Feed your Plants: Know the Basics of Fertilizers

Each plant has its own dietary need. It is important to ensure that they get the right type and dosage as per their fertilizer needs for their healthy growth & sustenance. Fertilizers contain the building blocks for foliage and flowers production, bloom formation, and root and good plant health.
Plants require light, moisture and nutrients to grow. The sun provides the light. Moisture comes from rainfall / water. Nutrients come from fertilizers, compost or manure. It is important to take care of your indoor plants and feed them with essentials which they are not getting from the soil. To boost your plants, you need to enrich the soil with natural nutrition by adding fertilizer.
While the majority of plants that are growing in the ground can get all the nutrients they need from the soil, plants in pots rely entirely on you for their food supply. Many composts contain fertilizers but after the plant has used these up,you will have to step in and start feeding them.
Put your houseplants on a diet of essential nutrients and they will reward you with healthy flowers and foliage. They can suffer if you feed them too much or too little. Knowing what to feed your plants, and how often,will help them grow well.

Basics of fertilizer and plant nutrients

Fertilizers provide much-needed nutrient elements to your potted plants that are not available through the soil. Your plants need food, water and protection to survive.There are three primary plant nutrients that can mainly be acquired through feeding your plants with a fertilizer:
  • Nitrogen (N),
  • Phosphorus (P) and
  • Potassium (K).
Balanced fertilizers contain all these three nutrients N-P-K in equal proportion,together with a range of trace elements (e.g., boron, manganese, copper, zinc, iron, etc) that plants need in smaller quantities. The nutrient content is often shown on the packaging of fertilizer as a ratio of N:P:K. Most plants only need to be fed when they are actively growing, generally from spring to autumn. Plants also take up fertilizer through roots,so dry compost will dehydrate them and also limit their ability to absorb the fertilizer.
Let us understand what each of these elements do and why it is important for your plants:


It is known as the leaf-maker, because it promotes strong, healthy foliage. This in turn encourages good overall growth, since foliage feeds the whole plant. It is particularly important for leafy houseplants. It is the most important of the three elements. It gives the grass its green colour and it makes for sturdy plants with dense, thick leaves. Strong plants have natural protection against bugs and other pests.


It is the root-maker and required by all plants to grow and develop. The roots transport food and water to the plant, thus enabling strong and healthy growth. Plants deficient in it may have a purple tint to their green leaves and withered leaves that drop prematurely.

Potassium Potash(K)

It is essential for the development of flowers and fruits. Fertilizer with a high potash content are often given to plants a few months before they are due to bloom to encourage lots of buds to form. It will enhance the plant’s ability to resist drought, wear and tear, as well as diseases and extreme weather conditions.
Trace elements are various other plant nutrients(e.g., boron, manganese, copper, zinc,iron, etc) required in small quantities.The combination of these trace elements and main elements is important to achieve continuous and healthy growth of plants.

When Should You Fertilize your plants?

Fertilize your indoor plants when they are actively growing,generally, from spring to autumn. The frequency of applying fertilizer depends on the type of indoor plant. Some plants are heavy feeders and require fertilization as often as every week. Other slow-growing houseplants may need feeding monthly, or even less frequently.

Selecting a Fertilizer

Different plants have different dietary needs.Make sure you are giving the correct fertilizer at the right amount. Always research plant requirements to learn about their specific nutritional needs. Remember that overfeeding plants can be as worse than underfeeding them.

1. Balanced liquid fertilizer

Most indoor plants need a balanced liquid fertilizer, which you can buy as either a powder or liquid that can be diluted. This type of fertilizer is applied at regular intervals throughout the growing season, usually from spring to autumn.
Liquid fertilizers are diluted into water and applied with a watering can. Depending on the label instructions given, you can follow the frequency of applying fertilizer. The type of plant will also impact the frequency, as some—especially those with large blooms—may require more frequent feeding.

2. High-potash fertilizer

This fertilizer is rich in flower-promoting potassium. It is usually sold as a liquid that you dilute before use. Tomato fertilizers have a high potash content and can be used on flowering plants.

3. Slow-release granular fertilizer

Dry blends and granular, slow-release fertilizer is easy to broadcast and suited for broad-area coverage. They release their nutrients slowly — a good watering gets them started — giving long-lasting, healthy results. Large or woody plants such as trees, shrubs and perennial climbers may benefit from this fertilizer. Apply undiluted as granules or in tablet form to the compost once a year, usually in early spring. Watering breaks down granules, which then release their nutrients.

4. Specialist houseplant fertilizers

These are formulated for plants with specific needs, such as orchids, cacti and carnivorous plants. They are usually sold in simple-to-use solutions, some, for example come in small bottles that can be inserted into the compost, where they feed nutrients to the plant. There are many specialty houseplant fertilizers that work quite well for specific plants.

