foliar feeding... indoors?

greentoe357August 5, 2014

I still can't get over how much I love my pump sprayer. Even though humidity here is reliably over 50%, even when air-conditioned, I still mist occasionally. I like how that lifts scents off the plant stand that were imperceptible before, and it's good for breathing and the skin...

So, of course I know I'll be misting the hell out of my plant stand in the winter, and I am thinking about foliar fertilization. I've done it in the bathroom after giving them a shower, but things can be washed off easily in the shower... Does anybody do it indoors, as in "in rooms where you live"? Should I expect any fungal-nasties and whatnot to grow on my walls and floors?

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denise_gw

I usually take my plants to the kitchen sink, water thoroghly and mist them with VF-11 in my water, making sure to get the undersides of the leaves. Then I set them under the fan in the kitchen (on high) for a few minutes before I take them back to their spot. In the rooms where I have ceiling fans and good air movement, I may just take them straight back to their spot to dry. But there are a few "unmovable" plants that I do mist where they sit, in spite of being close to or on wood surfaces. As long as there is good air movement in the room and it dissipates fairly fast, you should have no problems.

Denise in Omaha

    Bookmark   August 5, 2014 at 4:31PM
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greedygh0st

First off, I have to say that my jaw hit the floor in wonderment when you described your watering routine, Denise. That is truly a labor of love. It makes me quake in my boots to imagine hand-watering each individual plant in the sink. My watering routine is more like lunchtime with Kate+8.

I also mist with VF-11. Micronutrients in a foliar fertilizer makes some sense b/c small quantities⦠efficient absorption⦠etc. But I can also see how it might just be dripping off the leaves and into the soil for most of the absorption so lol I guess I'm not married to the logic of foliar fertilization. I just hella enjoy misting, like you, GT. Especially since you got me hooked on the pump misters. Kick it up a notch - bam!

I think everyone's habitat is different, so you really just have to use your common sense. For example, I would mist all day long in my main plant room and never worry, because the ceiling fan is always going and stuff evaporates quickly. On the other hand, I have plants in my bedroom next door and I only mist them lightly in the summer and never in the winter, because it's a much more stagnant space.

I wouldn't worry about the walls in either space, though. Modern paint is more than enough defense against an errant, even heavy, spray of water and fertilizer. Maybe our drywall becomes even harder with the additional minerals. ;P

I carry a shammy and give any wood surfaces that get heavily sprayed a cursory swipe. You just never can be too careful with wood. The moment you feel safe, you're not. Especially with window ledges. My plants can basically never sit on wood b/c I have failed too many times in the past and now can't handle the terror.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 12:47PM
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greentoe357

Watering one by one in the sink is definitely more than I am willing to do, and is very impressive. To add another analogy to GG's excellent one - watering for me is more of an overcrowded classroom experience, not one of individual tutoring.

I was also surprised you put them under a fan after foliar fertilizing, Denise. Rot / fungus concerns, I guess. In my mind, I want to give them time to soak up that fertilizer solution, so I just let them air-dry without trying to speed up the process (although I do not deliberately turn off the room fan, either). I would imagine fertilizer only gets absorbed when it's in a water solution, not when the water evaporated - although I may be wrong on this.

I have read though that hitting the leaf undersides with the fertilizer is important, as you say, as some (all?) stomata through which the nutrients are taken in are located there.

Regarding WHAT to mist with - you guys both mentioned VF-11. I've never tried it. I was thinking of just misting my regular fertilizer solution whenever I have some left over after watering. For a while it was Foliage-Pro 9-3-6, lately I decided to alternate it with another, Orchid-Pro 7-8-6. So, that's what I would be misting - for now at least.

> I have plants in my bedroom next door and I only mist them lightly in the summer and never in the winter, because it's a much more stagnant space.

...but also a very dry place in the winter though, right? Maybe it's ok to mist then? It'll evaporate fast even without air circulation, I think.

> You just never can be too careful with wood.

