A Little Houseplant Fertilizer Goes a Long Way

You only need a small amount of fertilizer to keep houseplants happy.

With houseplants, a little fertilizer goes a long way. After all, unless you’re growing yours in a greenhouse or under high intensity lights, they’re not getting growing conditions anywhere close to those they would receive outdoors in the tropical climates where they originate. Yet the amount of fertilizer recommended on the product label is based on what the plant would need under ideal conditions. That’s why you’re more likely to find your indoor plants suffering from too much fertilizer than too little.

You can use almost any fertilizer on houseplants, but just do so at a much reduced rate while they are indoors: usually about ¼ of the amount recommended. And only feed them when they are in active growth. Most indoor plants slow down or stop growing when days are short, so unless you’re supplying them with artificially lengthened days, most won’t need any fertilizer from the end of October to the end of February or early March.

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.

2 comments on “A Little Houseplant Fertilizer Goes a Long Way

  1. ‘usually about ¼ of the amount recommended’ Check!

    I always say the frequency and amount recommended on the packaging is for selling more fertilizer. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!

%d bloggers like this: