Needing a big feeding? | Love The Garden

Needing a big feeding?

Geoff Hodge's picture
By Geoff Hodge, Botanical Expert (BSc, MCIHort)
Close up of feeding young plant with fertiliser balls

Are your plants performing well this year? Are they looking strong and healthy and flowering their heads off? Or are they sickly with yellowing leaves, poor flowers and in need of a good, healthy meal to set them up for the rest of the summer?

After one of the wettest winters on record and a fair amount of the wet stuff since, I've seen a lot of plants in people's gardens looking like they're in need of a good feed. I'm sometimes amazed that some people don't feed their plants regularly - or at all - if and when they need it. Especially those growing in containers that need good feeding after the nutrients originally in the compost have been used up. How would you like it if you were left outside in the garden for 6 months and nobody threw a bit of steak or a vegetarian lasagne at you regularly? You wouldn't stay fit and healthy or be able to perform properly. It's the same for your plants.

Watering can being used on potted plants

Smart feeding

I tend to feed my plants annually with coated controlled-release feeds. I say I use them because I'm busy - people that know me say it's because I'm lazy! But I only have my plants' best interests at heart, since these 'smart' feeds will supply nutrients for up to 6 months from 1 application.

The coating controls and regulates the release of nutrients, only releasing them when conditions are right for plant growth and when the plants need them. This release ensures steady, even growth – not uneven surges – which is far better for producing strong, sturdy, healthy plants that perform much better in the garden. It also ensures there is little risk of under- and overfeeding and wastage due to excessive leaching out of the soil or compost.

Regular feeding

If you don't use controlled-release feeds, then you will have to top up the nutrients throughout the growing season for best results.

Granular feeds, like Growmore, may feed your plants for up to 8 weeks. Organic feeds tend to last even longer, but take a while to get going as soil bacteria have to break them down into materials that the plants can absorb. Liquid feeds, on the other hand, act instantly as the nutrients are already in solution, but they are used up quickly and need re-applying ever 10-14 days or so - or as instructed on the packaging.

So, when it comes to plant feeding, choose your favourite food - and remember to dish it up it at the required dosage and at the recommended timing. If you want a colourful, glorious and productive garden, you'd better get on with it now - as June and July are important feeding times in the garden.

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