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Ben in Norcal

Fertilizer for Pots

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Ben in Norcal

I know there have been a lot of threads on fert, but wondering what people use for slow release when they have a lot of pots?  Looking for more cost-effective solutions than Osmocote and the like, as long as they work well!  Something I can buy in bulk, 50 lb bags ideally, that works well and is cost effective.  

Appreciate any thoughts - my container ranch is large, so looking to minimize expense if possible!

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PalmatierMeg

I use my usual time release fertilizer that I use on planted palms 2x per year, and apply it with a teaspoon or tablespoon or measuring cup based on size of pot. I have been using palm/tree fertilizer with majors of 8-0-12 NPK, including minors. FL is notorously high in phosphorous so I aim to keep that # low. FL is also low in magnesium and potassium (which have a yin/yang relationship) so I buy extra magnesium sulfate and potassium sulfate, as well as manganese for frizzle top. You will have to adapt your application to your CA climate. Here in FL, torrential summer rains can leach elements from my sandy soil and cause deficiencies. I also have to deal with summertime "fertilizer blackouts" (K only, no N or P) from June through Oct. 1 each year.

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Ben in Norcal
3 minutes ago, PalmatierMeg said:

I use my usual time release fertilizer that I use on planted palms 2x per year, and apply it with a teaspoon or tablespoon or measuring cup based on size of pot. I have been using palm/tree fertilizer with majors of 8-0-12 NPK, including minors. FL is notorously high in phosphorous so I aim to keep that # low. FL is also low in magnesium and potassium (which have a yin/yang relationship) so I buy extra magnesium sulfate and potassium sulfate, as well as manganese for frizzle top. You will have to adapt your application to your CA climate. Here in FL, torrential summer rains can leach elements from my sandy soil and cause deficiencies. I also have to deal with summertime "fertilizer blackouts" (K only, no N or P) from June through Oct. 1 each year.

Thanks Meg.  Any brands you recommend?  It's impossible to find slow release around here outside of Osmocote, so need to order online.

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PalmatierMeg

I've used Lesco from HD and the competitor from Lowe's. Do you have John Deere fertilizer outlets available in CA? I've bought fertilizer, KMag and straight potassium and magnesium and manganese from them. You may have to leave your urban area and venture to the nearest agricultural area.

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Steve in Florida

Some people like Carl Pool Palm Food 12-4-12, 3-4 month  which is cheapest in the 50 lb bag.

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Allen

Let me know if you find any.  I use Osmocote in 8Ib bags bought on amazon or Palmgain.  I buy around ten 8Ib osmocote bags per year at around $20 each for my palms and tropicals.  Call over to Jungle Music in CA and see if they know.  

 

 

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Ben in Norcal

Might try Growers 8-2-12 I found on eBay with free shipping...

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Allen
3 minutes ago, Ben in Norcal said:

Might try Growers 8-2-12 I found on eBay with free shipping...

Haven't heard of it.   I looked and couldn't read the label but it does say coated, slow release.   I'm trusting my babies to osmocote or palmgain for now.  

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palmsOrl

I just bought and put down some Dynamite fertilizer (Nutricote) which is supposed to be good for 6 months.  Hopefully it won’t all wash out of the top of the pot well before then.  Next time I am burying the granules an inch under the soil line in the pots.  Stuff is expensive!

My only concern is, it supposedly does not release below 70F and I want my palms to get fertilized the same year round.  Maybe I will just use Miracle Grow mixed in the water from December-February.

58283387-0EE5-48B3-996B-ADB34A8ECB6F.jpeg

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Ben in Norcal
9 minutes ago, Allen said:

Haven't heard of it.   I looked and couldn't read the label but it does say coated, slow release.   I'm trusting my babies to osmocote or palmgain for now.  

Palmgain isn't slow release though.  I use it in my yard but I don't think it's the right solution for pots.

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Allen
21 minutes ago, Ben in Norcal said:

Palmgain isn't slow release though.  I use it in my yard but I don't think it's the right solution for pots.

I think you're right on target but amazon had me confused saying it had slow release nitrogen, but it is not like osmocote, nutricote, etc.   But yes it is a faster working fertilizer.  I have been using osmocote mainly lately.  I just take a gloved hand and work the fertilizer in the pots into the soil top inch but keep it off direct contact with the trunk.  

