Indoor plants, just like any other plants, need some compounds and chemical elements for their metabolism and growth. In the absence of these essential elements and compounds, indoor plants could not complete their normal life cycle. Unlike the outdoor plants that are planted in rich natural soil, indoor plants are sometimes bereft of sunlight and other nutrients that are naturally present in the outdoor soil. Hence, it is essential that you fertilize the soil in which the indoor plants are planted to compensate for its lack of essential nutrients.
Organic vs. Synthetic Fertilizers
Finding the right mix of nutrients for fertilizer, however, is not an easy task. Moreover, you will often get confronted with the question of whether to use synthetic or organic fertilizer. Synthetic fertilizers consist of materials that are manufactured from synthetic minerals like mineral salts. On the other hand, organic fertilizers are taken or produced from the nutrients of animals, plants, and minerals. Some so-called experts would surely argue against synthetic fertilizers. However, this argument is still an open debate that has not been settled conclusively.
Organic fertilizers, of course, are more often favored by many farmers and gardeners because they think that organic fertilizers are safer than synthetically produced fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are derived from natural materials like kelp and fish emulsion. They can also be a mixture of composted animal manures and other by-products of slaughterhouse such as blood, bone, and feather meal. Moreover, most organic fertilizers contain macronutrients and micronutrients that many synthetic fertilizers may lack.
Important Macro- and Micronutrients for Plants
There are basically 17 essential nutrients that plants need to be healthy. These nutrients include macronutrients like nitrogen, potassium, phosphorous, calcium, sulfur, carbon, magnesium, oxygen, and hydrogen. Plants also need micronutrients or trace minerals in their systems like boron, iron, chlorine, manganese, copper, zinc, molybdenum, and nickel. These micronutrients are only needed in small traces. Otherwise, they will upset the balance of the system of the plants.
What is the Right Time to Fertilize Indoor Plants?
There are certain periods and seasons in the lifecycle of plants that are appropriate for fertilization. You should note that the best time to fertilize indoor plants is during its active growth period. This period is usually from March to October. During winter months, however, there is a reduced level of light and temperatures that last until spring. Thus, the winter period is not appropriate for fertilizing indoor plants for this period is the dormant period of the plants.
If you are using water-soluble fertilizers, it is highly recommended that you engage in monthly applications of these fertilizers because nutrients can easily leach out from the pots because they are water-soluble. Thus, the plants would surely benefit from monthly applications of this type of fertilizers. Moreover, if the recommended feeding is one teaspoon per quart, you can double up the monthly feedings making the feedings bimonthly using one-half teaspoon every 15 days or one-quarter teaspoon per week. This will provide the indoor plants a continuous supply of needed macro- and micronutrients. This method of feeding is best recommended for flowering plants.
Types of Fertilizers for Indoor Plants
Indoor plant fertilizers come in different forms like sticks, liquids, granular, tablets, and slow-release types. The two most suited for indoor plants are the slow-release and the liquid forms. The liquid fertilizers are usually added to the water depending on the instructions on its label. You may fertilize using this type of fertilizer every time you water the plant. On the other hand, slow-release fertilizers are usually coated in shells that are designed for perfect time-release. These shells allow for slow leaching out of nutrients into the soil.
Ingredients of Fertilizers
Some plants like orchids require very precise care. For these types of plants, you can easily buy fertilizers that are specifically designed for such sensitive plants. Other plants, however, don’t need meticulous care. You simply need to know the general ingredients that they require to live a healthy life.
As a general rule, leafy plants will surely thrive if you fertilize them with something that is rich in nitrogen. Healthy foliage is best produced with the support of nitrogen. Flowering plants, on the other hand, thrive best with fertilizers that are high in potassium content for this element, encourages plants to flower and bloom. Phosphorus, however, helps plants to grow roots.
Phosphorous, nitrogen, and potassium are the essential macronutrients that your indoor plants need. However, some fertilizers richly contain micronutrients. If money isn’t an issue for you, you can always go for these specially formulated fertilizers.
Tips on Fertilizing Indoor Plants
At the onset, we would advise you to carefully read the instructions on the label of the fertilizers before you apply fertilizers on your indoor plants. As a caveat, too much fertilizer can readily kill your indoor plants. Moreover, fertilizers can readily leach out to groundwater supplies. Hence, if you overdo the applications of fertilizers, you may also cause damage to the environment. So, please don’t overdo your applications of fertilizers to ensure that your indoor plants will only get enough nutrients for their healthy growth.
The Best Fertilizers for Flowering Plants
As mentioned above, phosphorus is the element that is mostly needed by flowering and fruiting plants. Experts recommend that you choose a fertilizer that has the formula of 15-30-15 for indoor flowering plants. Take note of the middle number because it refers to phosphorus. So, once you shop around for fertilizers, always consider the average number if you intend to use the compost for your flowering plants. The 15-30-15 formula, of course, means that the phosphorus content of the fertilizer is twice as much as its nitrogen and potassium content.
You can also get general-purpose fertilizers that contain all the necessary macronutrients that every plant needs to thrive. You can readily buy these all-purpose fertilizers online or in the nearest garden shops.
Fertilizers come in a wide variety of options. This means you have a good chance of finding the right fertilizers for your plants. You can also buy specialist-blended fertilizers from the nearest dedicated houseplant growers. These fertilizers are specially prepared to address the nutrient needs of your indoor plants. Furthermore, specialists in fertilizers can provide you with enough tips on how to best fertilize your indoor plants. They would surely be more willing to share their know-how on cultivating specific plants.