Liquid Fertilizer

remist17

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I would like to get some liquid fertilizer for my plants. I have both indoor and outdoor. What can I use for a liquid fertilzer ?

Local store has 10-10-10 liquid. Is this ok?
How about mericle grow? I heard this is just a short term boost and not that great.
 

monza

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IMO rookie opinion 10 10 10 is great for spring summer, then switch to 0 10 10 for fall.
... but then again I didn't read where you are from so my advice is for people with real winters.
 
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Bill S

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Depends on who you talk to, Walter Pall (if you didn't know is has one of the finest collection of trees) said he uses whatever is on sale. Miracle Grow et. al. will do fine, much depends on soils, species,time of year, your local weather. Some like organics, I have seen different people talk about using full strength diluted fish emulsion(low npk's), a nursery I know of uses chicken poop. Depends.

Many say we in the US don't fertilize enough.
 

Mike423

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10-10-10 or anything similar (miracle Gro, Shultz etc..) will work fine for deciduous trees But I would stop fertilizing them now if you are using a NPK rating like that as you dont want to promote new growth this time of year. It wont have enough time to 'harden off' and will die when winter comes.

As for your tropicals the same stuff will work fine during the summer, but during the winter I would recommend using something similar to 2-10-10. While you dont want to promote strong new growth with your tropicals over winter (and therefore not use something like 10-10-10) for the reason of new growth being weak and leggy with long distanced internodal length (due to low light levels), you still need something with a little nitrogen in it as the tree is still active and growing. Which is why I wouldn't recommend a mixture like 0-10-10 which is devoid of nitrogen.
 

Roo

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I'd just get the 10-10-10 provided it also has micro nutrients. Wether organic ferts have any value over chemical ferts in pot culture is debatable. I use organics the cheapest one with a fairly even npk and micro nutrients. I like to think the mycrozia enjoy it more and the fertilizer runoff is less harmful to the environment but again that's debatable use either one. there are fantastic artists that use organics and inorganic including miracle grow.

You can fertilize with nitrogen in the fall. Modern literature agrees on this point. The idea that you shouldn't fertilize with nitrogen in the fall comes from the mistaken belief that fertilizer causes growth. It doesn't.fertilizer water and sunlight are the fuel for growth the plant decides when to grow. temperate plants should respond to fall light levels even in the presence of nitrogen and know not to grows. If it doesn't need nitrogen it wont uptake it and the nitrogen with the constant watering bonsai receive will be harmlessly washed out of the soil. Below is a link to one of waltson articles
http://www.evergreengardenworks.com/fertiliz.htm
 

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I use a liquid fert. by Dyna Gro called Bonsai Pro, and for my flowering trees, called Liquid Bloom. While a specific bonsai fert is not at all necessary, I like this one. It's balanced, and has a low salt content. When I was using miracle grow, I had salt buildup on the base of my trees in some cases. Also this fert is very concentrated, so it's pretty affordable in comparison. It says that it has micronutrients as well. I'm planning on finding another type of fert for next year to use in conjunction with this, as I use almost completely non-organic soil, and it rains quite often here. So I'm thinking of getting some green dream to put in the soil. I'd go with fert cakes if the stinkin raccoons would leave it alone, but they dig them up every time. I think there are so many myths out there about fertilizing, that keep us from feeding our trees as much as we need to. Unless you are working on reducing needle length on pine, or just trying to maintain a finished masterpiece tree, I don't know why you'd want to put your tree on a diet. And if it doesn't need the nutrients, (like now when they say to lower the N) then it wont' uptake it. I feed mine well into leaf drop, and hard frosts. You could fertilize all winter and it wouldn't matter except to your wallet, I imagine.
 

treebeard55

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... If it doesn't need nitrogen it won't uptake it and the nitrogen with the constant watering bonsai receive will be harmlessly washed out of the soil...

No offense, but I can't fully agree. The presence of nitrogen does encourage fresh vegetative growth; I've seen it on my trees. Yes, they'll put on less fresh growth in late fall, but they're still likely to put on some.

And taking away nitrogen in fall forces the tree into hardening-off mode more quickly. Making sure a potted tree hardens off before winter is more important than making sure of the same for an in-ground tree, because the potted tree's roots don't enjoy the insulation of the earth.

