the situation than on the plant.

Most plants benefit greatly from rich, organic soil that retains enough water, drains well enough and is well aerated. Over several months or years, plenty of organic matter like compost is likely to help your soil reach that happy state.

There's no question that if you can feed the soil well with organic material, and maintain a varied and dense population of soil microbes, and aeration, they will feed your plants well.

And it is really easy to use too much fertilizer and kill your plants overnight. Did it say "teaspoons or tablespoons?

I think that's why many gardeners are passionate about "organic fertilizer is the best kind to use".

However, if your soil or soilless mix is NOT richly organic, and the plants are yellowing and hungry right now, soluble chemicals are the fastest solution. Hence Miracle-Gro might be needed - NOT too strong or too often and only WITH enough drainage that you can flush accumulated salts away without drowning roots.

Also, in containers, you might be able to maintain the kind of flourishing soil life that benefits most from a pure organic approach. Aeration might be a problem. In that case, some compost and some chemicals might be needed.

Outdoors in beds, if you can get your hands on enough compost and you're looking a year or two ahead, mulching and compost are the best fertilizers.

In containers, soilless mixes and chemicals are very practical. Soil in pots, especially highly organic soil in pots, tends to become compacted and squeeze all the air out. But some people can probably grow that way because they know how to maintain aeration and drainage even in pots with heavy soil

Is that what the question was getting at?

choochoo
Aug 23, 2013 8:18 PM CST
My Oriental lilies (and peonies) are in the soil, which is fairly organic.........I was wanting to know about what NPK ratio is best for them. I've always used Miracle Gro (hose end sprayer) for them and they do ok; but if that doesn't meet optimum nutrients, then I want to give them the right thing. I'm thinking the peonies especially might do better with something else. The internet info is kind of inconsistent, so I thought someone here could help. Thanks much for the mulch/compost approach. If I can give them a shot of M.G. once in a while and not defeat my purpose, then great.
Name: Rick R.
near Minneapolis, MN zone 4a
I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! Garden Sages The WITWIT Badge Garden Photography Region: Minnesota Plant Identifier
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Leftwood
Aug 23, 2013 9:02 PM CST
Such a direct question deserves a direct a answer.

Yes, both lilies and peonies will respond favorably with added fertilizers (including Miracle Gro). Just like any fertilizer, one wouldn't want to over do it, or apply at a wrong time. As we near the end of the growing season, the question of whether to fertilize or not becomes more important. We can't advise you on this until we know what geographic area you garden in.

Miracle Gro is a fertilizer, but more importantly, it is a liquid fertilizer. Compared to granular types, liquid fertilizers are fast acting and short lasting (2-3 weeks). Depending on what you want your fertilizer to do, these characteristics can work to your advantage, or you may decide a slower acting, longer lasting granular fertilizer is what you want.

Regarding NPK ratios, lilies would prefer higher nitrogen in the spring and early summer, and more potassium in the late summer and fall when bulb building is paramount. Miracle gro, as it is formulated now, has more nitrogen than it used to, and because nitrogen is an easily leached nutrient, I think it would be fine for both seasons. A "booster shot" now and again (but not continuously) is a good plan, in my opinion, but don't fertilize instead of adding organic matter. Do it in addition. LOL on the "optimum nutrient" comment. At the retail center where I work, if a customer asks for some obscure NPK content (11-9-6.2 for instance), we always know what they are trying to grow optimally.... marijuana. Hilarious! Plants are just not that picky. But better to under fetilize than over fertilize. Someone else will need to advise regarding peonies.
Name: Michele Roth
N.E. Indiana - Zone 5b
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chelle
Aug 24, 2013 6:42 AM CST
Hi, Choochoo. Welcome! to ATP!

All environmental concerns aside, if you have a good soil management program in place it's highly likely that you don't need to add chemicals to your in-ground perennial plants and their soil. When I think of feeding perennial plants, I first consider what will be most likely to benefit my soil organisms, since they'll be instrumental in keeping my plants happy and healthy for many, many years. Chemically altered products wouldn't be my first choice for this.

There are also spray-on, living organism-friendly products that are now widely available that contain micro-nutrients, which, if your plants are already thriving, is all they might yet need.
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choochoo
Aug 24, 2013 9:53 AM CST
MUCHAS GRACIAS!!!
Coatesville IN (Zone 5b)
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Claudia
Aug 24, 2013 3:32 PM CST
I dig in some BULBTONE every couple of years for my lilies. Otherwise I just had leaves in the fall and dried grass cuttings to my beds and let nature take its course.

And Welcome to ATP!!
Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them. ~Eeyore
[Last edited by Claudia - Aug 24, 2013 3:34 PM (+)]
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Name: Rick Corey
Everett WA 98204 (Zone 8a)
Sunset Zone 5. Koppen Csb. Eco 2f
I helped beta test the first seed swap Plant and/or Seed Trader Seed Starter Region: Pacific Northwest Photo Contest Winner: 2014 Vegetable Grower
Avid Green Pages Reviewer Garden Ideas: Master Level Garden Sages I was one of the first 300 contributors to the plant database! I helped plan and beta test the plant database. Charter ATP Member
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RickCorey
Aug 26, 2013 12:23 PM CST
You might consider getting a soil analysis done, since you're looking for an optimum rather than "bare sufficiency".

K and P tend not to leach out very fast, so they may already have built up to as high a level as the lilies want. And a soil analysis will tell you if any micro-nutrients are very low or high.

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