Despite growing up on a farm and being a real-life plant and soil scientist (with a Masters in Soil Science and PhD in Horticulture from Washington State University), Margaret McCoy admits that she never had any indoor plants until grad school.
“I needed a plant for a grad school project, and my advisor gave me a pothos. And I still have it!”
It was the first indoor plant Margaret kept alive, and it inspired her to start reconsidering her ability to care for houseplants. Before that inspirational pothos, she was never able to keep a houseplant from perishing.
“People were always giving me plants but I didn’t want them! I murdered them.”
So what changed for Margaret and her houseplants? Besides settling into a more permanent home (her homestead in South-Central Washington State), she says she learned more about taking care of them and forgiving herself when things didn’t work out.
“I have a rubber tree, I have a fiddle-leaf fig, I have a monstera…and they all need different things and sometimes I don’t know why a certain plant isn’t happy. I just try different things.”
And one of the major things that really makes a difference in your houseplants’ health is plant food! We sat down with Margaret to chat about how True Organic Liquid Plant Foods are your secret weapon when it comes to caring for your houseplants and potted garden.
When you look at the nutrient analysis of any fertilizer, you’re seeing the available nutrients that will “feed” your plants.
But look closer and you’ll notice a “derived from” section on the label. These are the ingredients used to make the listed nutrients available for plants. It’s very similar to a nutrition label on packaged food: the ingredients are what deliver the listed nutrients (carbohydrates, vitamins, sugars, protein, etc.) to your body.
Let’s look at some of the common ingredients in our liquid plant foods and learn about what they deliver to your green friends.
Let's start simple: with simple sugar, that is.
Yep, reduced molasses sugar and sugar beet extract are just what they sound like!
These ingredients are sugar-water solutions that dose plants with a quick shot of nutrients for energy. This type of ingredient helps reduce transplant shock — a condition that can strike plants when they are moved to a new location or environment, or undergo physical harm.
Molasses is derived from sugarcane and you know it as a sweetener for gingerbread, cookies, and cinnamon buns. Sugar beet extract is, of course, derived from sugar beets. Both give plants a quick, easily “digestible” source of nutrients and stress-suppressing compounds.
They’re a source of easily digestible carbon and minerals for soil microbes, which enhances microbial activity and can improve nutrient uptake.
While they don’t provide a lot of ongoing nutrient support, these ingredients act like a sugary drink or “goo” that a long-distance athlete might use to boost their energy during an endurance race. That’s why this family of ingredients is contained in many of our plant foods!
The ocean gives us this ingredient. “Kelp makes plants really happy. It’s really good for plants that have a stress response or injury,” say Margaret McCoy.
Here’s how: Kelp contains growth hormones that can help regulate the growth of plants. The cytokine hormone mobilizes nutrients in plant leaves to improve the chlorophyll content, and increase the growth rate and fullness of plants. It can also improve resilience in response to a variety of stressors, and even support pest and disease resistance.
Potash contributes potassium to plant food. While potash (pronounce “pot ash,” as in “potassium ash”) was originally produced from wood ashes and charcoal, it’s now typically mined from the underground deposits of evaporated sea beds.
The term "potash" usually refers to the overarching group of potassium-rich minerals as a whole; most of the potash delivers potassium in the form of Potassium Chloride (KCl). Like many other nutrients, potassium needs to be in the right form for soil microbes to break it down and plant roots to take it in.
Potassium is a huge helper to overall quality and yield of crops. It protects plants from extreme temperature, helps plants to fight stress, strengthens roots and stems, and helps enzymes support plants’ efficient use of water.
“Protein hydrolysates are essential amino acids that serve as a simple superfood,” says Margaret McCoy. They’re building blocks for plants, stimulating root growth and function, supporting cell structure, and promoting vegetative growth.
Plants use amino acids differently, and protein hydrolysates give them a needed boost of different types of amino acids.
Our exclusive soy protein hydrolysate blend is derived from organic soy beans and supplies a wide range of amino acids for both plants and soil microbes. (Plants can use the amino acids directly or use components like nitrogen and carbon for other critical parts of plant development.)
Soy protein hydrolysates are super-star ingredients that enhance nutrient availability and reduce overall impacts of environmental stress (over-watering, heat, etc). That’s why this ingredient is in all of our Liquid Plant Foods!
Humic Acid is a signature ingredient in our Organic Liquid Preplant Starter. It stimulates root development — specifically fine roots used to scavenge nutrients and help improve water and nutrient uptake. And with improved root systems, plants can protect better against environmental stressors!
Now that you’re briefed on how different ingredients support plants, you may be eager to get going with fertilization. But be mindful: plants don’t need supplements during non-growth seasons (like in Fall and Winter) and it’s important to get to know your plants and what they need.
Research the varieties of houseplants you’re raising to learn more about what kind of plant foods they need. Get familiar with your plants’ appearances so you know when something is up and they need a boost, a repotting, less water, or a new spot in the house.
And you can rest assured that every single True Organic product is certified food safe with the absolute highest standards. Learn more about our commitment to food safety and how we ensure the safest, highest-quality organic fertilizers on the market.
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