ten people about
plant nutrition and
you'll probably get ten different answers.
This is a
simple approach to a
I know you're
probably not interested in a lot of
stuff, but a little knowledge here goes a long way toward successful
There are 20
healthy plant growth. Air and water supply carbon, hydrogen, and
oxygen. The other 17 mineral elements must be supplied by the
growing media or fertilizer amendments.
nature, plants get nutrients from organic debris that collects at
roots. This can be anything from decaying tree bark to bird
Complex interactions involving live bacteria,
microbes break down this organic matter so the plant can
process is almost impossible with potted plants because potting
mixes are sterilized, killing the bacteria needed to transform
the organic matter. So potted plants rely on the grower to provide the
nutritional elements they need for growth.
Food or Plant Nutrients?
"Nutrients" with "Plant Food". The
real "food" plants use
for growing is the light, water,
and air. See box at right. Nutrients, on the other hand, are
the minerals absorbed at the roots.
If you're not giving your
plants the proper
food they need to grow (light, water, air), your choice of nutrients
Plants manufacture their own "food". Using the
power of the sun, they mix air, light,
and water to make
These carbohydrates are the real
"food" that stimulates new growth. This process is
Nutrition" is the mineral
elements collected by the roots that enhance photosynthesis. These nutritional elements
compensate for lack real food plants use for growth (air, light, and
give your plants that extra shot of energy with more nutrients, make
sure they're getting the
"real food" they need for healthy new growth.
fertilizers are not the same! (For this discussion, the words
fertilizer and nutrients are interchangeable.) Nutritional
elements are divided into two
categories; macro-nutrients, and micro-nutrients. Plants need large
amounts of some elements (the macro-nutrients) and only
trace amounts of others (micro-nutrients). Take a close look and
you'll find some of the major brands are not what they're cracked up to
be when it comes to growing orchids.
to Look for When Buying Fertilizer for Orchids
fertilizers contain three main elements; Nitrogen(N),
Phosphorus(P), and Potash(K). This is called the NPK ratio. Fertilizer
packages always have three
numbers on the front panel that describes the NPK ratio. The
number is Nitrogen (N), the second is Phosphorus(P), and the
third is Potash(K). The numbers
describe what percentage of each element is in the fertlizer.
for 3 numbers on front panel
has an NPK of 10-15-10.
15% Phosphorus(P), and 10% Potassium(K).
for 3 numbers on front panel
has an NPK of 7-9-5. 7% Nitrogen(N), 9%
Phosphorus(P), and 5% Potassium(K).
of the NPK ratio as the recipe of the ingredients inside the
package. Adjusting the balance of these main ingredients during the
growing and blooming cycles encourages
healthier plants and bigger blooms. More on this
inexpensive form of nitrogen, the primary ingredient in all
fertilizers (the first number on the package). Plant
cannot use urea based
nitrogen until it is broken down by enzymes or bacteria. That's great
for outside plants, but sterilized potting
mixes don't contain the enzymes needed to
convert urea into something the plant can use. Unused
urea turns to
salt and actually becomes harmful to
root system. This
is especially true for
orchids because orchid roots
simply can't tolerate salt. Avoid
that has "urea" on the label!
You might actually be
harming your plants!
best source of Nitrogen for all potted plants is Ammonia cal or
Nitrate. You can find this on the back panel of the package. (For now,
don't concern yourself with the percentage numbers.)
look at source of Nitrogen!
This is how
Nitrogen Source should read - no Urea
Plants need 17
elements for healthy growth. Most fertilizers contain
main elements (the NPK - Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash). But be on
the lookout for the rest of the elements! If your
fertilizer doesn't have all the elements you're taking
a hit-or-miss approach and your plants could be
missing important minerals it needs to grow. Look on
the back of the package and see what's in your fertilizer.
This is a
popular fertilizer -but only 9 elements!. Also, notice
a complete and balanced approach to nutrition. See the difference?
Can Nutrients with Lower Numbers Work Better?
all has to do with the purity
of the chemicals, not the amount. Many nutrients are made from low
minerals which are much cheaper (1/4 the price!). Low grade minerals
contain filler elements that your plants cannot use - not good for
nature, orchids cling to rocks and trees. Their roots
designed to quickly absorb
anything that comes their way. The roots act like a sponge but
are sensitive to harsh
chemicals. Their nutrient supply is pure and doesn't contain
cheap chemical fillers.
jeapordize your plant's health with cheap fertilizer that's mostly
filler? Give them the
best - that's what they're looking for!
all heard about the person who buys only the cheapest
fertilizer. Then, they can't wait to tell you about their plant that
blooms. I say, "if they would use proper nutrition
have had 20 blooms - and they would have been bigger and
nature, houseplants live on the forest floor where nutrients are
abundant. Their roots grow in a combination of soil, decaying leaves,
animal droppings, etc. These plants have the luxury
of picking and choosing from an "all
you can eat" smorgasboard of available minerals. Houseplants
are tolerant about nutrients, so you don't need to be so
which fertilizer to use.
