Quick question about liquid fertilizer

Ray777

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The liquid fertilizer I use are to be used at full strength once per month, or at half strength with each watering.

It’s my understanding one should water before fertilizing at full strength. Should I do the same for half strength, perhaps more lightly moisten?
 

Shibui

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Watering before will pre-wet the soil. That means the liquid fert will soak in instead of running off or through the soil.

I have also heard reports of fert toxicity when high analysis fert was used on dry plants. Not sure if that is true but some water before fert is easy.

I use liquid fert at full strength every week or 2 as well as osmocote in the soil and occasional addition of solid organic fert and get good growth with no evidence of over fertilization
 

Ray777

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Thanks for that! Hmm that’s interesting… so is that frequency for your liquid exactly what is recommended for the brand, or is it more (btw it’d be nice if you’d give the name of your liquid, because your recommendations of Osmocote is much appreciated)

Also, are all your solutions fully organic? Is it true, the notion that organics are much safer? Is it a gray area maybe? And speaking of gray area lol I’ve seen that Osmocote is marketed as plant food, and you added that you add organic fertilizer. So what’s the difference between, plant food and fertilizer?

Thank you again! And cheers…
 

Ray777

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Watering before will pre-wet the soil. That means the liquid fert will soak in instead of running off or through the soil.

I have also heard reports of fert toxicity when high analysis fert was used on dry plants. Not sure if that is true but some water before fert is easy.

I use liquid fert at full strength every week or 2 as well as osmocote in the soil and occasional addition of solid organic fert and get good growth with no evidence of over fertilization
Thanks for that! Hmm that’s interesting… so is that frequency for your liquid exactly what is recommended for the brand, or is it more (btw it’d be nice if you’d give the name of your liquid, because your recommendations of Osmocote is much appreciated)

Also, are all your solutions fully organic? Is it true, the notion that organics are much safer? Is it a gray area maybe? And speaking of gray area lol I’ve seen that Osmocote is marketed as plant food, and you added that you add organic fertilizer. So what’s the difference between, plant food and fertilizer
 

Wires_Guy_wires

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Plant food is fertilizer and vice versa. Organic is usually safer because it has a relatively lower percentage of water bound salts and requires microbes to help release those nutrients. Dump 1kg of organic nutrients on your soil and your tree will receive about 0.3kg of water bound nutrients.
Dump 1kg of chemical fertilizer on your soil and your plant will receive about 0.6kg of water bound nutrients.


Safety is dosage dependent. And of course composition dependent. More ammonia nitrogen will be more dangerous than nitrates/nitrites for instance.
 

Potawatomi13

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No. Is added to "dry" substrate. During development personally use "chemical" fertilizer 20-20-20 full strength weekly as season dictated need for H2O. After harden off midsummer on pines/conifers 2X weekly to encourage new buds☺️. Believe gives greater absorption if tree needing H2O.
 

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No. Is added to "dry" substrate. During development personally use "chemical" fertilizer 20-20-20 full strength weekly as season dictated need for H2O. After harden off midsummer on pines/conifers 2X weekly to encourage new buds
be carefull with this approach. Chemical dry fertilizer pellets with dry soil can very easil lead to reverse osmosis: Root tips dessicating and dying. NOT a recommended route.
 

rockm

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Thanks for that! Hmm that’s interesting… so is that frequency for your liquid exactly what is recommended for the brand, or is it more (btw it’d be nice if you’d give the name of your liquid, because your recommendations of Osmocote is much appreciated)

Also, are all your solutions fully organic? Is it true, the notion that organics are much safer? Is it a gray area maybe? And speaking of gray area lol I’ve seen that Osmocote is marketed as plant food, and you added that you add organic fertilizer. So what’s the difference between, plant food and fertilizer
You are making the mistake of trying to compare apples (chemical--for lack of a better word) and oranges (organic-for lack of a better word.) BOTH are useful, only in different instances. Both deliver NPK, only in different ways.

"Organic" is no better than "chemical" or "liquid" fertilizer. Organics are not nearly as effective in delivering NPK to plants as "chemical" ferts. It takes a very long time for organics to deliver nutrients to plant roots, as that delivery depends on breakdown of the ingredients by microbes, watering, etc. "Chemical" ferts are ready-made for delivery to roots. The nutrients are delivered to roots almost immediately in useable form.

All this means that organics are typically best used on already-developed bonsai, to control wild growth and provide longer term effects. Chemical --or liquid ferts are best used on developing stock that requires energy to grow out.

Osmocote tries to straddle that line by being controlled release. That release is temperature dependent as the shell only releases it when temps rise to a certain leve. You have little control over when that happens. That means it's probably fine for use for developing stock, but using it with established, already developed bonsai can be problematic, as it offer little control to the user.

FWIW, I use both organic and chemical ferts on my trees --sometimes at the same time, typically early in the growing season. I have also moved to "feeding" them low-doses of ferts every time I water and not delivering it all at once every week...I've also switched to low phosphorous fertilizers as well to help control extension growth on already-developed trees...

BTW, there is no "plant food." Plants make their own food through photosynthesis. Fertilizer provides the building blocks that facilitate that process. You are not "feeding" your tree when you fertilize. You are giving it the resources for its food manufacture.
 

