How Often Do You Need To Fertilize Potted Plants? (Explained)

Discover the secrets to a thriving indoor garden by learning how often you need to fertilize potted plants. In this post, we explain the ideal fertilization schedule to ensure your plants receive the nutrients they need to grow strong and healthy.

If you’re considering repotting your plants, our guide on how often should I repot house plants will help you make informed decisions.

Fertilizing potted plants is essential for their health and growth.
The frequency of fertilizing depends on the type of plant, soil condition, and type of fertilizer used.
Balanced fertilizers with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are a good choice for potted plants.
Over-fertilizing can harm potted plants, so it’s important to follow instructions and avoid applying too much.
Organic fertilizers are a great option for potted plants as they are gentle and improve soil fertility over time.

For those looking for expert advice on saving a struggling indoor plant, our post on how do I save my indoor plant offers practical tips. Dive in and learn how to provide the right balance of nutrients for your potted plants to flourish.

How Often Do You Need To Fertilize Potted Plants?

If you’re wondering when to fertilize your potted plants, here’s a guideline:

When the plant needs it. When you see signs of nutrient deficiency, such as yellowing leaves or stunted growth, then it’s time to add more nutrients to your potting mix.

When there are too many nutrients available in the soil (leading to over-fertilization). Signs of this include leaf yellowing and/or browning along with decreased vigor and slow growth. 

It’s best not to fertilize heavily at all times because too many nutrients can lead to problems like root rot (where the roots become waterlogged), which can kill your plant.

“If you’re dealing with bugs and pests in your houseplant garden, don’t worry – it’s a common problem. Check out our article on how to debug a houseplant garden for expert advice on how to keep your plants healthy and pest-free.”

1. Age Of The Plant

The first thing to consider when deciding how often to fertilize your potted plants is the age of your plant. The more mature a plant is, the more nutrients it will need. 

For example, if you have a young transplant (under two years old) that’s getting its first full-sized leaves on its branches, it won’t need much fertilizer at all. 

On the other hand, if you’re growing an older plant with lots of mature leaves and stems that have been around for several years already (more than three years), then it’s likely that these plants will require more frequent attention when it comes to watering and fertilizing them in order for them not only survive but thrive as well!

Because these types of plants are usually more sensitive than younger ones due to their higher demand for nutrients such as nitrogenous compounds like potassium nitrate or ammonium carbonate which help keep stem strength high while also helping prevent chlorosis problems like yellowing foliage caused by iron deficiency symptoms occurring because these kinds’ roots aren’t receiving enough oxygen supply through air movement around them anymore due

2. How Much Sun The Plant Is Getting

The amount of sunlight your plant gets is a big factor in how often you should fertilize.

As a rule of thumb, the more sun your houseplant gets, the more nutrients it needs to grow healthily. 

The more sun it’s getting and the less fertilizer it has, the faster it will grow and/or produce flowers or fruit. 

If you live in a hot climate (like me), this might not matter too much because plants are able to thrive without much extra help from us humans! 

But if you live somewhere with long winters where there isn’t much sunshine at all…well then this is something that could affect how often you need to fertilize your houseplants!

“Choosing the right soil for your indoor plants is essential for their growth and health. Our article on what soil is best to use for indoor plants provides insights on the different types of soil and their benefits for your plants.”

3. How Well-Suited The Soil Is To Your Plant

The next thing you should consider is the type of soil. It should be well-drained, have good drainage and should be rich in nutrients. 

It needs to be well-aerated as well. The last thing you want is for your plant’s roots to suffocate because they are submerged in water or clumped together due to poor soil aeration.

Soil whether it’s for potted or in-ground plants is made up of three different components: sand, silt and clay (or mixtures thereof). 

This mixture determines how easily it drains water from the plant’s roots when watering them. Soils with more clay tend to hold onto moisture longer than other soils, which means that your plants will need less frequent watering than those planted in sandy soils or loams (a combination of sand and clay). 

