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Can you fertilize seedlings?


Jesse PNW
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I've got tons of palm seedlings, ranging from seed-starter trays up to 4" pots,  some even up to 1g.  Some are single-strap-leaf, all the way up to 18-20" tall in some cases.  

The majority are in my home-made growbox (currently staying around 89f and 80% humidity) and it's working well, they're definitely growing faster than the seedlings growing in the window sill at ambient temp/humidity.  Just counted over 120 palm seedling plus a few other odds and ends in the growbox. 

I would like to try to introduce some fertilizer to the ones in the growbox.  But I don't know if there's anything that won't burn since they're so small.  Fertilizer tea maybe?  Any insight or experience?  

Thanks.  

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I usually start after the second Frond. I use a fish emulsion fertilizer with great results ,FOLLOW the instructions exactly, these little guys have tiny sensitive roots. I have some Christmas Palm seedlings and they are only 5 months old and already working on a third frond..hope this helps

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I've used common liquid fertilizer for seedlings at half strength, i.e. Miracle-Gro, Peters, etc. I have also used up remaining liquid orchid fertilizer, which is light strength to begin with, on seedlings. They seem to show a minor effect or none at all.

Depending on the species, I've used a 'shaker' of granular time-release fertilizer on larger seedlings that need it. Just a few shakes into a compot or onto smaller potted individuals. Usually I only fertilize seedlings to maintain them until they are ready to be potted up, divided, etc. I do it most often to get certain sensitive species through the winter. I try not to over do it, as it can cause problems. The phrase 'less is more' comes to mind.

Ryan

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South Florida

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With all my seedlings I usually just use osmocote plus, and occasionally water with an organic solution that is half diluted. Doesn't seem to bother any of the species I have germinated. 

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Thanks for the replies guys.  I decided to use some of what I had on hand - miracle grow shake n' feed.  But at like 1/8 of the dose which is kinda vague for something that small anyway.  I have some 1/8 and 1/16 teaspoons for baking, I figure 1/16th of a teaspoon shouldn't hurt even the little guys.  But we'll see. 

On 11/17/2021 at 10:52 PM, Palmlover_78 said:

I usually start after the second Frond. I use a fish emulsion fertilizer with great results ,FOLLOW the instructions exactly, these little guys have tiny sensitive roots. I have some Christmas Palm seedlings and they are only 5 months old and already working on a third frond..hope this helps

Does fish emulsion stink?  Can you use it indoors?  

I used to use rabbit manure tea in the vegetable garden regularly and it seemed to work well.  Now I don't have rabbits.  Or a veg garden.  

Edited by Jesse PNW
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Hello, Yes Fish emulsion does stink, but it's not that bad to me. I water my palms in the kitchen that way the exhaust vent sucks it out. I personally use slow release when the plants are about 5 months old or sprouting there third Frond. Try liquid Kelp, I think that stuff you can spray directly on the fronds and it has an earthy smell to it.

 

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I badly burnt a Lyco seedling this summer by accidentally watering it with a can that contained half-strength kelp extract I was using on other plants. A mistake I won't make again. Using slow-release pellets like osmocote is much safer as you can't overdose it (I put osmocote in practically everything), not to mention less trouble (it lasts ~6 months).

If the seedlings are in a medium with lots of organics (which it looks like), the smaller ones in particular really won't be short of nutrients anyway, in my opinion.

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