Shibui

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Thanks for that! Hmm that’s interesting… so is that frequency for your liquid exactly what is recommended for the brand, or is it more (btw it’d be nice if you’d give the name of your liquid, because your recommendations of Osmocote is much appreciated)

Also, are all your solutions fully organic? Is it true, the notion that organics are much safer? Is it a gray area maybe? And speaking of gray area lol I’ve seen that Osmocote is marketed as plant food, and you added that you add organic fertilizer. So what’s the difference between, plant food and fertilizer
There are few commercial liquid ferts with instructions specifically for bonsai. Rates for 'shrubs and trees' is for plants growing in the ground - completely different from bonsai in pots. Rates for 'potted plants' comes closer but allows for indoor plants that tend to be watered less than outdoor pots. We know that nutrient leaching is a big problem for outdoor bonsai so we also know that we need more nutrients than most other plants so even if the instructions say 3-4 weeks it si safe to use more often under higher water schedules typical for bonsai.

Brands of fert are probably irrelevant because of different manufacturers and countries. Most fertilizers have very similar makeup because plants everywhere need the same nutrients so I figure the brand doesn't matter and look for the cheapest source for the nutrients contained (make allowance for concentration and dilution rates when comparing prices) 'Thrive' is the liquid feed I usually use if that makes any difference.

Very few liquid fertilizers are truly organic. Some fish emulsions may be close but most have added chemical source nutrients to bring the nutrient levels up to what is required by plants and legislation.
Your plants do not care where the nutrients come from. The N,P and K the roots absorb is exactly the same whether it comes from an organic or chemical source.

'Fertilizer' and 'plant food' are often used interchangeably though there are technical differences as already pointed out above.

Osmocote tries to straddle that line by being controlled release. That release is temperature dependent as the shell only releases it when temps rise to a certain leve. You have little control over when that happens. That means it's probably fine for use for developing stock, but using it with established, already developed bonsai can be problematic, as it offer little control to the user.
Nutrient dump was a problem of the earliest formulations of 'controlled release' fertilizers but advances with polymer coatings have allowed the manufacturers more control over nutrient release. They now make a bewildering array of products that release for longer or shorter periods. Some are tailored to release more early in the life of the product and others start slow and release more later as the plants grow.
Newer coatings are much less affected by temperature.
The majority of nutrient release is controlled by osmosis so nutrients move out of the prills when the soil outside is wetter than inside the shell.
 

Potawatomi13

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be carefull with this approach. Chemical dry fertilizer pellets with dry soil can very easil lead to reverse osmosis: Root tips dessicating and dying. NOT a recommended route.
Question was about wet fertilizer as was answer.
 

rockm

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There are few commercial liquid ferts with instructions specifically for bonsai. Rates for 'shrubs and trees' is for plants growing in the ground - completely different from bonsai in pots. Rates for 'potted plants' comes closer but allows for indoor plants that tend to be watered less than outdoor pots. We know that nutrient leaching is a big problem for outdoor bonsai so we also know that we need more nutrients than most other plants so even if the instructions say 3-4 weeks it si safe to use more often under higher water schedules typical for bonsai.

Brands of fert are probably irrelevant because of different manufacturers and countries. Most fertilizers have very similar makeup because plants everywhere need the same nutrients so I figure the brand doesn't matter and look for the cheapest source for the nutrients contained (make allowance for concentration and dilution rates when comparing prices) 'Thrive' is the liquid feed I usually use if that makes any difference.

Very few liquid fertilizers are truly organic. Some fish emulsions may be close but most have added chemical source nutrients to bring the nutrient levels up to what is required by plants and legislation.
Your plants do not care where the nutrients come from. The N,P and K the roots absorb is exactly the same whether it comes from an organic or chemical source.

'Fertilizer' and 'plant food' are often used interchangeably though there are technical differences as already pointed out above.


Nutrient dump was a problem of the earliest formulations of 'controlled release' fertilizers but advances with polymer coatings have allowed the manufacturers more control over nutrient release. They now make a bewildering array of products that release for longer or shorter periods. Some are tailored to release more early in the life of the product and others start slow and release more later as the plants grow.
Newer coatings are much less affected by temperature.
The majority of nutrient release is controlled by osmosis so nutrients move out of the prills when the soil outside is wetter than inside the shell.
Fertilizer dump isn't what I was talking about. Osmocote is a "set and forget" fertilizer that mostly acts on its own in response to external elements. The user doesn't have to think about when to apply it (as opposed to using a watering can with ready-made fert solution) THe osmocote decides when. That's not a plus in my opinion, but our mileage may vary.
 

penumbra

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I use liquid fert at full strength every week or 2 as well as osmocote in the soil and occasional addition of solid organic fert and get good growth with no evidence of over fertilization
This is nearly identical to my procedure for plants I am growing out and larger plants. On smaller bonsai in bonsai pots I often forgo the osmocote.
 

BrianBay9

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The liquid fertilizer I use are to be used at full strength once per month, or at half strength with each watering.

It’s my understanding one should water before fertilizing at full strength. Should I do the same for half strength, perhaps more lightly moisten?

People recommend watering first because if you water after applying liquid fertilizers you're just flushing ferts out before the plant has a chance to use them. If you have an inorganic soil mix and water every day, the liquid ferts applied will be undetectable after 7 to 10 days. So I fertilize once a week. A soil mix with organics will hold fertilizers longer.
 

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