Fertilizer Question

kimmiesplummies(Zone 9, Nederland Tx)October 26, 2011

Hi Everyone

Just wondering whats a good fertilizer for plumeria seedlings, and also dessert rose seedlinds also if someone can help.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Do you want the long answer or the short version? ;-) The short:

Foliage-Pro (FP) 9-3-6 provides nutrients in the same ratio as the average of what all plants use. It has all nutrients essential to normal growth, including calcium and magnesium, which are missing from most soluble synthetic fertilizers. It (and similar ratio [3:1:2] fertilizers) allow you to fertilize at the lowest fertility levels possible w/o nutritional deficiencies, a decided advantage because the lower the fertility level (EC/TDS), the easier it is for plants to take up water and the nutrients dissolved in water.

There is a technical difference between a fertilizer (Miracle-Gro) and a soil amendment (feather meal), but even that point eventually becomes moot from a strictly nutritional perspective. Plants take up elements that are dissolved in the soil solution and in ionic form. What they take up are salts. The large molecules that make up hydrocarbon chains in organic fertilizers/soil amendments cannot be taken up by the plant unless the hydrocarbon chains are broken down into elemental, soluble form by soil organisms. At that point, the elements from soluble fertilizers are exactly the same as the elements from organic sources, which is why the plant could care less. At the point in time where nutrients are assimilated, they are ALL soluble and in elemental form, regardless if they came from a dead fish, compost or a hose-end sprayer.

The problem with organic nutrient sources for container culture is, the populations of soil organisms required to break down the organic molecules mentioned aren't stable. They are greatly affected by temperature, moisture/air levels in the soil, pH, fertility, and other factors, so their populations tend to follow boom-bust cycles depending on how favorable conditions are. Delivery of nutrients is as unreliable as the populations required to make them available, which is why soluble synthetic fertilizers are much more reliable, easier, and take most of the guesswork out of fertilizing - you know exactly how much of what and when your plants are getting it.

I would use any brand of granular soluble fertilizer in 24-8-16. Several manufacturers package that particular NPK %, Miracle-Gro, Peter's, Jack's ...... Miracle-Gro also has a 12-4-8 liquid that works well - same formulation as the 24-8-16, except it's half as concentrated. Foliage-Pro makes the best I've found so far. All 3 NPK %s (24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6) are 3:1:2 ratios and excellent for containerized plants, but Foliage-Pro has ALL the nutrients; plus, it gets about 1/3 of its N from ammoniacal sources and 2/3 from nitrate sources. This tends to produce bushier plants with stronger stems/branches and shorter internodes.

For plants growing in the ground, there is no one BEST fertilizer. The BEST fertilizer program would depend on what is already in the soil and the most appropriate way of adding whatever is required to eliminate any deficiencies w/o creating excesses of other elements, because an excess can be as limiting as a deficiency. To determine or to be able to define what is truly best for plants growing in the ground, a soil test is required.


    Bookmark   October 26, 2011 at 4:24PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone,

I wanted to say that i have tried all different fertilizers too! I have used Superbloom, Bills Perfect fertilizer, Seaweed Extract, Fish Emulsion, Superthrive, B-1. I actually like them all, but i have to say that i really do like the Foliage Pro the best! It does have all the great ingredients that all of the trees and other tropicals love as well as all of the nutrients and minerals that they need. My DR's love this Fertilizer as well!!!

In the spring i will add some FE and Seaweed extract to the rainwater as well as Superthrive and B-1 to my Plumies that are waking up. Smells terrible, but it does work.

I do feel like the Foliage pro is the easiest way to fertilize tho. Easy and very effective for the trees and is really easy to use.

Thanks AL for the "short " version!! LOL...we do enjoy the added experience that you offer to us all here on the forums!!! Im sure others would be interested in the long version as well!!! It's always interesting in what you have to say and why things work. I have learned so much from you in the way i make my soil and mixes, and my trees show how happy they are as well as my DR's C&S Citrus etc.

You always give a great informative post...Thank you!!!

Thank you for always taking the time to answer others question on all of the other forums that i visit. You go over and beyond what you need to do to help people, and it shows that you love to help people understand the basics of what soil amd water and Fertilizer and light all play a part in the equation of the healthy growth in the plants and trees. But the most important part of all plants and trees is what the roots look like.!!! : ) i finally got that!!! LOL after reading some of your long post and finally understanding the whole process!!

Whew!! Its a great feeling when the light turns on and we finally figure out what is really going on with our beloved trees!!! Thanks for so unselfishly taking the time to answer everyone questions. Especially on the other forums!!! We appreciate all that you do!!!

Thank you AL!!!!

Glad to call you friend!!!

Take care,

Laura in VB

Thanks Jen for the link to this post...i missed it and wanted to say that i do like the Foliage Pro!!!
I did have to find it on line. Now i have to locate the Pro-tekt too. I want to start to add this to my fertizlizer program. Has anyone found it here in VA? i guess it would be just as easy to order on line.

Take care ,

Thanks again AL!!!

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 1:00AM
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I second what Laura put so well--Al, your posts are amazing. Thank you.

And as for Pro-TeKt:
that stuff is the bomb. I've used it faithfully since mid-summer, and now all of my plants look like they're made of plastic (if you know what I mean...as in, they look perfect).


    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 1:19AM
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sunseeker53(10a CA USA)

I just got both FoliagePro and ProTekt from Amazon!

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 1:40AM
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kimmiesplummies(Zone 9, Nederland Tx)

Thanks for the info. Al, Laura, and Greg :) I'm new at all this Plumeria Care. I'm addicted though I started out with one six years ago and I got one every year for my B-day, but this year I've added probably 80 more LoL... All with plants,cuttings, and seedlings. Is that too much for one person that just started this year? So i might be asking RANDOM Questions alot.

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 9:54AM
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kimmiesplummies(Zone 9, Nederland Tx)

So you use FE and Seaweed extract to the rainwater as well as Superthrive and B-1 to my Plumies that are waking up. You mix that all together? Feed that just once while they are waking up? I'm just taking notes if you don't mind.
For foliage pro and pro tekt use it together also? and how often use?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 10:20AM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone,

Hi Kimmiesplummies,

I use this "brew" in the spring and then in the summer with my trees that are at least several years old. I even put in Epson salt in the spring as well. But, if you talk to everyone else and see the different ways everyone fertilizes, you will see many different ways

For repotting and rooting, i like to add B-1 and superthrive to the water.

I was making this batch of "good smelling stuff" only when they are outside. You cant possibly use the fish emulsion inside. IMO!!! Smellls like canney row!!!! LOL..

