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Am I overworking plants with grow lites & fertilizers?

Posted by meyermike_1micha 5 ( on
Sun, Nov 2, 08 at 12:51

How does one tell the difference between when their plants are in rest mode or dormant, or hybernating, as compared to active growing stages even in winter and the need still for fertlizer? Am I overworking my plants with grow lights and fertilizers?

I keep reading alot of people suggesting that fertilizing should stop at the end of winter, but does the same hold true to holding back on fertilizer if your growing your plants in a very well lit enviroment such as with grow lights? Between sun in south facing windows and my very strong grow lites, I still get new growth and flowering right through winter. I would say that my plants are getting at least 8-10 hours of light.
Should I cut down on lights and stop fertilizing?
I suppose if they were getting less light than that, like lets say my plants are solely dependent on the sun, then is this when I stop fertilizing since we have short days and more cloudy ones than usual up here in the north.
Should I still stop feeding my gardenias and citrus and still wait till the spring even with lights? Remember, I have no peatmoss in my soils, and they are very fast draining to..

Are we suppose to use fertilizer if using grow lights?
Right now, I am still fertilizing at every watering 1/4 strentgh of what is called for. A tiny bit everytime I water. Then once a month, I will let clean water run through pots. Then fertilize again. Is this wrong? or should I be feeding a different way until plants go outside again,whether I use lights or not and wait until spring arrives to feed again? Any suggestions will be appreciated. Thanks

Follow-Up Postings:

RE: Am I overworking plants with grow lites & fertilizers?

Hello Mike - you have a ligit concern and I hope that folks in your growing zone will be able to help you. I live in Southern California where most things grow well. And because of this, prices for plants is resonable. I also do not have to bring anything inside for wintering.

You're also concerned about soil...who wouldn't be...I think the best thing to do is look at your local nursery or Home Depot or Lowes and see how their plants are doing. If it works for them, I'm sure you can do the same.

As for fertilizing, I am terrible and very inconsistant. Every year I keep telling my self that I'm going to fertilize my potted plumies, but I still don't. Shame on me.

But most of all, I think your plants will tell you if it's happy or not by leaf color, wilting, stunted growth and so forth. If you try to take all the suggestions on the forum, you will make your self go nuts!! So pick and choose the various advice on the forums and toy with it and I think you'll be a very happy gardener minus the heart and head ache :)

Happy gardening Mike!


RE: Am I overworking plants with grow lites & fertilizers?

With my other plants (that aren't dead), I usually only fertilize them a little bit, like once a month in the winter. Of course my growing conditions are far from ideal, but it'll be a little warmer in our house this winter (i hope!).

RE: Am I overworking plants with grow lites & fertilizers?

Hey Mike,

You didn't say you were using grow lights... Then all the more you need garden soil instead of fast drying soil-less mixes. You have simulated a 'tropical' environment in your home so you might as well also use a medium that holds more moisture than soil-less mixes... loamy garden soil!

Gardenias and citruses at least in our tropical climate don't have a dormant period. They grow all year long and bloom and fruit (calamondin) all year long because sun is plenty and temperatures are favorable and are never freezing. They should grow indoors in your home even during winter if you have managed to successfully 'replicate' their native environment.

Anyway, if you have managed to replicate their native environment in your home, then in theory, fertilizing it during winter should be perfectly ok.


RE: Am I overworking plants with grow lites & fertilizers?

  • Posted by jimshy z7 Brooklyn, NY (My Page) on
    Fri, Nov 7, 08 at 21:27


I think you've already got the idea that you don't fertilize by the calendar, you fertilize according to your conditions. For most of us poor indoor growers, winter means less light, less growth and less need for nutrients. Grow lights and good growing conditions can keep things much more like summer, but I'm guessing even you see things slowing down during the winter -- are your grow lights in addition to southern windows, or what's the exposure?

Anyway, try cutting back to fertilizing once a week or every other week rather than every watering, keep up with the monthly flush and all the other good stuff, and see how the plants do: better, the same, or worse? Is the new growth strong and healthy, or is it leggy, weak-looking and lighter green? Like trop phil said, gardenias and citrus can grow and bloom year round under good conditions, so if they look healthy, they are healthy.

There's no substitute for experience, and nobody else has the experience of growing your plants in your exact conditions!

Hope this helps!


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