Fertilizing my chinese elm

SlowMovingWaters

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I have MaxiGro and MaxiBloom because it was cheap on ebay. I'm wondering if my Chinese Elm should get a lower dosage than recommended (1-2 tsp per galllon)

I'm thinking I should fertilize with MaxiGro 1/2 tsp per gallon once every two weeks. Does this sound right? Any advice is appreciated.
 

rollwithak

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I have MaxiGro and MaxiBloom because it was cheap on ebay. I'm wondering if my Chinese Elm should get a lower dosage than recommended (1-2 tsp per galllon)

I'm thinking I should fertilize with MaxiGro 1/2 tsp per gallon once every two weeks. Does this sound right? Any advice is appreciated.
Do you have any organic fertilizer?? What are your temperatures like? You want to be careful with the liquid fertilizers when temperatures start getting hot, they can burn the roots of your plant very easily. I would caution on the lower end until you see how your plant is reacting. Post pics, we like pics here at the mad house called Bonsai Nut!!!
 

Shibui

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Use the liquid fertilisers at the recommended rate. Bonsai are not tender babies, just small trees. Feed them as trees. Feed about every 2 weeks through the growing season. Plants in small pots that are watered often need regular feed.
It gets well over 100F here and I have never had any problem with liquid fertilizer in hot weather.
Organic fert is preferred for more mature bonsai because the nutrient levels are lower which reduces long growth to promote better ramification. You can achieve the same result by using less liquid fert on those same trees.
 

sorce

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MaxiGrow sounds like a product for people with larger than average vaginas.

MaxiBloom sounds like you put it in a petridish for examination after the fact.

Sorce
 

BrianBay9

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Your fertilizer frequency should match your soil composition. If your soil is completely inorganic without much in the way of clay components (akadama) you might benefit from fertilizing once a week. If you have organic components with good CEC (fertilizer retaining capacity) then every couple of weeks or every third. You want to avoid build up of salts in the pot. Usually that's not a problem for us because we water every day and completely flush the pot. If you have crappy water though, it could be an issue.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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@SlowMovingWaters
Trees can't read labels. Brand does not matter. But the analysis does matter.
What are the numbers on your fertilizers?

Ideally, fertilizer should be chosen to compliment your potting media and water quality. Trees use nutrients year round in roughly the ratio of
12-1-4 and require calcium at 12, magnesium at 4, sulfur 2, and a long list of micro-nutrients.
However plants accumulate and store some nutrients, and the potting medium has some capacity to store nutrients (the CEC ). If nutrients are not balanced to the plants needs, a flush with clear water will help flush out excesses of nutrients. Since we tend to fertilize episodically, rather than continuously, you can pretty much get away with using just about any fertilizer.

The fertilizer with the least amount of waste will be 12-1-4 or a 12-1-13.
Most commonly available fertilizers are 30-10-10, or a 15-5-5, These are not bad, and can be used.
If you use a 10-10-10 understand that it is NOT balanced to the nutritional needs of the plant. Yes the numbers are the same, but this does not mean it is balanced. Humans need a large amount of vitamin C every day and very small amounts of vitamin D. If we consumed vitamin D at the same rate we consume vitamin C, serious health effects would harm us. One can die of vitamin D poisoning if too much is consumed.

Similar with plants they do not take up nutrients at the same rate. The ideal ratios are roughly as above. 12-1-4. Note, there are several forms of nitrogen, the first number, when the nitrogen is primarily as nitrate the last number potassium ( K ) should be equal to the nitrogen number, because the plant consumes K in order to absorb N. So a nitrate based fertilizer should be 12-1-12, where an ammonia based or urea based fertilizer should be 12-1-4

How strong should your fertilizer solution be?

It depends on the stage of development of your bonsai. A young tree you are trying to bulk up, get to grow rapidly, the fertilizer should be at label recommended strength. However, for intermediate and advanced bonsai we do not want rapid coarse growth. We want slower, finer growth with short distances between leaves (leaves are at nodes, we want short internodes). Full strength fertilizer will create long internodes, long distances between leaves. Generally fertilizer labels recommend concentrations at a strength intended for vegetable gardens. For bonsai use should be around 1/2 to 1/4 the "vegetable garden strength".

So, use your fertilizer, brand doesn't matter, the analysis numbers matter. Generally without knowing the analysis I would say 1/4 to 1/2 strength, would be safe. Fertilizer frequency should be as @BrianBay9 suggested.

There are many more details and nuances to fertilizer, but I have typed enough for now and you are probably tired of reading at this point.
 

Shibui

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Similar with plants they do not take up nutrients at the same rate. The ideal ratios are roughly as above. 12-1-4. Note, there are several forms of nitrogen, the first number, when the nitrogen is primarily as nitrate the last number potassium ( K ) should be equal to the nitrogen number, because the plant consumes K in order to absorb N. So a nitrate based fertilizer should be 12-1-12, where an ammonia based or urea based fertilizer should be 12-1-4
Does all this take into account that your industry measures the total weight of the compound used so K is usually present as K2O which actually means there's actually less K than the figures indicate.
P is even less as it is usually present as P2O5 so less than half the stated amount is actually P which is what the plants use.

