Can you overfeed?

Oakley, CA

can you give a plant too much food? how bad will it harm it?

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

it's difficult if you use organic. if you did just flush with water.

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

Too much commercial fertilizer will burn the roots of your plant. As Len123 said, you can try flushing it with extra water. But whether this helps depends on how long the excessive fertilizer has been left on the plant. I always run a search on any new plants I put in to see how much and how often they need to be fertilized. This is one of those cases where "more is not better."

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

Yes, you can absolutely overfeed, and the effects could be anything from a little discoloration of the leaves all the way to killing the plant. Generally if you follow the directions on the package as far as the appropriate dilution and application frequency then you won't overfeed, but if you apply it too concentrated or too frequently it can cause problems.

Plano, TX

what about the nutrients the nursery puts in the pots? and the nutrients in the special garden soil-- could you end up with a lot of feeding already before you even add anything? should you wait a while before feeding a new plant?

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

the feeding doesn't hurt the plant. it's mainly the salts in inorganic fertilizers that can burn your plants. organic fertilizers and things such as leaves, alfalfa, mulch, compost, bloodmeal etc. take longer to break down and improve the structure of the soil. inorganic fertilizers are more fast acting, but if that's all you use excessively, causes the salts to build up which damage the structure and nutrients in your soil.
as a rule of thumb that i use is my own soil with some organics (bradley's organic fertilizers, bloodmeal, cotton burr compost, cedar or cypress mulch, espoma organic fertilizer). once in a while I'll use a fast-acting complete inorganic fertilizer like fertilome)
just water well after any additives.
nitrogen is the most depleted nutrient. bloodmeal is the organic equivalent.but too much will result in lush green foiliage few flowers and tall growth that flops over.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi desperado, ofcourse you can over feed plants with any kind of shop/chemical plant food, even too much raw animal manure, the results will be yellowing of the folliage, then the flowers will discolour and the plant may collaps, this can happen timewise from a few hours to over a period of days, however, if it is the case that you have done this, and it is a pot plant, then get it out of the pot and try remove as much soil as you can, wash the roots and replant in new compost soonest, if it is in the garden, and it is of a size the dig up, do so and remove the soil from the roots as like the pot plant, then replant it away from the site it was in, as for the over fed soil, try dig it up and get rid, replace with fresh soil and water as well as you can, to try wash any residue from the soil, if pot compost, throw it away in the bin, always read the manufaturers instructions well if you are not used to plant feeds as these can be harmfull to plants and humans, especially if you are feeding food crops, hope that, if you have overfed some plants, they can be saved as it is really heartbreaking if you've nurtured a plant and killed it with kindness in the end. good luck, Weenel.

Adrian, MO(Zone 6a)

what did you feed on what and how much and how often?

Vicksburg, MS(Zone 8a)

planolinda,
When I get a new plant from the nursery, the only thing I add is some rooting stimulator at the time of transplanting into the ground. For houseplants, I don't add anything for at least a month to give time for the fertilizer that was in the pot to dissolve and be used up by the plant.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Most commercial chemical fertilizers can be diluted by half and still be effective. The companies want to sell more fertilizer, so they actually encourage the use of more than is necessary. Generally, speaking, the amounts are not enough to harm the plant if used according to directions, but the plant can thrive just as well with much less.

Over feeding is one of the most common mistakes a gardener can make.

Plano, TX

i can understand the idea of overfeeding being a problem--we just want to do everything we can for the new plants and of course feeding seems like a good idea!! i also understand the fact that companies want to sell more and so suggest you use more--i will keep that in mind--

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Freshly planted things do not need much in the way of plant food. Most plant food promotes top-growth and of course, that's what gardeners like to see. New transplants need to produce a good root system before putting out new growth. I very rarely fertilize any new transplants other than a root booster.

Ayrshire Scotland, United Kingdom

Hi Planolinda, can you give us the type of plants that you have that are new and want to know if and what type of feed to give them, the makers of plant food are not allowed by law to tell you to use more feed than required, we gardeners would be sueing them right left and center, that it the reason why they must print instuctions on the label as to how much to use and how often, if plants are happy after a couple of days after planting, then generally they dont need feeding till well after they have settled into their new environment, then a feed at the makers recomendation can help to give them energy to get through the rest of the growing/flowering season, I always add a handfull or bone/fish and blood in to the soil at planting time, but if they are annuals, I feed them after a couple of weeks when they settle into the pots or baskets, but for them, I would use a liquid feed say once a week while doing the daily watering, if it is shrubs or trees, I add an animal manure into the soil when planting and again the following spring, this gives them a boost for the summer growing period, my soil is quite acidic and sandy, therefore it dont hold onto much moisture and neutrients as well as a good loomy soil will do, so you will eventually get to know your own soil and growing conditions as you go along, but the rule of thumb is, if it aint broke, dont over mend it as the plants themself will soon tell you if the need water, food or shade etc, let us know what kind of flowers/plants you are worried about and your soil type so we can advise you better if we can, good luck, WeeNel.

Plano, TX

i am thinking about most plants from the nursery--i have planted trees, shrubs, flowers etc this year and notice they come with little beads in the soil which i assume is a fertilizer and then i often use garden soil mixed in with my soil when i plant them and that has more nutrients i think--so to my thinking the plants are fed when i plant them and do not need more for a while--

Dublin, CA(Zone 9a)

I also usually assume that plants from the nursery probably have fertilizer in them so the plants don't need anything for a while. And as melody said, it's not usually a good idea to fertilize things right as you plant them, it's better to let them get settled in first. So even if the nursery hadn't fertilized things in a while you're better off not fertilizing right away, just use some Super Thrive or other root booster to help the roots get started.

Benton, KY(Zone 7a)

Yeah, it's like running someone over with a truck, and then trying to feed them a steak dinner. You can give them the 'steak' when they have recovered.

Plano, TX

got it!! thanks so much!

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