What to do if your plant hasn’t had enough fertilizer

What to do if your plant hasn’t had enough fertilizer

If your plant seems to be showing signs of not being too happy, but it is getting enough water, sun, and everything else seems to be fine, it could be that your plant is being underfertilized.

WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU UNDERFERTILIZE

If you neglect to fertilize your houseplants, they may start to show signs of damage/neglect even despite being otherwise well-cared for. This is because they will be lacking in essential nutrients that they need to best help them thrive. Think of it like how humans can also suffer from nutrient deficiencies - you may be eating plenty of food, but if that food isn’t healthy and nutrient-rich, you may start to not feel so great after a while.

It’s a fine balance between under- and over-fertilizing, and it is always best to lean towards underfertilizing, as too much fertilizer can severly damage a plant.

SYMPTOMS

  • Slow and/or stunted growth

  • Weakening of the plant

  • More susceptible to bug infestations

  • More susceptible to disease

  • Chlorosis (yellowing of leaves)

Nutrient deficiency leaf

WHAT TO DO NOW

Thankfully, treating under-fertilization is very easy. Simply put, all you have to do is fertilize it! This is especially straightforward if you use a liquid fertilizer, as Planta recommends, because this means that the nutrients are immediately available to your plant as soon as the fertilizer is applied.

In the future, make sure to follow Planta’s fertilizing schedule, which will calculate the best possible fertilizing routine for each of your plants to ensure that they receive just the right amount of nutrients.

Fertilizer watering can

CHOOSING FERTILIZER

When fertilizing, you should also make sure you are using a product that is suitable for your plant - this can vary from plant to plant. You can find more info on what type to use on the Info-tab on your Plant’s profile page.

When choosing fertilizer the most important thing to keep in mind is the N-P-K ratio (Nitrogen- Phosphorus - Potassium) as these are the key nutrients that your plant needs. Some fertilizers also contain additional micronutrients - these are called ‘complete’ fertilizers. If your fertilizer does not contain any micronutrients you can supplement with another fertilizer and alternate fertilizers every other time.

Also make sure to only use the recommended amount of fertilizer - often specified in the instructions on the package. Applying too much fertilizer can be harmful to your plant, e.g. by burning its roots. For this same reason, it’s important to dilute your liquid fertilizer in water and apply it as you water - never apply liquid fertilizer directly to your plant! This is far too strong and can cause real damage. On days where your plant requires fertilizer, the fertilizing and watering tasks will be combined in order to avoid overwatering.

Note that some types of plants don’t like to be fertilized - if you’re not sure then you should always double-check your plant’s specific needs under the ‘Info’ tab in Planta.