Oh yeah, that definitely applies in one of my rooms with wooden floors. My window sills are made of plastic or some sort of lightweight metal though, so at least that is not a concern.

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 3:50PM
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greedygh0st

Here are the cliff's notes, for what I know about foliar fertilization. You probably know this already, GT, but it might be useful for other readers interested in the topic.

- Most plants are not able to take up sufficient primary nutrients through foliar fertilization alone. (Obviously there are exceptions.) So, it should not be used (as the sole vehicle) for NPK.

- Fertilizers designed for foliar fertilization usually include a surfactant, which helps the fertilizer stay on the leaf long enough for it to be absorbed. Homemade concoctions or fertilizers not designed for this purpose are likely to slide off the leaf too quickly (although they probably just drip into the soil and get absorbed there.)

- Although the amounts absorbed are small, the efficiency of foliar absorption is superior.

- Because of the above points, foliar fertilization is not well suited for "general purposes fertilization" but is excellent for correcting nutritional deficiencies.

- The popular application of this logic is to use foliar feeding to dispense seaweed extract or other micro-nutrient fertilizers, which supply trace elements that aren't always included in primary fertilizers. That's basically what VF-11 is.

------

You are so lucky to have metal windowsills. I never thought I'd say that, but there you have it.

You would think that my bedroom would be dry in the winter but it is not. It takes plants for-EVER to dry out in there, especially in winter. I'm sure the fact that I run a humidifier at night doesn't help, but really I think it's 99.9% the low air movement and dimmer natural light.

Luckily, I'm moving soon, so I'm already dreaming about my NEW PLANT SETUP!!!!!!!!! !!!!!! !!!!! More shelving, more lights, rooms just for plants!! Woo!

This post was edited by greedyghost on Wed, Aug 6, 14 at 16:26

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 4:25PM
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denise_gw

And one more thing, GG. The stomata on most plants open at night, which is the time your plants will most efficiently absorb the nutrients. Now there is a downside to misting at night - cooler temps can mean more ideal conditions for fungus development. But in summer, I don't hesitate to go out to the GH and mist, mist, mist away at or after dusk.

GT, you should look into VF-11. More specifically, Eleanor's VF-11. Eleanor recently sold the business, so who knows if it will be available down the road, but in my opinion, it is an amazing product. I've been impressed with it, but my sister has affirmed my opinion of it. She owns a nursery about 30 miles from Omaha, and I turned her onto it several years ago when I started using it. No one in the Midwest offers it because (apparently) there isn't enough of a price break for a business to make "enough" money selling it. But she bought some and used it herself, on problematic plants - trees and other perennials she was having problems with at her nursery. She was astounded at their turnaround, just using it as a foliar feed. She put it in her store and started touting its value to her customers, and she's gotten a lot of locals so impressed, that when she ran out of gallons recently, she practically had a revolution on her hands! LOL! It's good stuff, let's just say that!

Anyway, I have ceiling fans in every room (what can I say - I'm super hot blooded!) and I don't really think the nutrition part of the spray lifts with the evaporation. And the nice thing about keeping your plants sprayed off... the leaves stay nice and clean and shiny, no dust! Which probably aids in keeping the plant overall healthy.

Denise in Omaha

    Bookmark   August 6, 2014 at 9:36PM
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greentoe357

Sorry to be replying so late. :-/

> - Fertilizers designed for foliar fertilization usually include a surfactant, which helps the fertilizer stay on the leaf long enough for it to be absorbed.

A teaspoon to a tablespoon of soap per gallon of the foliar fertilizer solution will serve as surfactant.

> - The popular application of this logic is to use foliar feeding to dispense seaweed extract or other micro-nutrient fertilizers, which supply trace elements that aren't always included in primary fertilizers.

Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 fertilizer, which both you and I use, GG, includes macro-nutrients, all that are needed, supposedly, so maybe it's good for foliar feeding then?

    Bookmark   August 25, 2014 at 5:53PM
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