Ask a Question forum: Fertilizing houseplants beginners?

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Name: piegirl
6a Midwest
piegirl25
Apr 20, 2020 10:56 AM CST
What are the basics of fertilizing or things that a beginner should know? Can you use the same fertilizer for all of your plants, or could you use alternatives to a liquid fertilizer/fertilizer spikes like worm castings? All any answer would be greatly appreciated!

For reference if the plant I have-
Hoya carnosa, lucky bamboo, scindapsus Pictus "argyraeus", peace lily, golden pothos, aloe Vera, pilea peperomiodies, sedum "burrito", sedum clavatum, and a golden sedum
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
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DaisyI
Apr 20, 2020 11:26 AM CST
What you must first understand is the fertilizer companies have done a real good job of salesmanship - we are all absolutely convinced our plants need copious amounts of fertilizer or they will hate us.

Here are some basic 'rules'

Fertilizers all contain pretty much the same nutrients but in different stengths. Most plants will do fine with just about any fertilizer that is well balanced and has micro-nutrients.

Don't use fertilizer stakes as only one part of the root system is fertilized. The roots support the plant above them so if you add 1 stick to a pot, 1/4 of your plant will get over fed while the rest goes hungry.

Check the potting soil package. A lot of potting soils come with added nutrients. If you add fertilizer to those soils in the first 6 months, you run the risk of over-fertilizing.

When you do fertilize, use it at 1/4 to 1/2 the recommended strength.

Most plants only need fertilizer a few times each year and some don't need it at all. Hoyas are on that list.

If a plant is stressed (just transplanted, fighting off bugs, looks sickly) don't fertilize in hopes that will make it feel better. It won't.

We all have our favorite fertilizers so if you ask, you will get a lot of different answers. I once attended a seminar led by a well known west coast orchid grower. You can buy a lot of different orchid foods, depending upon where the orchids are in their annual growth cycle. Someone asked what he would use. He said mix them all together and use them at reduced strength. Hilarious!
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org
Name: tarev
San Joaquin County, CA (Zone 9b)
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tarev
Apr 20, 2020 12:11 PM CST
I have always adopted, less is more..or none actually. From the list of your plants, none of them seems to need a lot, actually would do okay with none. What you would be more cautious about is your watering regimen and providing light access to them.

It is different with actively growing plants that bloom profusely outdoors. They need much more energy to make their blooms. The indoor plants for the most part consume much less. At most the timing to apply the fertilizer is important. Oftentimes the mistake is applying fertilizers when the plant is in visible distress. It is not a vitamin, not a cure for not adhering to its proper growing culture. So get to know the active growing phase of your plants, that is the best time to provide fertilizers if at all needed, and not at the time when they are somewhat at rest or showing distress.
[Last edited by tarev - Apr 20, 2020 12:12 PM (+)]
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Name: piegirl
6a Midwest
piegirl25
Apr 20, 2020 12:14 PM CST
Thank you for the answer! It was concise and straight to the point! Most of my plants I have for less than a year so I think fertilizing won't be necessary.
Name: Daisy I
Reno, Nv (Zone 6b)
Not all who wander are lost
Garden Sages Plant Identifier
Image
DaisyI
Apr 20, 2020 1:59 PM CST
Thumbs up
Life is not a journey to the grave with the intention of arriving safely in a pretty and well preserved body, but rather to skid in broadside, thoroughly used up, totally worn out, and proclaiming...."WOW What a Ride!!" -Mark Frost

President: Orchid Society of Northern Nevada
Webmaster: osnnv.org

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