What is the correct way to feed plants?

First, choose the right fertilizer that contains all required essentials. How to choose the right one? Before purchasing any plant food, know more about your plant’s needs and soil type and buy accordingly.
For better growth, feed your plants early in the morning. It helps your plant to get the right nutrients they need to start the growing season strong. It is important to feed your plants periodically according to label directions.


Many people overlook the significance of fertilizing indoor plants. However, proper feeding is essential to growing healthy & beautiful plants. Unlike an outdoor garden, where nature provides the plant food needs, the nutrients available to a houseplant are limited in the potted soil. Hopefully, our content will provide you basic knowledge about fertilizers and their types and how to feed them to your plants.

Reference links used:
1. – https://www.gardeners.com/how-to/feed-your-plants/5703.html
2. – https://www.longfield-gardens.com/article/How-And-Why-To-Fertilize-Your-Plants
3. – Practical Houseplant Book (RHS, Fran Bailey & Zia Allaway)

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Know Your Home Air

Gas heating systems, leaking chimneys, fire places emits carbon monoxide, nitrogen dioxide and other harmful pollutants. Plastics and common household cleaners, paints, paint thinner often placed under the kitchen sink, release Volatile Organic Compounds (VOCs), when used and stored. Overheating of non-stick cookware releases toxic fumes. Pesticides we use in and around the home also release various chemical and semi-volatile compounds.


Harmful effects
Carbon monoxide causes headache, dizziness and fatigue. These often cause eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea, and can also damage the liver, kidney, and central nervous system. Fine particles are produced during all kinds of combustion which lead to acute and chronic effects to respiratory and cardiovascular systems.

Pet dander and hair, carpet, rugs, upholstery furniture are main source of dust mites, fungus, and bacteria. A dirty filter of air conditioners acts as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. Secondhand smoke from cigarettes, other tobacco products and mosquito coil emits VOC’s and formaldehyde and various particulate matters. CO2 released from our lungs is exhaled in the air which pollutes the air if the place is too crowded or there is less ventilation.


Harmful effects
All these can trigger coughing, nosebleeds, shortness of breath, dry mouth, vomiting,
digestive tract problems, depression, allergy and asthma attacks, and other respiratory illness.

Shower, faucets and other water sources are main cause of humidity and mold. Bathroom cleaners and personal care products like toothpaste, soaps, facial tissues, detergent, fabric softeners, air fresheners, deodorizers, hair sprays, disinfectants, are full of VOC’s and chemicals which emits harmful pollutants.


Harmful effects
Mold can cause allergic reactions, asthma and other respiratory ailments. VOC’s and toxic chemicals released in the bathroom can causes eye, nose, and throat irritation, nausea and respiratory problems. All these products release harmful pollutants while they are used also when they are stored.

A bedroom contains many sources of indoor air pollution. Mattress, pillow and blankets, soft toys, are the reservoirs of dust mites, fungi and bacteria. Furniture, carpets, paints and beauty product like hairspray, nail polishes, perfumes, deodorants etc off gas VOC, formaldehyde and toxic gases into the air.


Harmful effects
These pollutants make the air unhealthy which leads to allergy, asthma attacks, dizziness, headache, fatigue and other respiratory ailments.

Second-hand smoke
Second hand Smoke is a mixture of the smoke given off by the burning of tobacco products, such as cigarettes, cigars or pipes and the smoke exhaled by smokers. Secondhand smoke is also called environmental tobacco smoke (ETS). Passive smoking can lead to coughing, excess phlegm, and chest discomfort. NCI (National Cancer Institute) also notes that spontaneous abortion (miscarriage), cervical cancer, sudden infant death syndrome, low birth weight, nasal sinus cancer, decreased lung function, exacerbation of cystic fibrosis, and negative cognitive and behavioral effects in children have been linked to ETS. Secondhand smoke exposure commonly occurs indoors, particularly in homes and cars. Secondhand smoke can move between rooms of a home and between apartment units.

Guest Bathroom

Central heating and cooling systems and humidification devices
The air filter in your HVAC system is the front line of defense against poor indoor air quality. A typical central heating and cooling system circulates over 1,000 cubic feet per minute of air through the filter. This means the entire air volume in your house passes through the filter multiple times every day. A dirty filter, however, can actually make indoor air quality worse by acting as a reservoir for dirt, dust and other airborne contaminants that are continuously circulated back into your breathing air. In addition to driving up your utility bill, a clogged air filter will allow all that dust and debris that should be filtered out to be re-circulated back into your home. This can cause chronic allergies and especially be dangerous for people with asthma or other respiratory conditions.

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