Orchids, on the other hand, grow where moisture and
nutrients can be scarce. To survive in this harsh
environment, they have adapted to living comfortably on a slim diet
of nutrients. As long as they get plenty of light, water and
food for growth - they're happy.
The same is true for your orchids. Give
of the real
food for growth - light, water, and air. Don't rely
on fertilizer for healthy plants.
(okay, be careful with the
quality fertilizer that has all the elements -
and then be stingy when applying it. If
a little bit is good,
a lot isn't better! I've never seen
from lack of fertilizer.
"the nutrient contained in the product is derived solely from the
remains of once living organism". This includes
wastes, crop residues, compost and numerous other byproducts of living
Organic fertilizers sound good but most
are incomplete in their nutritional value. They
only one or two nutritional elements so blending different
The result is uncontrollable, difficult to measure, and
carries an odor. You never really know what your plants are
castings, seaweed, and bat guano head the list of
organic remedies. (I'll bet you didn't know there are two kinds of bat
guano - one from
bats that eat insects and another from bats that eat fruit!) Do you
really want to put this stuff on your plants, and in
Why take a
chance with organics when complete, balanced nutrition is so easy?
fertilizer at a local garden center. It's
you can see it's recommended for houseplants? Cow
manure in your living room?
grew up on a farm and my relatives would get a good laugh on
overwhelmed with all the
nutrient concoctions you see
for hydroponics on the Internet. You can grow prize
winning plants without it.
rely on the potting mix for many of the elements needed for
growth. (That's why they contain fewer elements.) Relying on
for nutrition is risky because the chemistry of the potting media is
constantly changing. Hydroponics doesn't
rely on the
potting mix for any nutritional value. Hydroponic
contain the entire group of nutritional elements plants
need - in a form the
plant can use
No more worry about the nutrients keeping up with
media such as bark and moss compact and
quickly - especially in the heat of summer. Decaying
potting materials trap impurities
from the water supply and restrict air flow at the roots. This
alters the chemistry and blocks many
nutrients from getting to the plant. Your plant is not only robbed from
getting what it needs, the unused nutrients turn to
eventually become harmful to the roots. If your planting media is old,
your fertilizer could actually
be killing your plants!
pebbles in our system eliminate the "trapped nutrients
LECA pebbles are a sterile ceramic
that will never
compact or decompose, promoting an even flow of air and
water over the roots
that won't change
over time. You'll never get "exhausted media" with LECA.
from the system is also easy. Simply take your
plant to the sink every couple of months and leach the pebbles
thoroughly. The relatively smooth outer shell on the pebbles allows any
foreign matter to wash away. This is impossible with bark or moss.
(and culture pot) from
to outer pot for a fresh start.
that easier than
||Complete Nutrition Isn't
complete and balanced nutrition
program is easy with hydroponics. Just
add the nutrients to the water and they go directly to
the plant's root system. No
biology necessary! You'll see results in a
Start by using a basic "Grow
Formula" that has everything your plants needs for growing
healthy roots and leaves. Apply every watering.
2. Then, when the plant starts to bloom, switch
to "Bloom Formula" that will concentrate on developing bigger
and brighter flowers. It's that simple.
Orchids have 3 seasons; Grow, Bloom, and Rest. They have
internal calendars that determines when each season begins. And the
seasons vary with each type of orchid. Some plants bloom
in winter, others prefer summer. Don't try to force
your plants to change their schedule..
formula for the Growing Season.
This is the
longest and most important season. During the Growing Season orchids
are busy growing new leaves and building up the energy to produce
flowers. Give your plants plenty of the real food
they need for growth (light, water, and air) and compliment that with
the basic all purpose Dyna-Gro Grow 7-9-5
formula. It has everything your plants
need for robust growth (including trace elements). Notice the NPK ratio
(7-9-5) is balanced.
Bloom formula for the Blooming Season.
A flower spike signals the start of the Bloom Season! (This is what
we've been waiting for!) Your plant has built up energy and is
ready to burst into bloom! Switch your nutrients
3-12-6. The change in the NPK ratio lowers the nitrogen(N) and
Phosphates(P). This encourages bigger and better blooms.
Important Note: Bloom fertilizers
enhance the flowers
- they don't make your plants bloom. Proper light and cool evening
trigger flower cycles in orchids.
3. Resting Season.
blooming, orchids take a well deserved rest. Don't use any
nutrients during this period (4-6 weeks). Cut back on water too. After
4-6 weeks, or when you see new growth, return to the all purpose Grow
7-9-5 formula every
watering. Continue until you see a flower spike signaling another
burst of blooms.
Orchids use all
their energy for new leaves during the growing season.
New flower spike
signals the start of the bloom season! Time to swtich to Bloom
supplements you might want to try.
supplement to be added to Grow or Bloom fomulas as a bloom
here to buy
is a benefitical element to reduce stress. Add it to
your nutrients to build stronger plants and flowers that resist heat
here to buy
the roots! Give the roots a boost with KLN Rooting
nurtrient solutions focus on
leaves, stems and flowers, KLN promotes vigorous roots. Even mature
plants benefit from an occasional KLN treatment.
here to buy
there you have it -
everything you need to kniow for complete, balanced nutrition.