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Cataloging My House Plants

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by milwaukee on November 15, 2005 07:58 AM
I've decided it's time to get up off my duff and start to catalog all of my house plants in a plant notebook. Right off the bat I'm having problems. I've got near 40 house plants, and some that I can't identify, so I'm going to have to figure them out. Second of all, I'm really not at all a fan of Chemical Ferts, and would like to know if anyone uses organic means to add nutes to house plants. I think I'm going to take a wooden tongue depressor and label each plant with it's name and NPK likes and how often it likes them and PH level:

Shield Plant
20-10-10 x 1

One major problem I'm having however, is none of my house plant books tell what PH level each plant enjoys the most. I google search "shield Plant" or Alocasia Amazonica and still cant get information on PH levels. Is there a chart on the internet someplace that gives PH levels for house plants?

Thanks everyone~
by Will Creed on November 17, 2005 11:32 AM
Hi Jamie,

You are very ambitious! And organized! I think there are other more important things to focus on, but I will try to help you out.

Organic fertilizers are also chemical fertilizers. Their advantage is that they are slightly more eco-friendly, and sometimes add a bit more texture and trace elements to the soil. Fish emulsion is a good source of nitrogen, wood ash is a good source of potassium, and bone meal is a good source of phosphorous. The problem is that it is difficult to calculate the proper ratios of these naturally occurring ingredients when you use them.

A plants NPK needs can vary. For example flowering plants may need a higher N content at certain times of year and a higher P content at other times. In general, foliage plants do best with a 3-1-2 ratio. Generalizing beyond that it is not worthwhile. Make sure you use a complete fertilizer that contains all of the minor and trace elements, as well.

The value of fertilizer is vastly over-rated. If you are using decent quality potting mix, fertilizer is unnecessary. In fact, there is greater risk of adding too many nutrients than too little. Most label rates assume optimum growing conditions that few people can provide in their homes. So if you use the stuff, use it at half strength.

I haven't searched the Internet for soil pH levels. Most indoor plants are tropical in origin do best in a pH range of 6.0 to 6.8. A few acid-loving plants such as Azaleas and citrus and some ferns require a lower pH than that. I have some old-fashioned paper resources that might have some specific pH ranges for some plants that you cannot find elsewhere.
by tkhooper on November 18, 2005 02:04 AM
Hi there,

I have 60 plant profiles already and need 50 more to cover all the seeds I have gotten this year in trades. I've been really ambitious. And I haven't even been able to keep up with a fertilizer schedule for my dozen house plant babies. Hopefully I'll get better at it. I wish I had space for 40 house plants that would be great.

* * * *
by Cricket on November 18, 2005 04:21 AM
Tammy, don't worry about a fertilizer schedule for your houseplants. Really, you are doing them a favor by not fertilizing frequently. Mine are lucky to receive a light fertilizing a couple times a year and they look great. It really is proper light and watering that's important. Oh yeah, and - this is for you, Will - DON'T OVERPOT! [Smile]

by Will Creed on November 18, 2005 04:55 AM
Thanks for the reminder, Cricket!
by milwaukee on November 22, 2005 07:02 AM
Thanks for the help everyone. I appreciate it.
I'm not a huge Fert guy either, but I just wanted to know what they like for NPK's and PH levels in case something goes wrong. I've been know to use Epsom Salt mixed into water to raise N counts (cause of the Mg)I've also had soil compaction problems aleviated by adding Hydrogen Peroxide to water to aerate the roots.
I'd just like to (and have started) catalogue my plants so I can see them progress and learn from mistakes/successes.

by Will Creed on November 22, 2005 08:09 AM
Hi Jamie,

The miracles of chemistry (organic or otherwise) are far less important to plant success than such basics as good quality potting mixes, proper light, proper pot size, and proper watering.

For example, there is little confirmed evidence that Hydrogen peroxide aerates roots. Professional growers would use it if it worked, and they don't. Good quality porous soil will provide all the aeration that a plant's roots need.

Likewise good soil will have the right pH level and a good supply of all nutrients needed.

Stick to the basics and don't get side-tracked by the peripherals.
by neko nomad on November 24, 2005 01:17 AM
Hi, Jamie: did you want help with cataloging or plant care ?
a. Did you consider using a card file. I'd think that approach would simplify scheduling of specific plant care routines.

b. Nourishing the plants could be helped greatly by the use of rainwater or distilled water to avoid salt buildup, which could become acute in a dry wintertine indoor atmosphere, along with organic plant food: fish emulsion comes to mind, and sparingly, since there is latent nourishment in the compost you're using in your potting material.

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