By: Liz Baessler
Plumeria are tropical trees that are hardy in USDA zones 10 and 11. Everywhere else they are kept small in containers that can be taken indoors in the winter. When they bloom, they produce beautiful, fragrant flowers that can be used in making leis. Keep reading to learn more plumeria fertilizer information.
Plumeria plants require a lot of phosphorous. This is the middle number on fertilizer labels. You also want to avoid fertilizers with too much nitrogen, which is the first number on fertilizer labels. Nitrogen encourages growth, and if you’re trying to grow a tree in a pot, this is the last thing you want.
Using a plumeria flower fertilizer with a low first number will make for a more compact tree. Plumeria plants require slightly acidic soil. Constant fertilization can raise acid levels too high, however. If this happens, add some Epsom salts to the soil to neutralize it. Adding 1-2 tbsp every month should do the trick.
Plumerias benefit from consistent fertilizing all summer long, about once per week. Fertilizing styles always vary person to person and even plant to plant. Applying a soil fertilizer may be enough to meet fertilizer requirements for plumeria plants in your care. However, if you water your plumeria too much, you might find all the nutrients are just washing away, not to mention too much irrigation can lead to root rot. Water the plant deeply, but allow any excess to drain away and wait until the soil has dried out some before watering it again.
You can also opt for a foliar fertilizer. Keep up your weekly routine but, instead, apply your foliar fertilizer directly to both sides of the leaves. Apply it in the evening, when the harsh rays of the sun aren’t going to be intensified by the fertilizer, scorching the leaves.
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When it comes to why your garden needs Plumeria, the answer is simple: Plumeria, also called Frangipani, are fast-growing, free-blooming, tropical trees with brilliant flowers and the most extraordinary fragrance. The heavenly aroma from their vibrant blooms floating through a summer evening breeze is enough on its own!
While Plumeria is native to the Caribbean Islands and the mainland of Central America, many visitors to Hawaii assume it belongs to the isles due to its incredible naturalization. The massive 25-40' tall trees were first introduced in Hawaii in 1860 and thrive in the tropical climes. They produce breathtaking blooms in shades of yellow, white, orange, salmon pink, and red, often with two or more colors on the same, simple five-petaled flower. While some emit a jasmine or rose-like scent, others produce a peachy or citrusy or Gardenia-like aroma.
Eggplant, peppers and okra are heavy feeders, but they are also picky eaters. They like small amounts of food all season long. Too much nitrogen will produce lots of foliage but not much in the way of fruits.
So, before planting, add some organic fertilizer, like dehydrated chicken manure, or any other type of animal manure. You can also work two to four pounds of a balanced fertilizer, such as 10-10-10, into each 100 square feet of soil. The numbers 10-10-10 refer to the percentages, by weight, of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) in the bag of fertilizer. For an extra boost at planting time, put a handful of compost or a teaspoon of 5-10-10, mixed with some soil, into the bottom of the hole and then cover the fertilizer with one to two inches of soil. This protects your plants from getting burned if the roots come into contact with the fertilizer.
If you've tried to grow peppers in the past and you've been disappointed with the results, try this trick. Peppers like a pH that's a bit on the acid side (5.5 to 6.0), so take a few matches from a matchbook and mix them with the soil and fertilizer in the bottom of the transplant hole. Then cover this mixture with two to three inches of soil. The roots of the transplants must not come into contact with the matches because the sulfur can damage them. The sulfur in the matches lowers the pH around the roots, and the peppers seem to love it.
A variation of this trick can be done by buying sulfur powder at the drugstore, mixing a pinch of it with the soil in the bottom of the hole and covering it before planting.
Try the match trick. It just might give you the largest pepper crop you've ever had.
Careful with the Fertilizer
You also need to be careful when fertilizing. Sometimes pepper plants will have lots of blossoms but not enough fruit. This could be due to extremes of heat (temperatures above 90 degrees F) or cold (below 55 degrees F). Under these conditions, blossoms will drop off the plant rather than set. A lack of magnesium can contribute to the problem. To restore magnesium, buy some Epsom salts at the drugstore and add about one tablespoon to an empty spray bottle. Then fill the bottle with lukewarm water, shake it up so the Epsom salts dissolve and spray the solution on the leaves and blossoms of your pepper plants. If you do this a couple of times during the blossom period, you should have plenty of peppers.
A complete fertilizer, such as 16-4-8, 12-6-6 or 12-4-8, is generally recommended, unless the soil test reveals that phosphorus and potassium are adequate.
