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RE: Fertilizering Containerized Plants IV (Follow-Up #36)

posted by: tapla on 08.14.2012 at 06:37 pm in Container Gardening Forum

There is little variation in the nutritional content of the various organs of any given plant. While you're told that N is for foliage, P is for roots, ..... - the fact is, the plant needs all the essential elements in roughly the same ratio for all it's parts. If you would like to curtail vegetative growth and promote the plant's allocating more energy to fruit production, simply reduce the N you're supplying. I do this by reducing the frequency of my applications of fertilizer and/or the strength of the solution, and by adding either KCl (potash) or Pro-TeKt 0-0-3 to the fertilizer solution. In essence, it changes my fertilizer ratio to something close to 3:1:3. It's important to understand that you have to ACTUALLY TAKE CONTROL of the N you're supplying and make sure you're creating a N deficiency to accomplish this goal. It's not the fertilizer ratio that controls how much N is delivered, it's the grower's hand on the watering can that contains the solution. Just changing the ratio to 3:1:3 won't do it if you continue to supply all the N the plant wants. The extra K is just ensuring there won't be a K deficiency if you are in control enough to keep the foliage a lighter shade of green, indicating your strategy is probably working. You'll probably be sacrificing some older and interior foliage as a result of your reduction in the amount of N you're supplying if it's working as you planned.

Al

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clipped on: 08.14.2012 at 09:26 pm    last updated on: 08.14.2012 at 09:26 pm

RE: 5:1:1 Cost (Follow-Up #16)

posted by: tapla on 08.07.2012 at 06:17 pm in Container Gardening Forum

I don't think that was the implication, that if you don't use it your plants will die. If I thought it was, I would have corrected Jojo gently. I'm certain though, that it has stayed a lot of plants that were under the care of heavy-handed waterers from their early retirement to the compost pile, and offered a leg up to a lot of folks struggling with water retentive soils.

Capoman - I've read in several greenhouse management books that greenhouse crops are often started with a fertilizer specifically tailored to the crop, but the strategy might go something like this: Begin fertilizing plugs with something close to 3:1:2 ratio with the N coming from urea sources. When potting up, switch to a lower NPK ratio like a 2:1:2 NPK with a nitrate source to "finish". The lower NPK ratio curtails vegetative growth, so the plant is forced to channel more energy into reproductive parts (blooms), and works in concert with the nitrate N to shorten internodes and offer stocky stems. That's why you get these little tiny plants in cell packs already blooming, when if you'd grown from seed the plant might need to be 3-4 times the size (of the plants in the cell packs) before they bloom. So, that's how it's practically applied, other than on my bonsai. ;-)

I can look for a reference if you're interested, but I suspect it can be found in the Ball Redbook V2 ~ Debbie Hamrick, and Greenhouse Operation and Mgmt ~ Paul Nelson, or Water, Media, and Nutrition for Greenhouse Crops, also a Ball book edited by Dave Reed.

Al


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clipped on: 08.07.2012 at 07:49 pm    last updated on: 08.07.2012 at 07:49 pm