Question: Palms, Cacti and others with 3-1-2

Oxboy555(Las Vegas)July 29, 2014

We read on this forum that most if not all plants require or use nutrients in the 3-1-2 ratio. In my experience, pretty much all my "traditional" potted plants (houseplants, camellias, azaleas, gardenias etc), as well as plants in the ground, thrive with this ratio, so I'm not disputing it.

However -- I am curious about when reputable sources, like the Sunset Western book, say that certain families of plants should be fed with different ratios, like palms for example with 1-2-2.

Is it best practice among this group to stick with the 3-1-2 for everything no matter what -or- do we deviate a bit to accommodate special groups like low nitrogen palms/cacti/succulents or whatever might be suggested from other established sources?

Which path is optimal for these certain plant groups in which 3-1-2 is not suggested outside this forum?

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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

I say feed them all the same, but simply reduce the dose for plants like certain succulents. Same ratio, just less of each overall. That said, I rooted some Jade (Crassula) cuttings in my Moro blood orange container, and by default they were fed full strength Foliage Pro. Those cuttings grew so well, and I was able to re-pot them to give to family in record time.


    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 6:05PM
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drew51 SE MI Z5b/6a

"Is it best practice among this group to stick with the 3-1-2 for everything no matter what "

Wow, that just floors me. To forgoe the bible of horticulture and ask the cult if it's ok? And they say no! Haa!! ROFLMAO!!!!!!!!!

    Bookmark   July 29, 2014 at 9:22PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)


Most written stuff I've found about horticulture circulating out there is either out-of-date, annoyingly vague or downright inaccurate. The personal accounts, anecdotal they may be, when considered en masse are more helpful to me.

    Bookmark   July 30, 2014 at 12:19AM
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rebuilder(7a-7b Snellville, GA)

You crack me up!
I guess I'm a "cult" member.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 2:46PM
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Oxboy555(Las Vegas)

Was hoping Al would weigh in....not on the trolling but the fert question.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 7:01PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

I just use a 312 for pretty much everything including succulents and then if I notice a deficiency it is usually not N so I'll toss in a couple rounds of balanced and make a note to include that occasionally. It is just seems easier than having a specific ratio for everything.

For sux I use a 100ppm N concentration.

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 9:38PM
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nil13(z21 L.A., CA (Mt. Washington))

Forgoe what horticulture bible, drew? The one that still tells people to use bloom booster ferts with outrageous levels of phosphorus that does not make any sense now that growers don't use mineral soils in containers?

    Bookmark   August 2, 2014 at 11:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Many growers tell you they 'like a low N formula for plant x and that 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers supply too much N to make X happy. So who/what controls how much N a plant gets? Is it the numbers on the box or the hand of the grower? The later, undoubtedly. To SAY you're feeding a plant a low N diet is something not many actually DO. If you're fertilizing, you usually decide when your plant NEEDS fertilizer based on how green to yellow the green parts are. When your plants start looking chlorotic, out comes the fertilizer to green em back up; so, in the end, some growers are using a fertilizer lower in N than those of us using 3:1:2 ratios, but since they use the plant's state of 'green vibrancy' as a guide, they're applying the same amount of N as we are.

So what does that mean? It means that because you can't supply enough N w/o over-supplying P and K, you're creating toxicities of P and K so you can say you can pooh pooh 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers and fool yourself into believing you're supplying less N because of a low N ratio.

Hey - you know it's true ....... if growers will supply massive overdoses of Mg (Epsom salts) and Fe (iron supplements/chelates) to turn their plants green, you KNOW they're not going to use the restraint you need to have if you're going to keep your plants perpetually in want of more N.


    Bookmark   August 7, 2014 at 10:09PM
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