Is a generic fert possible for multiple species of plants?

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#1
Hi, been browsing amazon for “bonsai fertilizer.” I’ve seen a 3-3-3 liquid, 5-7-4 pellets, 7-9-5 dynagro, etc. All less than a 10-10-10 blend. I also have some slow release pellets, one is meant for junipers.

Now, I know all plants have different needa so I find it hard to believe there can be a one-size-fits-all approach to this. I have the following plants: juniper; azalea; chinese sweet plum; two large bougainvilleas; a ficus; wisteria seedlings that have grown quite large over the last three months; some lemon seedlings; and some cork elm seedlings that have yet to pop.

I do have some home depot ferts meant for bougainvilleas, so I believe I have that end covered. I also have some university research recommended blends for my adenia. What can I do with the other plants? Is it possible to use some sort of neutral liquid fert for them to avoid making a science project out of this?
 
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#2
Btw, as a sidenote, a have an adenium with some weird hand-like flowers. The nursery did say it had special flowers:

D978E95C-9FA5-4459-9BE0-194C421F999B.jpeg 0DD60B35-215A-4714-BB9D-1B5DFC6418C9.jpeg 86297B4E-EF6A-41C3-814B-A62781518BA3.jpeg

It did lose ALL of its leaves, and then start giving flowers. Had bought it in dirt, had very minor root rot when I replanted, but that’s when all the leaves left and were replaced by flowers.
 
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#3
Now, I know all plants have different needa so I find it hard to believe there can be a one-size-fits-all approach to this.
You may want to rethink this premise.

Miracle-gro, full strength, labelled frequency is your 80/20 solution. Maybe get fancy with Miracid for the azalea/bougie/citrus.

When you're ready to spend 80% of your time getting that last 20% of optimized growth, then yeah, start customizing.
 
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#8
Petunia, Sequoia, Kelp and Tomato - all vascular plants need the same nutrients in the same ratios. Biggest difference is concentrations, some are efficient feeders, and need only a weak solution, some are inefficient and need stronger concentrations. The metabolism of chlorophyll is shared among all vascular plants, their nutrient needs are very similar. Ideal ratio is roughly 13-0.8-4 for N-P-K, but also need roughly 12 Ca+2, 4 Mg=2, 3 S, and the full suite of micronutrients including Cu, Mn, Zn, and others.

Point being, the 13-0.8-4 is what plants actually use. A 10-10-10 is not a balanced fertilizer. In humans if you took in as much vitamin D as Vitamin C the D would kill you. There is excellent reference material to back up my claim on the Michigan State University website. Search articles by Jan Szyren. Her references in her articles will lead you through the rest.

High phosphorous fertilizers were developed by poor research done in the 19th century at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, UK. Since Kew is always thought of as the ultimate reference for houseplant culture. This bad or poorly interpreted study has been referenced over and over again without anyone questioning it, until MSU took it on in the 1980's.

So key is 10-10-10 is NOT BALANCED,

Good news is a flush with clear water between doses of fertilizer tends to rebalance the nutrients in the trees and shrubs. So many poorly formulated fertilizers can be used to good effect. But do avoid fertilizer formulations where the phosphorus concentration is higher than the other components. Excess phosphorous can cause real nutrient imbalances.
 

Eric Group

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#11
Btw, as a sidenote, a have an adenium with some weird hand-like flowers. The nursery did say it had special flowers:

View attachment 171953 View attachment 171954 View attachment 171955

It did lose ALL of its leaves, and then start giving flowers. Had bought it in dirt, had very minor root rot when I replanted, but that’s when all the leaves left and were replaced by flowers.
Not a good sign- they should keep their leaves year round... generally a tree forcing blooms with no foliage is trying desperately in a last gasp to reproduce before dying.

Regarding ferts- it is less important WHAT you use and just inportant thst you do it! Get some miracle grow slow release shake and feed, and some organic like plant tone- alternate throgh the growing season and toss in some liquid from time to time for a boost...
 
