While talking about different types of succulents and cacti, we usually spend some time on a fertilizer needed for a specific species. There’s a lot of debate among succulent and cacti lovers on whether these plants even need fertilization. In the next few lines, we`re going to dive into the topic and go over specific of the perfect fertilizer.
To Fertilize Or Not To Fertilize? Internal Gardening Dilemma
When it comes to this question, there’s a division among succulent growers. On one side, there’s an opinion claiming that these resistant plants thrive on neglect in their natural habitat, so there’s no need to going extra in cultivation. While this is true in general, a fertilizer can give succulents some additional nutrition and help them stay healthy and happy. Furthermore, a quality fertilizer can encourage succulents to reach these vibrant colors that are usually hard to obtain if growing conditions arent just perfect.
Nutritions will also expand the life span of the plant. Finally, a fertilizer can encourage the succulent to bloom. This is the trick to get those beautiful, bright-colored flowers that can be pretty rare otherwise. Overall, there are a lot of benefits both you and your succulent collection can get from a high-quality fertilizer.
What Are The Features Of A Good Fertilizer?
Whether you`re buying a succulent fertilizer from the store or making one on your own, in order to be sure it’s perfect for the plants you need to keep an eye on some features. The best fertilizer is organic, low on NPK, has soil microbes such as mycorrhizae and probiotics, contains humic acids, and, ultimately, have a slow-release blend. Now, let’s get detailed.
- NPK- What these numbers really mean?
When shopping for commercial fertilizer, you surely noticed a series of numbers on a label. Knowing what these digits mean can help you choose the right fertilizer for every individual succulent species.
Every number in 20-20-20, for example, is showing the percentage of ingredients, more specifically nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. This number is called NPK and it’s following a national standard. Besides these nutrients, fertilizers can contain some compost and soil as well.
Nitrogen (N) assists the plant while it’s growing out leaves. Phosphorus (P) is responsible for healthy roots and growing flowers and fruits. Finally, potassium (K) improves the plant’s overall health and helps biological functions to process normally. Ideally, you should go for fertilizers labeled 5-5-5, as you can use them on may different succulent species.
- Humic Acid- What it brings to the mix?
Humic acid in fertilizer works as a chelator and turns minerals into simple organic compounds. Basically, it helps a succulent to absorb nutrition much easier. Also, humic acid kills harmful toxins in the soil before a plan has a chance to absorb them.
The percentage of humic acid in commercial fertilizers varies, but its always safer to go with milder to medium-straight options.
- Probiotics and Mycorrhizae- Keep the soil alive
These ingredients are a little different than previous ones. Since they are alive organisms, probiotics and mycorrhizae keep growing in the soil and come more and more beneficial over time.
They improve the quality of the soil and help succulent absorb more water and nutrition.
How Often Should You Add Fertilizer?
General rule of thumb is that all plants benefit the most from fertilizer at the beginning of the growing season. The same goes for succulents. Most of them are summer-growers, so you can add fertilizer in late spring or early summer. For succulents growing during the winter, the ideal fertilizing time is fall.
When it comes to number of times succulents need a fertilizer, once a year is enough for most species. If you over-fertilize the plant, it can eventually get burned and die off. In general, succulents tend to ingest specific nutritions when they need them, so all of the good chemicals will stay in the soil until plant absorbs them naturally. They are activating while you water the plant, but every succulent has its own nutrition schedule.
Why Are Organic Fertilizers The Best?
Organic is always the healthiest option. For succulent fertilizers, this is true on many levels. First of all, organic fertilizers have lower NPK. This means there’s far lower chances for burning the plant or throwing a natural soil balance off. Next, organic fertilizer is releasing slower than one with more artificial chemicals. Nutritions stay in the soil much longer and work together to feed the plant in more naturally. This way, your succulent get the best care possible, while still growing in the soil that resembles their natural habitat as much as possible.