Also, excess nitrogen becomes available for saprophytes -- fungi -- some of which you may not like have snuggling up to your tree!

Walter Pall makes a point worth keeping in mind: your watering practices, your fertilizing practices, and your soil composition all work together. So the specific fertilizers that work best for me might not be the very best for you, and vice versa.
 

chappy56

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I too have had nothing but good luck with Dyna-Gro. Works for me.
 

Eric Schrader

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Organic fertilizers rather than mineral derived ones are worth mentioning. Dyna Gro, Miracle Grow and many others are salts. I use them but I also use Fish Emulsion. I used to make cottonseed cakes with 4 parts cottonseed meal, 1 part bone meal, 1 part blood meal, 1 part fish meal and water to make them stick together.....but the rats around my current house just eat all of them. So I switched to watering twice a week with dilute fish emulsion (like 1/4 strength) and I use Dyna gro to replace the minerals that are lost by my use of a reverse osmosis system. (there's too much sodium in the water here for bonsai, took me a year to figure that out.)
 

monza

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I had a long post trying to explain my thought process on it all, it some how got deleted and I'm to lazy to type it again right now. Not like anyone values a rookies opinion anyways...
At least I didn't say something like, I drop the N in the fall so I can feed more ST. Harry told me.

Roo, I believe what Brent Watson has to say almost religiously, but do you have any other sources of the modern horticulture literature regarding the feeding of nitrogen in the fall?
 
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Bill S

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Forgot about Smokes input about Humates, check for his posts re. these, he has had some great results, but I don't remember if they are compatible with chemical fefrts(miracle grow etc.).
 

fore

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No offense, but I can't fully agree. The presence of nitrogen does encourage fresh vegetative growth; I've seen it on my trees. Yes, they'll put on less fresh growth in late fall, but they're still likely to put on some.

And taking away nitrogen in fall forces the tree into hardening-off mode more quickly. Making sure a potted tree hardens off before winter is more important than making sure of the same for an in-ground tree, because the potted tree's roots don't enjoy the insulation of the earth.

Also, excess nitrogen becomes available for saprophytes -- fungi -- some of which you may not like have snuggling up to your tree!

Walter Pall makes a point worth keeping in mind: your watering practices, your fertilizing practices, and your soil composition all work together. So the specific fertilizers that work best for me might not be the very best for you, and vice versa.

Hi Steve,

I was wondering when do you change over to 0-10-10 here in this area?
Chris
 

rockm

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"Organic fertilizers rather than mineral derived ones are worth mentioning. Dyna Gro, Miracle Grow and many others are salts. I use them but I also use Fish Emulsion. I used to make cottonseed cakes with 4 parts cottonseed meal, 1 part bone meal, 1 part blood meal, 1 part fish meal and water to make them stick together.....but the rats around my current house just eat all of them. So I switched to watering twice a week with dilute fish emulsion (like 1/4 strength) and I use Dyna gro to replace the minerals that are lost by my use of a reverse osmosdifis system. (there's too much sodium in the water here for bonsai, took me a year to figure that out.)"

Minerals are minerals. There is NO difference between the NPK derived from fish emulsion that that derived from Miracle Grow. It's all the same to the plant, however, the levels of mineral in "organic" fertilizers is extremely low and less available in some instances compared to prepared fertilizers. It takes longer to get the same results with organics.

Just because something is "organic" doesn't make it "better, just as being "inorganic" doesn't make it bad.

The differences between the slower acting organics and faster-acting prepared ferts can both be used to develop bonsai. If you're using organics to grow a plant out for trunk diameter and initial branch development, you're barking up the wrong tree. It's not effective. If you're using prepared fertilizers to develop finer details, like tertiary branching and smaller leaves, you're also working at cross purposes.

I don't bother with the low N ferts in the fall. Wasn't worth trying to locate the stuff. Balanced Fertilizer application in the fall isn't the bugaboo that people think it is. At that time of year, plants aren't loooking to bulk up on N, but are looking for P and K. They let the N go.

