Common houseplant fertilizers: Which is best for me?

The fertilizer aisle at a garden center can seem daunting: there are so many options from which to choose! How do you know which fertilizer is best for your houseplant?

Below the experts at Homestead Gardens have laid out some general guidelines about choosing your fertilizer so your plants can continue to grow healthy and strong.

The most common fertilizer for houseplants is powder formula that you mix with water. These are filled with nitrogen, phosphorus and potash as well as trace amounts of other nutrients houseplants need.

You might see a lot of numbers on packages for houseplant fertilizer, and while these may seem intimidating, they simply indicate the ratio of nitrogen to phosphorus to potash. If you’re looking for a water-soluble powder, we generally recommend Jack’s Classic All-Purpose 20-20-20 Fertilizer.

If you have a more delicate plant, like a fern, you might want to consider a mild, low-nutrient fertilizer in liquid form. These are great for fussier houseplants because the low concentration will support growth without burning or otherwise damaging the roots. Take note that these formulas can have an unpleasant odor, so be sure to drain the saucers as soon as you can. At Homestead Gardens, we usually recommend Espoma Start!, Grow! or Bloom!, depending on the stage of your plant.

A few notes on indoor fertilizer

  1. Feed modestly. Most plants only need two or three fertilizer feedings each year. More than that and the roots can begin to suffer. In fact, if your plant looks healthy and is thriving, it’s better to not fertilize it.
  2. Offer rest periods. Plants naturally have dormant periods throughout the year. During this time, there is little need for fertilizer. As the plant becomes more active, you should see new greenery before you consider fertilizing. After that, fertilization should be used to encourage flower bud formation.
  3. Read the labels. There are a lot of products out there, so be sure to read the instructions and application rates before purchasing.

Ready to buy some indoor fertilizer for your houseplants or have questions about our recommendations? Stop on in to Homestead Gardens, and we’ll help you find what you need.

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