What's a reliable fertilizer?

splinter1804May 18, 2010

Hi everyone,

I know we have visited the subject of fertilizers in the past, but I have a specific question that I can't find the answer to in any previous posts.

I realise that all growers have their little "trade secrets" that they don't wish to share with others and I respect that, but I would like to know if anyone can suggest a good reliable fertilizer which is available in Australia and wont rob the colour from foliage vrieseas.

Thanks in advance.

All the best, Nev.

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paul_t23(Coastal Sydney)

Hi Nev,

I've been using Phostrogen 'All purpose' (N:P:K=14:4:22) for several years as a soluble, for regular foliar feeding plus a good splosh in the cup every so often. Growth has been good with nice compact shapely plants and really good colour. pH of the town-supply water is around 7.8 however, which is pretty alkaline for tap water and might well be reducing the ability of the plants to take up nitrogen. Seeing you get water from the same mob(I think) it is probably treated in the same way, but it would probably be worth testing the pH to see what it is, since it can have a big bearing on nutrient uptake.

Only problem I've found with this fertilising method is that it is too time consuming once the collection grows a bit, so now I'm starting to use a slow release for the first time. It is Acticote for fruit, citrus and shrubs, which is a 12 month slow release with N:P:K=13:5:11. (I suspect that this is a consumer packaging of Nutricote?) I had a hell of a time trying to find a readily available slow release that didn't have high N. Results so far seem pretty much as I was getting from the Phostrogen, but it is still a bit early to really tell.

I'll be really interested to see what others use .... Jack?

Cheers, Paul

    Bookmark   May 18, 2010 at 6:02PM
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Ok Hi you 2 ,well i have always used Osmocote slow release for pots and planters ,its high 16 % nitrogen ,but Vriesea like and seem to need higher nitrogen content , low nitrogen will cause them and Guzmania to flower prematurely ,foliar feeding i do occasionally on very small seedlings but not on plants from about 5 cm up , i have seen quiling problems when others do it but perhaps they use it to concentrated ? Foliage Vrieseas tend to fade / look jaded when the weather gets very hot ,they are looking best in spring and autumn ,fertiliser does not affect them like it affects Bill's and Neo's ,Ph can be a problem and there is little you can do about it other than change your water supply ,some ,like Hieroglyphica and Fenestralis dont like high Ph and show this with rust like spots on the lower leaves and die back on leaf tips on higher leaves ,as most tap waters are a bit Alkaline you need to have high nitrogen levels as the Alkaline water does reduce the uptake ,so if Nitrogen is low and Alkaline is high ? plant is stressed due to lack of Nitrogen ,as most if not all foliage type vriesea species are nearly always Terrestial ,they get better nitrogen levels than Epiphites ,their leaf patterns/colours are enhanced by light ,not by fertiliser ,but high intense sun in summer causes fading ,not sure if this helps but i have had pretty good results with the osmocote ,but Nutricote etc wich are similar are also good ,any is better than none , but i would not recomend using low nitrogen types .

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 2:21AM
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Great info Jack...Just out of interest...how many slow release Osmocote pellets would you use in a standard pot for a young growing Vriesea ? Do you just top dress with it or mix into the soil when potting, and how often would you add more ?

And Paul...how often are you foliar feeding your Vr. ?..Half strength/full strength ?


    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 5:57AM
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Great info Paul and Jack - much appreciated.

So far I've kept all fertilizers away from the broms (except seedlings of course and some on-the-way-out-mums) as I havent wanted to risk any colour loss - however my Vr. might have to say hello to some Osmoocote.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 7:26AM
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Well Graeme it depends on your definition of a standard pot , for a 125 mm ( 5 inch) pot i would use about a table spoon , mostly as top dressing ,but it does not make much difference , and no more till it goes into next size pot,
Kristan you can only get colour loss from using the wrong strength fertiliser ,nitrogen is the problem ,for Bill's and Neo's and most Ae's you need low nitrogen ,Till's i can't say ok ? Cryptanthus are ok with Nitrogen at higher levels ,in my experience ( for what its worth ) and this goes for many other plants ,the softer and thinner the leaf ? the more nitrogen the plant can tolerate and use , in Orchids therefore a Hardcane dendrobium wants little nitrogen ( hard leaf ) a Phalleanopsis needs a fair amount ( soft succulent leaf ) but all plants need a certain amount ,its the building block of its life ,

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 7:59AM
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Hi everyone,

Thanks Paul and Jack for the useful feedback, it's good to get advice from people who have actually been there and done it rather than accepting what's written in books, often for an entirely different environment.

Thanks again

All the best, Nev.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2010 at 2:53AM
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