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There is no one universal way to care for house plants. There are so many variations between the conditions in our homes, the quality of the plant, and er, luck.
This post is how to organise your fertilisation schedule according to how lazy you are. If you want to learn about the actual mechanics of fertilising house plants, I have an article on it here.
I have a very slapdash approach to fertilisation, but it kind of comes with the territory. I spend a lot of time with my plants, and have gotten pretty good at telling when they need some help – be it feeding, watering, repotting, or chucking in the bin.
Some of you, by nature, will favour a more scientific approach to caring for your plants – you’ll want the perfect fertiliser for each of your plants, and you’ll want a method for keeping track of who to fertilise when. I have a system coming up.
There is no right way to go about things. Some people literally NEVER fertilise their plants, and their plants are fine. There are so many factors at play – soil, water quality, plant quality, that’s there no right answer. Just do what works for you and your plants.
How to fertilise your house plants the lazy way
This isn’t going to be an option for a lot of you, but it’s the main way I feed my plants – I use aquarium water.
Some people advise against using aquarium water to fertilise your plants, but I’ve never had an issue. I don’t use it every watering, but I’ve never had an issue watering picky plants like Calathea with it, despite it *technically* being tapwater.
Whilst aquarium water is treated with dechlorinator, it doesn’t change the mineral composition. If you have hard water, adding dechlorinator won’t soften it. Water softeners and plants don’t go well together, if you were wondering.
I have peace lilies growing in my aquarium, and they’re super healthy, and blooming – not a crispy tip in sight, and no signs of over fertilising. Fish poo for the win.
How to fertilise your house plants the easy way
This would be my method if I didn’t have a fish tank, and didn’t run a plant website. I should really set an example by fertilising ‘properly’.
But for 99.99% of the time, this method will be absolutely fine.
Every six weeks or so (anywhere between 1 and 2 months is fine), fertilise all of your plants.
Use a general-purpose fertiliser – I use seaweed emulsion because it’s vegan, and so am I. If you want to use Miracle Gro or similar, go ahead. I definitely recommend diluting it twice as much as the instructions recommend.
Set a reminder on your phone, or mark the dates in your planner. Remember to fertilise damp soil – water normally first. Root burn is less of an issue with seaweed fertiliser, but chemical ones can cause damage to your plant.
How to fertilise like plants in a very organised way
To be perfectly honest, this level of organisation is not necessary. But I know that many of you like to be 100% on top of your plant’s needs, so I’ve come up with a super easy, cheap way of keeping on top of your house plant fertilising schedule.
This system could also be used in other ways – for example for distinguishing plants that need a lot of water and plants that don’t. It would be great to give to a house plant sitter if you’re going away, for example.
It takes a bit of time to set up, but is pretty easy to follow after that.
You will need:
- Coloured lolly/popsicle sticks – preferably five different colours
- Pens with corresponding colours
- To know how often your plants need to be fertilised
- A method of recording this – a print out of a calendar will do
Step 1 – work out the frequency that each of your plants needs fertilising.
This information is not easy to find. Well, the information is there, but there’s a lot of conflicting info. I’ve provided a list below, but you may disagree.
|Plant type||frequency of fertilising|
|every 2 weeks (tbh I highly doubt you need to fertilize peperomia that often, but that’s what the internet says|
|African violet||every 6 weeks|
|every 2 months|
I can add more though, so drop me a comment if you want any plants adding. or if there are any that you feel are in the wrong category.
Step 2 – assign the frequency of fertilising a colour
So, let’s say a plant needs fertilising monthly. Put a blue popsicle stick in its pot. You could use matchsticks if you have tiny pots, or want them to be a bit more hidden.
I suppose technically you could use stickers, but they’re be forever falling off.
Give each of your plants a popsicle stick, with the colour of the stick referring to how often it needs to be fertilised.
Step 3 – record it on your calendar
Decide which day want to fertilise. Let’s assume Sunday. Put a blue mark on the next Sunday you’re going to fertilise, and then next month, and the next.
Say that the plants that need fertilising every six weeks have a yellow marker. Put a yellow mark every sixth Sunday.
You get it.
Rather than having to remember which plant needs fertilising when, you just need to look at your fertilising schedule.
Here’s what I use:
Feel free to download this template. I add it into Goodnotes and add all the dates etc there. I work out what needs fertilising when and add the appropriate coloured scribble to the date. On a date that’s coloured blue, I water all the plants with a blue popsicle stick.
I’ve not tried printing it out, but it’s 8.5 x 11 inches if anyone does want to.
As you can see, it’s a bit fiddly adding in all the dates, which is why I prefer Goodnotes. Also, I’ll 100% lose a bit of paper.
Here’s what it looks like when it’s filled in:
Sorry the quality isn’t great, but the whole process involves a lot of switching between apps and resizing. I wanted to get 12 months all on one page. Can’t remember why. My eyes are funny from copying and pasting numbers in Keynote.
If you want to make your own, I used a combination of Canva (to make the empty planner), Magic Eraser (to remove the background – probs not necessary), and Keynote (to add the numbers and colours). You can mark it up however you’d like – I would normally just use Goodnotes, but I wanted to show you what a filled-out version looks like.
If you want to make your own tracker, you only need to include the months in the growing season. I did all 12 because I didn’t want those of you in the southern hemisphere to feel excluded.