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Plant nutrition: feeding plants

Plant nutrition: feeding plants

Fertilisers are given to enhance plant progress charges and to spice up yields of flowers or fruit. Nevertheless, feeding vegetation will not be all the time vital. Generally taking care of the soil is extra necessary and permits vegetation to entry vitamins already current within the floor.

Applying fertiliser before planting. Credit:Tim Sandall/RHS The Garden.

Fast info

Appropriate for All crops, within the floor and in containers
Timing Spring and summer season
Problem Straightforward

Is it essential to feed crops?

Containerised crops want common feeding, as they solely have what you give them. Crops in beds and borders, against this, are in a position to make use of the sources current within the backyard soil, and will not want feeding.

Decorative timber and shrubs in backyard soil could not want common feeding by fertiliser. Some crops that do profit from common fertiliser are: fruit, greens and bedding crops.

Gardeners usually assume that poor progress in backyard vegetation is expounded to lack of soil vitamins and provides fertiliser. In actual fact, outcomes from the RHS Soil Evaluation Service present that shortages of plant vitamins within the soil are fairly uncommon. Normally poor progress is because of different environmental elements similar to drought, waterlogging and climate harm. Pests and dieases are additionally accountable for vegetation making poor development.

Soils range of their nutrient ranges. Sandy soils and chalky soils are usually decrease in vitamins than clay or loam soils. Soils additionally differ within the availability of vitamins. Soils which might be dry, waterlogged, very acid or very alkaline might not permit vegetation to entry current vitamins. Correcting these components (the place potential) could also be more practical than giving fertiliser, and actually could also be vital for fertilisers to be efficient.


When to feed vegetation

Vegetation want feeding in the event that they:

  • Are displaying indicators of nutrient deficiency.
  • Are producing decrease than anticipated yields of flowers or fruit, or are placing on much less progress than anticipated (however seem in any other case wholesome and are rising in appropriate circumstances).
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Feeding is often finished in spring or summer time, in the course of the rising season. Few crops want fertiliser within the winter months, even when they’re winter-flowering. Some natural fertilisers, resembling fish blood and bone or poultry manure pellets, are gradual to launch their vitamins and are utilized in late winter or early spring in preparation for the rising season.

The way to feed vegetation

Selecting a fertiliser

Fertilisers are concentrated sources of plant vitamins. They feed crops fairly than feeding the soil. There are various various kinds of fertilisers out there, all with totally different nutrient values. Our recommendation on fertilisers provides extra info on the kinds accessible and once you would use them.

Backyard compost, well-rotted manure, spent mushroom compost, poultry manure and seaweed are additionally used to feed crops, however comprise a lot decrease concentrations of plant vitamins. These compounds are superb for soil construction and fertility. Utilizing them as soil conditioners or mulch helps make the plant vitamins already current within the soil extra obtainable to plant roots.

Making use of fertilisers

See our recommendation on fertilisers for info on the differing types obtainable in the marketplace and methods to apply them.

When making use of fertilisers to the soil round plant roots, guarantee that the soil is moist. Fertilisers are much less efficient in dry soil, and should trigger scorching of plant roots.



Over-application of potassium can intrude with vegetation’ means to take up magnesium, inflicting magnesium deficiency. See our recommendation on nutrient deficiencies for extra on figuring out and coping with this downside.

Fertiliser might not be efficient if utilized to compacted soil. Soil cultivation is important to alleviate the compaction and enhance plant development.

Permitting fertilisers to the touch plant leaves may cause leaf scorch. Solely fertilisers designed to be utilized to leaves ought to come into contact with them.

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