Two kinds of fertilizers are available: fast-release and slow-release. Fast-release or water-soluble fertilizers are less expensive than slow-release products, which release nitrogen over an extended period however, the nutrients in a fast-release fertilizer may leach quickly through the soil. In sandy, well-drained soils, the soluble fertilizer may move past the root system after only a few inches of rainfall or irrigation. In fine-textured clay soils, leaching will be slower, but runoff may be greater.
Slow- or controlled-release fertilizers have extended release periods compared to fast-release fertilizers whose nitrogen is water-soluble and readily available to the plants. The nitrogen in slow-release fertilizers may be sulfur-coated or a form such as IBDU or urea-formaldehyde. One-half or more of the total amount of nitrogen in controlled-release fertilizers should be “water insoluble” or slow-release nitrogen. For newly planted shrubs and trees, or in areas where the potential for runoff is very high, such as slopes or compacted soil, slow-release fertilizers are a good choice. Since the nutrients are released slowly, the potential for fertilizer damage (“burning”) and water contamination is less.
Natural fertilizers, like composted sewage sludge, cow manure or complete fertilizer blends, provide nitrogen and other nutrients slowly. An advantage of these natural “nutrient suppliers” is that they provide minor nutrients – minerals required in small amounts such as iron or zinc – not usually found in synthetic fertilizers. Natural fertilizers also improve the soil structure.
A disadvantage of natural fertilizers is that usually the concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium are lower. Therefore, a greater amount of a natural fertilizer must be applied to provide the same amount of nutrients that can be obtained with a lesser quantity from a synthetic nutrient source.
Many fertilizers are formulated for use on lawn grasses. Some, known as “weed-and-feed” fertilizers, may contain a herbicide that can damage groundcovers, vines, shrubs and trees. Read the labels and carefully follow the directions.
Most experienced vegetable gardeners know that keeping cucumber plants adequately watered is the key to high quality fruit production. Cucumbers have a very high water content. It's impossible for the plants to produce lots of cucumbers if they are starved for water.
A cucumber plant requires about an inch of water every week to maintain fruit production. If no rain falls in your area, it's up to you to give your cucumber plants the water they crave. When watering cucumbers, focus your efforts at the base of the main stem. Try to avoid watering the foliage as this may cause diseases to develop. It's usually a good idea to water in the morning hours. That way, the afternoon sun will evaporate any unused water. A soaker hose or drip irrigation system is ideal, but a simple watering can or jug will also do the job nicely. Make sure to water slowly so that the soil around the base of the plant is not eroded away.
After the cucumber plants have produced blossoms, it may be beneficial to apply a balanced, all purpose fertilizer. An all-purpose water soluble fertilizer will work fine. You can also use a balanced granular fertilizer. When choosing a granular fertilizer, pay attention to the three number code on the bag. Look for 10-10-10 or 12-12-12. These numbers indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphate and potassium that are contained in that particular bag, respectively. The nitrogen will help the plant foliage grow as much as possible. The phosphate and potassium will help with fruit production. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer's directions. Most are applied at a rate of 1 1/2 pounds per 100 square feet. Scatter the granules on the ground around the base of the plant. Avoid letting the granules touch the plant itself, as it may burn or have other adverse effects. Water the fertilizer in well after applying.
You can also use a water-soluble product like Miracle Gro. Just mix it according to the manufacturer's instructions and apply it when the blossoms first appear. If you are lucky enough to have your plants survive long enough, you can fertilize them again about a month after the first fruits are produced.
If you intend to grow cucumbers organically, several natural fertilizer products are available at your local garden center. Another option is to work a fair amount of compost or organic material into the soil prior to planting.
Now that you're done fertilizing and watering cucumbers, it's time to think about harvesting.
While nutrients are what make pepper plants healthy and strong, the pH of your soil is arguably more important. Peppers prefer a soil pH between 5.8-6.2, or slightly acidic soil.
Why is pH important, you ask? Well, if the pH is too low or too high, your pepper plants may not be able to take in and use nutrients from the soil, even if they are present. This is called ‘nutrient lockout’ and can be detrimental to productivity and overall plant health.
You can test your soil’s pH with a simple meter, though the readings are often inaccurate. If you suspect you have low pH soil, you can get a soil test, or add some lime and hope that you were right!
I hope this helped clear the air on what the best fertilizer for pepper plants is. Remember, it’s important to “listen” to your plants. If a plant is unhealthy or nutrient deficient, you’ll know it!
What works for some people in certain climates may not work for others, so experiment with new regimens. What’s your favorite fertilizer? Feel free to leave questions or suggestions in the comments below.
One of the original Pepper Geeks! When Calvin isn’t gardening or learning more about peppers and botany, he might be traveling new places or playing some music.