House Plant Food /Fertilizer

House Plant Food is essential for your indoor plant. Learn here, the best methods of knowing how and when to use houseplant food.

Plants need different elements from the soil to grow.  If those elements are not present in the right amount...the plants will not be as healthy or grow as they should.

That's where our "good old friend"... Fertilizer comes in. It adds the missing elements (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium).

You CAN give your plants too much fertilizer, and that will have the opposite affect you are going for. Sometimes death of the plant!!

The same species of plant that is grown indoors or outdoors, will have different house plant food needs. Plants that are grown indoors won't need as much fertilizer as the ones grown outside. The rate of growth indoors is slower, and you can harm your plant by over-fertilizing it.

Indoor Plant Food

How do you know how much houseplant food to give your plants and when to feed it to them? If you have purchased a plant meant for the indoors, chances are the information tag it comes with will give fertilizing instructions. Such as...."fertilize weeks/months".

In my opinion, most of the time if followed, the tag has you fertilizing too often. So at least at first, I would fertilize the plant less frequently than what the information tag suggests.

Because of a slower rate of growth, feed your plants minimal fertilizer. Use house plant food ONLY during times when the plant is in ACTIVE growth.

The spring or summer time is the best time to do this. This is during their growing phase when they need the extra nutrients the most. In the winter time you can probably skip this step altogether.

If you don't have the tag or know what the plant's suggested rate of fertilizing is supposed to be, observing your plant for any signs that would indicate it is lacking nutrients is a good method to follow.


  • Not Flowering
  • If it does bloom, the blooms are smaller than what they should be
  • Weak new growth
  • Leaves Fall Off Very Frequently
  • Weak stems

If you see these signs, your plant might need food.

Here's what to do: If you do notice the growth of the plant is stunted or any of the other signs listed above, and it is spring or summer, you can safely add fertilizer in small amounts once a week over a period of one to two weeks. Go slow. If the plant looks as though it's reviving, stop and go to a schedule of fertilizing once a month. That's a very safe schedule to take.

If food is all the plant needed, then in about a couple of weeks (hopefully less), you should see the plant strengthening. If it's a blooming plant, flowers will come...just not real quickly. It might take a few weeks to see that difference.

Just be careful not to over-fertilize. Signs that you have added too much fertilizer are:

  • the tips of the leaves are turning brown
  • the leaves are drooping downwards

Many indoor gardeners will add house plant food once or twice each fall and winter as part of a routine maintenance...and that is fine too.

Remember that all plant fertilizer is not the same; they are available in different ratios of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Purchase a fertilizer meant for indoor plants or one that is made for a specific type of plant.

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