The One Thousandeth and One Fert Post

SerSwanky

Yamadori
Messages
79
Reaction score
25
Location
Spokane, Washington
USDA Zone
6b
I went to Home Depot and was looking for some 10-10-10 fert in liquid form but didn’t find any. I found one brand that was 10-10-10 but it was in pellet form. I didn’t really want to go that route for my juniper because I read in a few posts that people said to fertilize it regularly in the growing season. I didn’t know how you’d fertilize it regularly with the pellets since it says it’s good for 2-3 months at a time.

So I bought some Miracle Grow Water Can Singles that are 24-8-16 that I can mix into a watering can. Would that ratio work for a juniper honizontalis? Or is that ratio too strong?

1649992699685.jpeg
1649992719274.jpeg
 

0soyoung

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
7,249
Reaction score
12,198
Location
Anacortes, WA (AHS heat zone 1)
USDA Zone
8b
You can run into troubles if this is the only thing you use because it lacks the minor elements. The strongest reason to use organics (poop) is that it does contain all the minors.

Personally, I like Osmocote-Plus. It has the minor elements and the pills release their contents in proportion to temperature (yes, plants need more stuff the warmer it is up to a limit, of course that is about 95F). It is very convenient unless one wants to play the fert restriction games (such as heavily feed black pines before decandling and restrict it afterward). Osmocote releases over a period of 4 to 6 months.

On the other hand, it is easy to correct over-dosing with what you've chosen. Too much of it will draw water out of the roots making your plant look like it needs water and the foliage turns yellow. You can simply flush the pot several times with plain water to get rid of any excess in the pot. It is big trouble trying to unload an excess of prills, though they will float.


Walter Pall applies ordinary general purpose fertilizer at a multiple of the rate advised on the bag to his trees and gives them organic feet a few times a year to assure that the minors are supplied. It is a scientifically sound approach as the growth of trees is retarded by the lack of mineral nutrients. Even though one cannot make a plant take up more of anything than it does, this approach assures that enough is always present. Way too much = fertilizer burn and that is easily corrected with these simple granular chemical fertilizers.
 

Deep Sea Diver

Masterpiece
Messages
2,386
Reaction score
4,575
Location
Bothell, WA
USDA Zone
8b
Hmm…. @Osoyoungis on target. Osmocote plus will get you in the right direction, given your trees are growing out in development or you are not strictly doing clip and grow to develop your bonsai. In refinement and clip and grow status likely need a modified regime.

btw I wrote to Walter Pall last summer about his fertilizer regime. His reply.

“I have changed d. Fertilization. learn about your tree species and requirements and fertililize accordingly. Some want a lot some much less. It depends. With some substrates you can over-fertilize. So be careful.”

cheers
DSD sends
 

Paradox

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
6,925
Reaction score
7,823
Location
Long Island, NY
USDA Zone
7a
Like everything in bonsai, it depends.
If your tree is very young and needs to grow a lot, this could be ok. If its more highly refined and you just want to maintain, this fertilizer has too much nitrogen. In refined trees we want to control growth so the trees doesn't get out of control.

Personally it wouldn't be my choice. I use a fish emulsion, seaweed mix for my regular feeding on mostvof my trees.

The only time I use powdered Miracle grow is on my tropicals in the winter so I don't stink up the house. I use it at half strength

Walter is correct though. Different species have different requirements. I feed my azaleas different fertilizer than most of my other trees.
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,081
Reaction score
9,655
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
The idea of 10:10:10 seems to have come about after soil scientists started using the term "balanced fertilizer' meaning a fert that has all the elements needed for good plant growth as distinct from single element compounds like Urea (only nitrogen) or potash (mostly potassium).
Balanced in terms of fert was never meant to equate to equal ratios of NPK because plants just don't use these elements in equal quantities.
Plants actually use much more N than P or K so much of 10:10:10 and similar fert is wasted. Look for formulations that have less P and K as well as trace elements for real balanced fert.

The next misunderstanding is that high analysis fert like 24.8.16 is too strong. The numbers refer only to the amounts in the packet, not to how it is used. Fert with high numbers is almost always diluted with more water than one with low numbers which ends up giving the plants exactly the same nutrient dose.
24.8.16 diluted at 1gram per litre gives exactly the same dose as 12.4.8 diluted at 2 grams per litre.

Look at the numbers on the pack to see how much nutrient you are getting in the packet to compare cost per unit nutrient against other brands.
Look at dilution rates to calculate how much nutrient the plants get when you use as directed.

