This blog is about growing tropical-looking plants in the Phoenix, Arizona area

September 9, 2016

An inexpensive trick for feeding your outdoor tropical plants

If you live where tropical plants can be planted outdoors, such as in the Phoenix area, you will need to fertilize them. All of the beautiful weather in the world won't be enough if they're "starving to death" for want of fertilizer.

Of course, you could pay a lot of money for fertilizer, you could discuss the different fertilizers on discussions on the web, but in the meantime if your tropical plants are out there starving to death, you should give them something. And believe it or not (sorry, Marketing people), all-purpose fertilizer spikes are great. And you can usually find them at Dollar stores, or Walmart.

What I've discovered over the years is that the medium size is the right kind to use outside. I've used the little narrow ones (that are meant to be pushed into a pot indoors) and I've tried the big ones that need to be pounded in with a hammer. What I really like is the medium ones - they're just the right size - not so narrow that they break apart when you push them into the ground, and no necessity of using a hammer.

If you're wondering when to fertilize - it's when the weather's nice. If you think it would be a great day to go play golf, fertilize. If it's too cold, or too hot, you can wait. It's September 9th, and the weather here in the Phoenix area is just gorgeous, and will be that way until December, when golfers will have to wear a sweater. Brrrr!

How to use fertilizer spikes

• Grab a bunch of them and push them into the ground around your plant. I push them in with my thumb, and I do it to all of my tropical plants, like my cycads, my miniature palms, well, just about everything. You don't need to use them on cactuses and agaves, by the way. It won't harm them, but they aren't interested in it, and you'll waste a dollar. Or 75 cents, which is what I just paid for these today at Walmart.

• Water in after using. These spikes will dissolve in the ground (no, you don't take them out), but only with some water. If it's raining when you're doing it, or soon afterwards, that's the best. If the forecast is for sunny skies, then go ahead and water them in with the hose, or a watering can.

Tropical plants love fertilizer, and it makes them green and lush, just like a lawn. So fertilize! And use the spikes!
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