Slow release fertilizers

muktowngal(Z5 WI)April 19, 2012

I know I just read a post about this but I cannot find it now.I want to make a trip to the feed store. Could you please give the info on fertilizers again.


Did a search that didn't bring anything up.

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I use 14-14-14 Osmocote but am interested to hear what the experts here use.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 9:57AM
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bkay2000(8a TX)

AND, where do you buy it in bulk?


    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 7:15PM
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I bought a 50lb bag locally for about $115.00 from a hardware/seed store that has been here for about 100 years.

You can order it online and I think it comes to $118.00 counting shipping to my house. It is $88.99 before shipping.

Here is a link that might be useful: A.M. Leonard

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 7:23PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

You can get Soy Bean Meal at 5-2-1 for $15 for 50 lbs. You can get 50 lbs of Milorganite (5-2-2) at $13 for 50 lbs. Similar prices for Alfalfa meal or Alfalfa pellets (2-1-2). All are available at feed stores. All are slow release organic fertilizers.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 7:56PM
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bernd ny zone5

I just read about fertilizing in the latest AHS Journal. An expert suggested that you give hostas a liquid fertilizer as they start coming out of the ground because they will need that initial boost to develop their leaves. You should follow that with a granular fertilizer to provide nutrients as they grow. You must be careful which time release fertilizer you apply, it was suggested 3 months. You must prevent to have the time release fertilizer feed the hosta when the plant wants to rest.

    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 8:00PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b

Bernd is correct that Hosta can use a quick shot as they come out of the ground. This year I used a liquid Miracle Grow as a quick start fert. I wanted to make sure the ground was wet when I then applied the granular slow release ferts. The slow release ferts will be activated by temperatures if they are synthetic (Osmocote). Organic slow release ferts are released as they are broken down by microbes in the soil. I used mostly Osmocote, but also some Plant Tone and some Milorganite. If you are applying a slow release fert in April, then you are fine with 3 or 4 months, unless you are in Zone 3 or 4. Never put granular fert on dry soil and make sure it gets watered in.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 8:42PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

I read somewhere that slow release ferts come in two releases with the temps and one with the amount of moisture. I just go with a 1/2 strength Miracle Grow every couple week, if I remember to do it. Maybe once a month. That would be for pots. That way I know what they are getting and when.


    Bookmark   April 19, 2012 at 11:23PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

I read somewhere that slow release ferts come in two releases with the temps and one with the amount of moisture.

==>>> you heard wrong ... as far as i know.. and i dont claim to be 'up' on the technology

think sucking on a jelly bean ... you add moisture .. and the warmth ...

once the two start attacking it.. there is a release ...

the MOST IMPORTANT thing in using a POTTING fertilizer.. on mother earth ... is the duration of the dump ... there are 3 .. 4 .. 6.. and 9 month dumps... [a bunch anyway]

in z5 .. obviously.. a 9 month dump .. is going to be a problem.. because you will be fert'ing.. late in the season.. and the hosta will not properly harden off ... and can rot in winter.. or the following spring

so start.. by getting ONLY a 3 or 4 month dump ... in z5

and since it needs something like 78 degrees or something [???] .. its of little use to put it on early ... but you have to consider such .. in counting your 3 or 4 months ...

FWIW ... its an engineered product for the greenhouse biz ... and i truly do NOT understand using it in mother earth.. considering the cost ...

IMHO.. you would be better off.. going to the mill store.. and buying 50# of 12-12-12 .. for 17$ .. and putting it on.. and then getting something like 6-24-24 and putting it on in july ... again ... under $20 .. and using the remainder of the saved money on MORE HOSTA ...

you all should know ... there is NOT an easy way for anything ....


ps: and then there is the whole issue of fert'ing ONLY AROUND YOUR HOSTA ... and how your trees are going to react... if its a maple.. all you will be doing is calling its roots to where you put the fert near the hosta ... consider general broadcasting over the whole bed ....

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:32AM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


There are two kinds, but all ferts need moisture to be effective. In my pots, I used a quick shot of liquid Miracle Grow followed by application of Osmocote in each pot. Some people mix Osmocote directly in their potting mix. I don't know how long your growing season is, but you know there is both 3 and 4 month Osmocote. You might need two applications of the 3 month kind or one of the 4 month. That should be enough. With about 75 pots this might cost your $25 for the season.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 8:44AM
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Babka NorCal 9b

My conditions are different here on the Left coast. We don't get the constant heat to evenly release the heat activated granules. We get no rain during most of the growing season so I flush the alkaline water through my pots every other time I water them to keep the salts from building up. This is what works for me...YMMV.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 12:52PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


I found this old article on the growth cycle of Hostas by Bob Solberg. It was excerpted from a talk given by Bob at a Winter Scientific meeting in 1996. I wonder if Ken was there? In any case he talks about differences in fertilizing different kinds of Hosta. Interesting stuff, especially for your climate.


Here is a link that might be useful: The Growth Cycle of Hostas

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 1:00PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

Great article, Steve! I like the info on the growth cycles and how they differ with each group. It explains the science behind what many of us have observed over many years of growing hostas. However, my climate has very few days as hot as 95 degrees, and we drop below 32 only for a few hours total each Winter. That's why I'm a lone hosta collector out here. Hostas are not a common plant in our local nurseries.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 2:17PM
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jan_on zone 5b

But -- if I sprinkle a slow release fert on soil that is cool and dry, won't it just sit patiently and wait until the soil is warm and moist?

    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 7:54PM
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Steve Massachusetts Zone 5b


Do it just before a rain and you should be OK.


    Bookmark   April 20, 2012 at 8:01PM
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From my own experiences, it is better to water the hostas and wet the soil before using liquid fertilizers. If you use those when it is dry then the hostas can suck up too much, too fast, and you get burned and damaged roots. In pots you can get salt buildup, so definitely a good idea to flush the pots out first before reapplying.

And for the slow release granules, yes, some activate with heat and others with moisture. Osmocote releases with moisture and releases more the hotter it is, so it is prone to burning potted hosta roots in the summer when it releases too quickly. Instead I switched to the heat activated granules years and am seeing much better results with absolutely no root damage.

The mode of the fertilizer getting into the hostas is still by moisture, but it first leaches into the soil and then is dissolved in water and taken up by the roots. If it is a heat activated granule it won't break down when it is colder so even if you water it doesn't leach out at a time when the hostas don't need it. Osmocote can release every time it rains or you water, even if it is colder.

The only hostas I actively fertilize, though, are the ones in pots, so I incorporate the heat activated, slow release (3 to 4 month) granules into my potting soil, and refresh the soil each spring. I apply it dry and don't see any reason to moisten the soil prior to planting. In the ground I give them Hollytone to start (yes, hostas are acid lovers, and my soil has a very high pH to start with), and lots of organic humus (compost), but after that they are on their own.

    Bookmark   April 22, 2012 at 10:20AM
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