Nutrient ratios can also determine how much long, strong growth the plant grows depending on your aims and the bonsai stage your tree is at. Lower N ratios (compared to the P and K) will give less long shoots, all else being equal.

Liquid fert is quick acting but also leaches quick so needs to be used more often.
Solid, compounded fert tends to release over time so is good if you don't have time or inclination to fertilize every week or 2. Just apply every month or 2 and no carrying heavy watering cans.
Controlled release fert is even more predictable in releasing nutrients and can provide fert for many months.
 

Gabler

Chumono
Messages
780
Reaction score
861
Location
Delaware
USDA Zone
7a
I use organic fertilizers, but I was under the impression that Miracle Grow is just as good. They add in all those trace nutrients. At least, in the past when I’ve read the bottles, it indicates they add them in, though I could be mixing it up with something else.
 

SerSwanky

Yamadori
Messages
79
Reaction score
25
Location
Spokane, Washington
USDA Zone
6b
You can run into troubles if this is the only thing you use because it lacks the minor elements. The strongest reason to use organics (poop) is that it does contain all the minors.

Personally, I like Osmocote-Plus. It has the minor elements and the pills release their contents in proportion to temperature (yes, plants need more stuff the warmer it is up to a limit, of course that is about 95F). It is very convenient unless one wants to play the fert restriction games (such as heavily feed black pines before decandling and restrict it afterward). Osmocote releases over a period of 4 to 6 months.

On the other hand, it is easy to correct over-dosing with what you've chosen. Too much of it will draw water out of the roots making your plant look like it needs water and the foliage turns yellow. You can simply flush the pot several times with plain water to get rid of any excess in the pot. It is big trouble trying to unload an excess of prills, though they will float.


Walter Pall applies ordinary general purpose fertilizer at a multiple of the rate advised on the bag to his trees and gives them organic feet a few times a year to assure that the minors are supplied. It is a scientifically sound approach as the growth of trees is retarded by the lack of mineral nutrients. Even though one cannot make a plant take up more of anything than it does, this approach assures that enough is always present. Way too much = fertilizer burn and that is easily corrected with these simple granular chemical fertilizers.

Thanks for the great information. Would you recommend using both during the growing season albeit maybe half dosage on both? I'll definitely look into Osmocote-Plus, I know I saw that brand on the shelf so I will definitely swing by again and pick it up.
 

SerSwanky

Yamadori
Messages
79
Reaction score
25
Location
Spokane, Washington
USDA Zone
6b
Like everything in bonsai, it depends.
If your tree is very young and needs to grow a lot, this could be ok. If its more highly refined and you just want to maintain, this fertilizer has too much nitrogen. In refined trees we want to control growth so the trees doesn't get out of control.

Personally it wouldn't be my choice. I use a fish emulsion, seaweed mix for my regular feeding on mostvof my trees.

The only time I use powdered Miracle grow is on my tropicals in the winter so I don't stink up the house. I use it at half strength

Walter is correct though. Different species have different requirements. I feed my azaleas different fertilizer than most of my other trees.

I picked up this juniper horizontalis to practice wiring, pruning and hopefully keep alive / growing this summer. It’s from the Lowes shelf so it’s nothing special. Since it’s “young” or at least in need or a lot of growth the high nitrogen content might be good for a season or two?

1650038263583.jpeg

Where do you typically pick up fish emulsion and seaweed mix? Pet store, hardware store or elsewhere?

The only time I use powdered Miracle grow is on my tropicals in the winter so I don't stink up the house. I use it at half strength

How strong is the smell? My trees are on our balcony where we have our lounge sitting area next to it.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

The Professor
Messages
10,287
Reaction score
20,383
Location
on the IL-WI border, a mile from ''da Lake''
USDA Zone
5b
@0soyoung is right. A fertilizer balanced to what the trees consume is roughly 12 - 1 - 4 this is BALANCED, a 10-10-10 is NOT BALANCED. A human need several times more vitamin C than vitamin D. Similar with plant, they use 3 or 4 times as much N as K if the N is in the form of Ammonium or Amino Acids, if the nitrogen is presented as Nitrate, the amount of Potassium required (K) is equal to the amount of N because K is consumed in the process of converting the nitrates into a form the plant can utilize.

So an acid plant food will have all of the N in the form of ammonium or amino acids, and a 12-1-4 will be perfectly balanced. A general fertilizer using nitrates as the N will be 12-1-12 and be perfectly balanced.