If you look at what Foliage pro has in it, you will see that it basically covers all of the needed nutrients and minerals that most plants need. So when i do fertilize thru the summer i use this. As a treat to the trees, i give them seaweed extract sometimes and may give them a few other little boosters!!! But, i feel like a good overall fertilizer that has all of the good stuff in it is Foliage Pro. I will use the FP and the PT together when i receive mine. (Thanks Sun) for the info on where you ordered yours from. (PT)

Did you say that you have 80? LOL or was that a typo? OH my!! You are an addict if you have that many...

i have about 20 inside that still have their leaves on under lights. Probably > 40 that will go dormant with the leaves cut down to one inch from the stem. That will fall off naturally in a few weeks. The ones that will go to "Sleep" are still outside and when the stems fall off, i will spray withh 3 in 1 to make sure the little critters are off of the trees.

Bascially, what im trying to say, is that we all have our own favorite fertilizers, If it works for you then its wonderful!!! Some like superbloom with a high P number, and then some realize that it doesnt matter as long as the ratio is 3:1:2 I like that for me. I do add things sometimes, but i know that my trees are getting all that they need when i use the FP. SOme like granular...

You will hear many different things about all different fertilizers and why people like them. I would suggest that you try whatever you feel comfortable using and then when the growing season starts, try FP or whatever you would like.

I do stop giving fertilizer to my trees that are going dormant. I stopped that a month ago.

Just take notes, listen to others and what they like and listen to the ones that have been doing this for a long time. We all are learning new things and we love to hear what others like and why!!!

i hope this helps you ...

Good luck to you and order some of that FP and PT I think you willl really like it!!

Take care,

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 2:12PM
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kimmiesplummies(Zone 9, Nederland Tx)

Thanks Laura indeed i will try the FP and PT that sounds easy to use. Yes i have about 80 plants not including seedlings. I am "ADDICTED" and still have more cuttings coming.

I'm taking all the notes down as long as i'm going and you've been really helpful.

We have a cold front coming later tonight and its gunna be in the 40s tomorrow. I've moved all my small plants in but i've got 10 big plants ranging from 4-7 ft. should i roll them in also?

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 2:49PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

As long as we're on the topic of fertilizers, we might as well take a little closer look at the high-P "bloom-booster" formulations so many growers believe promote additional blooming.

This is copy/pasted from one of my older threads:

Let�s first look at the role of fertilizers in general. There are 6 factors that affect plant growth and yield; they are: air, water, light, temperature, soil or media, and nutrients. Liebig's Law of Limiting Factors states the most deficient factor limits plant growth and increasing the supply of non-limiting factors will not increase plant growth. Only by increasing most deficient factor will the plant growth increase. There is also an optimum combination of the factors and increasing them, individually or in various combinations, can lead to toxicity for the plant.

From the above, we can say that when any nutritional element is deficient in the soil, plant growth slows. We have a term for this occurrence: environmental dormancy. When the deficient element is restored to adequacy levels the environmental constraint caused by the deficient element is eliminated and plant growth can resumes at a normal rate, as long as there are not additional limiting factors. Continuing to increase the element beyond the adequacy range offers no benefits and can deleteriously affect the plant - often in several ways, depending on the element.

Somewhere along the way, we curiously began to look at fertilizers as miraculous assemblages of growth drugs, and started interpreting the restorative (of normal growth) effect of fertilizer as stimulation beyond what a normal growth rate would be if all nutrients were adequately present in soils. It's no small wonder that we come away with the idea that there are 'miracle concoctions' out there and often end up placing more hope than is reasonable in them. In couplet with the hope for the 'miracle tonic' is 'more must be better'. I'll use the latter idea as the lead-in for my thoughts on high-phosphorous fertilizer blends.

Among container growers you often find common belief that high-phosphorus (P) content fertilizers are a requirement for promotion of root growth and/or flowering. Fertilizer blends like 15-30-15, and even 10-52-10 are sold under names that imply that you actually NEED these formulas for plants to bloom well and to produce strong roots. Lets examine that idea in a little more depth.

While anecdotal evidence abounds, there is very little scientific evidence to show any need for such products. I've mentioned in other posts that high-P fertilizers are a historical carry-over from when it was most common for plants to be started in outdoor soil beds, the soil in which was usually still quite cold at sowing time. Both the solubility of P and plants' ability to take it up are reduced in cold soils, so it was reasoned that fertilizing with high levels of P insured that at least some would be available during periods of growth in chilled soils.

We know that tissue analysis of leaves, roots, flowers - any of the live tissues of healthy plants will reveal that P is present in tissues at an average of 1/6 that of nitrogen (N) and about 1/4 that of potassium (K). Many plants even contain as much calcium as P. If we know that we cannot expect P to be found in higher concentrations in the roots and blooms than we find in foliage, how can we justify the belief that massive doses of P are important to their formation?

It is well known among experienced growers that withholding N when all other nutrients are available at adequate levels induces bloom production, even on smaller and younger plants. Though plants USE nutrients at approximately a 3:.5:2 ratio (note that N is 6 times the level of P, and K is 4 times the level of P), most greenhouse operations purposely fertilize with something very near a 2:1:2 ratio to limit vegetative growth so they can sell a compact plant sporting pretty blooms to tempt you.

Simply limiting N limits vegetative growth, but it does nothing to limit photosynthesis. The plant keeps making food, but it cannot use it to grow leaves and extend stems because of the lack of N. To where should we imagine the energy goes? It goes into producing blooms and fruit.

What harm might there be in a little extra P in our soils? First consider that the popular 10-52-10 has almost 32 times more P than a huge percentage of plants could ever use. Even 1:1:1 fertilizer formulas like the popular 20-20-20 are already high P formulas because they have 6.25 times more P (in relation to N) than plants require to grow robustly and normally.

Evidence of phosphate over-fertilizing usually always includes some degree of leaf chlorosis. P competes with iron (Fe) and manganese (Mn) ions for attachment sites and causes antagonistic deficiencies of these micronutrients. Unfortunately, the deficiency of these elements causes interveinal chlorosis (yellowing), and the first thing we normally consider as a fix for yellow leaves is more fertilizer, so we give the plants a good dose of our favorite bloom-bomb which causes, no surprise - worsening of the condition.

I'll close with an anecdote of how I used to fertilize plants with showy blooms before I had a better understanding of the overall picture. I would fertilize with a "bloom-boosting" fertilizer as long as foliage was bright green. As foliage inevitably yellowed, I would then switch to a high N formula until the color returned and start the cycle over again. I THOUGHT that the P was helping produce blooms and the yellowing was caused by a lack of N, which I quickly jumped to correct at the first evidence of yellow. I now understand that the high levels of P were what was causing the yellowing and it wasn't my returning to a high N formula that greened the plant up again, it was the reduction in the level of P in the soil when I stopped using the high-P formulation.

BTW - for containerized plants, while it's ok to continue to fertilize with complete fertilizers through fall ('complete' just means the fertilizer contains N, P, & K), you should refrain from fertilizing when soil temperatures are below 55*, regardless of the time of year. This is especially true if you're using an organic source of N, (like any of the various 'meals') or a fertilizer that gets its N from sources other than nitrates. This is to prevent ammonium toxicity, the symptoms of which are commonly seen but rarely properly diagnosed.


