Can/should I fertilize my water garden w/ normal fertilizer?

tamtrible(9)February 21, 2014

I've got a wee little container water garden (basically a large ceramic pot full of water, plants, one goldfish, and a few snails). I only very rarely feed the fish (think a flake a week)

Currently, the plants include a Yerba mansa in a floating pot (it's sending off lots of babies, I need to find a home for those soon), a bit of watercress (thank you, nearby Asian market), some pennywort (I think), an unknown bulb that looks kind of like an iris or something (I'll be giving it a proper pot once it's a little taller), and some algae.

Since this is Arizona, the water is alkaline and kind of salty, and it will be getting warm soon. I do partial water changes every week or 3 (basically, when the water reaches ~3/4, I scoop out water 'til it's at ~1/2, then fill it to the brim).

Right now, the plants are all happy and green, and I'd like them to stay that way. But I probably can't afford a special fertilizer designed for aquatic plants. I have some liquid fertilizer intended for normal in-ground type plants (Schultz, 10-15-10 with micronutrients, recommended dosing is 7 drops per quart of water with every watering).

Do you think it would be a good and useful thing to put a few drops of that in the water, or at least put a drop or two in the Yerba mansa's pot (it's looking a little sad)? If not, is there anything else (cheap) that I can or should do to keep my plants happy?

This post was edited by TamTrible on Fri, Feb 21, 14 at 16:35

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I wouldn't suggest adding fertilizer to the water. You'll end up encouraging algae growth. Can you take the plants out and fertilize them, let them drain well and then return them to your pond? I fertilize my floating plants by dissolving MiracleGro in a bucket and putting them in it overnight. Then I rinse them off really well and put them back in the pond.

    Bookmark   February 21, 2014 at 11:39PM
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Well... the yerba mansa's in a floating pot. Do you think I can safely give it a drop or 2 of fertilizer?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 2:47AM
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I'm not sure what you mean by a "floating pot" but I'll assume you can't remove it from the water. I don't think a drop or two would hurt, but the bigger question is will that tiny amount really help?

    Bookmark   February 22, 2014 at 11:02PM
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I meant a drop or 2 of the fertilizer concentrate, with directions of "mix 7 drops with a quart of water"...

And the floating pot is... a small (like, 4") pot, with a ring of styrofoam keeping it on the surface. Yerba mansa is more a bog plant than a pond plant, but with a container water garden, I don't have a "bog"... there's roots sticking out the bottom (in quantity), and the string of babies has circumnavigated the pot several times. It would be... annoying to take it out. The other things would be a lot easier to temporarily remove.

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 2:39AM
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You may want to check out the post about container pond/green water above this one. It's the liquid part of the equation in your case that would concern me. I wouldn't use a fertilizer full strength that's meant to be diluted. And if you're assuming it will become diluted in the water, well, that's kind of the issue.

Some fertilizer will leach into your pond from your plants no matter the method, but in a small pond I would think even a small amount could create a big problem,

    Bookmark   February 24, 2014 at 6:57AM
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I suspect, since I don't feed my fish (or, at least, feed him *very* little), and my little pond is currently close to 90% covered with plants, a little fertilizer isn't going to give me a big algae problem. I mostly want to make sure I'm not going to kill Brainiac or something by adding fertilizer that isn't meant for ponds.

    Bookmark   February 25, 2014 at 7:43PM
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I think this is actually a proportion issue. You have a small volume pond and therefore would need a small amount of fertilizer. lisak has a point that you might need to be more careful than a larger pond manager but if you just pretended that your plants were house plants and responded as directed you would be fine. Yes, some fertilizer would disolve in the pond in low concentration (lower than algae would really appreciate) and then would slowly be picked back up by all the plants as needed.

I thought your question was really about whether 'regular' fertilizer was OK to use; it is as long as you remain on the minimal side rather than casually and perhaps massively overloading with chemicals. For example, many here have used Jobes fertilizer stakes. They are just run of the mill fertilizer in a convenient 'stick it in' form.

    Bookmark   February 26, 2014 at 7:59PM
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