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Steve in Florida

PalmsOrl, Nutricote releases nutrients below 70F but drops off as the temperature gets lower.  A company rep told me you have to get to 50F before the release is practically nonexistentent.

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Merlyn

For general purpose palm fertilizer it's hard to beat the HD Lesco 50lb bags of 13-3-13.  The only one close in price (per actual pound of N and K) is the Sunniland 40lb bags of Palm special.  These are roughly 1/5th the cost of Osmocote or Nutricote but are only ~50% slow release nitrogen.  In a "big pot" like a 10-45G size a small sprinkle of those generic palm fertilizers might be fine, but not in a small seedling pot.  

The "Growers slow 8-2-12" is about half the price of Osmocote per pound of actual K included, it might be a good choice for plants needing a lot of K.  Is it a real mixed blend where each granule has all the nutrients and is 100% polymer coated?  Or is it like some of the generics where each grain color is a different nutrient?

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PalmatierMeg

Logic dictates that there is little benefit if a fertilizer has the same release rate at 55F as at 90F. Most palms, esp. tropical ones, grow slower at cooler temps and cease growing altogether at around 50F. A rush of fertilizer when temps are low may be a waste at best or a detriment if it encourages vulnerable new growth during winter. Whether this proviso applies to temperate palms like Trachies (which I can't grow), I can't say. Do Trachies continue regular growth at temps in the 40s, 50s, 60s? Maybe an expert can tell us.

I apply no fertilizer after November or before March to any of my palms, including my container gardens. I make exceptions only for specific elements like magnesium, potassium & manganese when certain palms show evidence of deficiency. My soil is critically short of all 3 elements. Growth continues much slower at mid-winter daily averages in the 70s and ceases altogether below 60F. In the summer and early fall here in Cape Coral I get tremendous growth during sweltering nights in the 70s & 80s when the palms switch from photosynthesis to building tissues.

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palmsOrl

My logic behind fertilizing consistently year round is based on the evidence that well-nourished palms fare better during freezes/cold events.  Also, fertilizing heavily in the winter (but not over-fertilizing) may help compensate a bit for the fact that palms cannot uptake nutrients as effectively at lower temperatures.  When temperatures fall to the point where no nutrient uptake can happen (usually brief and intermittent), the fertilizer will just get unused but will not hurt the palm.  I apply this only to marginal stuff like Cocos, Roystonea, Wodyetia, Adonidia, etc.

Whether an actively growing Cocos would get more damaged by a freeze of, say, 29F than one not actively growing, I don’t know. I agree, tender new plant tissue is more vulnerable to cold/freezes, but the palm as a whole might be better off if actively growing than dormant.  That is my theory, I do not have a definite answer.  To be fair, I have read many times about plants such as Citrus getting more damage because a pre-freeze warm spell has caused tender new growth.  Citrus, however, are subtropical and the palms I mentioned tropical so there might be a difference there.

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Steve in Florida

A few years ago I switched to fertilizing year round but at a reduced rate during the winter.  My palms hardly loose any lower leaves in the spring due to nutrient transfer.  They keep their color even after hard freezes and take off quicker in the spring.  There are several published palm studies that point out the benefits of maintaining nutrient levels throughout the year for palms growing in warmer plant zones.

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Rickybobby

In my pots I have done Jobes palm pot spikes I know a lot of people don’t like them. I cut them with scissors and disperse them more evenly around the pot and I also water with fish emulsion which is 5-1-1

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RJ
17 hours ago, Steve in Florida said:

A few years ago I switched to fertilizing year round but at a reduced rate during the winter.  My palms hardly loose any lower leaves in the spring due to nutrient transfer.  They keep their color even after hard freezes and take off quicker in the spring.  There are several published palm studies that point out the benefits of maintaining nutrient levels throughout the year for palms growing in warmer plant zones.

Would you also suggest this for us north of FL? 

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Steve in Florida
17 hours ago, RJ said:

Would you also suggest this for us north of FL? 