Point is read the labels. Remember if the N is from nitrates, then the N and the K should be equal. If the N is from ammonia, ammonium, or amino acids, then the K should be about 1/4 to 1/3 of the N.

Amino acids as nitrogen source is the situation in Fish Emulsion, Seaweed extracts and various rapeseed cakes.

Hope this helps.
 

Leo in N E Illinois

The Professor
Messages
10,287
Reaction score
20,383
Location
on the IL-WI border, a mile from ''da Lake''
USDA Zone
5b
Orchid growers have this horrible habit of "continuously feeding" at a low dose rate EVERY time they water. Don't do it. At least once a week you should have a watering with clear water, meaning water that has not had any fertilizer added to it. This flush with clear water allows the trees to balance out the nutrients in their tissues. Clear water flushes away excesses.

So avoid continuous feeding schemes. I have used them for years, and they are loaded with hidden problems. Once I began doing a flush with clear water in between fertilizer doses, I had much healthier growth.

Rain does count as a flush with clear water, if you are lucky enough to live where you get regular rainfall in the growing season.
 

SerSwanky

Yamadori
Messages
79
Reaction score
25
Location
Spokane, Washington
USDA Zone
6b
The idea of 10:10:10 seems to have come about after soil scientists started using the term "balanced fertilizer' meaning a fert that has all the elements needed for good plant growth as distinct from single element compounds like Urea (only nitrogen) or potash (mostly potassium).
Balanced in terms of fert was never meant to equate to equal ratios of NPK because plants just don't use these elements in equal quantities.
Plants actually use much more N than P or K so much of 10:10:10 and similar fert is wasted. Look for formulations that have less P and K as well as trace elements for real balanced fert.

The next misunderstanding is that high analysis fert like 24.8.16 is too strong. The numbers refer only to the amounts in the packet, not to how it is used. Fert with high numbers is almost always diluted with more water than one with low numbers which ends up giving the plants exactly the same nutrient dose.
24.8.16 diluted at 1gram per litre gives exactly the same dose as 12.4.8 diluted at 2 grams per litre.

Look at the numbers on the pack to see how much nutrient you are getting in the packet to compare cost per unit nutrient against other brands.
Look at dilution rates to calculate how much nutrient the plants get when you use as directed.

Nutrient ratios can also determine how much long, strong growth the plant grows depending on your aims and the bonsai stage your tree is at. Lower N ratios (compared to the P and K) will give less long shoots, all else being equal.

Liquid fert is quick acting but also leaches quick so needs to be used more often.
Solid, compounded fert tends to release over time so is good if you don't have time or inclination to fertilize every week or 2. Just apply every month or 2 and no carrying heavy watering cans.
Controlled release fert is even more predictable in releasing nutrients and can provide fert for many months.

Great insight. Definitely saving that to my notes! It's a bit daunting staring at the shelves with all these brands, ratios and promises.

Honestly, part of the desire to do liquid fert is to give me something to monitor and do since I don't have that many trees to work on at the moment (limited space at the moment).
 

SerSwanky

Yamadori
Messages
79
Reaction score
25
Location
Spokane, Washington
USDA Zone
6b
@0soyoung is right. A fertilizer balanced to what the trees consume is roughly 12 - 1 - 4 this is BALANCED, a 10-10-10 is NOT BALANCED. A human need several times more vitamin C than vitamin D. Similar with plant, they use 3 or 4 times as much N as K if the N is in the form of Ammonium or Amino Acids, if the nitrogen is presented as Nitrate, the amount of Potassium required (K) is equal to the amount of N because K is consumed in the process of converting the nitrates into a form the plant can utilize.

So an acid plant food will have all of the N in the form of ammonium or amino acids, and a 12-1-4 will be perfectly balanced. A general fertilizer using nitrates as the N will be 12-1-12 and be perfectly balanced.

Point is read the labels. Remember if the N is from nitrates, then the N and the K should be equal. If the N is from ammonia, ammonium, or amino acids, then the K should be about 1/4 to 1/3 of the N.

Amino acids as nitrogen source is the situation in Fish Emulsion, Seaweed extracts and various rapeseed cakes.

Hope this helps.

Man, one needs to go to school for this stuff. It's almost like you can get a degree on this topic! Sure wish I took chemistry in high school.

Learning via the internet/youtube/reading forums gives such conflicting information (not saying your info or anyones above is bad just that it differs from all the “10-10-10 is the holy grail!” articles I keep reading and seeing in posts).

That helps a lot thanks for taking the time to explain.
 

