Pics of plants fertilized everytime I water, even in winter

meyermike_1micha(5)January 20, 2011

They say pictures speak a thousand words. Here a are a couple of pictures I took today of plants I once could never feed in winter due to heavy mixes and salt issues even if there is much less sunlight this time of the year.

Some are sleepers, barely grow, wait till spring before they push growth, and in constant growth.

Deep down inside, I know that no matter what state my plants are in, they will always look for a bite to eat even in the darkest days of winter.

They are low to high light plants.

I use Foliage Pro at every watering and am able to do so because of the mixes I use. Thank you to those that have made it possible for me and for my plants to be very happy all year long.


Different citrus at home and work


Gardenia, one that many would call me crazy for feeding all winter.





Also my extremely low light plants

Fern that gets only 1 hour of morning light that was left for dead lat year. I had to cut most dead leafs off, but it is coming back strong.

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Beautiful looking plants, Mike. I envy you those citrus... so healthy.

Thanks for sharing.

My plants don't have "winter" so I feed them all year through :-)


    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 10:58PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Hi Mike!
Everything looks wonderful and certainly shows they are getting great and proper care!
Amazing what a little reading here can do for us and our plants. It will carry us far to know the proper care. :-)
Great growing Mike! :-)

I love all the blooms on the citrus! I want them for a house plant, just because of the blooms. Will be out shopping next week.;-)

Yours look 100 times better than my poor little tree out in the yard in a container with yard/bagged mix, muck! I guess I better get busy and get it in a better mix and feed the poor babies. lol.

What is the funny white looking stuff outside the window? ;-)

Xuan~ Hello!
I envy you with no winter. ;-) ours is mild here in Arizona, but still to cold for big babies like me! I've so many of your plants throughout GW and they are just beautiful!

Take care!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 11:24PM
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Beautiful plants, Mike. If I had your sunlight, I'd be fertilizing them too. Unfortunately, my light conditions are not yours. I wish!

In my old house, I had great windows with southeast sun, all afternoon. Most of my plants continued to grow all winter. Some orchids do shut down and need a winter sleep. They would get put in a corner with no water. They need a dry, rest period. Without that, they will not flower.

I believe you also use lights to supplement. I thought I remembered a photo of a light set-up. I did that in my old house for some of my plants during winter. I had 4 Plumerias. They, and some orchids require strong light to get flowers. I used octopus floor lamps with CFL's to get them through winter.

We are renting a townhouse now for a year and the light here is not good. It is good outside--full South. But the windows have overhangs which block the sunlight. My plants barely grow. I rarely water, never fertilize.

Your photos remind me of my old house with all the sun.

Good growing!

    Bookmark   January 20, 2011 at 11:51PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

"Deep down inside, I know that no matter what state my plants are in, they will always look for a bite to eat even in the darkest days of winter. They are low to high light plants. I use Foliage Pro at every watering and am able to do so because of the mixes I use."

Great points, Mike. They go straight to the heart of the matter. You have a good understanding of the soil/water/fertilizer relationship.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 12:46AM
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Don't forget light. They all work together.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:20AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Mike! You're doing right by these plants!

This is an excellent example of how to maintain plants throughout the Winter from the ground up!
You start with a superior potting mix - no peat, no cheap commercial garbage - and you ensure regular
nutrients when you water so that your plants have the necessary elements to make use of the
light provided!

Great collection of sturdy, pest-resistant, deep-green, blooming plants.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 2:01AM
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calistoga_al ca 15 usda 9

Your potted Jade plant in the snow looks great, can you leave it there overnight? We spent yesterday in a little town near the water of the San Francisco bay where Jade plants were taller than I am. I had forgotten the luxuries of gardening in a frost free locale. Your citrus look like you had polished each leaf, not a speck of dust in sight. Maybe your camera has an anti dust setting. I love the "citrus green" color of the foliage. Most potted citrus I see are screaming "feed me".Al

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:20AM
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Mike, your plants all look fantastic! You do have a very good grasp on the simple science of "containerized plant factor relationships"... and you're putting that knowledge to work! Your care really shows!

The fact of the matter is... ALL factors in growing a containerized plant are equally important. One factor does not trump another, unless it's the most limiting factor. And that will always be true. Opinion doesn't enter into it.

Appearance would suggest that Mike has conquered any limiting factors, therefore his plants are healthy and vital and they all look great!

Excellent growing, Mike!

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:40AM
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Your plants look fabulous.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:41AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Jane is absolutely right, Mike, and I'm pleased to be able to agree with her more reasonable stance. It's obvious you know enough to not forget light, because it assuredly does work in conjunction (together) with 'everything else'. Again - strong work, Mike!


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 10:21AM
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Here is the weird part.