Over this side they have adopted the protocol that fert ratios represent the actual amounts of the element so 10:3:6 here has 10% N: 3%P and 6%k regardless of the elemental form used.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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Does all this take into account that your industry measures the total weight of the compound used so K is usually present as K2O which actually means there's actually less K than the figures indicate.
P is even less as it is usually present as P2O5 so less than half the stated amount is actually P which is what the plants use.

Over this side they have adopted the protocol that fert ratios represent the actual amounts of the element so 10:3:6 here has 10% N: 3%P and 6%k regardless of the elemental form used.

Arg! you just gave me a headache. LOL.
I last "big article" on fertilizer was in 2016 or 2017. I've been working from memory ever since. I have forgotten what adjustments I made, and which I did not.

I am certain the ratio for nutrients actually used by plants, the 12-1-4 is actual weight of N-P-K, as if the elements were 100% active. I did not bother adjusting for activity when converting to fertilizer assays. So in Australia you would just go with the 12-1-4 and not worry about it.

In USA I know the reported species are as N as N, and then P as P2O5, and the K as K2O. The P2O5 is 43% by weight actual phosphorous. Since the P number is rounded up to 1, the fact that the P in the formula for USA use would be low is not a big deal. Most USA formulations do not have P that low, so if you end up with something like P = 2 or P = 4 you will be at or over the needed amount of P. The K2O is 83% K by weight, which is "close enough" for most purposes. Watering with a fertilizer solution, followed by a watering or two with clear water tends to allow the plants to flush excesses out of their tissues. Plants re-balance their internal nutrient reserves everytime it rains. So this formulation assuming 100% active is what the plants use in the ratio they use it. In the USA because of the weird way by law the fertilizer is required to be labelled, the values are off a bit. But if you fertilize regularly, the plants will get enough of each and the formulation is MUCH better balanced than the out of date but still frequently used 10-10-10 formulations.

So yes, I am familiar with the issue of going from "science" to USA mandatory fertilizer labeling laws. I chose to ignore it as the offered results were "better" than the usually offered formulations.

Actually since I took out the calculator
For most of the world, the ideal fertilizer formulation is 12-1-4
For USA only, due to fertilizer labeling laws the formulation is 12-2.3-4.8 or rounding to whole numbers 12-2-5
Not a huge difference.

Remember, Phosphorous is the most efficiently conserved of the plant nutrients. Rain does not leach much phosphorous out of a plant. They hang on to it because in nature it is a limiting resource. Potassium is the most mobile of nutrients, and here rain does indeed flush out Potassium from plant tissues. So it is usually okay to go a bit heavy on the K, as it is so easily flushed out that in an outdoor setting or a setting were fertilizer was followed by a clear flush of water, there would be near zero chance of having a Potassium (K) excess.

In a closed hydroponic system a K excess is possible, or when fertilizing continuously without ever doing a flush of clear water. For these settings one has to switch to a K-Lite type forumulation. I have seen orchids with symptoms of excess potassium, weird red edges to leaves, not caused by too much light.
 
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Shibui

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Thanks for all that Leo. I see now that the differences are slight so not really a big issue for us growing plants as we do.
Thanks also for your assessment of the 10:10:10 formulation. I have often wondered why many people pushed the equal ratio when my info also said that plants don't use equal amounts of each nutrient. It seems to stem back to the misinterpretation of 'Balanced'
I actually find it troubling that companies who should know the real facts would pander to popular (but misguided) opinion and produce a product that is not correctly weighted. I guess someone figured if it does not actually harm the plants and they can sell more then the waste does not matter?

BTW we cannot get 10:10:10 here. In less enlightened times I tried to find it but I'm now pleased that that fad has not reached us.
West Australia has mandated an upper limit of 2 for P in fertilizer sold there. I assume that's because so many WA native plants are P sensitive. may also be to reduce nutrient pollution in waterways resulting in algal blooms. There was an initial outcry but from your numbers it appears that P =2 is more than enough for good plant nutrition.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

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I sell fertilizer to the orchid hobby growers. I get my fertilizer from a wholesale fertilizer "factory", where I call them up, they ask me what I want. I ask them what they recommend, they say, no, no, that's not how it works, you tell us what you want. LOL. The will produce what ever formulation the customer wants. If the fool wants 10-10-10, they will make it. And charge accordingly.

They do require I order over a certain amount before they will blend up a fertilizer for me. I usually get 325 or more pounds at a time, (about 150 kg).

I then re-package the fertilizer down into 1 pound containers, sell them at orchid shows.
 

just.wing.it

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I dose mine with 20-20-20 at or above the recommended dilution, like @M. Frary.
I do appreciate getting into the weeds with the science and numbers, but I choose to subscribe to the theory that I should fertilize heavily and the tree will not take what it doesn't want, and I'd rather have it and not need it than need it and not have it.

Edit: and I use a super free draining mix of lava pumice and Fir Bark.
Might get into the akadama game next year for my JBP.
 

Bnana

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As long as you do not have high concentrations that cause osmotic problems (burn the roots) that's very reasonable. The rest just washes out with the water.
One thing you should be careful with though, is ammonia. Plants can't regulate the ammonia uptake well.
 

just.wing.it

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As long as you do not have high concentrations that cause osmotic problems (burn the roots) that's very reasonable. The rest just washes out with the water.
One thing you should be careful with though, is ammonia. Plants can't regulate the ammonia uptake well.
Thanks!
They don't go more than 24 hours without a heavy duty flush out.
 

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