A bigger threat in sparking new growth in the fall (and a much more common culprit) is hard pruning on branches. If you cut into old wood it triggers new growth. Don't hard prune in the fall is a much more effective piece of advice than "use low N fertilizer"
 
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treebeard55

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Hi Steve,

I was wondering when do you change over to 0-10-10 here in this area?
Chris

Hey, Chris,

Switching the fert cakes out is one of the items on this weekend's agenda.

I don't think one can go strictly by the calendar. I also look at the temperatures and how landscape trees are behaving. Maples are starting to turn here.
 

treebeard55

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...There is NO difference between the NPK derived from fish emulsion that that derived from Miracle Grow. It's all the same to the plant ...

I remember David DeGroot, curator of the Pacific Rim Bonsai Collection, hammering this point during a presentation at the ABS-BSD '95 convention. :D He agrees with you completely. I think you're right about the chemicals: what is different (as you allude to) is the rate of delivery and the concentration-at-delivery. I also agree that both slow-release organics and quick-release ferts have their appropriate uses.


A bigger threat in sparking new growth in the fall (and a much more common culprit) is hard pruning on branches. If you cut into old wood it triggers new growth....

You just may a point here ... thinking about it.
 

JudyB

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RockM, I just cut and pasted your reply about the fert. Although I mostly understand the differences, I had never thought about using different types, for different purposes. Thank you, and if you'd like to expand on that thought, I and I'm sure others would be interested in any more information that you'd share.
 

rockm

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"Thank you, and if you'd like to expand on that thought"

I'm no biochemical expert, first off:eek:.

However, you have to give up thinking about fertlizers as "natural" and "unnatural." That is just political crap. The ingredients your plant is after doesn't care about ferts being "natural" or "chemical" or whatever. The Nitrogen, Potassium and Phosphorous are what it's interested in. Elements are elements. There are no "brand name elements" or "natural elements."

Fertilizers based on animal products (bone meal, blood meal, etc) and ferts that come in prepared powdered water soluable forms are both perfectly valid ways to "feed" your trees.

The differences in how the two are absorbed by the plant is the key. While the basic ingredients used by the plant are the same in each, they are not "available" to the plant in the same way.

With organics, the NPK is there in very low doses, but in cake form, they are available over a longer period. Some of the ingredients require organic decay to occur before the plant can use them. I always find concern over mold and insects on fert cakes to be amusing, since you WANT that to happen to break down the stuff into useable form for the plant...Some ingredients might not become available at all--studies have shown that bone meal doesn't break down much at all and could really be usesless (that's another story though). Anyway, "organic" ferts are best used on older developed trees because their NPK is lower and constant. That means it generally doesn't stoke a burst of new growth on trees. That can mean a world of difference to a tree that is mostly developed with fine twigging and developed root mass. You don't want a lot of fuel available to the tree to outgrow that fine development. A lot of fast-acting, readily available fert results in larger leaves, more intense new shoot development (mostly in place where it isn't needed).

Powdered ferts, like Miracle Grow, are manufactured for optimal plant performance. They are made to be fast-acting and the NPK in them is tens of times higher than in "organic" ferts. These mixes are good for developing plants that can use everything you can give them to develop primary branching, expand nebaris, increase foliage -- which fosters even more new growth, etc. Readily available NPK will spur new growth and support it in quantity. It is literally fuel for the fire that makes bonsai. By the way, most any prepared fertlizer will work--plants can't tell NPK in Miracle Grow from that in Peters.' However, it can be a good idea to switch off between two prepared ferts in a summer because mixes tend to have different levels of trace elements.
 
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fore

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Rockm, I think Eric Shrader was right earlier who stated that both Miracle Gro and Dyna Gro are salts. They can build up no matter what concentration you use. Leading to leaf burn, white stuff growing up your trunk, and I think, but am not sure on this one, is affects the soil pH. Organics do not. But I agree with everything you said: N-P-K is N-P-K no matter what fert. you use. But the salt factor is something that imo, is not good.
 

fore

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Hey, Chris,

Switching the fert cakes out is one of the items on this weekend's agenda.

I don't think one can go strictly by the calendar. I also look at the temperatures and how landscape trees are behaving. Maples are starting to turn here.

Oh, I see. you wait till you start seeing fall leaf color changes before changing over. Here, all the tree's are still green. So I'll keep up the N ferts till I see the trees starting to change. Thanks for the tip Steve!
 

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