Succulents don’t have to be fertilized all the time. However, when you water them, some of the plant nutrients get flushed along with the soil; that’s why they need occasional feeding. These fertilizers will help your succulent have a more vivid and rich color. For example, you want to see your premium black succulents and eye-catching textures of ground covering succulents in their darkest and best hues, fertilize them. You must be careful as you fertilize since too much of it can burn the plant. If you use liquid fertilizer and overspray, the liquid part will get absorbed by the soil, quickly rotting the succulent roots.
So, what benefit does your succulent plant get when you fertilize them. It’s pretty simple. Like other plants, fertilization gives them a boost, and such a boost can help them grow healthier and achieve their maximum growth potential. It’s literally like making your plants take vitamins — you add an extra layer of protection to keep pests and diseases at bay. Read on and know the different fertilizer mixes that would work best with your succulents and apply them.
What Is Succulent Fertilizing
As the term suggests, succulent fertilizing is the process of spraying your succulent with a particular fertilizer mix with the intent of enhancing their health and vigor. Along with light, soil, and waiting, the fertilizing needs of succulents differ according to their kind and variety. As a general rule, succulents don’t need frequent and regular fertilization. So, when you opt to fertilize domesticated succulents and cacti, the same should be limited to replicating their natural conditions.
Benefits of Fertilizing Succulents
Succulents remove toxins from the air. The world’s best cacti for beginners thrive even if you neglect them. And these plants offer a wide choice of colorful succulents that can leave you in awe without forcing you to break a sweat in rearing them. Since they provide you with this benefit, you also need to do your share by keeping them healthy and in tip-top shape.
Some succulent growers tend to over-fertilize their succulent plants because they tend to grow faster. Though this may be good for those who can’t wait to watch their bloom, premature growth induced by fertilizers won’t give you the satisfaction of seeing them develop in due course. Others also under fertilize in fears that their plant might grow stringy or weedy. This practice might not directly harm your plant, but it could stagnate its growth. It won’t look bad, neither will it grow bigger. It won’t grow flowers, either.
The best path to take is to fertilize them modestly and accordingly. If they get the proper nutrients they need, they’ll grow healthily, wonderfully, and appropriately – like how they are designed to bloom. You see, the catch here is not merely fertilizing them nor going over or under the suggested fertilizer dosage. To get the most from your succulent plant, only feed them with what’s required and necessary.
If you allow your succulent plant to grow at a normal rate, you can keep track of its developmental changes, appreciate how it changes in form, and witness it thrive naturally.
How Does Fertilizing Succulents Work
Succulent soil has a larger percentage of minerals. However, this doesn’t mean that they don’t need fertilizing. If you want your succulent plant to grow flowers, you might be tempted to try a special fertilizer. Nitrogen may encourage plant growth, but it’s usually the potassium and phosphorus component that inspire and move the plant to thrive and bloom.
There are various fertilizer types in the market, both inorganic and organic, with low nitrogen levels but high in everything else. Unfortunately, these fertilizer types are often used regularly, straight of their bottle, compared to other fertilizers. This only means that they’ve been diluted down upon manufacturing. You have to be extra cautious with these types of fertilizers as they can burn your plant.
Fortunately, Espoma Organic is available as a concentrated version of liquid fertilizer. As such, you need to dilute it with liquid for it to be used as 1-2-2 succulent fertilizer. You can use this to spray on your plant at least once a week or twice a month. You can rest easy with this kind of special fertilizer as it won’t be too much for your succulents.
Pros and Cons of Fertilizing Succulents
One of the main advantages of fertilizing succulents is you get to replenish the flushed out nutrients from the plants when you watered them. Like other plants, succulents feed on these nutrients to grow and thrive. So, if you fertilize them accordingly, it goes without saying that they will also grow accordingly.
If you’re growing succulents that have rich and vivid colors when in full bloom, you can see their best form and hue when you fertilize them. The sole condition you have to satisfy to achieve these is to ensure that you use the right kind of fertilizer and you only spray them when necessary.
On the other hand, if you over-fertilize your plant, or you use a different potent fertilizer type, your plant might get burned or damaged. They can also grow fast, but they could get stingy and weedy.
