Nutrition - Know Your Fertilizer
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.
What to Look for When Buying Fertilizer for Orchids
All 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
first 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 7-9-5. 7% Nitrogen(N), 9%
Phosphorus(P), and 5% Potassium(K).
The" NPK ratio" is the ratio of the ingredients inside the
package. Adjusting the balance of these main ingredients between the
growing and blooming cycles is the key to balanced nutrition.
inexpensive form of nitrogen, the
primary ingredient in all
fertilizers (the first number on the package). Orchids
cannot use urea until it is broken down by
enzymes or bacteria. That's great
for outside plants, but sterilized
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
the plant's root system. This is especially true for
orchids because orchids
simply can't tolerate salt.
that has "urea" on the label!
You might actually be
harming your plants!
best source of nitrogen for all potted plants (orchids or houseplants)
is Ammonia cal or
Nitrate. You can find this on the back panel of the package.
ingredients - Urea is the Nitrogen source!
This is how
Nitrogen Source should read - no Urea
elements for healthy growth. Most fertilizers contain
the three main elements (the NPK - Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potash).
But are the rest of the elements there? 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. 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
In nature, orchids
cling to rocks and trees. Their roots
are 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
cheap chemical fillers.
jeapordize your plant's health with
cheap fertilizer that's mostly
"the nutrient contained in the product is derived solely from the
remains of once living organism". This includes
animal wastes, crop residues, compost and numerous other byproducts of
Organic fertilizers sound good but most
are incomplete in their nutritional value. They
contain only one or two nutritional
elements so blending different products is necessary.
The result is uncontrollable, difficult to measure, and
usually carries an odor. You never really know what your plants are
castings, seaweed, and bat guano head the list of
organic remedies. Do you really want to put this stuff on your plants,
your home? Why take a
chance when complete, balanced nutrition is so easy?
fertilizer I found
at a local garden center. It's
closer, it's recommended for houseplants? Cow
manure in your living room?
grew up on a farm and my relatives would get a good