Is a generic fert possible for multiple species of plants?

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#21
Slow Release Fertilizer, or Time Release Fertilizer. Most versions like Osmocote, or Nutricote have a temperature dependant release coating. At 60 F (16 C) it will take 5 months for the dose of pellets to release their fertilizer. At 70 F (21 C) it will take 4 months, at 80 F 9it will take 3 months, at 90 F (32 C) it will take 2 months. This trait points to a danger when using time release or slow release fertilizers.

For most of us growing temperate trees outdoors there is a not real obvious problem here. Not so severe to prohibit use of Time Release fertilizers, they are useful if precaution is taken. Most trees slow their grow and metabolism, hence reduce their need for fertilizer when temperatures start exceeding 90 F (32 C). At this temperature the time release fertilizer is releasing its load of fertilizer at the fastest rate. Exactly the opposite of what we would like. This can cause problems.

Example, one summer before I understood this, I had a JBP that I wanted to ''pump up'', it had a good set of roots, and all the signs of starting a good growth cycle. Foliage was a little pale so I added a dose of slow release in the cool beginning of April. It was still looking like it was starving for nitrogen in May, so I added more. We had a cooler than normal May, Beginning of June I added a 3rd dose. Weather warmed up, for a week or two the JBP suddenly went to a nice rich green. Then a couple weeks later as weather warmed up in July, it suddenly went from rich green to a very sickly, unhealthy looking yellow. New candles suddenly turned brown and died. What was happening was in the heat the slow release was dumping its load of fertilizer faster than the tree could use it. I had overdosed the tree thinking it wasn't enough, when the weather warmed, suddenly there was too much.

I saved the tree by doing an emergency repot, got rid of the fertilizer laced media, replaced it with fresh. It took a month, but it stopped dropping needles. I had lost all the new growth for the year, but the following year most of the old growth that remained sent out a flush of candles. Definitely not as healthy as before the disaster, but by the second year after it was looking as good as before.

When you have a mixed collection, use Slow Release or Time Release as a supplement to feed trees, especially young stock, that are heavy feeders. These days I mainly use it for stock still in nursery pots. I water everything with a low 75 ppm as N liquid fertilizer solution, which is a good, relatively low dose of fertilizer for most, and the Slow Release in the young stock supplements the low dose liquid fertilizer.

Alternately, add the slow release to your formula for bags of rapeseed solid organic fertilizer, one of the deficiencies of organic fertilizers is that they tend to be low in nitrogen. A slow release supplement would help add the extra nitrogen. By putting it in your fertilizer bags, you can remove the fertilizer when hot weather arrives and the trees slow down. It gives you control over the the slow release. don't mix it loose into your potting mix. This way you can get it off in hot weather, and put it back on when trees are active again.

Those would be my suggestions for how to use slow release or time release fertilizers.
 
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#22
At this temperature the time release fertilizer is releasing its load of fertilizer at the fastest rate. Exactly the opposite of what we would like. This can cause problems.
If I may ask a question, I don't understand how this works. As I understand it if your using a well draining media and watering so that the water is flowing out the bottom I would expect there never to be too much N. Exactly the opposite, the nitrogen that can be a problem is a salt, when the temps get hot j would expect to be watering more, washing all the available N awsy? To be honest I given a well drained media I don't understand how one can over feed because all the nutrients are soluble and will be washed away except for what is held in the pore water. The more you water the more dilute that solution will be. Thoughts?
 