    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 4:36PM
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funinthesunincl(Z9 TX Gulf Coast)

Kimmieplummies: I live in Clear Lake (south of Houston), I am leaving my plants out. Have you used any Epsom Salts? Hopefully this will just be an early cold snap and get back to warmer weather right after. One thing I want to share with you: you seen the major drought this year accompanied with extreme triple digit weather...they are predicting the same for at least thru the spring of next year. I would HIGHLY suggest holding off a major fertilizing program in the early spring. At most, I would cut it in half of the recommended strength!!! Laura has absolutely BEAUTIFUL plumies in her yard---she knows what she is doing!!! All her plumies are SO HEALTHY!!! BUT--she is not in Texas w/our heat, sun, and drought. And Al, is in Michigan, where I used to live; he has provided excellent information!! BUT... gardening is so different here in Texas!!!!! While taking in his good advice, please watch what strength you use of anything. And make sure the soil is watered well before adding any fertilizers. I know we don't have many cloudy days, but watch for them to spray the leaves or else they are toast! His soil in no way compares to the hard as rock clay we have down here...big difference w/plumies in ground. You could REALLY burn any roots if you don't watch what you are doing. Have you ever tried the worm castings in addition to other great fertilizers on the market? I also order a couple of large boxes off EBay every spring to add to each plumie. The Texas heat, humidity brings out some BEAUTIFUL blooms bursting with color...and that's a 'good thing'!!!! Good Luck ...I hope your plumies reward you with awesome rewards next year!!!!! :)))

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 4:45PM
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kimmiesplummies(Zone 9, Nederland Tx)

Thank you Al for more info on fertilizing.

Hello Funinthesunincl,
You are so right about how our climate is different from Laura and Al. You are actually 1hr 45 min away from where I am. I have never use Epsom salt yet and how do u use it and when to use it? Since we are in the same climate may I ask what kind of fertilizer you use? How would worm casting help? Don't mind me I'm a very curious person and like to take notes :)

    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 6:16PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Please don't take this as my being a s/a or argumentative because I don't mean it that way, but plants in TX use the same nutrients in the same ratio as plants in MI or any other part of the world. In TX, or anywhere else, the grower has a vested interest in making sure all nutrients are present in the soil at all times, in a concentration high enough to prevent deficiencies, yet low enough that the nutrients aren't so concentrated that it makes it difficult for the plant to take up water or nutrients.

In TX, as in MI, growers should refrain from fertilizing when temperatures are too high or too low, but when the plant is growing well, the concentration of nutrients (EC/TDS of the soil solution) most conducive to good growth and vitality is the same for both states.

The easiest way to achieve this fairly narrow range of 'ideal' fertility is with frequent applications of a fertilizer solution at reduced rates, using a fertilizer that ensures the plant will have all essential nutrients available and that they (nutrients) are present in the ratio at which plants take them up. This is important because an excess of any one nutrient can be as limiting as a deficiency ..... which leads me directly to a discussion about Epsom salts.

Epsom salts (MgSO4) supply magnesium (Mg) and sulfur (S). Sulfur is only very rarely deficient in soils, which leaves us with the assumption that any benefit derived from Epsom salts would come in the form of its Mg content. The question that needs to be asked before you use Epsom salts is, "What leads me to think I have a Mg deficiency?" If you don't have an answer or a reason to apply something, especially when it's an element or compound targeted at increasing the amount of a singular nutrient, you're better to forgo the application; because if it's (magnesium) not deficient, more can't possibly help; rather, it will be a limiting factor. That is a point that can't be argued without first refuting Liebig's Law of the Minimum, which addresses limiting factors.

Not only can applying Epsom salts when Mg is not deficient needlessly raise the level of dissolved solids in the soil (solution), making it more difficult for the plant to take up water and the nutrients dissolved in water, it can also create what is called an antagonistic deficiency of Ca. Ca and Mg need to be present in a ratio somewhere in the 2-4.5:1, Ca:Mg range. When that ratio becomes skewed through the addition of only Ca or only Mg, the other nutrient (in this case, Ca) is more difficult for the plant to take up.

If you're using a commercial soil, it's unlikely you would have a Ca or Mg deficiency because the soil would have been pH adjusted with dolomite CaMg(CO3)2, which as you can see supplies both Ca and Mg, and in a favorable ratio. The same is true if using your own soil made with dolomitic lime. Also, it's very unlikely you would have a Mg deficiency when using Foliage-Pro fertilizer, because it's included in the fertilizer in soluble form.

Those are the overviews from the perspectives of physiology and soil science. Hopefully they make enough sense that you'll want to incorporate them into your thinking. If all you take away from my offerings is that there are no magic elixirs that can make up for inappropriate nutrition supplementation; and that adding supplements targeting an increase in the supply of singular nutrients are far more often limiting than beneficial, you will have taken something worthwhile.

Good growing!


    Bookmark   October 27, 2011 at 7:35PM
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funinthesunincl(Z9 TX Gulf Coast)

@ Kimmiesplummies: I use worm castings; I put it on everything from seedlings to rooted plants. The only thing I dont put it on are my fresh cuttings (not till they root). Bonus: it wont burn your plants because it is 100 percent natural. I have attached a link to a 'Worm Castings' thread on Maui Plumeria Gardens forum that I participated in a couple years ago (Mary Jane/tuckered-out-angel)...it has alot of great info. regarding the subject. :))

When I repot my plumies I always throw in a handful of Dynamite fertilizer & bone meal to the Cactus mix & perlite. I water in well with water mixed w/B-12 (plant root starter) and a couple drops of Super Thrive (I water with that for the 1st couple weeks for healthy root growth...)

I recommend Dynamite, a slow release, balanced fertilizer. Unlike Osmocote, whose release is affected by temperatures and is used faster in hot weather, Dynamite is a time released product. Besides fertilzer, Dynamite contains many of the micronutrients that plants need. You can find it at Home Depot.

I supplement this with fish emulsion a couple of times.

Every other week I put 1 tablespoon of Epsom Salts per gallon of water together with a seaweed extract solution. This greens up the leaves nicely. It is also supposed to help the trees with cold hardiness.

Be careful on whatever you use so you don't end up commenting like a fellow plumie friend: "Fertilizers-A great subject, but a very touchy area of discussion for me this year. I'm totally scared to death about fertilizers. Last year I used a 'temperature induced', 15-15-15 granulated fertilizer, here in the Texas heat and damn near wiped out one third of my collection. The stuff just burned my root systems right out!"

The record breaking, triple digit temps. down here with the HOT Texas sun are brutal on the trees...I am just giving you what has worked for me w/Texas gardening for over 30 years.... There are MANY different opinions on fertilizers...but most importantly, find a good balance for what will work for you!

@ Al---thanks for the good soil science info!

