2006-04-07 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

by Danielle McShane


DANIELLE McSHANEDANIELLE McSHANE After a long winter, our houseplants will be coming out of dormancy. It is time to give them a boost of energy through fertilization. In their natural habitat, their soil is steadily replenished by decomposing vegetables and animals, leaving a fertile, healthy environment. Maintaining a healthy level of nutrients in the soil will prevent your houseplants from losing its lower leaves, getting scorched edges or brown spots. Malnutrition can also lead blooming plants to have fewer flowers, muted color tones, or no flower growth at all.

Fertilizing is recommended from March through October, when your houseplants are actively growing. You must follow the label directions for frequency and dilution.

We should begin preparing our plants for successful fertilizing by dusting and cleaning both sides of the leaves with a damp cloth. Hairy leaves should only be cleaned with a soft cosmetic brush to loosen dirt and dust that has settled over time.

There are many ways to apply fertilizer. Water-soluble fertilizers work well because they are evenly distributed throughout the soil, rather than concentrated in one area. In some cases, they need to be applied with every watering.

If your plant is kept in a very sunny area, slow release fertilizers area convenient way to provide your plants with the nutrients needed to be strong and fruitful.

Spike fertilizers work well, though you must be careful not to insert the spikes too close to the roots of the plant. A concentrated dose of fertilizer can be too strong, and burn the root hairs. This may prevent uptake of water and nutrients, and stop them from growing at all.

The best and most common fertilizers for indoor plants contain nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. The nitrogen encourages lush leaf growth. Phosphorous is important for blooming plants; it promotes strong root growth and flower development. Potassium gives plants the energy it needs to resist disease and grow strong, healthy stems.

Be sure to give your plants the right nutrients and they will thank you by producing healthy leaves, strong stems, and colorful blooms! Happy planting.

Please feel free to write in with your own tips or questions at: daniellesrockawayflorist@yahoo.com.

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