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Liquid vs dry fertilizer and your preference

What is the consensus and does it really matter. No question we have to add fertilizer when it comes to containers

Say osmocote/vigoro vs a liquid fertilizer like miracle grow or another
Liquid product.

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Green Thumb
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Location: Western Massachusetts Zone 6a

Re: Liquid vs dry fertilizer and your preference

If my potting mix needs more umpfh than the compost I've mixed into it, I prefer a time released fertilizer like osmocote over liquid fertilizers. Liquid fertilizers just seem to "wash" away without providing much to my plants. :)

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Super Green Thumb
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Location: Lafayette, LA

Re: Liquid vs dry fertilizer and your preference

I use 8-8-8 on my young Satsuma - mid February and again in May.

Even with the huge, old, live oak removed the lawn in the back is still nitrogen poor. Clover is a sure sigh of a nitrogen deficiency. I apply granulated Ammonium Nitrate at the rate of 1 Lb. per 100 Sq. Ft. - water in. Before the tree was removed I did this 3 times a year. With the tree gone I will have to have the soil tested annually for 2 or 3 years. My first application will be this coming week. This week has been the last of our winter weather. :-()

The vegetable boxes and herb bed usually do fine with seasonal additions of compost. I do have the soil tested every year or 2. I occasionally need to add nitrogen.

The potted plants are planted in a 50/50 mixture of all purpose potting soil and compost. The Plumeria plants do get fed. They over winter in the shop. No care at all over winter. After the last frost - hopefully this coming week - I will take them out and begin with heavy watering - 3 times a week for a couple of weeks. I also use a water soluble fertilizer with a high P. They are heavy feeders so I give them a shot of fertilizer at 4 to 6 week intervals. I also give them Epsom salt - 1 tbsp. to a gallon of water - every month or 2.

I have a Sweet Olive in a very large clay pot. I have not re-potted it in several years so I do feed it with water soluble fertilizer a couple of times a year and dose periodically with Epsom Salt. It does need the soil refreshed but the huge pot is difficult to handle. I was hoping to get G to help me this spring but he has been having trouble with his shoulder. I don't know if he will be able to handle the weight of the pot.

Sorry for getting off of the subject.

Osmacote is good for your pots. Use the right balance of NPK. Higher N if they are foliage plants and higher P if they bloom. I like a periodic addition of Epsom Salt for blooming plants.

I do not like spikes. As a landscape contractor and having worked in a Lowe's garden center I have seen too many plants damaged by spikes. Don't like them, will not use them and do not recommend them.

When dealing with garden beds, lawns and landscaping/flower beds I HIGHLY recommend regular soil test. Well worth the money. Random fertilization is the equivalent of a Doctor writing a prescription without a diagnosis. You need to know your starting point before amending your soil. You will spend more on unneeded amendments than the cost of soil test.

When it comes to fertilizer more is not better.

With potted plants soil test would be too costly. If your foliage plants have good foliage color and if your blooming plants produce blooms then don't worry too much about fertilizer. With the exception of heavy feeders limit your fertilization to 2 or 3 times per year - depending on the length of your growing season. Over fertilizing potted plants will result in a high level of sodium. Not good for your plants.

Good luck

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Location: Florida zone 9

Re: Liquid vs dry fertilizer and your preference

I like liquid fertilizer when the plants are still young because I can dilute it down to a trace amount. I prefer Shultz 10-15-10 mixed to their maintenance dosage for young plants. This is what I use while I have starter plants holding under lights just before hardening them off. It seems to help from getting "leggy" starters provided the light is strong enough. This is especially true when starting plants in a sterile seedling mix. Liquid fertilizer is also good for quickly checking for a nitrogen deficiency without soaking the pot by foliar feeding instead.

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Location: hawaii, zone 12a 587 ft elev.

Re: Liquid vs dry fertilizer and your preference

I depends on the plant and the situation.

In pots , I do use a starter fertilizer mixed into the potting mix. For starter fertilizer, I like to mix the starter, usually osmocote into the soil. It is good for about 3 months here and will need monthly side dressing after that. If the plants in the pots are healthy, I usually use citrus food, since it contains micros.

For orchids, especially mounted orchids or orchids without media, it gets tricky to fertilize them. Miracle grow, or Michigan Formula water soluble is the easiest way to fertilize them. The other way would be to make up a pouch of fertilizer (chicken manure is the most common) and hang it on the orchid so the fertilizer tea will water the orchid each time.

If I have a plant that looks sickly and it does not appear to be insect or disease related, I usually use Fish emulsion because it seems to work the best if it is a nutritional deficiency, although I can't use it all the time or on everything because the neighbors would complain about the smell.

