Nutrients + Humidity
Plants use light to make food via the process of photosynthesis; but to grow lush and strong, fertilizer provides necessary nutrients and minerals. Think of fertilizer like a multi-vitamin to boost your plant’s health. In nature plants can send their roots out in search of this nutrients, while houseplants are only able to access nutrients from the small amount of soil in their pot.
Fertilizer comes in many forms including liquid, tablet, granular, and slow release formulas. When it comes to houseplants, liquid and slow release fertilizers are the best options.
- Liquid fertilizer is easy to add to a watering can and, depending on your needs, can be used every time you water or on a bi-weekly or monthly schedule. Slow release fertilizers are added to the soil once and release nutrients every time you water over a three to nine month period depending on the variety.
- All fertilizers contain the macro-nutrients plants need to thrive; Nitrogen encourages healthy foliage, Phosphorus encourages root growth, and Potassium encourages bigger, healthier blooms. Specialty fertilizers for cacti or African violets contain optimized proportions of these nutrients for particular types of plants.
When it’s time to fertilize, here are some tips to keep in mind:
- The best time to fertilize is spring and through the summer growing period. During the winter plants are not growing as fast, or at all, and don’t require the extra nutrients.
- Dilute your fertilizer. It’s better to under fertilize than over fertilize.
- For beginners, start with an all-purpose liquid fertilizer monthly.
- Many common houseplants are tropical in nature and thrive in hot, humid climates. If your favourite plant shows signs of crisping edges, wilt, or drooping leaves, the humidity level may be to blame. Humidity sensitive plants have thin leaves with lots of pores that provide ample opportunity for water to escape into the air and make these varieties susceptible to crisping and dying if the humidity dips.
- Humidity is the measure of water in the air, so the only way to increase humidity is to add water to the air. There are a few ways to do this:
- Group plants together. Plants release moisture through their leaves via transpiration. By grouping them together you’ll create a more humid microclimate.
- Keep plants with similar humidity requirements near each other.
- Use a pebble tray. Fill a clean tray with a 1″ layer of pebbles and then add water until it is halfway up the pebbles. The pebbles ensure your plants won’t sit in water while enjoying raised levels of humidity.
- Add a small cup to the base of the plant and keep it filled with water. As the water evaporates from the cup it moves up through the plant and provides humidity.
- Mist your plants. A popular method to increase humidity, there are mixed reviews on how well this works. Note: some plants should not be misted as it can damage their leaves or encourage disease.
- Invest in a humidifier. Humidifiers raise the humidity in an entire room and are often rated for small – large spaces.
- Use a terrarium. For extremely sensitive plants, such as delicate ferns, consider planting them in a terrarium. An enclosed environment collects the moisture expelled through transpiration and allows this condensation to fall back onto the plant.