Fertilizers Gardening Houseplants

No Need to Feed a Sleeping Plant

It’s best not to feed plants when they aren’t growing. Source: Stephen Almond, commons.wikimedia.org & http://www.boomanfloral.com, montage: laidbackgardener.blog

Outside of the tropics, most houseplants grow slowly if at all during the winter months. That’s because shortening days with less light offer less solar energy and plants react to this by going into a state somewhat like dormancy. Since there is little growth, it’s best not to fertilize houseplants during the winter months, as otherwise you may end up stimulating weak, pale growth you’ll have to cut off later. Start fertilizing again in late winter (early March in the Northern Hemisphere) when you notice your plants reacting to increasingly long days by starting to grow again.

Of course, this rule doesn’t apply to plants grown under artificial light illuminated 12 hours or more a day. Most of them grow all year long and therefore need fertilizer in all seasons.

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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