Types of Succulent Fertilizers
Examples of this include well-composted chicken, sheep, cow, or other grazing animal manure. They are one of the best fertilizers to use because they’re rich in various nutrients and minerals that help keep your succulents healthy. Take note, however, that they have a lingering odor that you might find unpleasant. They also revitalize the soil, release carbon, and improve soil aeration — conditions that allow plants to absorb more nutrients.
These are worm manure or earthworm waste products. This fertilizer is abundant in humus, a substance that can significantly improve soil aeration and effectively balance soil pH levels. They also contain over 60 essential micronutrients that can keep your succulent healthy. They are also abundant in copper, zinc, iron, potassium, carbon, calcium, and magnesium. If your soil is abundant in heavy metals, worm casting can remedy them and keep your plant from taking in these toxic compounds.
NPK stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Go for fertilizers with an N-P-K ratio of 1-7-6 or 2-7-7 because these are the perfect fertilizer blends for succulents and cacti.
Charcoal is an excellent succulent fertilizer because it is a soil reservoir nutrient. If your succulent’s nutrient levels go down, it will release its stored nutrients and let the plant absorb them.
This is also one of the most viable options if you want to give your succulent plant a good boost. Since it’s in liquid form, it can seep deep into the soil and get absorbed by the succulent roots.
As its name suggests, this fertilizer type releases the nutrients slowly into the plant. It’s made up of plant nutrients that render fast plant uptake impossible. Since it slowly feeds the nutrients to the plant, it makes the plant less attractive to pests and diseases.
Natural Succulent Fertilizers
These are non-chemical fertilizers that feed nutrients to the plant. Examples of this are dried leaves, grass clippings, kitchen scraps, weeds, manure, tree leaves, coffee grounds, eggshells, and banana peels. Gather these materials, dig a shallow hole around the plant, and keep the hole distance to at least one meter away from the plant you’re trying to fertilizer.
Banana peels are ideal fertilizers because of their potassium content. Allow the peels to compost naturally inside a hole that you dig near the plant. When your succulent is growing, bury the banana peels on the topsoil. This will supply enough potassium to your succulent plant.
This helps in acidifying the soil you used to plant your succulent. You can sprinkle these on the topsoil or use them to make coffee and spray them on your plant. To make a potent garden coffee mix, soak at least five to six coffee ground cups for a week. You can then use it to spray or water your succulents.
Eggshells are the best and cost-effective alternative to lime because it’s 93% calcium carbonate. They lessen the soil acidity to help plants that are sensitive to acid. Crush them and sprinkle them on the topsoil.
They are good fertilizers because they have high nitrogen content. To use as fertilizer, make a weed tea by soaking weed on five gallons of water. Make sure to fill 25% of the gallon with weed to make the right weed tea formula. Use the brown-colored tea to water your succulents.
As mentioned above, they’re rich in various nutrients and minerals that help keep your succulents healthy. They also revitalize the soil, release carbon, and improve soil aeration — conditions that allow plants to absorb more nutrients.
Fertilizers from seaweed are usually called foliar fertilizer. To make this, soak 5 kilos of seaweed in 200 liters of water for 15 days. After that, harvest the fertilizer and spray it on your plant.
Like what you did with weeds, grass clippings are good fertilizers because they have high nitrogen content. To use as fertilizer, make a grass clipping tea by soaking grass on five gallons of water. Use the brownish green-colored tea to water your succulents.
This is best for plants that are in dire need of magnesium sulfate. This substance is essential in encouraging plant flowering, plant color enhancement, and plant uptake boost.
This allows the roots to thrive by increasing soil nutrient levels and improving plant oxygenation. You can water your plant with green tea soaked in water or placed the leaves on the topsoil.
How to Choose the Best Succulent Fertilizer
For the fertilizer to give maximum benefit to the plant, it needs to drain well. A good-draining fertilizer evenly distributes the nutrients to the whole plant, encouraging its consistent growth and development. Also, you need to take note that succulents are sensitive to overwatering. Though rose succulents prefer a bit more water, most varieties rot when they sit on excessive moisture for too long. This is the reason why your fertilizer of choice should drain properly after spraying. Otherwise, it can rot the plant roots.