~Mary Jane

Here is a link that might be useful: Worm castings thread on MPG

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 1:22AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's always good to consider what works for others, but a good deal of the science associated with soils and nutrition are pretty well defined, allowing us to make some definitive observations about various practices. Hopefully, what I'll share will offer some structure around which readers can build a solid nutritional supplementation program. When I use 'you' or 'your', I'm using it in the collective sense to mean everyone; I'm not singling out MJ.

Dynamite is a good fertilizer, but it's not enough to just look for 'Dynamite' fertilizer. I say that because the NPK %s are important if you want best results. The two blends most appropriate for use on blooming plants in containers are their green 18-6-8 all purpose formulation and their yellow/tan 13-5-11 labeled for palms and citrus. Keep in mind that it's not what's on the label that makes a fertilizer appropriate, it's what's IN it, and the RATIO of the nutrients to each other. Plants don't use nutrients in a 1:1:1 ratio, so why supply them in a ratio (as in the 15-15-15) that guarantees either excess or deficiencies, both being limiting factors?

Granular fertilizers are almost always soluble, or slow release, which simply means marginally soluble. Controlled release prilled fertilizers like Dynamite and Osmocote have a coating that allows small measures of nutrients to dissolve inside the prills & move through the coating based almost solely on temperature. They can be problematic during extreme heat because they continue to release fertilizers when it would probably be best to have LOW fertility in the soil because the plants have suspended growth and NEED the low fertility to facilitate water uptake. It's good to keep in mind that along with the convenience of using a 'controlled release' fertilizer like Dynamite, you give up a good deal of control over your supplementation program; whereas with a soluble fertilizer like Foliage-Pro there is no problem simply suspending applications when temperatures dictate that as the most reasonable approach.

If I can talk about worm castings for a moment ..... worm castings don't add anything that can't be had in an application of Dynamite, Foliage-Pro, or any other complete fertilizer. In fact, there are a couple of very good reasons to avoid it in containers (great in the gardens & around drip lines). First, I'd ask just what is in worm castings that would be considered a plus? It's NPK% are extremely low, but it does have some micronutrients. If you're using an appropriate fertilizer, the micronutrients 'are in there'. If you're not using a complete fertilizer and are depending on worm castings to supply what's missing, you're simply guessing. The guessing means you will be duplicating the nutrients that are in worm castings AND in other supplemental sources, and possibly even missing nutrients that are in neither source. We know that deficiencies are bad, and excesses can be just as bad, so why adopt a practice that virtually assures duplications? The second reason is that worm castings are extremely small in particle size. They settle into larger pore space, often settling to the lower part of the container, and contribute to water retention, which is a critical consideration for containerized plants.

If you feel you need the micronutrients in worm castings, you would be better served to use a micronutrient preparation that won't impact the soil structure and will supply a full compliment of micronutrients. Earth Juice Microblast, STEM, and Micromax are a few great alternatives.

Finally, almost everyone equates 'green' with good health, but that isn't always the case. The color of foliage depends a lot on cellular pH and what metals are most abundant in the cell structure. We can make plants nice & green by increasing the level of any of several nutrients to levels considered toxic, so you get 'green' at the expense of growth/vitality. From a nutritional perspective, the only time it's appropriate to add Epsom salts for its Mg content is when there is a deficiency of Mg AND the level of Ca in the soil is concentrated enough to support an application of Mg w/o causing an antagonistic deficiency of Ca. You're simply much better off to concentrate on developing a simple supplementation program that ensures you're supplying all the essential nutrients at the right ratio & then letting the plant do its job with not a lot of additional help in the form of this and that because 'more seems better.'


    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 10:26AM
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kimmiesplummies(Zone 9, Nederland Tx)

Thank you Mary Jane and AL for the fertilizing disscusion I am lerning alot ;)

    Bookmark   October 28, 2011 at 1:24PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone,

I agree with you Kimmiesplummies!!!

Great discussion!!!

We are all learning...so all of this informtion is wonderful!!!

Thanks for all of the great information!!!

Have to tag this one and save to clippings!!! : )

Take care,

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   October 29, 2011 at 4:19AM
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Although this is an 'old' conversation, I'm brand new to the forum and believe this is probably the correct place to add my questions. I am quite new to plumeria, new to gardening for that matter, and am finding this fertilizer bit to be rather intimidating.

After reading all the above information I went to Green Thumb Nursery (in San Diego) to return what I had purchased and to acquire FP, superthrive and B-1. The rep there explained that all her local plumeria growers use, "Grow More Hawaiian Bud & Bloom: 5-50-17" and that many products are regional. She also told me to only purchase Superthrive, that I was only to use superthrive or B1, not together. I caved and bought the Superthrive and Grow More fertilizer. I'll probably order FP via amazon, unless you think the product I have is as good or close?

My real questions stem from my fear of watering the plumeria, it seems to be the demise of many! I currently have 3 mature potted plummie's- leaves are 2-3 inches. I haven't watered them since I got them but mist them in the heat of the day. I want to add superthrive but that requires quite a bit of water, I think, the directions are confusing. In addition, if I add fertilizer and the instruction calls for 1 tsp/gal of water, do I need to use the entire gal of water- won't that be problematic for my plants? Yes, I really am that lost. My plants get full sun and sit on a hot deck, I have cuttings on the way and just really have no idea how to begin fertilizing.

Thank you for any and all thoughts and simple direction.

    Bookmark   March 14, 2012 at 6:19PM
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ProudMama, don't sweat the fertilizer thing too much. Most of us are just very anxious plumeria parents and probably do far more than we need to with these forgiving plants. Lots of people have big beautiful plants that flower when mature using only whatever fertilizer they have on hand.

The reason you don't need B-1 AND Superthrive is because the Superthrive has B-1 in it already. You can use ST with every watering, and only a drop or so per gallon--it's that potent. As your soil is probably dry, water with plain water first, then water in the ST and fertilizers after ten minutes or so.

When you say "mature" do you mean you bought big established plants, and they that are now coming out of dormancy and pushing new leaves? If so, it's time to water and use light fertilizer. Are you growing them in-ground or in pots? There are different fertilizer needs for potted than for in-ground plumeria.

I don't think the very high phosphorus # (50) of Hawaiian Bud & Bloom is necessary. I stick with lower numbers because, as Al points out, they can't really use that much phosphorus anyway. He makes a convincing case that Foliage Pro is the superior product and I will probably buy it myself when I'm done with the Spray-n-Gro I tried last year, which I found too cumbersome to mix and use.

I mostly use a 14-14-14 Osmacote slow-release granular when I repot, which is exactly what Jim Little recommends for potted plumeria in his book. I also use a little ST and liquid all-purpose fertilizer occasionally when I water and all my plumeria look great, and when they're a little older I expect they'll bloom pretty well for me. As one expert once said, a healthy plumeria WILL bloom when it matures.

