With a reported year on year decline in autumn container nursery stock (CNS) sales, growers and garden centres are particularly keen to capitalize on early season sales, says Andrew Wilson, technical manager for fertilizer at Everris, part of ICL; however he warns it is important to use the correct feeding regime to kick start consumer interest.
“With spring in sight, daytime temperatures are rising on sunny days and many plants that have remained dormant over the winter are showing signs of growth,” he says. “As plants’ nutrient needs increase again additional feeding is often required in the form of water soluble fertilizers or top dressing.
“Water soluble fertilizers give quick results when applied regularly, however it is important to use the correct NPK ratio for the stage of growth. For example, continued use of a high Nitrogen feed, with an NPK ratio 3:1:1, promotes soft growth easily damaged by cold or disease. Switching to a 2:1:2 ratio gives more balanced growth or a ratio of 2:1:3 encourages compact growth, that is more resistant to disease, while promoting higher plant quality and longer shelf life.”
For CNS Andrew recommends topdressing as a highly effective means of re-fertilizing over wintered stock. For the best results and crop safety, he recommends using a controlled release product with 4-5 month longevity, such as Osmocote Topdress FT.
“While predominantly a controlled release fertizlier, Osmocote Topdress FT also contains a combination of water soluble, slow and controlled release fertlizers providing a quick green up response, as well as long term feed availability with minimal leaching,” he explains.
“Additional compounds make the product sticky after application. This helps minimise fertilizer loss, even if pots are blown or knocked over.
“A quality topdress applied now will not only help optimise greening up and get plants looking their best for the all important Easter weekend, it will help extend the plants shelf life and / or performance for the end consumer.”