Feeding plants in spring

Watch our short video guide to the best plant feeds and fertilisers to use in spring.

With the arrival of spring, plants put on an abundance of vigorous growth. In his practical video guide, David Hurrion explains which nutrients plants need to support this growth and the feeds and fertilisers that provide them.

A strong, healthy root system is vital for the uptake of water and nutrients and David shares advice on achieving this. He considers the additional benefits of fertilisers including organic blood, fish and bone, Vitax Q4 and pelleted, slow-release granules. David also reveals how to avoid an excess of soft, sappy growth which could be vulnerable to spring frosts.

Finally, he focuses on rose tonic, which can benefit a wide variety of plants and demonstrates the correct dilution rate.

Discover the best plant feeds to use in spring, in our video No Fuss Guide.

Feeding plants in spring: transcript

As soon as spring arrives, plants start into vigorous growth and that needs to be supported by moisture from the soil, but also from plenty of nutrition. So, plant feeding is really crucial in the spring.

If those plants are to take up that water and those nutrients, then their roots need to be growing strongly, too. And the first thing I like to feed with, is super phosphate. Sprinkle this around the surface of the soil and lightly fork it in and it’ll be washed down towards the plant roots and it’ll encourage them to grow. The other thing
that you can start to think about feeding as soon as the weather warms up, is an organic fertiliser, something like blood, fish and bone. That can be applied again, sprinkled around plants and also across the surface of vegetable beds that you’re going to plant out in a week or so’s time. That will give a really good general purpose feed, because it contains lots of nitrogen. Again, lots of phosphate, but also a little base dressing of potash.

If you’re not bothered about being organic, then you could go for something like Growmore. Now, this is probably one of the cheapest, and it has a very even balance of nutrition, equal parts – seven parts of nitrogen, seven parts of phosphate and seven parts of potash. And this is a really good base dressing for all sorts of things. Remember, though, that it contains high levels of nitrogen. So, if there’s a frost still likely to
happen, if you apply this too early, it can be taken up by the plants and make them produce very soft sappy growth that can be affected by frost. So, rather than Growmore, I like to use this fertiliser. Now, this is called Vitax q4 – it’s a pelleted fertiliser. This has lower levels of nitrogen than the Growmore. And it’s got quite a high level of potash in it. It’s got a reasonable amount of phosphate, so that’s good for root growth. But the good thing is, being lower in nitrogen, that means that it won’t encourage the plants to grow quite so sappily and be so prone to frost. So it’s really good for applying around fruit bushes, summer flowering shrubs. And it’s also good for digging into beds and borders where you’re going to plant out bedding plants.

You could also add a slow or a controlled release fertiliser like these Osmocote granules. They are activated both by temperature and moisture in the soil. These are really good because the nutrients aren’t just released willy nilly. They’re released when the plants can use them to their best ability and they also last in the soil for
a good six months.

The other thing that’s really worth thinking about is applying a tonic. Now, this one is called Uncle Tom’s Rose Tonic and it’s really brilliant for roses, but it’s also good for shrubs as well. Dilute it – you take off this screw cap here and then you squeeze the canister to fill up the little reservoir; and that gives you a measured dilution
dose to put in a watering can. It’s not high in nitrogen, so it won’t encourage soft growth, but it will actually toughen the leaves up and it’s a general all-round tonic for all sorts of different plants. So, there you have it – spring feeding in a nutshell.