When and how to feed indoor plants?
The substrate for indoor plants provides them with all the necessary nutrients in a very short time. Due to the limited amount of soil, a few months after transplanting, the reserves of macro- and microelements necessary for plants are depleted, and pet pets begin to depend on measures that replenish the nutritional value of the soil. Top dressing is not only the main, but also a vital point for caring for plants. Like watering, they are beneficial only when they are carried out correctly and in a timely manner.
The correct choice of substrate is important both from the point of view of creating an ideal air- and water-permeable medium for the development of the root system, and for the optimal course of absorption of moisture and nutrients from the soil. But even the best, high-quality, carefully selected, taking into account all individual characteristics, substrate for indoor plants as a source of nutrients only works in the first weeks, and for plants that prefer scarce soil, several months after transplantation. Unlike nature, nutrients in potted soil do not renew and are not replenished as a result of biological processes. And even a good supply of them is exhausted quite quickly.
Fertilizers for indoor crops are designed specifically to maintain a stable nutrient medium, compensate for the depletion of the substrate and the constant access of the plant to all the nutrients it needs. Accordingly, the question of when there is a need for top dressing for indoor plants is quite simple: top dressing is carried out when the substrate can no longer provide the plants with all the necessary macro- and microelements. If plants are transplanted annually, then fertilizing for them plays a lesser role than with rarer transplants: starting from next year, the plant in nutrition will completely depend only on its care program.
Often the most important thing in fertilizing is the choice of fertilizers themselves. Special fertilizers for decorative and deciduous plants, flowering crops, cacti, orchids, palm trees, bromeliads, roses and many other preparations allow you to not limit your assortment only to universal fertilizers. It’s easy to choose fertilizers - just study the recommendations for a particular plant and make sure that the ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium meets their preferences. But there are two more nuances of top dressing that determine their "correctness." In the issue of fertilizing indoor plants of great importance when feeding is carried out and how they are carried out.
When to feed indoor plants?
Indoor plants are fed only during active vegetation, when both underground and aboveground parts grow and develop in them. It is during this period that fertilizers must be applied. Such a rule does not mean at all that the correct top dressing is carried out only in spring and summer: there are also plants that not only do not have a full rest period and develop throughout the year, but also stars blooming in autumn and winter. Choose the period when you need to feed each plant, it is necessary according to its vegetation and its characteristics.
In spring and summer, all plants need fertilizing. The period of active development in crops, even growing indoors, begins with an increase in the duration of daylight and the intensity of lighting. Typically, the beginning of the growing season falls in March, and when the weather is favorable, it starts at the end of February. And along with this, a period of active top dressing begins. Active vegetation ends in autumn, with a corresponding reduction in daylight hours and the overall intensity of lighting. Seasonal reduction in illumination usually manifests itself already in October, so the period of traditional feeding is usually completed in September.
It is not so easy to figure out top dressing in autumn and winter:
- If the plant goes to a full dormant period and completely stops growing, top dressing in autumn and winter is not carried out at all. Usually, lignified and large plants, flowering crops, dropping leaves or the entire aerial part of the plant need to stop feeding.
- Reducing daylight hours, slowing down growth, cool wintering, and a partial dormant period require a reduction and reduction of fertilizing for the autumn-winter period. For example, for many decorative and deciduous plants, although rare, but maintaining stable conditions, winter top dressing is necessary to preserve the beauty of the leaves.
- If the plant blooms in the cold season or in the fall, then fertilizers continue to be applied to it.
At the same time, fertilizing for indoor plants from October to February is possible only if the plant receives a comfortable level of illumination and does not suffer from a lack of light. For crops that do not need top dressing during this period, fertilizing can lead to burns of the root system and excessive accumulation of nonabsorbable nutrients. Even crops that develop in winter and further, due to seasonal characteristics and reduced illumination, still reduce their needs for nutrients, and without correction of fertilizing, they will also suffer from an excess of fertilizers.
In order not to get confused in the dates and periods of active top dressing and in their complete or partial stop, it is enough to carefully study the characteristics of each individual houseplant - information not only about temperature or lighting, but also about which plants need care. Typically, the recommendations provide all the necessary information about the features of this type, the preferred frequency of application and the composition of the fertilizer. There are plants that love abrupt changes in the feeding regimen, and those for which the periods when fertilizing is carried out actively should begin and end gradually.
Universal feeding times vary for newly acquired and transplanted plants. Top dressing after transplantation begins to be carried out only after a month for capricious and after 2-3 months - for hardy and not too demanding plants. When buying plants do not fertilize not only during quarantine, but also during the first months after it, starting to resume them gradually. Top dressing is never carried out for crops affected by diseases or pests, completely removing them from the care program until the completion of the treatment process.
