Q: Do I need to fertilize my aquatic plants?
Bruce – Taneytown, MD
A: If your aquatic plants look lackluster, aren’t as lush as you’d like or are failing to produce those show-stopping blooms, they might need a little help – and that’s where fertilizers come to the rescue.
Whether we’re talking about plants in your water garden or vegetable garden, the soil they’re living in provides them with nutrients that they take up through their root systems. If you have your plants in pots or if they’ve been in the ground for some time, the soil will need a boost of plant food. Adding fertilizer will encourage quicker growth in new and established plants, and it will deliver enough nutrients for the plants to form those colorful blooms.
So what kind of fertilizer should you use? There are three basic types to choose from:
• Spikes: Fertilizer spikes, like Laguna Plant Grow Fertilizer Spikes, slowly release plant food over the course of one year – making them super easy to use. The balanced nutrients in the spikes encourage both foliage and root growth and flower production, while the low phosphorous and no copper formula ensure no adverse effects on water quality or fish and plant life. You simply push the spike into the soil (one for every 1 to 2 gallons of planting container space) and forget about it until next year.
• Tabs: Tabs, like TetraPond® LilyGro™ Aquatic Plant Food, are formulated for use during your aquatic plants’ growing season. As with the spikes, the nutrients in the fertilizer encourage greenery and bloom production, but the tabs need to be added to the soil monthly for best results. Using one tablet per gallon of potted soil, push it deep into the soil 3 inches from the crown of the plant and pack the hole with dirt to prevent the fertilizer from being released into the water.
• Liquids: Liquid fertilizers, like Microbe-Lift® Bloom & Grow Aquatic™ Plant Supplement, add micro- and macronutrients to plants through the water rather than soil. These supplements, which need to be added to the pond water once or twice a week during the plants’ growing season, help produce brighter, faster blooms and healthier, stronger roots. The liquid fertilizers are safe to use around fish, but unsafe if the water is intended for human consumption.
No matter which form you choose, make sure it has no or low levels of phosphates, which fuel algae growth. You want your plants to grow – not the green water, right?
Pond Talk: What’s your preferred form of fertilizer?