How to Fertilize Indoor Plants
Houseplants are a great way to add color and life to your home, and it can also be a great way to keep a plant alive that would otherwise die during cold winters or harsh summers if left outside. In your climate-controlled environment, it seems like it should be simple to care for a plant. Placing it in a window, not allowing extreme temperatures, and regular, weekly watering may seem like enough at first, but you may find your plant struggling to grow. Luckily there are many organic fertilizers to consider for your different indoor plants. Having an indoor herb garden, flowers to light up your windowsill, or sunlight streaming through green leaves are all great reasons to explore the different fertilizers and best ways to keep your indoor garden alive.
What to Look For in Indoor Fertilizers
There are many fertilizers to choose from online and in store. Picking the right one can be challenging if you are not sure what to look for in light of each of your unique plant’s needs. Since every plant is different and requires different soil makeup, it can start to feel overwhelming as your list of fertilizers adds up. Thankfully, there is an easier way to fertilize your indoor plants, rather than getting a fertilizer with a different nutrient content for each plant. Make sure that the contents of your fertilizer are completely organic by looking for the USDA seal, or by looking at the ingredients and making sure that the nutrients are not chemically made. You will want naturally derived nutrients to get the healthiest plants.
Each fertilizer has macronutrients, made up of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, otherwise known as: N-P-K. This is listed on the fertilizer as a ratio, usually on the front so that you can find what you’re looking for easily. While the specific ratio of macronutrients will be the primary focus of what you will look for, there are also other nutrients involved called micronutrients. Making sure that these are also in your organic fertilizer is important. These include zinc, boron, copper, and more. Keeping the N-P-K ratio in mind, here is how you can find the right fertilizer for your different indoor plants:
- Flowering plant: a plant that regularly flowers, or one that is expected to at some point, will need a higher phosphorus content. This is because the plant needs phosphorus in order to stimulate a bud to form and bloom, as well as to bear seeds in the flower itself. If you are bringing a flowering plant indoors, look for an organic fertilizer that is higher in phosphorus. A ratio of 1-3-1 may be the best bet.
- Non-flowering plant: a green house plant that does not flower regularly, or does not flower at all, may need a balanced ratio or one that is slightly higher in nitrogen. This will look like 2-2-2, or 5-3-3 if it needs more nitrogen.
It is important to remember that when you are fertilizing, you are not fertilizing your plant. You are adjusting the soil so that the soil can properly sustain your plant with the nutrients it has always needed. There are tests that you can buy to test the macronutrient makeup of your soil. If it is lacking in a certain nutrient, then you may buy a fertilizer that can balance out the imbalance there. Your plants need balanced soil that is suited to its needs. It does not need to be directly fed, it just needs healthy soil.
Liquid or Solid Organic Fertilizer
Organic fertilizers can be found in liquid and solid or granular form.
- Liquid fertilizer: a liquid fertilizer will have to be applied more often, as the nutrients are absorbed into the soil more quickly and will be applied to plant growth. Because of this, you will have a bit more control on how quickly your plant gets the nutrients it needs.
- Solid fertilizer: a solid fertilizer is more shelf stable than its liquid counterpart, and you will not have to apply it as often, as the nutrients release slowly over time into the soil, giving a more steady flow of nutrients. However, you do not get to control how quickly the nutrients will be absorbed into the soil, and your soil may become too high in a certain nutrient over time.
There are advantages and disadvantages to both liquid and solid fertilizers. Picking a certain one is mostly based on preference. Liquid fertilizers can be handy, as you can dilute it with water if need be. Solid fertilizers can be great because of how easily it can be mixed into soil. Just be sure to have the correct N-P-K ratio for your fertilizer, and follow the fertilizers instructions on how much you add to a certain plant size, and how often. The time in between feeds will vary depending on if you chose a liquid or solid fertilizer.
Indoor Plants Don’t Have to be Complicated
The appeal of having an indoor garden is grand for so many people. For those that live in an apartment, their space of living is condensed, and they often do not have access to a backyard or place to grow their plants outside. For them, having the option to keep plants indoors can be a gamechanger. For others, it may just be easier to keep plants indoors because of the extreme seasonal temperature changes and having easier access to their plants, instead of having to go outside and cover each plant at the dangers of frost, or pulling it out of the harsh sun if the heat index goes too high. It can sometimes seem incredibly complicated to keep an indoor plant alive. Finding a rhythm for fertilizing can be as simple as following the seasons, beginning your growth period in spring and ending in fall, and you may only need two kinds of fertilizers for your flowering and green plants, which can make it simple for you if you have multiple indoor plants. What have you done to keep your indoor garden flourishing?