Fertilizer & Nutrition

How to Foliar Feed Plants

Foliar feeding is a great way to give plants some additional nutrients and improve growth. In cases of root zone issues or lockout, foliar feeding is a quick way to get nutrients into your plant that it can’t get through the root system. Contrary to what some nutrient companies tell you, just about any liquid nutrient or tea brew can be foliar fed. The trick is mixing the foliar feed and applying it correctly.

Mixing your Foliar Feed

Your foliar spray will contain three items: nutrients, a surfactant/wetting agent and water. Multiple nutrient products can be used but when you are starting out it is best to keep it simple and start with just one nutrient product. Over time you can improve upon your recipe. For the first feeding take the lowest recommended feeding dose and cut it in half. It is better to underfeed than overfeed and burn your plants. Measure out that reduced dosage for the amount of water you have and mix. To thoroughly coat the leaves and maximize uptake wetting agents should be used. If you’re in a bind and don’t have or can’t afford a wetting agent, a couple drops of plain dish soap can be used. Be sure to get something that is plain and does not contain any anti-bacterial properties, dies or scents, etc. Finish mixing and you’ve got a foliar spray that is ready to use. 

When and How to Use Foliar Spray

Foliar sprays are best applied in early morning before the sun is blasting down onto your plants. Evening could work as well but it increases the risk of mold or mildew if there isn’t enough time for the spray to dry. This is the same reason why you shouldn’t water your grass in the evening. Apply a light misting to both sides of the leaves to thoroughly penetrate. Use a spray bottle that has a finer mist setting or has a nozzle adjustment. Do not use a spray bottle that only does stream and spray similar to many household cleaner bottles. If you haven’t used foliar spray before it is best to treat a test area first. This makes sure the feeding doesn’t cause nutrient burn or cause the sun to cook the leaves. Wait a couple of days to make sure and then apply a foliar feeding to the rest of your plant.

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