Ways To Fertilise Your Plants

In order to flourish, plants need nutrients. They may not get all the nutrients they need from the soil. It is a good idea to feed your indoor and outdoor plants to get them performing at their best. Here are a few ways that you can fertilise your plants.

Foliar Feeding

Foliar feeding means applying a water-soluble fertiliser directly to plant leaves via a spray bottle or knapsack sprayer. The best time to apply fertiliser like this is early to mid-morning or late afternoon, on a windless day, as the absorption takes place through the plant stomata (pores in the epidermis leaves and stems). Foliar feed or water-soluble fertilisers are high in trace nutrients that help to develop strong cell structure in plants, which in turn aids plants in resisting pests. Most water-soluble fertilisers have a sea/kelp-based mix.

How to apply: Mix the fertiliser into water as per the instructions on the packaging. Apply an even spray over the plant as well as under the leaves and stems.

Plants that will benefit: Young seedlings, veggies

Soaking Or Bottom Watering

This option is great for any delicate plants in pots. Your houseplants will benefit most from this, as you can place multiple plants in a container or your bath, immersed in a diluted water-soluble fertiliser. These fertilisers are usually high in trace elements, including boron (B), molybdenum (Mo), manganese (Mn), copper (Cu), zinc (Zn) and iron (Fe), all beneficial to your plant’s growth and overall health.

Soaking works via the soil’s ability to soak up water through capillary action. Soaking also reduces plant pests and fungal diseases

How to apply: Mix the fertiliser into water as per the instructions on the packaging, in your tub. Fill the water so that at least a 1/3 of the pot is immersed in water. Soak plants for approximately 30 minutes. This allows enough time for water to move into soil and reach the entire root structure. Remove the pots from the tub and let excess water drain before returning to the pot cover.

Plants best suited for this type of fertilising: Peperomias, calatheas, orchids and any type of kokedama. Tillandsias can be fully submerged in the water for 15 minutes.

Granular Feed

Pelletised fertilisers add nutrients to the soil and therefore to the roots of plants over time, and are known as slow-release fertilisers. Organic fertilisers do not need to be watered in immediately, but chemical fertilisers do, as they can cause burning of plant leaves and shallow roots. Most granular fertilisers have an NPK value (also known as macro-nutrients), which will suggest which plants will benefit more.

N (nitrogen): encourages growth of leaves.

P (phosphorous): good for root development.

K (potassium): benefits overall plant health by helping move nutrients around the plant.

How to apply: These fertilisers are used dry and sprinkled onto the soil around plants, up to the drip zone of the plant (a plant drip zone is the area located directly under the outer circumference of the plant ‘s branches). For quicker absorption, wet the area around the plant where the fertiliser will be applied. These fertilisers can also be worked into the top layer of the soil.

All plants can benefit from this method, even potted plants. Before repotting, mix granules with potting soil and pot up your plants, or place on top of the soil and water as usual, if already potted.

This information was supplied by Lonehill Media, publishers of The Gardener and Die Tuinier magazines. For more gardening tips and advice, visit www.thegardener.co.za

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