If you've mixed a gallon and don't want to use it all, just water other plants nearby with the leftovers. But if you've got the plumies in a fast-draining soil mix--and that is absolutely CRITICAL to them--then extra water running through the pot will not hurt them. Most people kill their plumeria by watering too much during winter. In a hot climate with good soil it's hard to over-water them while they're growing!

Sounds like you're doing well with them so far. Best of luck to you!


    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 11:53AM
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Thank you very much! My first forum response, how exciting! :o) I am going to water them today and have found a place where I can pickup FP. Mature is probably an overstatement, the plants are probably 1-2 years old,potted, I purchased them so I could hopefully enjoy flowers this season while my cuttings take root and begin to leaf. (that's the plan, anyhow)

Thanks for the info and confidence boost on the watering!


    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 1:35PM
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Don't water them until they are activly growing. When that time comes, mix up the fertilizer ratio per gallon but only water enough for the plant, as if watering on the regular,you don't need the whole gallon. And some bigger plants might need more than a gallon. From what I have read here, you should return what you got and buy something in a 3-1-2 ratio. But what you have will work good too, just not optimum. I have no idea about the b1 superthive thing.

    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 3:37PM
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Thank you, Lucas2. That is a very helpful point about only watering enough for the plant, in all liklihood I would have dumped the whole gallon on the plant. :o/


    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 5:36PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello ProudMama!!

Welcome to the forum!!

Sounds like you have received some good advice!! : )

I am also a fan of Foliage Pro and i dont worry that my Plumies and all of the other plants and trees are getting the proper fertilizer and nutrients. Actually using the Foliage pro makes me not have to worry about adding all of the other supplements since its all in the FP. It really is that simple to use!!!

Everyone has their opinion about fertilizers and you can hear many different reasons that other use this and that. I have tried many different fertilizers and i will say that i will continue to use FP and Pro-Tekt . I even used this during the limited times i watered my trees this winter (at a reduced rate 1/4 tsp per gallon of water.) The trees that were active under grow lights were watered on a wet/dry cycle and the trees that were dormant were watered every couple of months. (very limited on the amount of water as well..) I will say that i have more inflos emerging at this time than i had last year. Makes me very happy!! : )

Al has given a great explanation on Fertilizers and really goes into great detail. If you are interested in more information about soils and or fertilizer just ask. We are always willing to help and all of us here are still learning too!

I agree that your rooted trees need water. Give them a good drink !! They must be really thirsty!!! : ) As long as you have a good draining mix and they are not standing in water, you can give them enought water to run free from the container. they will probably reward you with even more growth since you have been holding off on the water and they have been in the sunshine in San Diego. Dont worry about watering to much when they are active, like Jen mentioned...we usually overwater in the winter and then the problems start. But some people dont water at all during the winter and that can be a problem as well. Seems like you have a good handle on yoiur trees already.

Keep up the good work and keep us posted.

I can use a gallon of water on two or three plants in containers when i water, so dont feel bad if that is the amount that they want and NEED. Water them and then let them dry out again before you water them. If you are not sure if they need to be watered again, you can use a simple wooden skewer and poke it into the soil. if it comes out wet or even moist wait to water. If dry, water. Some people use a simple water meter that you can pick up at Lowes and use that to see about the moisture levels. Once you get a feel about watering, you can even tell by the leaves. You will be fine. Relax...you will have lots of fun with these beauties!!

Enjoy your trees Wendy!!

Take Care,


    Bookmark   March 15, 2012 at 11:24PM
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Laura, thank you for the informative response! I've read so many of your posts, you seem like such a warm, welcoming and happy woman! Maybe it is all the Plumie's in your collection?! ;o)

Great tip on the wooden skewer, very McGyver of you! I love being able to use what is already on hand. I watered them yesterday with ST, the FP hasn't arrived yet. Today several new leaves have opened and the leaves that I have are a more brilliant green, I think they are happy. The inflos have also grown and what I believe will be flowers are longer and fuller toay also. Looking forward to watering them again, once they need it of course, and adding fertilizer- then they will be even happier.

Thanks to Jen, Lucas and yourself (from me and my trees)

    Bookmark   March 16, 2012 at 4:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I would do my best to discourage the use of high-P fertilizers for any containerized plant, and point out that no one can make a case for their use based on anything that resembles science. I realize that's a strong statement, but plants use on average, 6X more N than P, so even 1:1:1 ratio fertilizers like 20-20-20 solubles or 14-14-14 controlled release supply much more P than necessary to maximize bloom production - 2.5X as much P as the plant can use in relation to N. ANY element in the soil at concentrations greater than the plant needs or can use, has the potential to limit your plants. While the potential isn't that significant in 1:1:1 ratio fertilizers, it's still there; and when the middle number (P) is greater than either N or K, the risk if limitation grows significantly. From this, we can say that if someone has really nice looking plants with lots of blooms & is using a high-P fertilizer, the results are in spite of the fertilizer choice, not because of it.

Limiting the N supply is a much more effective way to induce more blooms than supplying excess amounts of P. Laura uses a K supplement (ProTeKt 0-0-3) in combination with her 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer (Foliage-Pro 9-3-6). This allows her to fertilize at reduced rates w/o K deficiencies, which is a very good way to reduce N supplied. When you reduce the amount of N a plant gets, it doesn't affect the plant's ability to carry on photosynthesis, but it does limit vegetative growth. If the plant is making all this food/energy via photosynthesis and can't direct it to vegetative growth, guess where it goes? To blooms & fruit.


    Bookmark   March 17, 2012 at 10:47PM
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I have three fertilizers: A general one that you dissolve in water, one formulated for orchids that gets dissolved in water, and a liquid one for african violets. I would like to use one of them for my plumeria. It sounds like I should use the general one? Any opinions? Thanks!

    Bookmark   March 30, 2012 at 7:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What are the NPK % of each?

The NPK% determine the fertilizers RATIO, which is much more important than the NPK %s. For example, 24-8-16 and 12-4-8 are both 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers. The only difference between the two from a practical perspective is that the 24-8-16 contains exactly twice as much N, P, and K as as the 12-4-8. All this means is that when you fertilize, you would use exactly half as much of the 24-8-16 as you would the 12-4-8 to make a fertilizer solution of the same strength.

10-10-10 and 20-20-20 are another example of two fertilizers with different NPK %s but the same 1:1:1 ratio. Because 1:1:1 ratio fertilizers do not supply nutrients in anything close to an approximation of the ratio at which plants actually USE the nutrients, they have built-in limitations; this, because they ENSURE that some nutrients must be in the soil at either excess or deficiency levels.


    Bookmark   March 31, 2012 at 1:43PM
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Al, I have 24-8-16, 7-7-7, and 30-10-10 fertilizers. From what I have read, the 24-8-16 seems to be the best choice. It calls for 1 tsp per gallon of water for indoor plants, but 1 tbsp for outdoor potted plants. This plant is large--about 4 feet tall, and the pot it is in is about 12 inches at the bottom, 16 inches at the top, and about 12 inches tall. Should I stick with the 1 tsp per gallon of water then?

