Should I fertilize my houseplants year round? What kind of fertilizer is best to use?
Take your cue from the growth cycles of your houseplants to determine when and how much to fertilize them. They require more nutrients while they are actively growing. This means that most need more fertilizer in spring and summer than they do during fall or winter. As light intensifies in late winter or early spring, increase the amount and frequency of fertilizer for your plants. They need very little fertilizer during the short, dark days of winter unless you also supplement the amount of light they receive to promote growth. Likewise, a plant placed in a dark corner of your living room will grow more slowly than the same type of plant growing near a sunny window. As a general rule, apply fertilizer at half the recommended rate or frequency listed on the label. (Fertilizer manufacturers are in the business of selling more fertilizer.) These lower rates of fertilizer usually provide adequate nutrition for your plants while diminishing the chance of fertilizer burn from excess fertilizer salts. Foliage houseplants prefer a complete fertilizer (one containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) with slightly more nitrogen than phosphorus or potassium. The fertilizer labe has three numbers on it. The first of these denotes the percentage of nitrogen, the second is potassium, and the third is phosphorus. Blooming houseplants do best with less nitrogen. Look for a fertilizer that has a nitrogen content no higher than that of either phosphorus or potassium.
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