Assuming you have clay soil, a 3-1-3 ratio fertilizer should be sufficient for maintaining nutrients into the following spring.  In North-Central Florida I have many winter days in the seventies and sometimes eighties with sandy soils that contain less than 3% clay in the top two feet.

Edited by Steve in Florida
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clevelandtropicsmaybe

I just use Espoma PalmTone, the only palm fertilizer I could find. I don't know if it has all the ingredients that all palm trees need but my palms seem to like it and my banana loves it.

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Missi

Don't skimp on fert quality! :wacko: Nutricote or Dynamite! :greenthumb:

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Ben in Norcal

I'm going to give Growers 8-2-12 a go, given it is coated slow release.  Just got one bag of it to test.

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lzorrito

Thread revival:). I waste lots of time fertilizing my constantly increasing container ranch with liquid fertilizer. Time to change to a slow release one.

Osmocote is also expensive around here. So I ordered Osmoform Permanent 19-7-18+2MgO+TE. Same manufacturer but more affordable and larger capacity bag than Osmocote. Advertised as "...perfect for use as a topdress fertilizer in container...:huh:", it seems more cost-effective. We'll see then!

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palmsOrl

I have had excellent luck with Nutricote, sold as Dynamite brand at Home Depot and Lowe's.  No burn ever, even when I get a bit heavy-handed.  Just a long-lasting dose of all the important majors and minors, the release rate of which is even mediated by temperature for optimal nutrient delivery based on the season.

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lzorrito
13 hours ago, palmsOrl said:

I have had excellent luck with Nutricote

Would like to try it, but the Nutricote ferts available here have a NPK formulation not so friendly for palms...:(

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palmsOrl

Lzorrito, the ones sold here under the "Dynamite" brand are either 13-13-13 with micros or 18-6-8 with micros, the latter being the one that the manufacturer states as their "Florida formula".  Honestly, I would be comfortable using either formula (and have used both) for my potted palms as long as I have the palms in a high quality soil mix that I have custom blended to be suitable to each species in question.  For example, I have my Dypsis prestoniana in a much different soil blend than my Cocos nucifera and my Cyrtostachys are in yet a greatly different blend than the first two I mentioned.

That said, between the two Dynamite formulations, I actually prefer to just use the balanced 13-13-13 for my potted palms.  As a side note, for my tree ferns and other ferns, I use the 18-6-8 formula, because ferns need a higher nitrogen formulation while also requiring (and they actually should not get much) less phosphorus.

-Michael

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lzorrito

@palmsOrl, the only one available here is 18-6-8 (2MgO)+ME, like yours then. Nice to know that it works for you. I also use high quality soil on my potted palms, and also I costum soil according to palm spp needs, and of course, according to its placing on my pateo, sunny or shade side, dry or moisture side. My concern is about the formulation, such a high N for so low K, with, and I fear that, it can lead to K deficiency. I'm saying this because I use tap water, which adds another 1.1 N, so I get 19.1N and 8 K if using that formulation...:unsure: the double N rate.

"Florida formula" is certainly according to your native soil needs around there. Do you use it to blend your potting soil? I've read that almost all nurseries in Florida are using Nutricote, and that Osmocote is way gone for them.  Besides that, around here none of the local available Osmocote formulation seemed balanced enough for palms (I'm following 3-1-3 formula).

After a hard search, and many contacts, I finally decided towards slow release Osmoform Permanent 19-7-18+2MgO+TE. More balanced NPK formulation. I'll keep an update date on it. I'll start applying it this weekend.

For my cycads I use Flortis Cycas, Palms and tropical plants NPK (Mg-S)16-10-10(2-12)+B+Fe+Mn+10 C.

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lzorrito

So, here it is. Osmoform Permanent 19-7-18+2MgO+TE25kg (55lb) bag , managed a 10% discount, paid 47€ (+-55usd).  Found Nutricote 18-6-8 (2MgO)+ME 25kg bag, but priced at 74€  (+-87usd) plus shipping costs.

 

IMG_20200828_091817.jpg

Edited by lzorrito
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lzorrito

First week after initial application and already visible leaf greening up on some palms. The fertilizer pellets stick to the soil, they don't get blown either with wind or watering:greenthumb:.

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