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Interiorscape Forum / Scaper Talk Discussion Forum / Plants / Fertilization Program
Posted:  24 Feb 2012 00:08  
We are looking for suggestions to design a general fertilization program for our techs to follow.
For instance, what ratio of fertilizer makes the most sense; when to use granular time release vs. water soluable powder vs. liquid? What is the minimum amount of applications per year? Does anyone know of any printed material they find helpful as a guideline?
Posted:  24 Feb 2012 14:51  
I start off by saying that my objective is to have a "plant sculpture"  - similar to any other sculpture except that this is a living plant.
This would mean that the plant is cultured to 'grow out' until it attains the desired shape, proportion, color etc for its locale. Thereafter it is a question of the appropriate care program to maintain the "sculpture" effect.
Generally, I have found that the use of a 14-14-14 water soluble fertilizer, applied at half the labeled strength instead of plain water works well. I apply the treatment at the end of February, May and August. This is based on 17 plants in a brightly lit library in zone 9B (now); over the past 5 years.
Posted:  24 Feb 2012 18:29  
We use both Osmocote and water-soluble (I like liquid forms for ease of injection into our Aquamate or WaterBoy tanks).  It depends on the plant and the location.  Many plants are located in such poor light that fertilizer is almost a poison to them...they use water and nutrients so sparingly, applying any soluble salts to their growing medium will likely result in excessive salt levels in the soils and root damage.  In bright light, ronalawn82 (wish I knew your name!) is correct.  Half or quarter strength balanced feed will work fine two or three times a year (I might omit the August feeding for being a bit late in the growing season).

Posted:  24 Feb 2012 21:30  
Thank you both for the help. It is all good advice!
I understand the visual for the "plant sculpture" concept. We are in zone 5 and our interior light situation can be med-low even next to tinted windows.
However, we know we need to set up a reliable program for fertilizing. We did just purchase the injection units for our tanks; hence we need help with what product to use!

What is your opinion on fertilizer added to the water in a CWI at half strength or less? Would time release granules on the soil surface be better?

One thing I am a bit stumped over is improving the foliage color on palms in general. I do note the lack of iron over time resulting in yellowing in the older plants or those that might be in higher light.
Do you have suggestions as to what to buy for iron additive and application?
Posted:  25 Feb 2012 00:16  
There are fertilizer products that are recommended for use in watering machines (Aquamate, WaterBoy, etc.), but you can use any water-soluble fertilizer product that meets the needs of your crops.  Balanced is good for year-round use in good light, and some high-nitrogen feeds are helpful in pushing new growth after severe renewal pruning of older trees.  Try to use something with soluble trace elements in it so you can avoid micronutrient deficiencies over time.

Palms are a horse of a different color.  They have some peculiar nutritional requirements, soil requirements, potting needs, etc.  A great website for all things palm is:


Dr. Henry Donselman has made a career of the study of palms and their horticultural needs and problems.  His site has all kinds of info about palms and how to care for them indoors and outdoors.  Check out his comments on palm nutrition, a specialty of his.

Posted:  25 Feb 2012 12:12  
My immediate reaction is that palms suffer more from magnesium, rather than iron, deficiency.
Iron deficiency occurs on the youngest leaves while magnesium deficiency shows up on the lower leaves.
I'd be very leery with the iron compounds. They stain permanently.
Posted:  25 Feb 2012 14:57  
It's true that magnesium is the key "micro" nutrient for palms.  As Dr. Donselman points out in his article, growers of palms for oil production didn't much care about the lower frond yellowing on their plantations, but ornamental growers and property owners needed uniformly green foliage on their palms, and that's why magnesium is important.


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