    Bookmark   April 6, 2012 at 10:26PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

How you fertilize depends in large part on how you water. If you're using a free-draining soil and flushing the soil every time you water (a good plan), you could use that as a weekly dose. If you're watering in sips, so most of the fertilizer you apply remains in the soil for extended periods (not such a good plan), it's difficult to offer much in the way of meaningful advice because we have no idea WHAT might be in the soil. Using Foliage-Pro 9-3-6, I fertilize most plants at 1 tbsp/gallon/week when temps are above 60 and below 90*. Your '1 tsp/gallon' using 24-8-16 comes in at 538 PPM, while my 1 tbsp of 9-3-6 yields 605 PPM (not counting the dissolved solids already IN the tap water), so you're not too far off from the strength I'm using if you apply weekly.

Of the 3, the 24-8-16 is assuredly the best choice.


    Bookmark   April 7, 2012 at 6:53PM
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Thanks A1!

    Bookmark   April 11, 2012 at 10:12AM
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Al, forgive me if you've answered this somewhere and I missed it - in your experience do liquid fertilizers like Foliage-Pro have a maximum shelf life? The quart bottle obviously cheaper per Oz than the 8 Oz bottle so if it'll keep for a while I might opt for the larger bottle. Thanks in advance.

    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 4:11PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Granular soluble fertilizers tend to absorb moisture from the air over time, no matter how tightly they are sealed. This doesn't affect the o/a nutrient content, but it does affect your ability to determine how much of the liquid/semi-liquid (the fertilizer has turned to) to use when the instructions are for a volume of granules that had quite a bit of air in it. IOW - granular soluble synthetic fertilizers that have absorbed moisture and changed to a liquid are more concentrated than they were in granular form. To that degree, shelf life can affect the granular product.

There wouldn't be any degradation of liquid soluble synthetics like Miracle-Gro or Foliage-Pro. They should be fit for use indefinitely.


    Bookmark   April 12, 2012 at 5:20PM
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First, let me say that I am so glad to have found this thread and wanted to thank Al for the first reasoned and rational explanation I have found, in many of hours of searching the web, for how to think and reason with regard to fertilizing my beloved plumeria. And other plants for that matter ...

The many other comments and reasoned perspectives in this thread impelled me to become a member. Thanks to all of you!

I brought two cuttings back from a trip to Maui about 6 years ago; I killed one of them (bruised the tip in transport and it turned black and died) but the other is now about 3'9" tall.

I had it growing in a 1-gallon pot in soil that was mostly sand and perlite (per the directions on the cutting package) and had been feeding it Osmocote (19-6-12), which looks like just the ratio you specified, Al. I'm going to move to Foliage Pro, though, after reading the many laudatory comments on this thread.

I have a related fertilization question. What should I use (and in what doses) to fertilize my plumeria after I've re-potted it?

I had read an article which said that I should have about 1-gallon of pot capacity for each foot of stem or trunk, so I decided to re-pot it, which I did the day before yesterday but I'm not how sure how I should fertilize it or whether I should have it in the sun or shade, after re-potting it. The article said shade for a week after re-potting; I have it in the shade now. I haven't fertilized it yet, though I did soak the root ball in a weak solution of 8-56-9 while re-potting (I hadn't found this thread yet).

In fact, as long as I'm mentioning it, I'd like to describe what I did, in case I've erred in any way. I would welcome any comments or criticisms. I don't mean to hijack this thread; let me know if I'm being inappropriate ...

I used a 16" pot (about 6 gallons; the 12" was the next smaller size and I didn't think it would have enough capacity). I put shards of pots at the bottom to promote good drainage, covered that with a 1" layer of pea-gravel and then filled the pot with a mix of about 45% perlite, 45% potting soil (Miracle-Gro Garden Soil) and about 10% sand. On the top I put a thin layer of pea-gravel to keep the cats from using it as a cat-box (always a risk).

I'm conscious of the issue of drainage, so after doing all of this, I filled the 2" left at the top of the pot with water, both to settle the soil, eliminate air pockets and to see how fast it would drain It took almost 45 minutes for the 2" of water to drain to below the soil surface. The next morning, the moisture measured between 1 and 2 (out of 5) on my moisture meter. Is this enough drainage?

If any of you see anything wrong in the way I've done this, please don't hesitate to comment; I can always re-re-pot it if I need to and I need all the education I can get.

Thanks to all of you for being there and for the excellent perspective I've gotten from this thread.


    Bookmark   May 15, 2012 at 4:33PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You can't really determine appropriate container size by tree size, trunk caliper, or even the size of the root ball. Once your tree can be lifted from the container with the root/soil mass intact, the size of the container has become a limiting factor. It isn't an immediate end of the world, but that the plant tolerates tight roots to varying degrees doesn't change the fact that tight roots are limiting, or the fact plants don't like tight roots. Once the plant has been allowed to reach the point where the root/soil mass can be lifted from the container intact, the plant is permanently limited in growth and vitality until the condition is corrected via bare-rooting and root pruning. Simply cutting off the bottom of the root mass and trimming the sides doesn't alleviate the limiting effects that result from the extreme congestion at the core of the root mass.

I wouldn't suggest that you should adopt my soil standards for drainage and aeration, but they are what all my soils are built around. The soils I use for all the woody material I grow drain faster than the hose can supply water. The only reason water might ever back up and not drain immediately with the soils I use is if the drain hole is too small to let the water out fast enough.

If you're interested, there's a thread called "Container Soils and Your Plant's Nutrition" on this forum that you might find useful, and the link below goes into even more detail. Your choice of soil is probably the most important decision you'll make when putting a planting together. It largely determines how much reward you get for your effort. The soil is the foundation every conventional container planting is built on. A good soil works for you, makes your job easier, and offers a much greater margin for error. A poor soil works against you, turns little errors into big mistakes, and can usually be counted on to fight you for the life of the planting.


Here is a link that might be useful: More about container soils ....

    Bookmark   May 16, 2012 at 11:09PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Tapla wrote "Please don't take this as my being a s/a"

What is an s/a?

    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 1:34PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Smart Alec or another phrase not quite so proper.


    Bookmark   May 20, 2012 at 7:36PM
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love_the_yard(z9A Jax FL)

Thanks for the translation, Al! And thanks for all the really good info on fertilizer. I thought of you and your advice today as I was browsing at Lowes.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2012 at 5:57PM
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four(9B (near 9a))

(A question is at bottom of this.)

- healthy individual plant X in inorganic container medium suitable for it
- medium devoid of N, P, K
- plant's condition such that it could utilize
24 units of N, 4 of P, 16 of K (3:0.5:2)
- proper administration of 2 units each of soluable N, P, K (1:1:1)
into medium.

Medium now contains P & K in amounts that do not conform to ratio 3:0.5:2.
Plant could utilize still more of all three.

