Feeding Your Plants This Summer

During the warmest months of the year, keeping your plants fed is an important part of helping them not only survive but thrive. We love to see our plants looking happy, so why not give them a little help? Here is the best information for keeping your plants growing beautifully all summer long.

Granular vs. Liquid

There are two main groups of plant foods that you will want to consider, depending on how you want to use them. Each has their own pros and cons, but it is more about choosing the right tool for the job. 

Liquid Plant Food - This plant food comes either in concentrate or ready-to-use formulas for both outdoor and indoor plants. Liquid can be used every 7-10 days in the warmer months. The best way to use liquid plant food is to water it into the soil. Some plant foods come as foliar sprays, which can be absorbed through the leaves of the plant. But in the summer, foliar sprays can cause burn damage on the plants from the sun. It is best to use these products in the evening when the sun is no longer directly shining on your plants, or just go with the application through soil method. 

PRO-TIP: When using liquid plant food, make sure your plant is not completely dry when feeding. This can cause root burn and may affect the plant’s overall health. It is better to water-in liquid food when the plant is a little damp already.

Granular Plant Food - Granular plant food comes in little granules that you sprinkle on top of the soil of your plants and/or mix into the soil as you are planting in the ground or in containers. Granular plant foods feed through a slow release of nutrients in the soil, so unlike the liquid variety, granular plant food can feed for at least a month without reapplication. Our McDonald Garden Center Greenleaf Granular Plant Food can feed from 1-3 months and is full of magnesium, which is a nutrient that is lacking in Virginia soils. This nutrient is essential in assisting your plant through steady, healthy growth.  


Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium (N-P-K)

You may notice when looking at both your liquid and granular plant foods that there are 3 numbers that occur on the bag or bottle. When you see the higher numbers in the NPK formula, it usually means the plant food is targeting a specific growth pattern in the plant, such as blooming with more phosphorus or extra nitrogen for leaf growth. Some common combinations are 8-10-8 for blooming plants, 20-2-6 for leafy plants, and 10-10-10 for all-purpose plant food. But what do these numbers tell you? These numbers refer to the macronutrients that are in the plant food, or Nitrogen-Phosphorous-Potassium. These main nutrients are paired up with micronutrients like boron, chloride, copper, iron, zinc, and more to feed the entire needs of the plant. 

PRO-TIP: Use our Organic McDonald Garden Center Greenleaf granules to address both the macro and micronutrients that your plants need. This product can be used on indoor and outdoor plants. 


Time To Feed

Whether you choose granular or liquid plant food to feed your plants, you will want to do so consistently throughout the season. During the warmer months of the year (generally late April to early October for Hampton Roads), plants are using much of their energy to produce new leaves and blooms before they become dormant again in the fall and winter. This is why feeding is important to keeping your plants growing on a steady rate while also promoting the best health the plant can have. 

Even though this time is mainly consumed by outdoor gardening, houseplants also like to be kept on a schedule when it comes to feeding. Even though indoor plants are kept at a consistent temperature for the majority of the year, it is good to keep them in a routine as if they were out in the wild. So just like your outdoor plants, you will want to feed more in the spring in summer than you do in the fall and winter depending on the plants you have and their natural cycles. 

Feeding is easy once you know the steps! If you have additional questions about feeding your plants, come see our garden supply Green Team members so they can help you further. See our sales page to keep up to date on what’s new and check out the Garden Guru and his webinars with new plants, products, and expert planting advice. To keep inspired and grow with us, follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to dig into the joys of gardening!