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What techniques do you use with liquid plant feed?

FireFire Posts: 17,116
edited June 2021 in Tools and techniques
Historically I have not used liquid plant feed much, for outdoor plants, apart from with hanging baskets. I have relied on yearly or twice yearly manure for roses etc.  and some use of slow release fertiliser granules. I would like to start using a seaweed feed to promote better floral displays, for plants like dahlias, roses and such bedding as I have.  If I did just roses and dahlias, I would need around 25-30 buckets a week, just for the small garden, which seems like a big job. Having a dodgy back, I wince to think of it, and suspect his is part of the reason I haven't used liquid feed for outdoor plants very much. I use buckets or five litre bottles rather than watering cans as I find them easier to fill and carry. I don't grow veg at moment, so am thinking about just standard flowers. I gather too much fertiliser can be worse than none at all.

And so to questions:
- Would you use all of a five litre bottle+ on one rose (for example) or spread a little on lots of plants?
- Do you find that feeding makes a big difference for established plants?
- Is there benefit in feeding plants like hollyhocks, foxgloves, mullein?
- Do any respond badly to feeding (apart from plants that like poor, low nutrient soil)?
- Do you find that feeding helps plants battle disease like rust or blackspot, or get healthier and overcome or avoid aphid, larva and slug attacks? (Some people say that healthy plants get targetted less)
- do you find slow release fertiliser granules just as good, better, or you use them in conjunction?
- Does clematis like tomato / seaweed feed?



  • Pete.8Pete.8 Posts: 10,325
    Seaweed extract works really well as a foliar feed.
    5L in a sprayer will cover a big area and it's a much more economical way of applying it.
    Best done on a dull day or when the sun is not out - and rain not forecast for at least a few hours
    I use it on all plants 
    Knowledge is knowing that a tomato is a fruit.
    Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.
  • MopaniMopani Posts: 25
    Our modest garden, about 7m x 4m, is a container garden.  Late last summer I decided it needed reviving so I’ve been adding a lot of new plants and ditching a few very old, tired ones.  I had been using Miracle Gro slow release granules only but this spring I decided to try liquid feed instead, and the reason is that the “spent” slow release granules always seemed to be there in the soil and didn’t disappear and I was beginning to hate the sight of it all.  So since April I’ve been using Miracle Gro Performance Organics All Purpose liquid feed.

    Of the plants that I’ve kept from last year I can say that they all have definitely benefitted from the liquid feed, the roses in particular are greener, more lush and with far more buds.  Similar situation with the heuchera.  Sadly, the liquid feed seems to have made no difference as regards rose black spot.  I have had a very minor problem with powdery mildew on one dahlia and on some annual fuschias.  

    The bottle suggests feeding weekly but I’ve found this impossible to keep up so recently I’ve been feeding fortnightly.  The rose containers are 40 or 45 cm in diameter and I probably use about 1.5 to 2 litres of the diluted solution per pot.  I use it as a soil drench.  The only thing I dislike about the liquid is that it’s quite thick and I find it messy to deal with at the diluting stage.  I suppose it must cost me about £3.50 every fortnight, which is a lot, but I don’t mind as the results seem good.  I don’t think it’s likely I’ll go back to slow release granules now.

    I’ve also read and heard that healthier plants are targetted less by slugs, aphids etc.. .  I really don’t know if that’s true or not; I definitely have some issues in the garden but it’s not too bad all things considered.  Perhaps it is true.

  • FairygirlFairygirl Posts: 52,214
    Feeding the soil is the best method for the majority of plants - plenty of compost etc added on a regular basis. Shrubs and trees need virtually nothing extra if the ground is in good condition. A bit of B,F&B at the most in early spring, when they're younger.
    I use tomato feed for flowering plants in pots [annuals etc] , and for clematis. I also use it for a couple of feeds for bulbs [in pots]  after they're finished. It's ideal for annuals later in the season when their food supply is waning. Any heavy flowering plant will benefit from it.

    I use seaweed for foliage plants. A foliar feed of that is useful now and again.

    Overfeeding of plants in the ground is largely wasteful and can results in lots of softer, lush growth. If the ground is fed instead, it creates hardier plants.
    It's a place where beautiful isn't enough of a word....

    I live in west central Scotland - not where that photo is...
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    edited June 2021
    Thanks for your thoughts @Pete.8  and @Mopani and @Fairygirl

    I ask the question because I know some professional gardeners - particularly rose growers - do we purposeful weekly application of liquid feed. They use a hose for their watering, for the most part, but use cans etc for the dilute. I get the impression they favour dilute over granules or meal, for potency (not as a foliar spray, though that is useful too). Monty Don, for example, has a "Feeding Friday". For a small garden I can see how this would work, but how to scale it up to a garden like Longacre? 

  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,955
    Miracle Grow does an attachment for the end of the hose that acts as a mixer for their powdered feeds.  I suspect you could just put your undiluted seaweed feed in their bottle to the correct level and just use your hose to water your plants.  

    Do you have a hose?  I seem to remember you don't have an outside tap?  The hookups for most washing machines have the types of pipes you can screw into.  Maybe invest in a long hose and once a week undo the cold water washing pipe and screw in your hose? 
    Utah, USA.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    Thanks @Blue Onion - I didn't know about mixers.
    I do have an outisde tap front and back.
  • Blue OnionBlue Onion Posts: 2,955
    Ahh.. good.  In the meantime, you can drill a few holes in the bottom of a cheap bucket.. sit it where you want it to soak into.. then fill it right there with your hose and concentrate.  Leave it to soak out the bottom, then move on to the next plant.  It will take longer, but means you can get on to other gardening jobs while you wait.  
    Utah, USA.
  • FireFire Posts: 17,116
    Thanks @Blue Onion It's a good thought for pots. A soaking bucket is useful on many levels.
    I will see this year if liquid feed helps roses as rosarians suggest.

  • nick615nick615 Posts: 1,370
    To get the feed down to where it's needed I have a steel rod dibber, about 80cm tall, with which I make deep holes alongside any plants I want to irrigate or feed.  I then wander along filling each hole with liquid from a standard garden spray set to a fine jet.  If using granules, a few go in first.  That way I feed/water the plant, not any lurking weeds.  The square item with a 'T'-handle makes the right shaped hole for plants that come in trays, thus not interfering with the tender root stock.
  • Nanny BeachNanny Beach Posts: 8,443
    Fire,can we have a picture of the garden, please
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