Plants in the ground, only get compost and sulfate of ammonia. The compost to replace the lost or decayed organic matter and sulfate of ammonia because according to my soil tests, that is all that I need.

After I plant a high nitrogen crop like corn, I might still have leftover nitrogen, so I will follow it with a scavenger crop, usually the Asian greens which will scavenge the extra nitrogen and minerals.

Two of my plots are alkaline so they can use the sulfur, compost adds a little more phosphorus which I do not need and also raises the pH, so the sulfur can counter that a little although there is not enough sulfur to affect the pH much. The one plot that is acidic is also getting compost and the pH is 6.4 so I am not going to worry about that, most plants will do just fine in that.

I used to use miracle grow on the whole yard (about 2 packages), every 2 weeks. In 2003 it rained 42 days and nights so I couldn't do that, and discovered that my orchids which were putting on new growth constantly but bloomed, bloomed much better the next year.

I had monster taro leaves with no corms and in fact most root vegetables only produced tops since I was over fertilizing a lot for years with miracle grow. Of course, I did pay for not fertilizing the orchids, the year after that the orchids put out fewer new growths and hardly any orchids.

My garden still produced big plants but small root crops for years. I found out though that it was not only the high nitrogen but the fact that the roots were crowded that made the roots so small.

I volunteered at another garden and took the master gardener class in 2009, and I tested my soil in all of my plots. 2 plots will probably never need phosphorus again. One plot was high (250) but will not need phosphorus for a few years. Nitrogen was not measured directly but the recommendation was for $0.30 worth of nitrogen per 100 sq. feet. Essentially none in divided doses.

A couple of years later, I retested the plots. One plot was amended with sulfur for a pH of 7.8 so it was tested 4 times. With the sulfur the pH decreased to 7.2, but rose up again to pH of 7.8 unless sulfur was continuously added. The other tests mirrored the first.

Since then, I still add compost and only composted steer manure. No chicken manure since it is alkaline and will raise the pH. Except for the pots which start with sterile mix or MG potting soil, the only fertilizer I add to the garden is nitrogen in divided doses. I still got monster greens for a while until the residual nitrogen was used up, but now at least some root crops are starting to actually form roots in my high nitrogen garden. If my corn grows very tall over 7 ft on the first crop, I can usually get away with no added nitrogen or smaller side dressings for the second crop. I follow the corn with a scavenger crop of Asian greens to mop up nitrogen and minerals from the soil. I do add more compost between the crops so there will be some added phosphorus from that, but I try to use fertilizers with low or zero phosphorus now.

Fertilizer makes everything grow bigger, but the kind and amounts of fertilizer you need depends on what is already present in your soil, how much and how often you apply it and whether it is slow or quick release. Too much fertilizer is not a good thing.

You can save yourself a lot of money by only using what you need and preferably in a slow release form unless that is just not practical. It is also a good idea to get a soil test to know what and how much you need because too much excess fertilizer is a pollutant, it gets into the ground water and pollutes downstream. Even your choice of plants matter, it balances out better to plant a succession plant that will mop up the unused nutrients left behind after the first crop or replace nitrogen that was used up (legumes following corn).

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Re: Liquid vs dry fertilizer and your preference

I too use buffering crops in between and has probably been the biggest improvement in my gardening besides being aware of ph. It also extends the amount of times I can re-use my potting mix. The only reason I really use diluted liquid plant food is to turn an otherwise neutral, sterile mix, just towards the positive side of fertile.

Here's a bed of pole beans I have currently growing. The only thing this bed has had added to it was charcoal that was charged with liquid plant food 5-6 years ago and some peat. If I till these bean plants in when they are done this year, I can grow bell peppers in the same spot without adding much of anything the next. I still find the bits of charcoal when I plant, and in the roots when I dig them up.

And with plenty of blooms and beans.

I guess I really don't have a preference between liquid or anything else, other than that I generally need more slower release amendments. But I have found use for liquid plant food for some things, even if just experimenting with it or keeping from bringing stinky things indoors. In my climate, if I bring compost, or even partially composted potting mix inside, I will most certainly end up with fungus gnats. I suppose it really does come down to being personal situation/style specific.


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Re: Liquid vs dry fertilizer and your preference

I prefer liquid plant food because it's easy to apply at any stage of the plant growth. Besides, liquid fertilizers contribute to a better root development. Due to the fact that the roots and the leaves absorb immediately the mixture, liquid fertilizers act much quickly than their dry counterparts. Last but not least, they save your time because you water and feed the plants at the same time.

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