Question: Even in this case do we say that P & K are in excess in the medium?

This post was edited by four on Mon, Jan 13, 14 at 2:14

    Bookmark   January 13, 2014 at 1:54AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When we talk about fertilizers, we usually talk about nutrients as they relate to the amount of N supplied; this, because N is the most utilized nutrient and most rapidly affects growth. So, in the case that you described, there are two ways to look at the ratio. One is, everything is deficient because there isn't an appropriate level of anything (TDS/EC) in the soil solution. The other way of looking at it is, since N is the most used of the 3 nutrients, it will be N that most limits growth. Therefore, the level of P and K are both excessive as they relate to N, even though overall they are deficient for the plant's purposes.

Both the level (concentration) of nutrients and the ratio of nutrients are important. Let's say a particular plant grows best at 1,000 PPM concentration. If you use a high-P formulation, say 10-52-10, 72% (720 parts of the 1,000) of the total solution will be devoted to phosphorous, which means you can't POSSIBLY get enough of the rest of the other nutrients needed to satisfy the plant's needs in the 280 of the 1,000 parts remaining. Easy to see when you understand that plants use 6-7X more N than P. The same scenario holds true for 1:1:1 ratio fertilizers, which are actually high-P fertilizers because they supply much more P than the plant can/will use. It just doesn't make any scientific sense to limit your plants by supplying anything they don't need and can't use. Excess amounts of any nutrient creates problems that might be related to excess fertility (high salt level), unwanted pH issues, and skewed nutrient ratios that affect the uptake of other essential nutrients. Too much Ca affects Mg uptake. Too much Mg affects Ca uptake (think about that the next time you consider dosing with Epsom salts, which immediately skews the Ca:Mg ratio and affects Ca uptake), too much P affects the uptake of Z, Mg, Cu, Ca, K, and especially Fe, so those high-P fertilizers aren't what they're cracked up to be.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 2:47PM
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four(9B (near 9a))

I hope that my new understanding of the process is correct.
That understanding leads me to conclude that the uptake in my example would be
- all of the N (two units), and
- one-third of one unit of P, and
- one and one-third unit of K.

    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:15PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

You're trying to tie things down too tightly. No one can say with absolute precision, given the hypothetical you offered, what will ACTUALLY happen. You can't make the assumption you asked about because of how the plant itself responds to deficiencies. N is highly mobile in plants, K is moderately mobile, and P is immobile. If the only nutrition there was in the soil is what was in your hypothetical, the plant would mobilize N and K (steal it from some of its parts) until the P in the soil was exhausted, then die (assuming there was no additional nutrients resulting from soil breakdown). Given the extremely low fertility in the hypothetical, though, the plant would have expressed its need for nutrients by showing signs of severe deficiencies.


    Bookmark   January 26, 2014 at 8:45PM
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Foliage Pro is not used exclusively by about 99% of people that grow Plumeria. What works for one plant does not necessarily produce the same results in others. If you use Foliage Pro and only FP, mark my words, you will get far fewer blooms, softer growth and elongated limbs. Plumerias do NOT like a lot of N and nowhere in their natural habitat do they grow in areas where the soil is high in N.

Also, Plumerias do not need the minors every single time you feed them unless they are lacking some of them.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 1:08AM
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four(9B (near 9a))

> Posted by tapla
> You're trying to tie things down too tightly

Not so.
I have not diverted conceptual discussion into the realm of what will actually happen.
I am merely following in the numerical approach (helpful)
in which you often explain the dynamics involved,

> the plant would mobilize N and K (steal it from some of its parts) until
> the P in the soil was exhausted

That nugget did it, now I understand what happens.
It is satisfying to understand the why /how of what I read,.

    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 11:44AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Ahh - it makes a difference when you include the plant's physiology as part of the o/a nutritional picture. Glad it helped.

PP - You don't yet understand that if a plant prefers a low N diet, it also prefers a low everything else diet, because it will assuredly use nutrients in a ratio very close to 10:1.5:6 NPK. YOU control the amount of N by how much fertilizer you provide it. How much N a plant gets has NOTHING to do with the NPK %s of the fertilizer you use. Any 3:1:2 ratio fertilizer is about as close as you'll get to a fertilizer that provides macronutrients in the same ratio at which almost all plants actually use them.

Almost everyone that "specializes" in growing a particular plant thinks that plant is unique in all the world in its requirements. It's not, and if you think it is, you're fooling yourself. Sequoia, snapdragon, sunflowers, and sedum, all use roughly the same RATIO of nutrients. One plant might use MORE nutrients than the other, but the RATIO it uses them in will be about the same - only very minor differences.

As for the minors, it's very unclear what you're saying. Plants don't need ANY nutritional supplementation unless they are lacking specific elements. If you're suggesting your plants don't need all the elements essential to normal growth in the soil solution at all times, you're simply mistaken. This is especially true with the less mobile minors. Boron, for instance, MUST be present at all times in the nutrient stream or the plant will immediately exhibit symptoms of deficiency. Calcium, a secondary nutrient is also very immobile in plant tissue and must be in the nutrient stream at all times or cells will not form properly. For nutrients to be in the nutrient stream at all times requires that they are in the soil solution in soluble form, available for uptake at all times.

In a second I'll define what should be the goal of all container gardener's supplementation program. Please feel free to improve on anything I offer as the goal. And if you can think of a more efficient way to attain that goal than what I've suggested, please feel free to improve on my suggestions. I'd like to hear what you think.

The goal for fertilizing containerized plants can easily be described. You should work toward ensuring that all the nutrients plants normally secure from the soil are in the soil solution at all times, in the ratio at which the plant actually uses the nutrients, and at a concentration high enough to ensure no deficiencies yet low enough to ensure the plant isn't impeded in its ability to take up water and the nutrients dissolved in water. This goal is easily achievable using one water soluble synthetic fertilizer. You CAN use organic forms of nutrition, like fish/seaweed emulsions or various types of meal, but that makes it much more difficult to achieve the goal.


    Bookmark   January 27, 2014 at 2:42PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

It's easy to see you've established a pattern of attempting to diminish me at every opportunity ..... and I'm ok with that - just as long as others understand what's going on.


    Bookmark   February 8, 2014 at 11:28PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

This is all great information!

Thank you Al for taking the time...

Their are a lot of people who benefit from these threads, you can read and make up your own mind. I know that my trees are much happier and healthier.


Take care,


    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 4:42PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Thanks, Laura. I'm smiling because the "make up their own mind" part of your comment is something I've thought about a lot during the time I've been here at GW. I get a lot of personal satisfaction out of helping others get a greater return for their growing efforts, but never try to make up someone else's mind. I do readily admit to trying to bring enough reliable information into play that it causes a discomfort in making particular growing decisions that can only be avoided by thinking. Most people recognize that as a good thing and feel better for having reasoned through an issue, but not all.