All these plants always got the same amount of light, and never did this good in the mixes I use to use! In my instance, it was poor soil mixes and not being able to fertilize on a regular basis all year long that caused their demise and not a lack of "light". I speak from a successful story of the same plants I could never get to this point in 25 years of trying until I changed my mixes.

So for me, for ME that is, it was the "mix" I use to use that was the main limiting factor to be followed by a few minor others all related to the mix to begin with.

I also forgot to post pics of all my very low light plants that I regularly fertilize in the basement with no added lights because I need them to be in a dormant stage that react well to a bit of fertilizer at this time too.

Thank you everyone for your kind comments, compliments, and encouragement.

For me, after years of growing challanging plants, I know what plants requure what light, and I have managed not to starve the ones that require or recieve lower light levels too, especially now...

It really suprises me to see that in this day and age, with all the technological resources we have, that many still can't figure a way to stop starving their plants at their convienence, or at the inconvenience of their plants..

I really appreciate all the great feedback everyone.

I have a question???

Aren't plants in the ground that go completely dormant for winter still working their roots. I constantly see changes in buds and on the branches although it is the dead of winter, especially on my pussy willow at this time, even though it is very frigid at this time. Hum


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 11:45AM
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"and not being able to fertilize on a regular basis all year long that caused their demise"...

Please let me clarify so I am not misunderstood.

Not being able to fertilize in heavy mixes which caused major issues, unless I flushed regulary and that became tiring with all the plants I own.

Now I can feritilize as often as I want since a good watering with fertilizer in my gritty mixes always takes the unwanted salts and other accumilated deposits that can hurt fine root hairs associtaed with fertilizer and certain faucet water out of the container when the water runs out of the bottom, as compared to being trapped in the heavier mixes I use to use.

I personally look at heavy, peaty mixes like a fish tank filter/pad.

I do not want my mixes acting like a fish tank filter pad, screening,filtering out all the salts and toxins, deposits, and holding on to them until I rinse and flush with clean water, until clear water runs out of it, and that is at any time of the year. Even if you don't fertilize in winter, the salts and toxins are still in these heavy mixes, until one faithfully flushes the soil out again and again.
If a fish filter pad can kill fish over time, then I can only imagine what a mix can do if not flushed,rinsed regulary, "anytime" of the year

I can't even imagine nurseries doing this to thousand of plants at a time and as often as they should. Maybe that is part of a reason why many people loose their houseplant over a brief time or see them decline since poor mixes and salts just don't mix.

Please correct me if I am wrong or add to these points I am making since it is what I need to think to my self to be ontop of my plants best possible health.

I have no need for this worrying anymore and it certainly makes for a fun and enjoyable growing experience when I give my plants the right start from the begining. This is why as soon as I get a chance, or when possible, not a plant I buy or recieved sits in the potting mix it came in as soon as I get a chance to re-pot.

I am in a very talkative mood

Thanks everyone!


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 12:51PM
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Very nice pictures Mike. It's nice to see nice green plants in the middle of winter. It makes me want to grow at least one citrus. I miss the fragrance of citrus blooms when i lived in south florida. filix.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:09PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I agree with you, Mike!

If I may add this:
I find it insulting that your hard work and exemplary plants have been dismissed
as the mere result of "luck" or "light."


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:15PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

How on earth could you come up with something insulting out of any portion of this thread, Josh? I am truly mystified. (Not that it would be the first time, lol.)

Mike! Put that poor little jade back inside before it freezes its whoosits off! ;-) Your plants are just lovely.

I know that you've mentioned this before, but remind me about the location of the first few images, with the parking lot outside. What great windows!

Jane, what shocker for your plants to lose all of that wonderful sunlight. I know first hand what that can do to plants. It's all a balancing act, that's for sure. Mike sure has got the hang of it.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:48PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Virtually everyone that grows in soils like the gritty mix or 5:1:1 mix - soils that are open enough to water freely without worrying about root rot - will offer the same observations/testimony as Mike. Mike literally couldn't keep his plants alive a few years ago, and today he is the toast of the forum. And I KNOW he is enjoying the well-deserved acclaims. ;o)

Mike made a concerted effort to take charge of his growing strategy and the health of his plants. He worked very hard to get to where he is, so his offerings are particularly apposite to several recent discussions, and what he has said is very clear. We all thank you for that, Mike.

Instead of passively waiting to see what happens and then trying to fix it, Mike understands that keeping his plants in an 'always healthy' by way of his hands-on approach, is much preferred to passively relying on chance and nature's whimsy. He works at it diligently, and didn't learn to produce such lovely specimens by following some 'one size fits all' advice in a houseplant book, or listening to naysayers telling him it couldn't be done his way. He just did it - and did a very good job of it at that!

