Is a high-dilution/daily fertilizing schedule advisable?

Clicio

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I have been watching some bonsai people saying that the use of highly diluted chemical fertilizers every day - mixed with the water in a watering can - can give us better results than the same amount of fertilizer used in the regular dilution (as suggested by the label) every fortnight, for instance.
1-) Does it make sense?
2-) How to calculate the daily dilution rate?
3-) Does one use the same fertilizer every day for, let's say a month, and then switches to another one, alternating between then in a month to month basis? Or is it better to alternate them daily?

Thanks in advance.
 

Hartinez

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Great topic @Clicio . I’m certainly not the guy to give insight, but I’m really hoping some of bio badasses will chime in. I know @cmeg1 can give some great thoughts on this subject.
 

Tidal Bonsai

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I have been watching some bonsai people saying that the use of highly diluted chemical fertilizers every day - mixed with the water in a watering can - can give us better results than the same amount of fertilizer used in the regular dilution (as suggested by the label) every fortnight, for instance.
1-) Does it make sense?
2-) How to calculate the daily dilution rate?
3-) Does one use the same fertilizer every day for, let's say a month, and then switches to another one, alternating between then in a month to month basis? Or is it better to alternate them daily?

Thanks in advance.
You never know until you try…

That is too much planning for my schedule, use cakes or teabags if you want small daily doses of fertilizer.
 

Shibui

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Not sure whether daily fert will give better results but in large nurseries it can save time and effort when they install 'fertigation' where fert is injected/dissolved into the water system and the trees get a measured dose every time they get watered.

Does it work? Think of hydroponics where dilute nutrient solution is constantly fed to plant roots. Your system of daily fertigation is approaching hydroponics.
At really low rates it probably does not matter much what dilution you use. Anything lower than recommended should be OK probably wasteful as much will just leach out with further watering. Looking at hydroponic solution rates would probably be a good place to start researching.
Many bonsai growers alternate fert as a precaution in case one does not have all the required nutrients. Hydroponics uses the same fert all the time but the mix needs to have a full range of plant available nutrients. Provided the fert has all elements required for plant growth there should be no need to alternate.

I also think that mixing new batches of fert each day would be a nuisance so unless you can rig up some sort of automatic injection system I'd stick to weekly or fortnightly applications.
 

leatherback

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Ensuring a steady availability of nutrients is the reason fertilizer cakes are used. They slowly break down and every watering nutrients become available. I would say it reduces the risk of a spurt of growth and then stalling until the next batch of fertilizer.

I mostly fertilize with organic solid fertilizer (Rotating in liquids a few times a year). So not sure how much of an issue the liquid every 2 weeks is. Plants have good reserves of the core elements they need. I do not know how much time can pass before they need to acquire things. They certainly do not NEED a continuous supply.
 

Shibui

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Controlled release fert is also designed to release nutrients every time water is applied so I guess including a 12 month controlled release fert in the mix would be similar to applying weak solution every day.
I use controlled release in the mix but still give a semi-regular added dose of liquid and occasional solid organic pellets.
 
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Nitrogen creates elongation
Phosphorous helps with lignifying
Potassium(maybe someone can fill in)

I know some of my dabbling for info has shown me that you can use fertilizers intentionally.


My inorganic mix is a 60/40 chabazai akadama mix. Chabazai does not hold a whole lot of fertilizer.

Ive personally used 50% dilute of normal suggested 5-15-5 for repotting (once every 4 days for first 2 weeks) / regular strength bi-weekly schedule before winter (late sept)


10-10-10 75% dilute from normal strength in spring every week as buds swell/ break for deciduous and conifer

10-10-10 25% dilute from normal strength 1/month for succulents



Some sources have shared that you can tell if youve fertilized right when your elongation in the spring is short intervals between the nodes giving compact growth. Too much creates leggy growth. Ive witnessed both and changed my approaches species and tree dependent.

My tap water is somewhat salty so i err on the side of caution and try to fertilize a day before expected rainfall ao deposits dont burn the roots
 

cmeg1

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I will have to say I probably use this technique.
Constant low dose….. actually .5 ec
Lets not forget its not for all species.Some will get chlorosis rather quickly( nitrogen deficiency) if nutrients are not available for some odd reason……namely deciduous trees like chinese elm can have this quite quickly.

Other trees seem to enjoy this……….my pines for one do very well.I am in the slow growth camp nowadays.All about photosynthesis.
Be careful though….minerals can be lacking at such low strength…….namely calcium,magnesium, iron.And if a salt based big brand fertilizer………I believe is quite boring really,where are all the amino acids and natural chelating elements?

Biggest benefit for me of the low strength routine is LOW SALTS IN SOLUTION……not for burning root tips ……..but to actually have more uptake of water.In an porous substrate the fertilizer burn is quite rare,but what does happen is the plant puts on more oils and terpines and such from a slight stressing of not being able to uptaake the water as freely since the salts are so high.…….this can be desirable.

I still prefer the low ec rates though.More water uptake…..especially in the stonewool I use as of late and flood table watering,as the salt could accumalate on top since being bottom flooded all the time…..I top water once a week ,although its not much an issue with the low ec I use.

I add high rates of fulvic acid and this increases my nutrient uptake by 20% or more……according to the science.
Also vast amounts of minerals in fulvic acid and also kelp and I add the amino acids and these are totally rockin’ calcium…….which can be considered a macro element really.
Certain aminos I use increase calcium to way more than usual.

So yes… low dose is awesome in many ways,but can be very boring with a big brand basic type fert.

It can be used in a perfect way for sure and benefit a tree greatly in many instances.

My pines are thriving at .5 ec
Everything needs ph’d too.