Haworthia succulents have thin leaves, and it will remain in its best form when it’s complete with the nutrients it needs. Pleasant-looking tall succulents will thrive even more when they get all minerals that their system requires.
The fertilizer of choice needs to give the succulent plant its needed nutrition to be valuable and helpful. This is precisely why you need to determine what kind of nutrients does your succulent variety needs. Some fertilizers are high in magnesium. Others are high in nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous. To know which of these is suitable for your plant, you have to define the said plant’s needs first.
Most succulents and cacti varieties thrive in soil with a pH6 level of acidity. If your soil is acidic and the succulent you plant hates acid, you need to temper the soil’s acidity by adding lime. Because the soil acidity varies with the plant’s acidity tolerance, it’s best to plant your succulents to the ground with neutral acidity. When you choose the fertilizer for your plant, you must consider both the plant and soil’s nature and tolerance.
How to Fertilize Succulents
Step 1 – Determine the acidity level of the soil
If your soil is acidic, you need to apply lime to temper its acidity level. To identify this, you must submit your soil to soil analysis. Besides knowing the soil acidity level, you will also know what kinds of nutrients are lacking and sufficient. The said soil analysis would indicate what kinds of nutrients you should give to your plants.
Step 2 – Apply what was suggested by the results of the soil analysis
It’s better to go through this process before planting and fertilizing your succulent because it will give you a clear idea of what you need to give your plant. From here, you’ll know what’s the best fertilizer to use.
Step 3 – Spray your succulent with the right fertilizer
Refer to the tips mentioned above regarding the proper way of making and spraying a specific fertilizer.
Does More Spending Mean More Quality
Again, this principle or philosophy doesn’t apply to succulent fertilization because the suitable fertilizers are pretty cheap. You don’t have to spend a fortune to see your plant grow to its fullest potential.
Do’s and Don’ts When Fertilizing Succulents
- Do remember to only gradually increase the water intake of your plant.
- Do try growing succulents under artificial light.
- Do take note that most succulents don’t need frequent repotting since it might stress them out.
- Do try growing easy-to-maintain purple succulents and see what fertilizers can best help them thrive.
- Don’t use fertilizers without testing the soil.
- Don’t subscribe to a specific fertilizer without identifying the needs of the plant.
- Don’t use potent fertilizer without learning its harmful effects on the plant.
FAQ About Fertilizing Succulents
When should you fertilize your succulents?
To know what type of fertilizer to use, you need to submit your soil first to soil analysis. This will determine its acidity level and deficient nutrients that you need to address through fertilization.
Are there any succulents that don’t need fertilizer?
As a general rule, succulents don’t need frequent and regular fertilization. So, when you opt to fertilize domesticated succulents and cacti, the same should be limited to replicating their natural conditions.
When do I need to apply fertilizer?
Only apply fertilizer once a year, during early spring. This is the best time for this activity.
Do indoor succulents need fertilizer?
Again, succulents don’t need to be fertilized. However, if you want to see them grow at their best, you can choose to fertilize them. However, you need to use the right fertilizer for its soil and needs.
Are chemical fertilizers good or bad?
They might be too potent for succulents and cause the latter to burn. In other plants, chemical fertilizers increase yield. Over time, it shows many repercussions like soil hardening, slowed plant fertility, polluted water and air, and release of harmful gases to the atmosphere.
Is granular fertilizer better than liquid?
It depends on the plant you are fertilizing. Liquid fertilizers encourage quick plant uptake since it’s applied directly. On the other hand, granular fertilizers are the slow-release type that only feeds the plants with nutrients unhurriedly.
What is the best time of day to apply fertilizer?
The best time to fertilize your lawn is in the morning when it’s cooler, and the morning dew significantly lessens the risk of grass burning.
Should you water plants before fertilizing?
Yes, you should do this thoroughly to keep the plant roots from burning, most especially when the soil is super dry.
Fertilizing your succulents isn’t as easy as picking a particular fertilizer brand and sprinkling it generously. You need to ensure that your fertilizer of choice is the right one for the kind of soil and plant you have. You also have to ensure that the nutrients of the fertilizer are the exact nutrients your succulent lacks. If you can figure all of these out, you can expect your fertilizing efforts to be successful.
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