Experienced nurseryman Steve Chapman, now our technical area sales manager for the Home Counties, urges growers not to overlook plant nutrition in the winter months.
As the seasons change, and with Christmas fast approaching, now is a good time to you’re your plants ready for what winter has in store.
Whether it’s a mild or cold winter growers still need to maintain a suitable level of feed for evergreen plants. However, grown outdoors or under protection the emphasis changes form growth to hardening up plants – necessitating a change from high nitrogen to high potassium feeds.
If the controlled release fertilise incorporated into the growing media has come to the end of its predetermined longevity, or you are about to turn off your irrigation in which you were liquid feeding, now is the time to apply a quality controlled release fertiliser. With the risks of cold weather approaching, applying a high Potassium feed now - like Osmocote Bloom (2-3month) - will help green up foliage. It won’t encourage soft growth but it will help plants harden up ready for winter.
When your plants are fed, ready for what the next few months have in in store, then it’s a good idea to start thinking about your fertiliser program for the spring. April is always a busy time on nurseries and, in my experience, plant nutrition can get overlooked as other jobs take over. Before you know it, plants can become unsaleable. So, it’s a good idea to apply Osmocote Topdress FT 4-5m on brought in stock and any over wintered stock.
It’s worth using a quality controlled release fertiliser, rather than a budget slow release formula that will release regardless of the weather conditions and especially when it’s cold. Cheaper products can dissolve with the nutrients wasted when plants are unable to use them leading to disappointing end results. Such products can be even more problematic in the spring and summer when higher temperatures can cause them to volatilise.
If you have a crop that needs greening up but you can’t apply a high Nitrogen topdress, as the plants will produce soft growth, try making a couple of applications of Peters Professional Foliar Feed and apply Osmocote Bloom to keep the plants going throughout the winter.