Effect of rain on 5:1:1 and gritty mix fertilizer program

LawPaw(5 (old zone 4) NC Iowa)June 3, 2011

Forgive me if this has been addressed. I have searched for this answer and have silently been following years of posts on these forums for months.

I have a couple of figs and dwarf burning bush plants in Al's gritty mix or 5:1:1 mix outdoors (along with indoor plants).

I have been watering all of my plants with Foliage Pro as suggested and everything is looking great (except what the rabbits have hit).

My question is how I should modify my fertilizer application to account for all of the spring rain. Since all nutrients are provided in a readily available ( and more easily leeched) form, I am not sure how I should modify application from the recommended amount.

I have been watering twice a week, no matter how much rain, since I water both indoor and outdoor containers with the same solution (1/2 weekly dose).

Should I be using a more concentrated doseage outside to account for the rain?

I realize that fertilizer and micro-nutrients are not literally "washed out" by the rain as they have differing levels and modes of staying inside the container. But it seems to me that some leeching must occur.

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Personally, for my plants that are outdoors, which include my bonsai trees, jades & succulents, peppers, and a few others, I try to shelter them from too much rain to avoid leeching. But, I don't think it's too big a deal unless you are getting heavy rain, and often. In order for a lot to be leeched, you'd have to have significant rain, somewhere in the inches range. I prefer to follow a maintenance fertilizing schedule, with a small dose every time I water. I also use FP 9-3-6, so I add 1/4tsp per gallon, as directed in the bottle. I have a 2 gallon watering can, so I'll use a plastic syringe to measure out 1/2tsp of FP, squirt it into my empty can, then go to my rain water storage barrel and pump in water, which mixes it up good. Using this schedule for fertilizing, you are applying a small, usable dose every time you water, so it can offset any effects of natural rain leeching.

As for you watering practices, to each their own, but I don't follow a schedule. I water as needed, to prevent any overwatering problems.


    Bookmark   June 3, 2011 at 8:43PM
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LawPaw(5 (old zone 4) NC Iowa)

Thanks Joe.

How long would you go without "feeding" the necessary nutrients if the rain kept the soil sufficiently moist so that watering wasn't needed?

I've been using a schedule more as a way to ensure there aren't any deficiencies.

I guess I just don't have a feel for when deficiencies will develop in container culture and I want to avoid stressing my plants.

My father is a plant breeder working out of the family farm, so I grew up learning to recognize plant needs. But they only time we used a container culture was in the greenhouse short term to test for disease resistance. Naturally this doesn't give me a good sense of how to get plants to thrive in container culture. :)

My gut says that the small 1/4tsp per gallon doses I've been giving will go a long way, even in heavy rain.

But I also don't want to create deficiencies in my plants.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 12:42AM
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I leave most of my potted plants in the gritty mix outside in the winter, unprotected. I use dynamite slow-release fertilizer exclusively. They are all very healthy and show strong growth. We received around 30 inches of rain since last summer. I wouldn't worry about it.


    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 1:22AM
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I wouldn't worry too much about it, either... as long as you're feeding when you do water, there shouldn't be any issues.

    Bookmark   June 4, 2011 at 12:55PM
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