SerSwanky

Yamadori
Messages
79
Reaction score
25
Location
Spokane, Washington
USDA Zone
6b
Orchid growers have this horrible habit of "continuously feeding" at a low dose rate EVERY time they water. Don't do it. At least once a week you should have a watering with clear water, meaning water that has not had any fertilizer added to it. This flush with clear water allows the trees to balance out the nutrients in their tissues. Clear water flushes away excesses.

So avoid continuous feeding schemes. I have used them for years, and they are loaded with hidden problems. Once I began doing a flush with clear water in between fertilizer doses, I had much healthier growth.

Rain does count as a flush with clear water, if you are lucky enough to live where you get regular rainfall in the growing season.

This is also good to know. I’ll definitely be incorporating that into my practices.

In a related side tangent, I use a 3-1-2 liquid organic Fert for my ficus for every other watering as directions state. Is that too weak to even matter? Seems pretty low compared to the miracle gro, granted it’s a much much lower dosage. 3/4 a capful to a quart or 2 capfuls to a gallon.

Is lower dosages just used for different purposes?

1650042406066.jpeg
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,081
Reaction score
9,655
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
In a related side tangent, I use a 3-1-2 liquid organic Fert for my ficus for every other watering as directions state. Is that too weak to even matter? Seems pretty low compared to the miracle gro, granted it’s a much much lower dosage. 3/4 a capful to a quart or 2 capfuls to a gallon.

Is lower dosages just used for different purposes?
Low analysis liquid fert does not always mean weak. It all depends on the dilution rates.
The dilution on this one does mean a weak dose each time but more regular application makes up for the weak dose. If you do the math it probably works out to around the same amount of nutrients applied over time.
Best to stick to recommended rates until you really understand what it all means. Makers have usually factored stupid into the rates they give but overdose of fert is possible if you choose to go stronger that recommended.

Weaker dose is often used for maintenance where we don't want the tree to grow long shoots any more.
 

Firstflush

Chumono
Messages
795
Reaction score
940
Location
coastal sage scrub and chaparral
USDA Zone
10B
You can use all the high number miracle grow (MG) ferts you want. Just flush regularly. Cycle in the fish/kelp emulsion to get all the micro/macros the MG doesn’t have.

Here is my concerns. Salt build up and I worry about frying/killing all the bacteria and fungal populations destroying the growing environment. Am I wrong? The microrganisms must be present in the miniature ecosystem we create to grow healthy trees.
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,081
Reaction score
9,655
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
Here is my concerns. Salt build up and I worry about frying/killing all the bacteria and fungal populations destroying the growing environment. Am I wrong? The microrganisms must be present in the miniature ecosystem we create to grow healthy trees.
Salts build up is a concern. Regular thorough watering with plain water will help leach out excess nutrient salts. Follow the directions supplied and there's little risk of problems.

Do you know which micro-organisms are harmed by liquid fertilizers? Are they really necessary to plant growth?
We can see really good growth of plants in entirely chemical hydroponic systems and you've probably eaten a lot of veg grown that way. If liquid, chemical fert and few micro-organisms are so vital how does hydroponic culture work?
IMHO liquid fert is no problem for my plants.
 

Scorpius

Mame
Messages
147
Reaction score
215
Location
Northwest Indiana
USDA Zone
5b
I hit my trees with 3 to 5 times the amount prescribed on the Miracle Grow box. Once per week. No poop.
Blue juice that looks like antifreeze.
They're fine.
I use Jacks All Purpose 20-20-20 blue juice. Works for me. Half a scoop makes it 10-10-10. and a 1/4 scoop makes it 5-5-5. Oh no. lol
 

Shibui

Imperial Masterpiece
Messages
5,081
Reaction score
9,655
Location
Yackandandah, Australia
USDA Zone
9?
I use Jacks All Purpose 20-20-20 blue juice. Works for me. Half a scoop makes it 10-10-10. and a 1/4 scoop makes it 5-5-5. Oh no. lol
Sorry but further dilution does not change the analysis.
NPK only refers to the percentage in the packet. It helps you decide what is good value.
Dilution is dilution and has nothing to do with the original NPK analysis. Half a scoop does not make 10:10:10 it just makes a diluted 20:20:20
and that's completely separate from the equal NPK analysis which is nothing like how plants use the 3 nutrients. As mentioned earlier plants need these nutrients in ratios closer to 12:1:4 Any excess P and K just leaches out of the pot or causes problems or both.
Equal does not mean balanced.
 

Similar threads

Top Bottom