How Often Should I Fertilize My Plants?

Even though from a distance it might seem super easy to take care of a plant baby, unfortunately they don’t cry or make a noise when they’re hungry or uncomfortable – which does happen!. A frequent question i’m asked is, how often should I fertilize my plants?

It can be challenging to know when to fertilize your plants, whether you’re brand new to plant parenting, or you’ve been doing it for years.

The best time of year to fertilize your plants is in the early spring. This will encourage the growth of leaves.

Even though this is the case, you might still have some late freeze or snow in your area. Ensure that you wait until the date of your last frost, as this will prevent harm to juvenile growth.

How often should I fertilize my plants?

It all depends on where your plant is based and whether they’re indoors or outdoors. If you have your plants in a container, you should fertilize them twice a week. If they’re houseplants, then fertilize them once a week. Outdoor plants should be fertilized once a month

Once you’ve started to fertilize your plants, you’ll notice a huge difference. They will become larger and produce more fruits and flowers.

They’ll also be much stronger to fight off diseases and pests, as well as have a better resistance to drought and other stresses caused by change of weather.

If you have outdoors plants, such as vegetables, then you should use gentle formulas or a slow release fertilizer through the season.

What type of fertilizer should I use?

compost garbage heap
Organic compost heap – a great fertilizer when it’s ready!

There are two types of fertilizers that you could use; Processed and Organic.

Processed fertilizers are also called synthetic or chemical fertilizers and they are made of natural ingredients such as sodium chloride, phosphate rock and potassium chloride salts.

All ingredients are refined to be made more concentrated and they are usually mostly quick-release in a water-soluble form so the nutrients are able to travel to the plant quicker.

Organic fertilizers slowly release nutrients and the materials are derived from plants. The micro-organisms in the soil break down, making it easier for the fertilizer to pass through.

These are usually spread over the soil in a granular form, so you won’t need to apply it nearly as often.

Organic fertilizers are more costly, and they are often used for a smaller garden. You also don’t need to use it as often, so if you’re weighing up the long term benefits, organic definitely outweighs processed.

Where do I get the fertilizer?

You can purchase fertilizers from any garden centre, or nurseries. As long as you know what you’re looking for, they’ll usually be in the same section as plants and gardening materials or tools.

If you struggle to find what you’re looking for, staff members are more than likely able to help.

Once you find a fertilizer, you should look at the three numbers that are on the containers, this is the fertilizer analysis.

The numbers indicate the percentage of potassium, nitrogen and phosphorus in the fertilizer.

Every plant needs nitrogen to grow their leaves, stems, flowers and roots. If your fertilizer doesn’t have enough nitrogen, this can cause lower leaves to turn yellow and then plant will turn a pale green.

Although, if you apply too much nitrogen, then this could kill your plants.

Phosphorus gives your plant cell division to help for the roots, flowers and fruits. If your plant doesn’t have enough phosphorus, it will be the cause for stunted growth and poor flowering.

Potassium helps your plants to live and grow, if there is any shortage, stunted growth and yellowish leaves will be the outcome.  

How much fertilizer should I apply?

You should ensure to have your soil tested every 2 years, this is very important, especially if you’re just beginning with gardening and you’re unfamiliar.

The best time to test your soil is midwinter, just in time to prepare for spring planting.

If you haven’t been able to test your soil, use 2 to 3 pounds of fertilizer, such as 10-20-10 for every 100 sq ft of area.

Don’t use too much fertilizer, as this can kill your plants. Two cups of fertilizer is equal to about 1 pound, but if you find your fertilizer has more nitrogen, you should use less. Two pounds of 5-10-5 fertilizer should supply as much nitrogen as 1 pound of 10-20-10.

If you’ve decided for an organic fertilizer, spread it evenly over your garden and work it firmly into your soil. 20 to 30 pounds of manure for every 100 sq ft of garden.

Remember not to use too much, and also, not fresh manure as it can injure the plants.

Conclusion

dung compost heap
Partially decayed green compost, such a grass clippings etc.

So, to follow the question of how often you should fertilize your plants, it goes easy with saying that you won’t need to do it often, and it will alter slightly due to the fertilizer you choose.

Before you apply any fertilizer to your garden, read and follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to know how much fertilizer per plant you should be using.

Remember also to choose a fertilizer that isn’t too high in nitrogen as this can severely harm your plants. Good luck!