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#23
If I may ask a question, I don't understand how this works. As I understand it if your using a well draining media and watering so that the water is flowing out the bottom I would expect there never to be too much N. Exactly the opposite, the nitrogen that can be a problem is a salt, when the temps get hot j would expect to be watering more, washing all the available N awsy? To be honest I given a well drained media I don't understand how one can over feed because all the nutrients are soluble and will be washed away except for what is held in the pore water. The more you water the more dilute that solution will be. Thoughts?
I emphasised fertilizer dissolving into the soil water film as one of 2 processes going on, you just described the dilution effect of flushing which is a second process that goes on simultaneously in our bonsai pots. The two processes tend toward a balance point. The slow release fertilizer is continuously allowing fertilizer to seep through the polymer coating of the pellet. The fertilizer seeps more quickly in warmer weather. If the pellet is in contact with the potting medium, this fertilizer is dissolving into the soil water film that is retained after you stop watering or after the rain stops. I only have time to water my trees once a day, the rest of the 24 hour period the fertilizer pellet is continuing to leach out fertilizer into the soil. Generally, this is a slow enough rate most trees have no problem with it. Yes, next time you water, the water will flush out and dilute the fertilizer in the water film surrounding particles of media. Notice that on a hot day, after you water, and the pot drains, the soil water film will slowly decrease during the day due to evaporation. As the thickness of the water film around soil particles decreases, due to evaporation the fertilizer does not evaporate. The concentration of fertilizer in the soil water film will climb up as the particles approach dryness. This will happen more quickly in warmer temperatures, at the same time the polymer pellets will leach out fertilizer at a higher rate as temperature climbs. If you are watering your trees several times a day, this is no problem at all. I don't have that luxury, and I wager majority of those asking questions here don't have that amount of time either. So it is a balancing act,

I am not saying don't use slow release fertilizer pellets, I still use them. I am saying be conscious of how they work. If they are the ONLY fertilizer you use, you need to be aware that they put out the greatest quantity during the hottest part of the summer, which for MOST bonsai is not when we want the highest concentration of fertilizer. We fertilize heaviest in late summer, early autumn and again in spring to early summer. The heat of summer, especially for refined trees we withhold fertilizer. Slow release fertilizer works against this program.

The dilution effect as you described it, is also the reason that good bonsai can be created by artists even though they use unbalanced fertilizers, like 10-10-10 which is NOT balanced to the needs of the tree. It is the dilution effect that allows the tree to create a balance in its tissues even though the owner is feeding it a unbalanced diet of fertilizer. There is more than one way to create bonsai, and fertilize bonsai. I am merely proposing a more current, horticulturally sound approach.
 
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#24
image.jpg


This is a 20-14-13 fert that I use for my orchids which has brought them to back to life after I took over care of them from the previous owner. It is a dust that I mix with water.

It this a good fert I can use generally? Or would the First Rays blend be better? All my plants have quick draining media. Some are in inorganic media while most are in organic media. Since I live in Miami, it is basically spring already in terms of temperature—steady mid 70s to 80s fahrenheit. I’m thinkng liquid feed every two weeks for a month, then move to weekly feeds, and then pull back on the feeds a bit from May to July due to heat.

What do you guys think? I want to keep this simple because I’m seeing a trend of collecting too many plants on my part. I have bougainvillea specific ferts that I will use for those, and there is a certain blend for adenia I use based on a study from the University of Florida (I killed two adenia last year from overfertilizing, so I pulled back on that for a good while, lol). I just planted 110 soco and arabicum seeds I got from Thailand, so that will take up a lot of my time in between building benches.
 
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#25
Go back and read my post #8, you really do not need different fertilizers for different species. The least wasteful formula is the one I listed in that post. The plants can not read the labels. Flushes with clear water, in between doses of fertilizer, will usually allow the plant to rebalance the nutrients in the plant's tissues. Sure you can use the stuff in the most recent photo, except for way too much phosphorus, it is not too bad. The run off from using this will be high in phosphorus, it will fertilize your lawn, and run off into local lakes and streams. But it will work. You don't need different fertilizers for every type of plant. In fact you can get by with really poorly formulated fertilizers, if every week you water with plain water at least once. So, what should you do. Use up the fertilizer you have, use them on any and all species of plants (except carnivorous) then start buying a modern fertilizer, from First Ray's or from me. But use up all the stuff you have first, no sense wasting it.
 

JudyB

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#27
I would look for slow release Osmocote or similar slow release pellets.
Please be careful if you use this advice, these can overdose on you in hot weather in pots.

I myself use liquid fert in maintenance dosing each time I water, so it has constant feeding. I also use teabags with pelleted fert on the soil, so if it's raining a lot (and I'm not watering) there is still fertilizer available all the time. You will vary the amounts of these depending on the development the tree is in.
 