You can test this by putting some water on top of the soil; if it drains away quickly then your potting mix probably has enough drainage holes built into it already; if not then try adding more drain holes using pebbles or rocks placed around its edges before filling with new potting mixture when needed.

4. Type Of Fertilizer You’re Using

Organic vs. synthetic fertilizer (i.e., organic vs. non-organic). Organic fertilizers are derived from natural sources, like plants or animals, while synthetic fertilizers are created in laboratories using artificial ingredients and chemicals

How often to apply fertilizer: You should typically apply a small amount of fertilizer every two weeks or so until you see that your plant has reached its peak growth, at which point you will want to decrease the frequency of applications

How much to apply: It’s best to check with the manufacturer’s instructions on how much fertilizer is needed for each type of plant; however, as a general rule of thumb 1 tsp/gallon of water is sufficient for most house plants when they’re first starting out.

“Fertilizing your houseplants is an important part of keeping them healthy and vibrant. Check out our article on how often should I give my houseplants plant food for tips on when and how to fertilize your potted plants.”

5. Size Of Container And How Often You Water

If the plant is small, it may need to be watered more frequently. Conversely, if the plant is large and has a root system that’s spread out over a large surface area, it may need to be watered less often.

Watering frequency also depends on how quickly your soil dries out between waterings and how often you water your plants in general. 

If you water too much, you could drown your plants by overwatering them and causing their roots to rot. On the other hand, if you don’t water enough for an extended period of time (sometimes days), then the plant will wilt due to lack of moisture in its leaves and stems.

The best way to tell if your potted plant needs watering is simply to use your finger as a moisture meter if it feels dry at all when touching the top inch or two of soil around its roots (or whatever part looks droopy), then give it some extra love!

6. Type Of Soil Amendment You’ve Used

If you’ve used a soil amendment, then the answer to this question can vary. If you have organic soil amendments like compost and peat moss, then it’s probably safe to say that fertilizing on a regular basis won’t be necessary. 

However, if you have added inorganic ones like fertilizer or granular potting mix, then regular fertilization is recommended.

7. What Type Of Nutrients Your Plant Needs

With a basic understanding of what types of nutrients are required for healthy plant growth, it’s time to get into the nitty-gritty about specific nutrients and how you can tell if your plant needs them.

Nitrogen – Nitrogen is one of the major nutrients that plants require, along with phosphorus and potassium. It helps plants build proteins, which are necessary for growth. If you notice your plants aren’t growing as fast as they used to or they start looking leggy (with long stems), this could mean that they need more nitrogen in their diet.

Phosphorus – Phosphorus helps stimulate flower and fruit production on your potted plants. It also makes roots stronger so that your plants can better withstand drought conditions when needed. 

Your potting mix provides a good amount of phosphorus, but if you notice yellowing leaves or slow growth in general, consider adding some extra fertilizer with high amounts of phosphorus in it like Miracle-Gro® Feed Me!® Tomato Tastes Like Tomatoes Fertilizer Mix 30-14-14 Liquid Plant Food (5 gal). This will give your petals the boost they need!

“Repotting your houseplants is a necessary step in their growth and development. Our article on how often should I repot house plants provides expert advice on when and how to repot your potted plants to keep them healthy and thriving.”

8. Soil Temperature And Ph Level

Soil pH level is an important factor to consider when fertilizing potted plants. Soil pH affects the availability of nutrients to plant roots.

Potting soil can have a range of pH levels, from acidic (pH 5) to neutral (pH 7) to alkaline (pH 8). Plants may show signs of nutrient deficiencies even if you are providing them with adequate fertilizer if there isn’t enough acidity or alkalinity in the soil.

To check your potting mix’s pH level, take a sample of your potting mix and put it into a test tube along with distilled water. 

Stir gently until all particles are suspended throughout the solution and wait for about an hour for everything to settle before taking another reading with your test kit instructions present in case anything changes during that time period–this will give you an accurate idea of how much leeway there is before having to make any adjustments! 

