Night is the only time you get to tend to your plants.
It’s time to fertilize them, but you wonder if this is a good thing to do.
You can fertilize plants at night, but it’s not optimal. Plants are at rest at night and won’t absorb nutrients as well. You can use a slow-release fertilizer rather than liquid fertilizer so the nutrients are available the next day.
In this post, I’ll help you understand more about using fertilizer at night for your plants. I’ll give tips on what is the best time to fertilize your indoor and outdoor plants. And you’ll find information on how to apply the fertilizer to your plants.
Can you fertilize plants at night?
Most people won’t fertilize their plants at night. But sometimes, it will be the only time when you are available to care for your plants.
Plants rest at night so it’s not the best time to add nutrients. So using a liquid fertilizer that releases nutrients fast is not the best way to go.
You can use a slow-release fertilizer that will only release nutrients in a few days and your plants will be ready to absorb them.
Another problem to look out for is watering your plants after adding fertilizer. You want to be careful not to splash water on the foliage.
The moisture will remain for a long time during the night and can lead to humid conditions. These may attract pests and fungal diseases to the plant.
Thankfully, there is an easy way around this. You can use tubes. This ensures that the water is going directly into the soil, rather than sitting on the leaves. This process is known as fertigation.
What is the best time to fertilize indoor plants?
The best time to fertilize indoor plants is early in the morning before the sunlight comes up. You add the fertilizer and water the plant well so the roots can absorb the nutrients. You should fertilize indoor plants at start of spring when they are actively growing.
You also need to consider the type of plant you have and the state it is in. This will determine when the right time to fertilize will be.
Usually, you only want to fertilize plants when they are actively growing. For most species, this means starting fertilization at the start of spring.
You also don’t want to fertilize indoor plants if they are under stress because of things like transplant shock, pests, or diseases. Allow the plant sufficient time to recover before you consider adding fertilizer. Or it can cause more stress for the plant.
What is the best time to fertilize outdoor plants?
The best time to fertilize outdoor plants is early in the morning before the sunlight comes up. You add the fertilizer and water the plant well so the roots can absorb the nutrients. You should fertilize indoor plants at start of spring when they are actively growing.
When you are fertilizing outdoor plants, you’ll need to follow a similar approach to indoor plants. Wait until they start to grow, often at the start of spring, then start to give them the nutrients they need.
The exact month might change a little depending on the type of plant you are using. Some examples include:
- You should start fertilizing most trees around the end of February.
- Shrubs should start getting fertilized around the end of March
- You don’t need to fertilize your lawn until the beginning of April
For outdoor plants, there is a higher risk that they will develop fungal infections. As a result, avoid watering them at night, unless you are using the fertigation method which avoids spraying leaves.
It’s also best not to water during the middle of the day. This is the hottest time, placing a lot of stress on the plant. As a result, they will find it harder to absorb the nutrients from the soil.
The best time to water outside plants is during the morning. It’s still very cool, so they will find it easier to absorb nutrients. Plus, there is plenty of time for the excess water to evaporate away, lowering the risk of a fungal infection.
How to apply fertilizer to plants?
There are a few types of fertilizer for you to choose from. Each of these will have a slightly different application method.
How to apply liquid fertilizer to plants
Let’s start by looking at one of the easiest methods. This fertilizer comes as a liquid. Sometimes, it will already be ready to go. At other times, you will need to mix it into some water, diluting it down. It’s best to follow the instructions on the package.
Next, it’s time to water it into the garden. It’s best to do this in the early morning. Give each plant a liberal helping of the fertilizer. The good news is that the nutrients from liquid fertilizers will be easily accessible for the plants. As a result, they will absorb them faster.
But it means that you will need to apply it more frequently. Often, you’ll need to use a liquid fertilizer every two to three weeks during the growing season.
How to apply granular fertilizer to plants
The other option that you can use is granular fertilizer. This is also fairly simple; you just need to make sure that you are following these steps:
- Sprinkle the granules
- Work them into the soil. Ideally, they should be three to five inches deep
- Avoid putting them onto the leaves, as this can risk burning the plants.
- Water the area thoroughly.
When to stop fertilizing plants?
You should stop fertilizing plants if they show signs of overfertilization such as wilting leaves, stunted growth, burned roots. You should also stop fertilizing once the plant’s growth has stopped as the season changes to winter. Stop fertilizing plants if they are suffering from pests or diseases.
While fertilizers release valuable nutrients into the soil, there is such a thing as too much fertilizer. There are a few signs that it’s time to stop adding fertilizer to your garden.
The first is that the plants are experiencing signs of burning. For example, they might show stunted growth or wilting leaves. You can also take tests of the soil, to see the nutrient levels change. When they get too high, you can stop applying fertilizer.
It’s also important to remember to customize the fertilization routine to your plants. For example, some species will grow faster than others. These will require more nutrients.
The amount of fertilizer you are using isn’t as important as the type of fertilizer you have. You need to look at the NPK number, which tells you the amount of three key nutrients. These are:
The right mix of these nutrients will depend on the type of soil you have and the plants you intend to grow.
Should you fertilize plants in the fall?
You can fertilize plants in the fall if they are cool-season plants that will continue to grow during the fall/winter season. You should not fertilize plants that are warm-season and will overwinter till the next growing season.
You can use two rounds of fertilizer during the year. The first comes during the spring, to support plants going through their growth spurt. The second comes during the fall months. This is will help encourage one last spurt of growth.
As a result, they should have a thicker root system. This is a good way of protecting them during the winter months, allowing them to better handle the colder weather.
When you apply this will depend on the weather in your state. Though it might be best to start around the end of October. You won’t need to use as much fertilizer as you would during the spring.
Is it OK to fertilize plants in winter?
It is not OK to fertilize plants in winter when they enter a state of dormancy. They won’t be growing and won’t need the fertilizer.
Some people opt to stop fertilizing entirely. If you want to continue, you’ll need to be more selective about the type of fertilizer you are using.
It’s best to choose something high in potassium. You should also reduce the amount of fertilizer you are providing. It can be a good idea to add granules to some water.
This allows you to dilute it down, reducing the potency. Too many nutrients during the winter months and you risk burning the plants.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.