21060226A.jpgYou may have noticed that, after months of little to no growth, your indoor plants are beginning to show signs of life. Branches lengthen, new stems start to show, flower buds appear. They’re reacting to the lengthening days outside: longer days mean more energy for them, so they start to perk up and take notice. By the end of February and the beginning of March, days are now 11 hours long or even longer in most parts of the Northern Hemisphere, meaning there is now enough light to support healthy growth. That’s why this is just about the perfect time to start fertilizing them again.

Of course, some plants aren’t reacting quite yet: there are “late risers” among houseplants just as there are among humans. If so, wait a bit. Always think of fertilizer not as a stimulant, but a reward. You fertilize your plants when they show enthusiastic growth, not to try and push them into growth.

Note you can use just about any fertilizer to feed your houseplants (houseplant fertilizer, of course, but also all-purpose fertilizer, rose fertilizer, lawn fertilizer, etc.): plants really don’t much care about specific formulations. The important thing is simply to never exceed the recommended dose.

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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