That means you’re suddenly being serenaded by peep frogs, amorous birdies, and antsy animals revving up for strong onslaughts of spring fever. But March has another sound entirely, and that’s the gurgle of watering cans as they deliver fertilizer to hungry houseplants.
That’s right, March is when the houseplant feeding season begins. Although light levels have been too low and day lengths too short to feed your houseplants during the winter months, now is the time to start serving hors d’oeuvres in expectation of the full menu right around the corner. Plus, you want to be the host with the most snacks to bolster all those newly purchased pansies and spring goodies crowded into combo containers. So, crack open your Coast of Maine Squid Concentrate. You’ve got hungry mouths to feed.
Why Feed Now?
Ever notice that the light levels increase dramatically in March? Sure, we’ve been working up to this for a while, but March is when days noticeably lengthen. Meanwhile, your houseplants are taking full advantage of the longer days and brighter light to make new growth. New roots are plunging down and fresh shoots and leaves are not far behind. You need to support all this frisky get-up-and-go. Squid Concentrate is the perfect answer.
On your first feeding session of the season, it’s best not to wallop your plants with a full dose of goodness. Instead, your first feeding should be a little more dilute than the directions on the Squid Concentrate bottle suggest. Let’s call it appetizers and the theory is exactly the same. You want to ease into the full course meal. One or two dilute feedings will do it, and then you can go full strength. Toward Thanksgiving, when you cut off feeding houseplants for the winter, you should do the same dilution trick in reverse. Your last couple of feedings should be slightly watered down.
Of course, there are exceptions (there are always exceptions in nature). Citrus plants are hungry plants. Feed them all year long. Ditto for stephanotis. And if some of your other plants begin to get pale leaves over the winter, give them a shot of fertilizer.
Who Wants to Dine?
Almost everybody has a hungry heart. Most of your houseplants will benefit from food right now. Even hardy plants that you kept indoors for winter entertainment like flowering hellebores might be getting that lean and hungry look. So serve up some snacks. However, there are exceptions. Cacti and succulents prefer to be grown lean and mean. Rather than fertilizing those drought-loving plants, pot them into Coast of Maine’s Mount Desert Island Cactus and Succulent Mix and consider that to be a sufficient boost to fit their needs. Otherwise, most plants are going to love some treats. How often should you serve up goodies? In general, once every 3-4 weeks is optimal. But don’t overdo. Stuffing your green babies will lead to issues. Moderation in all things, right?
Maintaining the Status
If you have a plant that is getting too large to lug around, fertilizing might be a great alternative rather than graduating to a larger container. Even though the roots have filled their pot, fertilizing is a creative solution rather than moving your plant to a larger (heavier) pot. But be warned: Pot-bound plants with roots that fill their container will dry out frequently. So be prepared to water often, or face a wilted green roommate.
After the Feast
It’s amazing. Plants truly respond in a blink to their banquet. Don’t be surprised when your houseplants burst into buds (especially jasmines, trachelospermums, and bougainvilleas) while also brandishing new growth. They are going to display their appreciation with performance. Show them the love.
Written by award winning author, Tovah Martin. Photos also taken by Tovah Martin. Find her books and more information on her website: tovahmartin.com.