If testing kits aren’t available at home stores anymore (*sad face*), then I recommend checking out this article which explains how each type works so well…

If necessary, adjust the soil by adding lime or sulfur pellets according as follows: For acidic soils add lime; for alkaline soils add sulfur pellets.”

9. Type Of Plant You’re Growing (Flowers, Herbs, Veggies)

The type of plant you’re growing will dictate your fertilizer needs. If you have a flower garden, your plants will need more nitrogen than they do potassium. What’s the difference between nitrogen and potassium? 

Nitrogen helps produce healthy leaves while potassium helps strengthen stems. On the other hand if your garden is filled with vegetables like tomatoes or peppers, then it would be wise to add more potassium to their diet as opposed to nitrates since these plants grow very tall but don’t require much foliage once they reach maturity. 

In general however it is always a good idea to provide both types of nutrients in order for your plants’ growth cycle by fertilizing them regularly with a fertilizer that includes both types: NPK (nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium).

“Keeping your houseplants alive and thriving can be a challenge, but with the right care and attention, it’s possible to have a beautiful indoor garden. Check out our article on 13 tips to never let your houseplants die for expert advice on how to care for your potted plants and keep them healthy and vibrant.”

10. What Type Of Growing Season It Is (Cold Winter, Hot Summer)

Another thing to consider is what type of growing season it is. If you live in an area where the temperature stays above 80 degrees Fahrenheit for most of the year, you will likely need to fertilize more often. 

This is because plants that are exposed to high temperatures tend to lose water faster than plants that aren’t exposed to as much heat, which means they need more nutrients in order to thrive.

On the other hand, if your plant lives in an area with lower temperatures (below 70 degrees), then its root system will grow smaller and closer together—which makes them less efficient at absorbing nutrients from the soil. 

In this case it may be beneficial for you to fertilize less often since too many nutrients might cause nutrient burn on some of your leaves or roots on top of making sure all other aspects of your potted plant stay healthy as well


If you’re using a standard potting mix, you don’t have to worry much about pH or nutrient deficiencies. 

You may have to amend your soil with fertilizer every now and then, but most plants will do fine without it unless they’re getting very little sun or water. 

If your plant is in the ground and not in a container, though, you should definitely fertilize it more often especially if it’s young!

Further Reading

Here are some additional resources on fertilizing potted plants:

Feeding Your Plants: A Beginner’s Guide to Plant Nutrition: A comprehensive guide to plant nutrition and fertilizing, including tips on choosing the right fertilizer and how to apply it.

Why You Should Fertilize Plants and How to Do It: A helpful article that explains the benefits of fertilizing plants, as well as different types of fertilizer and when to use them.

Fertilizing and Watering Container Plants: A guide from the University of Minnesota Extension that provides information on fertilizing and watering container plants, including tips on soil moisture and nutrient needs.


How often should I fertilize my potted plants?

The frequency of fertilizing your potted plants depends on various factors such as the type of plant, soil condition, and the type of fertilizer used. However, as a general rule, fertilizing once every two to four weeks during the growing season is recommended.

What kind of fertilizer should I use for potted plants?

The type of fertilizer to use for potted plants depends on the plant’s nutrient requirements. Generally, balanced fertilizers with equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are a good choice for potted plants.

Can I over-fertilize my potted plants?

Yes, over-fertilizing can harm your potted plants by causing root burn and other problems. Always follow the instructions on the fertilizer packaging and avoid applying more than the recommended amount.

Should I fertilize my potted plants during the winter months?

During the winter months, potted plants are usually dormant and do not require as much fertilizer. It’s best to reduce or stop fertilizing your potted plants during this time to avoid over-fertilization.

Can I use organic fertilizers for my potted plants?

Yes, organic fertilizers are a great option for potted plants. They are slow-release, gentle on the plants, and improve the soil’s structure and fertility over time.