Fertilizing your containerplants

Life in a pot is finite. A newly potted plant may be able to subsist on the nutrition inherent in the potting mix. But after a time, that food source becomes depleted. You can repot, of course, but it may be far easier simply to get in the habit of feeding your potted plants regularly.

Potted plants grown for their flowers or fruit especially benefit from fertilizer, because producing these things requires so much energy.

How often you fertilize depends on the plant and the pot size and all that. However, the rule for the garden at large still applies: Feed at the start of the m growing season to get the plants off to a roaring start, feed at regular intervals during the height of the growing season, and start slowing down and stopping in the fall when the show is over.

Fertilizer leaches out or washes away with every watering, so you need to keep it up. Also, the limited amount of soil in a pot limits the amount of nutrients it can hoard and supply to the plants.

Especially with smaller pots, feeding twice as often at half the strength is a good idea.

Unless you're growing something fussy or offbeat, or something with special requirements, a general all-purpose garden fertilizer is perfectly fine for almost all potted plants. It comes in different forms, so experiment to discover what you and your plants prefer. Options include liquid fertilizers, dry or granular fertilizers, fertilizer beads, and fertilizer sticks. Whatever you decide, always follow the label directions on how and when to apply to the letter — like aspirin, more is not better!

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