All plants need soil, water, nutrients and air to grow and in their natural environments they’re able to push their roots deep into the soil to find what they need.
The leafy lovelies we bring into our homes tend to be confined to pots, however, which means there’s only a finite amount of moisture and fertiliser available in the compost they’re growing in. Therefore it’s up to us to make sure they’re regularly watered and adequately fed.
The key time to top up the nutrient levels of houseplants to ensure lush leafy growth is during their growing period in spring and summer.
Fertilisers formulated for specific plants, such as Westland Cacti & Succulent Feed that contains sufficient potash to encourage flowering, are good options, and there’s a huge choice of those targeted for more general use too, such as Westland Houseplant Feed Concentrate. All feeds contain a balanced combination of the key plant nutrients essential for good health: nitrogen, needed for leafy growth; phosphorus for good roots and potassium for flowers, along with the important trace elements.
Plants should be fed during every other watering over the warmer months; which means every 10 to 14 days in most cases, although succulents such as echeveria and sansevieria need less moisture. Always follow the instructions on the bottle to achieve the correct dilution, a mix that’s too concentrated can cause the extra salts to draw moisture out of the plant causing it harm. Always aim for the water to be room temperature and aim to keep the compost moist but not waterlogged.
Reduce feeding to every fourth watering over the autumn as growth will have slowed by then.
In recent years there have been several developments in the way fertilisers can be delivered to house plants.
Slow release pellets gradually allow nutrients into the soil as the weeks go by and are great for people who are concerned about their ability to keep on top of a feeding routine. Droplet feeders are another alternative which are designed to be plunged into the soil so that they slowly and consistently deliver diluted feed direct to your plants roots.
Another way to deliver fertilisers is direct to their leaves using foliar sprays.