Special (additional) top dressing is carried out when any plant shows clear signs of a lack of certain nutrients. The appearance of spots on the leaves, dropping leaves and buds, stopping or slowing down growth, dwarfism, lack of flowering, blanching of leaves - all this indicates improper feeding. The main task of such fertilizing is to provide everything that the plant lacks. Conventional liquid top dressing will not bring results immediately, the restoration of normal care will help plants recover much faster, as well as measures supplemented by foliar top dressing.
How to apply fertilizer?
In order not to be mistaken and to feed correctly, the most important thing is to strictly follow the instructions for use, which provide all the comprehensive information and help to not doubt the dosages or methods of use. The instructions will accurately indicate how to apply the fertilizer: in the form of powder, granules, sticks, capsules, and even in liquid form.
Whatever type of fertilizer is involved, it is worth remembering that there are several universal recommendations on the issue of fertilizing:
- "Underfeeding" is much better than adding too much fertilizer.. Special fertilizer mixtures are designed for a certain concentration and have a beneficial effect only if they are used in accordance with the manufacturer's instructions. The use of uncontrolled, overestimated dosage will not reduce the frequency of top dressing and will not create a “reserve” in the soil, but will only increase the risk of root damage and disruption of normal life, the process of absorption of nutrients and moisture. Indoor plants, unlike garden plants, suffer greatly from excess nutrients. And we are talking not only about the loss of decorativeness, but also about the risk of losing the plant as a whole. Symptoms of excess fertilizer in indoor crops are:
- burns on the leaves;
- yellowing, blackening and dying of the tops or individual shoots;
- dropping leaves.
- Any type of fertilizer is not applied to the soil if it is completely dry.. Top dressing, and liquid, dry, and even foliar type is carried out only after moistening the soil and watering. If a stable moisture regime is maintained for plants, the substrate never dries out completely, then liquid fertilizers can be applied together with water for irrigation. If the substrate is dry, it is best to always separate fertilizing and watering and fertilize the next day after watering, in fresh and moist soil. This requirement eliminates the risk of burn root tissue.
- Water quality is no less important than fertilizer quality. Water for irrigation should be soft, settled, selected according to the preferences of each particular plant. If fertilizers are dissolved in water or added to it, then in no case should you use cold water: any fertilizer is applied only to the water a little warmer than room temperature.
- Top dressing is not carried out at the height of the day and heat, and even more so under direct sunlight. As for garden plants, dressing for indoor crops should be applied either in the early morning or in the evening.
The most popular and safest option for fertilizing is liquid fertilizers or short-term fertilizers. Liquid and soluble powder fertilizers provide plants with nutrients in an easily digestible form. They are introduced together with water for irrigation, pouring in a concentrate or dissolving dry mixtures in it, avoiding the risk of burns or an excess of substances while observing the recommended dosages for each individual plant and type of fertilizer. Usually, during the active growing season, liquid top dressing is carried out with a frequency of 1 time in 2 or 3 weeks, during the flowering period - 1 time in 1 or 1.5 weeks. In the period of relative dormancy, if feeding is continued, they are brought in half as often - once every 1 or 1.5 months. The dosage of fertilizers is also usually halved.
Any long-acting fertilizers - sticks, granules, grains, etc. - are used in accordance with the instructions. Usually more than 1 time in 2 or 3 months to add them to the soil is not necessary. Sometimes such fertilizers are simply added during transplantation and forget about top dressing until the next procedure, but most of all prolonged-action fertilizers require application with a 1-3-month frequency. As nutrients are released gradually, they simplify the care process.
Different types of long-acting fertilizers are used in different ways.:
- Granular or powdery fertilizers are applied to the soil during planting.
- Fertilizer sticks or fertilizers with the function of an insecticide are applied to the soil after planting. They are buried by 4-5 cm and approximately the same distance from the edge of the pot, calculating the number of sticks according to the diameter of the pots (1 stick - per pot with a diameter of about 10 cm).
Foliar top dressing is used quite specifically. They are carried out only for herbaceous plants with undescended smooth leaves and forming a dense deciduous mass.. They are not used not only for succulents and all edged plants, but also for palm trees. Foliar top dressing is carried out only on the leaves, during the period of active growth. In fact, they are applied to the leaves, but they make it a very simple method - spraying. Instead of the usual spraying with warm and soft water, a low-concentration fertilizer solution is sprayed. This procedure is carried out carefully, isolating the plant and placing it on such a surface, hit on which mineral substances will not cause unpleasant consequences. But it is much more important to make sure that when feeding on leaves the plant will not suffer from too bright lighting, and even more so from direct sunlight that will instantly leave burns on the leaves. Humidity during feeding should be at least medium or high. Foliar top dressing is always combined with the usual, because despite the fact that this procedure supports the foliage decorativeness, the plant absorbs the main nutrients from the soil.