Will fertilizer hurt cats?

caterwallinMarch 16, 2012

I've been hanging out on the container forum learning about various mixtures to put plants in. Since they are soil-less (what is called the gritty mix is made up of turface, grit, and bark nuggets), I must supply the nutrients since the plants can't get them from soil. I already did the root pruning on an Amorpha fruticosa (if I didn't totally kill it) and have it in this mixture and will be feeding it Osmocote and using some type of liquid fertilizer like Foliage Pro. I have the plant in a pot that's probably about 10-gallons and plan on keeping it no taller than I am. I had Silver-spotted Skipper cats on it one year (when it was planted in potting soil and not fertilized) and was hoping to get some more on it in future years. Now I'm wondering if I've made a mistake putting the plant in this soil-less mixture that will need fertilizer added to it. I'm not sure if the artificial fertilizer would harm the cats, and natural fertilizer like chicken poop would defeat the purpose of having this soil-less mixture. What do you think? Has anyone ever had cats die from eating a plant that was treated with artificial fertilizer?


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It's never happened to me, Cathy. I use Espoma Tomato Tone in my Al's 5:1:1 and Garden Tone in other things. Those are mostly organic, though.

I know Al recommends the 3:1:2 ratio for feeding plants, and I use Ladybug John's, which is a 3:1.5:2 and Miracle Gro, All Purpose, which has an NPK of 24:8:16, a 3:1:2.

As a general rule of thumb, I don't fertilize my native plants. I do work on the soil. In pots, I don't add anything except occasionally some chicken manure or an organic fert like Fish Emulsion. As a particular rule of thumb, I don't fertilize plants in the Fabaceae, or Legume family at all, as they are nitrogen-fixing plants. At least, I wouldn't feed it any nitrogen.

Just my opinion, and if you do want to fertilize your Amorpha, I would limit it to P and K.


    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 8:27PM
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Thanks, Susan. I wasn't really sure what would be best. It certainly gives me some food for thought. I guess you've been on the container forum too if you know Al. :) He sure is a lot of help, even talked to him on the phone this past week. I guess I must have sounded like I was a hopeless cause and he wanted to point me in the right direction. lol Thanks again, and maybe someone else on here will say if they had cats die on artificial fertilizer. I sure hope they didn't. I ordinarily don't fertilize plants, not even in containers, but then again, all I've ever had them planted in before was potting soil and not these new-to-me ingredients.

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 8:47PM
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KC Clark - Zone 2012-6a OH

For 2 or 3 years (cannot remember which anymore), all my monarch cats would die. Only reason I could come up with was I was using Miracle Gro on my milkweed. I stopped the practice and never had the problem again. YMMV


    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 12:36AM
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Uh oh, now I'm seriously thinking about putting the A. fruticosa back into potting soil and not fertilizing it. When I first looked into container gardening, I had no idea there was this whole other method of planting practically any kind of plant in this soil-less mixture. I wanted to try it, though, and just got done putting the plant into this mixture a couple days ago. So now the plant has no way of getting nutrients except from whatever I give it, which will probably kill the SSS cats, based on what you said. Of course, I don't want that to happen, so it looks like I'll have to move the plant back into potting soil. I still would like to try to keep the plant in a big pot and keep it relatively short (under 6 feet). Thanks for telling me about your experience, KC.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 11:32AM
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misssherry(Z8/9SE MS)

I've used various fertilizers, mostly chicken manure, but sometimes chemical fertilizers without a problem.
Miracle-Gro is a Scott's product, and there's a thread on a hummingbird site that everybody should read. Would you believe Scott's even puts pesticides on their bird seed? It might be that the Miracle-Gro has pesticides in it that killed your cats.

Here is a link that might be useful: Scott's Products

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 2:43PM
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I only reverted to using the All Purpose MG last year on my tomatos - maybe I should rethink that? I alternated it with Espoma Tomato Tone.

Cathy, I have grown Baptisia australis var. minor in a pot now for 4 years. I have never given it any fertilizer, and it grows and flowers just wonderful. It is also in the Legume family. I originally used Sta-Green potting mix. But I don't think the fertilizer they put in it lasts very long at all and it's surviving quite well on what it gets from the atmosphere (after thunderstorms) alone.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 6:08PM
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Sherry, Hmmm...that makes me not want to buy any more Scott's products! I didn't realize that Scott's made the Osmocote that I have. Well, now I know that. I used to buy Miracle Gro potting mix but after buying a couple of bags that had large stones in it, I quit buying it and get another brand at a local nursery that I like much better

Susan, That's good that your B. australis does well for you in a pot. I don't think you could do that though with a soil-less mixture since it would have no way to get nutrients. I'm still not quite sure what I want to do with the A. fruticosa, keep it in the pot I just put it in with the soil-less mix or put it back into potting soil. After KC's experience, I really think that I'll put it into potting soil and it can get its nutrients naturally instead of my supplying them. Then I won't have to worry about the SSS cats dying.

    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 7:06PM
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