2011-04-01 / Columnists

The Diary Of A Green Thumb

Keep Your Plants Healthy With The Right Fertilizer
Commentary By Danielle, Danielle’s Rockaway Florist

Spring is finally here! Our houseplants will be coming out of dormancy and growth spurts should start soon so 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 environment. Maintaining a healthy level of nutrients in the soil will prevent your houseplants from losing their 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 are a 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 they need to resist disease and grow strong, healthy stems.

Fertilizers are composed of different levels of nutrients that benefit some plants better than others. You can use a general fertilizer for tropical green plants, but keep in mind that orchids, African violets, vegetable plants and some other blooming and succulent plants require special fertilizers with levels of acidity and nutrients specifically formulated for the best results.

Be sure to give your plants the right care and they will thank you by producing healthy leaves, strong stems, and colorful blooms! Feel free to write to us at Danielle’s Rockaway Florist, 436 Beach 129 Street, with gardening questions and tips for our readers, or visit us on the web at www.DaniellesRockawayFlorist.com.

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