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#28
Please be careful if you use this advice, these can overdose on you in hot weather in pots.

I myself use liquid fert in maintenance dosing each time I water, so it has constant feeding. I also use teabags with pelleted fert on the soil, so if it's raining a lot (and I'm not watering) there is still fertilizer available all the time. You will vary the amounts of these depending on the development the tree is in.
Hi Judy,
Um,ok I should have qualified my post with growing out trees in 3-15 litre pots etc.
Maybe others have problems but I haven’t seen any issues. My growing out mix is 80% pine bark so that has plenty of buffer.
My respect goes to those who have been growing trees in Bonsai pots for ages.
And sorry to the OP if my advice was ill-founded.
Charles
 
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#29
Hi Judy,
Um,ok I should have qualified my post with growing out trees in 3-15 litre pots etc.
Maybe others have problems but I haven’t seen any issues. My growing out mix is 80% pine bark so that has plenty of buffer.
My respect goes to those who have been growing trees in Bonsai pots for ages.
And sorry to the OP if my advice was ill-founded.
Charles
I only use a coated fertilizer like Osmocote for trees in nursery pots or grow out flats. Remember that coated fertilizers release rate is temperature dependant. The warmer it is, the faster they give up their fertilizer. We normally want to fertilize in late summer, and early autumn, to build the plant's stored nutrients to prepare the plant for the burst of growth in spring. And to form back buds. Coated fertilizer won't be at maximum availability during the cooler weather of late summer & autumn, and spring. Then in the heat of summer, when many trees slow their growth, the amount of fertilizer from Osmocote hits its maximum. Which is not when the trees have their maximum demand. So keep this in mind.

I once during a cool spring kept dosing a pine with coated fertilizer until it finally turned green. Ah, it was several times the label does but I finally saw the effect I wanted. Weather suddenly turned and we went from 15 C to 30 C daytime highs. Bang !!!- the pine was in serious trouble, all new candles turned black and died, needle color became the ugliest yellow you want to see. I had to do an emergency repot to get rid of all the coated fertilizer. It took 2 years, but the tree made a full recovery. Never over dose the coated fertilizers. They do dump out their contents in warm weather.

I use both coated slow release and liquid soluble fertilizer. The liquid soluble is applied in cool season, when the trees need a boost. The controlled release is used at a low dose to provide slow release all summer long. The controlled release should never be used as your only fertilizer source because it is easy to overdose the trees. I use it as a supplement for rapidly growing stock still in the nursery phase of bonsai, as a supplemental.
 
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#30
Fertilizer is chemically made up of the same three elements, Nitrogen, Phopersous, and Potasium. The plant does not care how it gets these three elements, just that they get them.
 
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#31
Slow Release Fertilizer, or Time Release Fertilizer. Most versions like Osmocote, or Nutricote have a temperature dependant release coating. At 60 F (16 C) it will take 5 months for the dose of pellets to release their fertilizer. At 70 F (21 C) it will take 4 months, at 80 F 9it will take 3 months, at 90 F (32 C) it will take 2 months. This trait points to a danger when using time release or slow release fertilizers.
Osmocote now comes in different versions that will last for 3-4 months, 5-6 months, and 8-9 months. By using the variety that fits your seasonal demands it would appear that you can avoid the late summer slow growth issue.
 
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#32
Miracle Gro here. I fertilize every 2 weeks with about double strength. I use free draining soil and water every day it doesn't rain. Great growth and no problems. I tend to agree with Walter.....the tree takes what it needs and the rest gets flushed out when you water. I think we tend to overthink things. Plants and trees have survived without our help for millions of years.
 
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#33
I bought a (12-1-1-10Ca-3Mg) formula orchid MSU liquid fert that I’ve been using on my trees. The orchid I showed before is being used on my orchids, along with some probiotic formula on differing weeks. I have a special blend formula for my desert roses based on a University of Florida study, and have some bougainvillea specific ferts for those two plants.

I guess my last question is succulents. I have a 3-3-3 spray I bought that was supposedly recommended for succulents, but I’m not ao sure on that anymore. Is there a specific formula for succulents that is good? Maybe just go with the 12-1-1 I have for the bonsai trees?