I'm sure he would be happy to expand if there are questions about anything he said. It's evident that he's got it together. More cheers from the peanut gallery!! ;o)


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 1:56PM
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Mike sure does. Couldn't possibly grow those plants in my light. Some people have it all!

Josh writes: """"If I may add this:
"""I find it insulting that your hard work and exemplary plants have been dismissed
as the mere result of "luck" or "light.""""

This statement is inflammatory and argumentative. You seem determined to continue discord on these forums.

Mike is lucky he has good light. Many of us don't. That is not insulting, that is a compliment.

Al, we actually don't disagree. Same goals, different priorities. It certainly is not worth debating.


    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 2:20PM
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That's correct Mike a dormant plant can and usually show signs of growth and new life in the coldest parts of the seasons for the following reason.

In the summer the foliage was also feeding the roots of your willow by a process we know as PHOTOSYNTHESIS. The energy during this time was being stored in the roots and compacted in them and then trapt in by the frost and cold hard ground conditions and is now. Hmmmm Well the stored energy in the roots is being SQUEEZED out from the roots back into the plants and trees to show small newer growth. In part to the cold hard ground climate conditions doing the squeezing of the roots.
At the final stage of the roots being SQUEEZED dry of the stored energy in them or the end of frost cold hard grounds, it's this final sudden burst when foliage and spring flowers become the eye pleasing visual shows that each plant may display..

The now claimed "KING OF LIGHT" and it's subject is......

Naturally as there seems to be some odd emphasis on lighting lately there are also a number of plants that depend on a near complete LACK of lighting to have proper growth. However in your case a diminished light will cause some foliage to change color or the season we know as Autumn. Which brings us back to ....

So how the heck is that outside grow hut doing during all this white stuff ?

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 3:21PM
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Jane: A lighting question for you. If Mike has better (good) lighting than you do how much lighting do I have if Mikes lighting is not as good as mine ?

Correct you have zero idea how much or how little light any of us have. You need not back hand someone and then have the ghoul to ask them and others to take it as a compliment.

    Bookmark   January 21, 2011 at 9:54PM
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I'm surely baffled as to why my plants grow like Mike's in a light level comparable to Jane's. According to Jane, this is an impossibility. Perhaps she could elaborate on that for us...

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 9:13AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Nonsense, Jane.

Nothing in my statement was inflammatory.
Moreover, I have no desire to argue with you at all.

Mike's plants look as vital and as healthy as they do because of the conditions
he has created - a superior soil mix, a consistent fertigation program, and proper
placement in windows with varying levels of light.

To suggest that Mike's success is due solely to his windows is to dismiss the steps
he's taken to ensure the plants are able to make the most use of the light provided.

Have a good day.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:00PM
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Thank you everbody for all your much undeserved compliments!

Honestly, I couldn't of done any of this if it hadn't been for Al and the rest of you.
I am not trying to raise Al above others, no way, but credit is due where it is deserved, and if I had to go to a horticultural school to learn all the science behind keeping plants as healthy as I am still learning, my pockets would of been emptied of cash for a very long time and I would of missed that trip to the tropics last year!
I also save money from not having to replace my plants either.

It is very comforting to be able to come here and share my experience with all of you, and to give many out there a another perspective on growing plants in containers, especially for those that live in my cold climate and very little sun, if anything, dimmly lit time of year, mostly cloudy, in the dead of winter, which seems to go against the grain of the general public and mainstream.

As I said before, these are plants that are both grown in low and high light, and even at best, in my area.
Here at work at best they get just 4 hours of sun, and at home about 3 as the sun passes the window.
The sun is very low in the sky and many of my plants have to sit in corners of dimmly lit areas. Many that require full sun can only get partial, and even none at all in many areas.
I no longer use lights and have not for any of my plants for over two winters now, except those in the cellar, being my succulents. I only keep them on for 8 hours which is a heck of lot less than what they get once winter is over.

Anyhow, as much as I have been told by citrus growers to cut back and do away with fertilizer all together, and nursery owners who have told me to stop altogether until the spring has returned, I have defyed their logic with plants that enjoy a good feed no matter what time of the year because of the mixes I grow in.

To me the only King is me, since I am the one that holds the power to kill my plants and withhold all that I want from them, or be in control of their needs and attend to their limiting factors to get the results I want.
In my case and in many other's, it is the "mix" that was the main limiting factor.

Pondering over this, the only kings and queens are us. All the limiting factors involved in great plant care are our tools and we are responsible to use them to get the results we want.

We also have freedom to do what is best for our plants in the winter when daylight is very short, and I have chosen the gritty mix with the ability to fertilize whenever I want without fear of bad consequences and with positive reults. Now, plants recieving "No" light, may be a whole different topic.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:30PM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

I love what you said!

