How and when to fertilize your houseplants

I often get asked if houseplants need to be fertilized.  I usually say yes but…

If you have just purchased a plant, you don’t have to fertilize it for a few months because the nursery where it was grown has probably fertilized it with a granular fertilizer mixed in the potting soil that will release fertilizer for a few months.  And bringing your plant indoors to a less than perfect environment for plants will cause the plant to use less food.

During the fall and winter months, plants grow less and use less food so you don’t have to fertilize as much if at all.  But during late spring and summer months, I fertilize indoor plants a bit more.   I try to fertilize at least once a month (using less than the recommended dose) with a water soluble fertilizer that dissolves quickly in water.  I just add it to the watering can and water the plants as usual.   

Or you can fertilize every week but make sure you add much less fertilizer than is required to avoid built up in the soil.  I add about 1/4 of what the instructions calls for if I decide to fertilize every week.  I forgot where I saw this saying but a plant expert reminds himself to fertilize “weekly weakly”.  It is better to fertilize less than to overdo it and kill the plant.

(Pictured here is an indoor Anthurium Plant that can last for many months or years with sufficient bright lighting and fertilizing.)

So, there are lots of house plant fertilizers and any one will do the job.  I personally like Schultz All Purpose Liquid Plant Food and Jack’s All Purpose Water Soluble Fertilizer.   The plants love it and these fertilizers don’t leave a salt built up as much as other fertilizers I have used.  However, always remember to go easy on fertilizing indoor plants.  “Weekly, weakly.”

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