Food For Indoor Plant. There’s a lot that needs to be considered when you’re feeding your indoor plants. But once you’ve chosen the best plant food for your plants, it can be quite simple. The plant food should contain 1) all the nutrients your indoor plant wants and 2) nothing more.
Food For Indoor Plant
Sun, water, and tender love and care—this trifecta is considered necessary for healthy plants, whether they reside indoors or out. It’s a good idea to also tack nourishment onto that list; feeding your houseplants or garden varieties at the appropriate time is integral to their continuous growth. Choosing the correct plant food is key. Curious about which fertilizer varieties add the most nutrients, micronutrients, and more to plants’ soil? Read on for the brands that get the job done. Your plants will happier after each treatment, guaranteed.
This water-soluble plant food is an all-purpose variety that will boost your plants’ soil with all the nutrients it needs during the growing season. Add it to a watering can every one or two weeks to give your blooms a boost. It’s safe for flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs, and houseplants.
This formula—designed for your plants and veggies—promotes top growth and root development. It’s best utilized on perennials in and around your garden. One application can feed plants for up to four months.
CREDIT: COURTESY OF HOME DEPOT
Plants like hollies, azaleas, and dogwoods prefer an acidic soil environment, which is what this fertilizer creates. The slow-release option is organic and promises better blooms and leaves when applied twice yearly to your camellias, rhododendron, evergreens, and more.
Here’s an organic all-purpose option; the spikes consist of pre-measured fertilizer and promise perfect delivery every time (and you won’t have to worry about runoff). The format is ideal for every plant variety, since the biozomes are implanted towards the roots of your botanicals.
CREDIT: COURTESY OF HOME DEPOT
For succulents, a slow-release formula works best. Enter Miracle-Gro’s iteration, specially designed for cacti, jade, and other common succulents. Apply it every two weeks for the best results.
If you’re looking for a fast, easy way to give your houseplants a boost, look no further than this three-ounce organic plant food shaker, which contains the equivalent of three gallons of liquid plant food—and will make your houseplants look larger and more vibrant.
Container plants have specific needs on the fertilizer front, which is why Osmocote created these nuggets for potted plants. Each pod contains enough nutrients to give your plants a boost for six months. The all-purpose formula means that it works across a variety of plants—just adjust the number of nuggets you use based on the size of your containers.
This quick releasing fertilizer gets nutrients to your plants fast, and then continues to feed them for months after each application. The formula provides both your indoor and garden plants with nutrients, micronutrients, and multi-minerals.
CREDIT: COURTESY OF AMAZON
Treat your flowering and foliage-heavy indoor plants to an added boost of nutrients with these targeted, easy-to-use spikes from Miracle-Gro. The continuous feeding spikes provide micronutrients for two months after each application.
How and when to feed houseplants
Being a houseplant parent can be confusing business! Unlike human babies, houseplants don’t cry when they’re hungry or uncomfortable. Instead, they respond to their environment in different, far more subtle, ways. Knowing when it’s time to feed houseplants is challenging stuff, even for long-time houseplant growers. Today, I’d like to review the basic ins and outs of houseplant fertilizer, and cue you in on how and when to feed your houseplants.
When to feed houseplants
Houseplants wilt when they need water. Their leaves grow pale and lanky when they aren’t getting enough sunlight. When the humidity is too low, they turn crispy; when it’s too high, they may develop rot. But, knowing when your houseplants need to be fertilized is far trickier. There’s no clear signal from your plant that shouts “Hey, it’s time to feed me!”, other than perhaps slowed or stagnant growth, which for many houseplant parents, is barely noticed. So, instead of waiting for a signal from the plant, you’ll have to take matters into your own hands and use houseplant fertilizer on a schedule that’s based on their growing cycle.
Each specific houseplant has slightly different needs when it comes to houseplant fertilizer amounts and frequency, but there’s no need to overly complicate the process. Yes, you could study up on each individual houseplant species you care for, determining its specific nutritional needs, but the truth is that the vast majority of common houseplants have fertilizer requirements that are similar enough that treating them in a singular way is more than enough to satisfy their nutritional needs. Some houseplants are heavier feeders than others, it’s true. But, a houseplant fertilizer schedule like the one found below, offers a good balance that both satisfies heavy feeders and keeps you from going overboard with those houseplants that require lower amounts of fertilizer.