Yes, You are the only "King"
And we as individuals, the Kings and Queens. :-)

Your hard work shows, and as many have stated, luck had no part in it.

well put. ;-)

Have a great day friends~

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 1:48PM
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Well said, Josh... and Mike, you DO TOO deserve all the compliments you receive! You have attained success in growing by learning, and by putting that knowledge to work for yourself and your plants.

Luck has nothing whatsoever to do with growing containerized plants. Nothing. It's all in the knowledge you utilize, and the effort you expend.

I could possibly say that I was lucky to be able to buy the plants I have, but the growing part is all about knowledge and effort.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 2:48PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Agreed! Josh and mike have both been called lucky because their plants flourish, but they're not lucky at all, and I can understand why they might take offense at the label. There may be elements of luck that affect their growing, but calling them lucky is little different than calling Lance Armstrong lucky every time he wins a race.

These guys are simply well-skilled. Luck pretty much only has a place of any importance in the growing experience of the beginners or those less skilled. I'm not talking about hailstorms or plants being blown off railings, or hordes of descending insects - I'm talking about having the ability to consistently produce high quality plants in spite of imperfect cultural conditions. There is no luck involved in that ability.

This is just my opinion, but I don't put a lot of value on experience in many cases, either. A wood chopper, having wielded an axe for years and claims title to being a star axeman, pales in his ability to produce cord-wood at a pace equal to that of even a novice chainsaw operator. Those who practice the same methods day in and day out, even if they are at the pinnacle of perfection for those methods, are, w/o considering there might be a better way, gaining nothing by adding more years to the total of their experience. IOW - they're parked - stuck in a rut.

Guys like Josh and Mike, and lots of others here, are focusing on knowledge. They don't cling tightly to this idea or that idea. If something makes better sense - they try it. They are open-minded and willing to make adjustments. They actually think the same way that I do, in that acquiring knowledge about growing is more important than actual experience ..... but hold on before you disagree ..... they also understand that using their practical experience - practical application, to validate that knowledge is what has propelled them forward. They learn the facts, then let their experience prove them true. If their observations don't match what they've learned, they mistrust and reexamine their observations instead of inventing new science to fit what they think they observed. THAT, is what makes a grower good in the shortest amount of time possible.

How many growers with much more 'experience' than Mike or Josh have they passed sitting in a rut at the side of the road and shouting at them that they'll never make it to the top of the hill because they're 'doing it all wrong'? Where they came from is where a lot of others still sit. We can look up to them or look away from them, but they're still pretty darned close to the top, and I'd put considerable value on what they say.

I only mentioned Mike & Josh because Jodi and JJ did in their posts previous, but there are a lot of others here that are free from being chained to the same spot and also deserve a lot of credit. Way to go, guys!


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 5:06PM
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Jodi Josh JO JO
If any one thing where to be MOST IMPORTANT it's how I hope someone(Jane) can learn from the three of you how to compliment.
To be king is for us as plant growers to master the obstacles of our plant growing needs. Even if the obstacles are light, soils, fertilizers, the container sitting in a drip tray. It's a wise king who takes and follows actions all the while not complaining over the obstacles that they alone have to resolve. As the obstacles of plant growing are completed by working efforts, yet no king work alone for it is the wisest king who can ask for advice and knows also how to receive.

Least then he still holds no crown as the victory is by the plant he had grown.

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 5:10PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Hello again, folks!

I've just finished out a fine day of yardwork.

Mike, thanks for clarifying your lighting situation. I like what you wrote, man.

JoJo, Jodi, Mrlike...thanks for the support and the compliments. It's refreshing
to see a bit of positivity making the rounds. May it continue unhindered!

Al, you're as generous with your words as you are with your patience for us growers.
I was quite moved by what you wrote: it really affirms my personal gardening journey....
to know and grow better.

As always, it's a pleasure to participate in the Fora - to both receive help
and to dispense help when a situation arises where I can be of some use.


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 8:17PM
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puglvr1(9b central FL)

Mike, AMAZING PLANTS! You are doing such a wonderful job. They all look SO healthy and happy! Great growing and thanks for all the beautiful photos...I've truly enjoyed them!

    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 8:38PM
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Aw!! Thank you Pug!

See what happens when my plants stare at yours?

You have also been such an inspiration to me and many others for sure, and so helpful. It is so good to see you here and learn from you all. all this would not have been possible without people like you!

It is 58 degrees in my little popup house and it is 7 degrees out as we speak.
I think the huge blue tarp I put over it is keeping the temps in there 10 degrees warmer than usual. I am so excited.

Josh, YW! Your help dispensed is always refreshing and such a pleasure in return.

Mrmike2u: What a cute plant. You are doing a great job with many plants despite your growing area? Hummm. Yes, we need to get that black I will have you getting a citrus tree before today..:-)


    Bookmark   January 22, 2011 at 9:05PM
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