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Fertilizing Houseplants 101 – Houseplants Need Food, Too!

Home DIY

It’s easy to overlook fertilizing your houseplants. We water them, put them in a sunny window and then sometimes just leave it at that. But the soil in the pot will only provide so much nutrition for your plant. Houseplants might need a little boost to keep them healthy and blooming during the months when they are growing.

It’s always best to know what you’re growing. Below are some general guidelines you can follow, but it’s best to research your plant and get to know its individual fertilizing needs.


Houseplants Need Food Too – Tips for Fertilizing


Not too much! Houseplants do well with lower doses of fertilizer than your outdoor flowers would. Sometimes even the directions on the fertilizer package suggest too strong of a dose. It’s always better to err on the side of caution and give a lower dose.

Timing is everything. Most plants will not need to be fertilized in the winter. Starting up again in the spring with a low dose will help encourage new growth and blooming. During the warmer summer months when the plants are more active you can up the dose if you think your plant needs it. I always give less than the recommended amount on the package. If you over-fertilize your plant you will see yellowing or leaves drop. When you add too much fertilizer to the soil plants are unable to absorb water and this is where the term” burning your plants” comes from.

What do those numbers on the package mean? The numbers on the fertilizer package are referred to as the N-P-K ratio. They stand for (N) Nitrogen (P) Phosphorous and (K) Potassium. The numbers reflect the percentage of each nutrient found in the fertilizer.

Nitrogen is responsible for green leafy growth. Phosphorous encourages strong root development and flowering. Potassium helps with overall growth and helps keep plants balanced.

Most general houseplant fertilizers will work. But always remember to check your plant’s individual needs before selecting a fertilizer. Some plants will require more of one nutrient than another.

RELATED: 6 Virtually Kill-Proof Houseplants

There are two main types of fertilizers to choose from. The first is a water-soluble fertilizer. This type of fertilizer is made of tiny granules that dissolve instantly when added to water. It’s very common and easy to find at any nursery, garden center, or even grocery store.

The second type of commonly used fertilizer is liquid fertilizer. A good example of this would be fish emulsion. This type of fertilizer is concentrated and needs to be diluted with water before use, usually using a dropper or small measuring cup.

Remember to keep your plants happy with sunlight, periodic fertilizing and, of course, lots of love.

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