Plants grow right through the year and even though some may seem to be standing still their roots are always growing. It is important to feed all plants, even indigenous ones need to be fed to perform at their best. The late summer rains are a perfect opportunity to add your brand choice of fertilizer. The question is which one do I add now to be watered in with the rains for my flowering aloes.
Organic fertilisers are by nature slow release, and originate from animal, plant sources and natural mineral deposits.
The combination of 3:1:5, is best suited for feeding flowering plants, shrubs and trees; fruit trees and shrubs; as well as flowering pots and container plants. By topping up the Nitrogen and Potassium into your soil profile, this promotes vigorous flowering, depth of colour in you aloes. Strengthening your aloes natural resistance: to possible diseases, by building strong cells.
Every bag of fertiliser has a series of numbers prominently displayed. They will be 3:1:5 and they represent the following three elements (and in this order):
· Nitrogen (chemical symbol N)
· Phosphate (P2O5) (chemical symbol P)
· Potassium (chemical symbol K)
So what does each one do?
· Is for growth of foliage
· Helps grow lush, tender, green leaves
· Might be needed if there is a presence of yellow-green foliage and little or no growth
· Is an element that flushes through the soil easily so follow-up treatments might be necessary.
· Is for root growth
· Is for faster maturity of plants
· Is for the development of flowers, fruits, seeds
· Lasts long in soil
· Is for greater vigour to tolerate changing weather conditions - important in these times of climate change
· Is for helping plants combat disease better
· Is for helping the plant to make food
· Is for stronger stems and cell wall structures
· Is needed to prevent slow growth and weak stems; like Nitrogen it leaches from the soil but not as quickly, so repeat treatment every so often
NB: Always use fertilisers sparingly and according to directions to avoid fertiliser burn, whether you are using a slow release, quick release or organic fertiliser.
An easy way to remember the order is ‘up [foliage], down [roots], all around’.
Photo courtesy of Ndundulu Aloes of Sunbird Aloes ‘Midlands’, from the open planting.