Outside view of VIDA Building

“We’re Hungry” Said Your Houseplants

Woman working on a laptop computer with houseplants on her desk. Photo credit: Teona Swift

August 2021


All plants need nutrients and they get most of those through the soil they grow in. That can be a challenge for your houseplants because their soil is limited to a relatively confined pot. Once they use up the nutrients in that soil, they depend on you to add more. That’s why occasionally fertilizing houseplants is so important. It renews the soil so your plants can continue to thrive.

Fertilizers for houseplants typically come in the form of liquids, sticks, or slow-release. Of these, we recommend liquid and slow-release. Fertilizer sticks might seem convenient, but they don’t evenly distribute nutrients through the soil. And once you’ve inserted one into a pot, you have no control over their release.

Liquid fertilizers are applied when you water your plants. You simply add a small amount of the fertilizer to your plant water. Depending on the instructions, you might fertilize every time you water or every other time. Liquid fertilizers provide a steady supply of nutrients that you control. You should stop using them when plants are dormant during the winter and increase their use when a plant is sending up new growth. The only disadvantage is that you need to remember to use them.

Slow-Release Fertilizers have quickly become a favorite of many indoor gardeners. They’re essentially pellets that are coated in time-release shells. The individual pellets have coatings of different thicknesses that dissolve at different rates, so the fertilizer is released over time. A single application can last between 4-6 months.

One final thing to keep in mind is to always follow the instructions and avoid overfertilizing. Just like a human being that takes too many vitamins, too much fertilizer can harm a plant and even burn its roots.