Here’s the best fertilizer schedule for most common houseplants. It’s based on the cycle of the growing season, which, though they are inside where temperatures are more consistent, influences houseplants much the same way it influences outdoor plants.
The best houseplant fertilizer schedule
In a bit, I’ll discuss different houseplant fertilizer products mentioned here and how to apply them, but here’s the low-down on when they should be used.
Spring houseplant fertilizer schedule:
- Start fertilizing houseplants about 8 weeks before the last expected spring frost. For example, here in Pennsylvania, where I live, the danger of spring frost typically passes around May 15th. This means I begin to fertilize my houseplants in mid-March. This is when the days begin to lengthen noticeably and houseplants shift from a semi-dormant state into a period of active growth.
- The first three fertilizer applications should be made at half the recommended strength. If it’s a granular product, use half the amount suggested on the label. If it’s a liquid houseplant fertilizer, mix it to half strength (more on these two types of fertilizers in a bit). This feeds houseplants at a time when they’re really just gearing up for active growth and they don’t yet require larger amounts of nutrients to fuel prolific growth.
Summer houseplant fertilization schedule:
- When summer arrives, it’s time to switch to a more regular houseplant fertilizer program.
- Base the frequency of summer fertilizer applications on the type of fertilizer you’re using.
- Liquid fertilizers are applied more frequently, bi-weekly or monthly, for example.
- Granular products are used less frequently, perhaps once every month or two.
- Slow-release houseplant fertilizers break down slowly and release their nutrients in small amounts, over a longer period of time. A single application of most of these products lasts for three to four months.
- Follow this schedule regardless of whether you move your houseplants outdoors for the summer or not. Houseplants are in a state of active growth when summer light levels are high, regardless of whether they’re exposed to the consistent temperatures of a home environment or the ups and downs of sitting out on a patio or terrace.
Fall houseplant fertilization schedule:
- About 8 weeks before your first expected fall frost, taper off your houseplant fertilizer amounts and frequency. At my house, that means starting in mid-August, I reduce the amount of fertilizer by half and start extending the amount of time between fertilizing for about 3-4 applications, which typically takes me to about the time of winter’s arrival.
Winter houseplant fertilization schedule:
- None. Houseplants are not in a state of active growth during the winter and therefore should not be fertilized. Doing so can lead to fertilizer burn and brown leaf tips (more on why this happens here).
Two exceptions to these rules:
- If you live in a climate that does not receive regular winter frosts, continue to fertilize houseplants all winter long, but do it at half the strength and frequency of your summer applications. Again, this is due to light levels more than temperatures.
- And, if you live in a tropical climate, where it’s warm all the time, keep your houseplants on a summer fertilization schedule year-round.
What’s in houseplant fertilizer?
Most houseplant fertilizers contain a mixture of both macro- and micronutrients. The three primary macronutrients, nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, found in a container of fertilizer are listed as a ratio on the front of the bottle or bag. Called the N-P-K ratio, these numbers tell you the percentage of each of those nutrients inside the container. The ratio of these macronutrients in a tomato fertilizer or a lawn fertilizer is different than the ratio found in a houseplant fertilizer as each of these groups of plants has different nutritional needs. This means using a fertilizer formulated specifically for houseplants is a must. That should be the first thing you look for when purchasing houseplant fertilizer. It should say “for houseplants” somewhere on the packaging.
Phosphorous (the middle number on the container) is essential for flowering. Houseplant fertilizers for flowering plants should have a slightly higher amount of phosphorous in them (1-3-1, for example). Those used on green houseplants that don’t typically produce flowers, should be slightly higher in nitrogen. They may also contain a balanced ratio of nutrients (5-3-3 or 5-5-5, for example). I typically use one houseplant fertilizer for my flowering houseplants and a separate one for non-flowering types. This isn’t necessary unless you’re growing flowering houseplants like African violets, begonias, or gloxinia.
Many, but not all, fertilizers also contain secondary macronutrients, like calcium and magnesium, as well as micronutrients, such as iron, zinc, and boron. These nutrients are used in smaller amounts than the primary macronutrients of N, P, and K, but they are still essential to every plant’s metabolic pathway. You’ll want to be sure your houseplant fertilizer contains a small amount of these nutrients as well.