Thanks again for the encouraging words. You're always at the ready to share a kindness with anyone, and that's probably a good part of the reason you're so highly thought of here.


    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 5:33PM
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four(9B (near 9a))

As an aside, I mention that I enjoyed a phrase in the last posting:
"...bring enough reliable information into play that it causes a discomfort in
making particular growing decisions that can only be avoided by thinking."
It is an example of a kind of Aloquence that is engaging both per se and
because it comes through in a natural flow (not contrived).

    Bookmark   February 11, 2014 at 7:50PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

That was a nice compliment - thank you. .... makes me wish I'd mentioned earlier that I noticed right off (upthread) that you had no trouble expressing yourself, either.

Take care,


    Bookmark   February 12, 2014 at 4:53PM
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My plumeria is currently in dormancy. It's inside as we get frosts during the winter and temperates below freezing at night and early morning. It's surviving extremely well, haven't watered it for a about a month. I'm going to water it today as the sun is out and will have enough time to remotely dry when i bring it back inside. I'll only be watering the soil though, as i don't want and kind of root happen.
I have a seaweed concentrate and was wondering if i could add a tiny bit to water whilst watering the soil? just a little nutrients during the winter. But i'm scared that if i do it'll kill it.

    Bookmark   July 19, 2014 at 11:56PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

When you decided your plant needs water, you were deciding to eliminate a potential limiting factor. Obviously, if the plant doesn't get enough water, it will be limited. When it comes to fertilizing, the question is the same. Will my plant be limited if I don't apply the seaweed emulsion. The answer is almost certainly 'no', because the plant is dormant.

In nature, there is no real balance. Everything is always in flux. What we do to/for our plants is either good or bad, even if the issue is complex. For example, let's say your plant suffers a N deficiency. To remedy that deficiency, you use a fertilizer with N, but high in P. You've satisfied the N deficiency, but introduced a P toxicity ...... was your application a good thing? It depends on what is/was most limiting, the deficiency of N or the excess of P.

I would probably wait until I see signs of growth, then I would flush the soil thoroughly. (there are tricks you can use to help the soil drain - so it doesn't remain soggy for extended periods. If you're interested, let me know and I'll provide a link.) Then I would fertilize with something that supplies all the nutrients the plant needs in a favorable ratio.

Many growers run their nutritional supplementation program off the rails by not really taking control of it. Using a number of different fertilizers or adding a little of this or that (singular elements or compounds targeted at increasing the amount of 1 or 2 nutrients), you almost always do more harm than good. Adding a Fe (iron) chelate to 'green up' your plants can result in a Mn deficiency - adding extra Mg (Epsom salts, usually) can cause Ca deficiencies - and so on.

Just because the eye can't see the limiting effects, doesn't mean they're not there. There really is no substitute for a well-reasoned nutritional supplementation program, for which your plants will reward you with better growth, vitality, and appearance, as well as the benefits that come with a more robust metabolism.

Scroll up a few posts and read the bold type that outlines the nutritional supplementation objective. If you learn how to come as close as possible to that objective, you'll come very close to eliminating the limitations imposed by inappropriate nutritional supplementation.

Good luck.


This post was edited by tapla on Sun, Jul 20, 14 at 17:21

    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 11:47AM
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I just want to thank you for all the time and knowledge that you have given on GW forums over the years regarding soil, water movement and of course nutritional supplementation. Even in the face of adversity, namely, people that are completely sold on common misconceptions and fertilizing marketing gimmicks, you continue to calmly present FACT in place of anecdote, and hype. Thank you for that.

I know that I am not the only logical person on here, but your reasoning and empirical evidence for all that you say, seems like you are speaking MY language; to me. I have read and re-read; clipped and re-read so many of your posts in the container forum, citrus and here in the plumeria forum that I feel extremely empowered to make my own decisions in my particular cases when applying your growing/fertilizing concepts.

Sadly, I have also seen the naysayers and the personal attacks on you as well; when all you are doing is passing on your knowledge and vast experience....for FREE! I want you to know that many of us see this and we stand behind you and owe a lot of our personal success to you. SO thank you, again....

Are your ways the ONLY ways? No....are they the BEST ways? Well, that is subjective to each grower and their application of your principles. I always enjoy applying metaphors to situations so here is one, still a little rough and under-developed, but if I may:

A growing plant is like a fire. It starts as a little spark (seed) and grows into a larger, and still larger fire. Like plants, fires have specific needs to grow and flourish (O2/heat/fuel) or (sunlight/water/nutrients) for plants. Now, you can build a fire in many ways, using many types of fuel and ratios of the aforementioned fire needs, and every WAY will build a different fire. None of the fires are not truly fires, nor are they wrong ways to build fires. But some may burn hotter, cooler, longer, shorter; and some may not burn at all. Is there only one way to build a fire or grow a plant? No, but there ARE ways that are better than others, proven by science, yielding better results. So why not harness that science and experimentation? After-all, knowledge IS power.

Every one of your posts are there to help us; to teach us the best way to make our own fires burn their brightest and warmest; to grow to their utmost potential, that's it! And if you ask me, that is very noble. The concepts and logic that you have bestowed on me, helps me to make the most out of my fires. My fires flourish, and provide me with warm happiness everyday. Before I knew of your ways, my fires were small, not very warm, and several even burned out and died. I tried all the quick fixes I could get my hands on that were provided by the marketers and plant 'experts', and yes maybe my fires would flare up...but it would be short-lived, and expensively unsustainable. But I don't give up easily, I kept building my fires, and once I stumbled upon GW and your water movement and fertilizing threads; my fires began to take off into unabating, raging infernos.

So, for all of us that have not thanked you for your hard work and eloquent postings, and your 'just try it if you want to, and see' approach...THANK YOU! And please keep coming to our plumeria forum to lend your ear to our growing woes, we love your company and you can sit next to my fire anytime.


    Bookmark   July 20, 2014 at 2:33PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia


What a kind post....

My fires are burning brighter than ever as well!

Warm , bright and fully stoked to keep the embers glowing !!! ;-)

Well said... Thanks, Al. Always nice to see you and read your post!!

Please continue to contribute... We do appreciate you taking the time ...

Have a great night!!!



    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 12:43AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Great analogy, Steven, comparing growing to building a fire. I really did enjoy your thoughts.

And thank YOU, Laura. I know you're always fired up and ready to grow. ;-)

It's hard to know how to accept such nice compliments. All I can say is, I really enjoy helping other growers get all they can from the growing experience, so when someone notices my offerings and confirms the effort is making a difference, it means a lot.

When I was younger, I admired rich or clever or popular people. As I've grown older, I've come to value most the kindness in others, and I thank you both for the kind effort you made.


    Bookmark   July 21, 2014 at 6:47PM
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Many mahalos Laura, I always love your feedback! And Al you're very welcome....trust me, the difference has been night and day!


    Bookmark   July 22, 2014 at 10:24AM
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