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Miami, FL
#12
Petunia, Sequoia, Kelp and Tomato - all vascular plants need the same nutrients in the same ratios. Biggest difference is concentrations, some are efficient feeders, and need only a weak solution, some are inefficient and need stronger concentrations. The metabolism of chlorophyll is shared among all vascular plants, their nutrient needs are very similar. Ideal ratio is roughly 13-0.8-4 for N-P-K, but also need roughly 12 Ca+2, 4 Mg=2, 3 S, and the full suite of micronutrients including Cu, Mn, Zn, and others.

Point being, the 13-0.8-4 is what plants actually use. A 10-10-10 is not a balanced fertilizer. In humans if you took in as much vitamin D as Vitamin C the D would kill you. There is excellent reference material to back up my claim on the Michigan State University website. Search articles by Jan Szyren. Her references in her articles will lead you through the rest.

High phosphorous fertilizers were developed by poor research done in the 19th century at the Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew, UK. Since Kew is always thought of as the ultimate reference for houseplant culture. This bad or poorly interpreted study has been referenced over and over again without anyone questioning it, until MSU took it on in the 1980's.

So key is 10-10-10 is NOT BALANCED,

Good news is a flush with clear water between doses of fertilizer tends to rebalance the nutrients in the trees and shrubs. So many poorly formulated fertilizers can be used to good effect. But do avoid fertilizer formulations where the phosphorus concentration is higher than the other components. Excess phosphorous can cause real nutrient imbalances.
Thank you for the great info Leo! Is there any brand of fert you recommend that I could use across species for now, before going specific for each type of species?
 
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#13
Thank you for the great info Leo! Is there any brand of fert you recommend that I could use across species for now, before going specific for each type of species?
Hi s2kMark,
I would look for slow release Osmocote or similar slow release pellets. Anything up to 24 months would work.
Some guys here swear by organic fertilizer but they mostly use this on refined trees that they don’t want the trees to grow much.
Organic vs Chemical fertilizer - you choose. I have been growing plants with chemical ferts for 20 plus years so I might be a bit biased.
Charles
 

Anthony

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#15
Trees are listed as needing 12 N and low P and K around 2 or 3.
The Phosphorous can actually poison if there is too much.
So even for ground growing, we use around 12 N.

The aged compost is a blend and adds in micro nutrients.

Good Day
Anthony
 
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#16
Thank you for the great info Leo! Is there any brand of fert you recommend that I could use across species for now, before going specific for each type of species?
The formulations developed by MSU are in public domain. Many companies will sell an MSU based fertilizer, that designation is a sign of a 21st century formulation. I sell fertilizer at my orchid talks. I have a company custom blend for me my own take on the info. It is a lower potassium version of the original MSU Orchid mix design developed at MSU. I have it made 1000 pounds at a time. I average 18 months between re-ordering. First Ray's Orchid Supply carries the same formula. Right now I am waiting for a shipment, so order from First Ray's. I have posted their url elsewhere.
 
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#18
You're going to get as many different answers as there are members. This means that a variety of methods work. Which works the best will depend on your location, plants, and schedule. What I would advise is to fertilize modestly at first, until you get a feel for it. I've killed several trees by fertilizing incorrectly.
 
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#19
You're going to get as many different answers as there are members. This means that a variety of methods work. Which works the best will depend on your location, plants, and schedule. What I would advise is to fertilize modestly at first, until you get a feel for it. I've killed several trees by fertilizing incorrectly.
I'm curious to hear more about what you did "incorrectly" to kill trees. This is a topic that is also being discussed by @SU2 and myself in another thread.
 
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#20
I use my orchid fertilizer for my bonsai
I like this approach because orchid fertilizers are often higher in ammonia based nitrogen rather than urea based. Why does that matter? As Smoke pointed out at some point, urea has to break down to ammonia for the tree to use it. With our fast draining pots and soils, and frequent watering, the urea is more likely to be washed away before it breaks down. The ammonia is useful immediately. So, I've been trying to read labels looking for higher percentages of nitrogen as ammonia..