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Breaking down fertilising

Who else gets confused by fertilising? Let’s break it down a bit, shall we?

In the wild, animal droppings/carcasses & vegetative matter regularly break down and are taken up into the ground, & then absorbed through plant roots to give plants a fresh supply of nutrients to help them grow. At home, your plants are limited to receiving nutrients from the pot they are contained in. So, using fertiliser replicates the process of giving your plants these nutrients without dumping decaying matter in your soil.

Now, there are a few things that are essential for plants being light, water, & appropriate temperature/humidity, with the light being of the foremost importance. Light is the ultimate essential ingredient for growth, and fertiliser will not make up for the lack of quality light. Fertiliser is not essential - your plants will grow without just as they do outside - but it can be useful to promote healthy growth.

Fertiliser used in the right volume is comparable to us humans taking our daily dose of vitamins, promoting healthy foliage and root growth in your plant babies. But using too much can overdose your plant and prevent it from being able to take up water, resulting in what is called fertiliser burn. This is why it’s often recommended to dilute fertiliser more than the packet instructions. If you’ve accidentally been a bit heavy handed with liquid feed, this is easily remedied by giving the soil a deep flush with water, to reduce the concentration. And keep in mind that the energy use of a plant will impact how much fertiliser it can actually use. If your plant is in low light, it will need less feed than a plant in bright light.

Seasonality plays a major role in the growth cycle of plants, and as such impacts when you should fertilise as the use of fertiliser should complement your plants’ growth cycle. Generally it’s recommended you do not use fertiliser at all in Winter (plants are dormant), followed by monthly half strength doses in Spring, then stronger monthly up to fortnightly doses in Summer, then taper back in Autumn to monthly doses and reduced concentration again.

I’ll share some more tips on fertiliser in a future post.

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