Plants are able to make their own food by capturing the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar. But, in order to stay healthy and bear flowers and fruit, they take additional nutrients out of the soil or compost, so it’s important to provide them with supplementary fertiliser. The basic nutrients required by plants are nitrogen (N) for leaf and stem growth, phosphorus (P) for root growth and potassium (K) for flowers, fruit and to maintain healthy growth.
How to feed plants
In this No Fuss Guide, David Hurrion takes you through the different types of organic plant food. He explains what the word organic means and the difference between organic and inorganic fertilisers. He then offers advice on the importance of improving your soil with organic matter such as pelleted chicken manure.:
Fancy making your own organic plant food? Here, David demonstrates how to make a comfrey liquid feed, for feeding tomatoes and other flowering plants:
- Buy pelleted chicken manure from Amazon
- Buy Bonemeal from Waitrose Garden
- Buy blood, fish and bone from Amazon
- Buy calcified seaweed from Amazon
- Buy liquid seaweed feed from Suttons
Follow our step-by-step guide to feeding plants, below.
You Will Need
- Fertiliser granules
- Liquid feed
- Well-rotted manure
- Watering can with rose attachment
- Garden spade
Well-rotted horse and cattle manure contains plenty of nutrients for plants. It can be added before planting or used as a surface mulch around established plants.
Adding fertiliser granules to the base of planting holes for new plants will encourage good root establishment and growth in the first season.
Balanced granular fertiliser can be applied around all established plants in spring, especially those growing in pots. Distribute it around the base of plants at the rate recommended on the packaging. Avoid getting granules on soft stems and leaves as it may scorch them.
Slow-release granules or pellets can be mixed with the compost in pots when planting summer bedding to provide nutrients for the whole growing season.
Fertilisers are also available to mix up with water for liquid application. Liquid concentrates and ready-to-use liquid feeds are also available. These are quick acting as the plant roots can take in the dissolved nutrients with the water.
Recycle the nutrients that you apply to your garden by composting leafy prunings, dead flowers, vegetables peelings and any other suitable material.