Late seedling strength!!!
I am expecting a terminal bud set and probably a halt in growth or perhaps halt extension of the leader moreso,but I am fine with that as it is more natural and will create strong roots.
 

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cmeg1

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Potassium(maybe someone can fill in)
Potassium is very essential……if only slightly above the nitrogen in ratio…..this can increase brix( suger) in the plant.Less nitrogen,more photosynthesis,less elongation= stronger roots,stronger plant.
To increase it……lower the nitrogen🤫

Too much potassium will create a calcium and magnesium deficiency……VERY WRONG🤔

Do not even increase the potassium to nitrogen ratio only slightly until the seedling is starting to put on a bit of wood like 1/8-3/16” trunk.

When trees are maturing and budding alot or growing in in great conditions …..a pinch of potassium sulphate is awesome as it can be depleted in hours with vigorous growth……..especially in a very budding and woody plant like a pine or whathave you in vast amounts of sunlight.

So do not even add MORE of it unless your plants are growing bigtime in lots of light……….calcium and magnesium supply is WAY more beneficial.
 
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Potawatomi13

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Advisability questionable😜. Wasteful and likely adds more nitrogen and other elements to pollution of environment than happens with less often use. Yes pollution is correct term. Consider dead zone in Mississippi river Gulf caused by excess nitrogen runoff from farmers and yard fertilizing.
 

cmeg1

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I will just put this out there🤔

If a very small collection….flood table options with the salt fertilizing are not unheard of………..reuse the nutrient solution for up to a month in some cases…… or honestly till it’s gone with many grow medias.
I store and reuse mine in 5 gallon buckets……I flood manually in a couple very large trays…………almost zero runoff. My medias are very absorbing.I literally use it all.I do get a bit careless though.
My dream Hydro set up for sure……not too far in the near future. Also the bio sterilized rainwater someday……… mine is straight off the roof of the home for these outdoor trees. I have over 200 gallons of it at all times it seems in storage.
Indoor gets RO.

these are fresh cuts hence the off-coloring.

My outdoor manual flood table could actually be made much more efficient and almost completely automated except water would get too warm.I have to store it in the shade under my home where it’s up to 15° cooler.
There are water cooling options though for sure… electrical
9FB853B7-E2D0-46E3-A34C-D014E1CCCC85.jpeg
 
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penumbra

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Nitrogen creates elongation
Phosphorous helps with lignifying
Potassium(maybe someone can fill in)
There is an old nurseryman's saying that I remember from many years ago pertaining to NPK, up, down, and all around. Of course there is more to it than this but this loosley contrived rule served generations of growers pretty well.
Nearly all of my fertilizing is done through foliar feeding and I alternate between a Miracle grow type fertilizer and Neptune Fish & Seaweed (kelp). In the busiest growing part of the season this is about every week but generally about twice a month the rest of the growing season. I have 0% run off.
In plants that are just growing on I also pot with Osmocote and in some cases natural fertilizers.
 

Deep Sea Diver

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Interesting thoughts. I do know for a fact that Michael Hagedorn uses an injection system.

Not sure an everyday hobbiest would be inclined to engage in this practice. I wouldn’t, as I feel different trees have different needs say satsuki vs pines for one example.…. then there is the media type and CEC to consider.

Also I believe this practice would also add more complications i.e. figuring out the different mixes for trees in the seedling stage, trees growing out, trees in basic structural development, trees in secondary and tertiary development and trees in the refinement stage.

Seems mind numbing for a simple sailor. Yet possibly for the more dedicated and accomplished group inticing.

btw: Much of everything you wanted, or didn’t want to know about Potassium and plants below.

For Trees.

General

Basics…
Potassium is essential for osmoregulation, cell expansion, stomatal movements and enzyme activation in respiration and photosynthesis….

cheers
DSD sends
 

63pmp

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I have been watching some bonsai people saying that the use of highly diluted chemical fertilizers every day - mixed with the water in a watering can - can give us better results than the same amount of fertilizer used in the regular dilution (as suggested by the label) every fortnight, for instance.
1-) Does it make sense?
2-) How to calculate the daily dilution rate?
3-) Does one use the same fertilizer every day for, let's say a month, and then switches to another one, alternating between then in a month to month basis? Or is it better to alternate them daily?

Thanks in advance.
I have been using diluted chemical fertilizer solution for daily watering for about 8 years. My water is sourced from an underground well and is slightly alkali, I have to adjust the pH before watering. I also have a degree in chemistry so that has helped a lot in developing this solution. My main issue was learning that trees used for bonsai have much less requirement for fertilizer than vegetables or ornamental flowers, so information from hydroponics and commercial nurseries is not really helpful. Additionally I live in a part of the world that has nice cool winters 20 -40 frosts a year, almost snow occassionally, but hot, dry, arid summers, cold climate deciduous such as Beech, Japanese maple and Hornbeam do not need very much N during summer (or anytime really) as it causes Nitrate induced chlororisis, by keeping pH very low at about 4.0 - 4.5 this nitrate problem can be avoided. Plant species is also important as different species have different needs. I have found that Mg, K and P are essential, while N is variable, depending on the season and species. I used to run separate fertigation solutions for pines and deciduous, but now just use the one solution and give certain pines additional N as a supplement. Japanese white pine does not need much N, while black pines like more.

I would recommend a biweekly soluble organic fertilizer over using a daily solution. But after resolving many problems daily feeding is working for me.

Cheers

Paul
 

Clicio

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Well guys, amazing responses.
Thanks for your very helpful suggestions and comments!
I agree that for a small collection of 40~50 little trees, organic fertilizer cakes and/or slow release balls with some liquid complements are easier to manage and perhaps less wasteful.
 

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