QUESTION: What kind of fertilizer should I use for herbs? Do you need a particular brand or type or does any fertilizer work? – Anne Y
GC REPLIES: There are a few specifications you should look for in fertilizer when caring for your herbs.
First, it’s important that you select a fertilizer that’s high in nitrogen. This will help the foliage grow faster and become lush. However, you don’t want a lot of phosphorus in the fertilizer for herbs, because this will encourage blooming.
The next thing you should consider is whether you want to use chemical fertilizers or an organic option. Some people lean towards chemical fertilizers because they’re more cost-effective.
Yet, they remove the natural nutrients from soil and are easy to apply too much at one time. Should you apply too much chemical fertilizer to your herbs, it could easily burn them.
As you can imagine, this leads to serious harm (and sometimes death) of your plants.
Organic fertilizers can be more costly unless you make them yourself. However, they improve the soil and it’s less likely you’ll harm your plants should you become a little heavy-handed during the application process.
Now that you know what to look for in a fertilizer, you should also understand that there are slow-release granular fertilizers and liquid fertilizers.
Both options come in synthetic and organic forms. Slow-release granular fertilizer should be applied at the time of planting your herbs.
This doesn’t provide an immediate boost of nutrients to your plants, but it will keep a consistent supply of nutrients available to your plants throughout the growing season.
It’s also wise to apply another dose of slow-release granular fertilizer halfway through the growing season.
Apply these fertilizers by placing them around the base of the plant. You’ll water after the fertilizer is applied but ensure the ground isn’t overly dry prior to application.
If it is, water the area two hours before fertilizing. Then water it again after the fertilizer is applied around your plants.
A few options for slow-release fertilizers are chemical granules, organic granules, composted manure, worm castings, and homemade or purchased compost.
Liquid fertilizer supplies an instant boost of nutrients to your plants. This option should be dissolved into water prior to application.
Then water at the base of the herbs to ensure the soil is thoroughly saturated. Apply liquid fertilizer to your herbs approximately once per month.
Your options for liquid fertilizer consist of synthetic liquid fertilizer, fish emulsion, or compost tea.
You can fertilize your plants anytime during the day as long as they’re healthy and not showing signs of stress.
If you fertilize your herbs at a time they appear stressed, this could do further harm and even lead to death.
Before you begin to practice this form of care for your herbs, it’s important to consider the growing method and type of herb you’re growing.
Herbs grown within containers need to be fertilized more frequently than those grown in the ground. The reason being, when you water container plants, all of the nutrients get flushed away.
These plants have no way to replenish what they’ve lost. Therefore, you must supply what they need by fertilizing more frequently.
Container-grown herbs can be fertilized per the general rule of thumb shared above. However, if they seem to need a little extra boost, it’s okay to fertilize them every two weeks.
Also, you must look at your herbs and figure out if they’re slow-growing or faster growing. Herbs which have smaller leaves, needle-like foliage, or woody stems are known for being slow-growing.
Therefore, they shouldn’t be fertilized as frequently. However, if you’re growing herbs with larger, skinnier foliage, they grow faster. These herbs may need a boost of nutrients on a more consistent basis.
Take these pointers into careful consideration because if you over fertilize your herbs it weakens both their fragrance and flavor.
Hopefully, you have a better idea of what kind of fertilizer your herbs need and how frequently you should apply it.
Let these tips guide you as you set out to grow a lush, flavorful, and beautiful herb garden around your home.