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How to Fertilize Outdoor Plants

By Nannette Richford ; Updated September 21, 2017
Plants in pots and containers require more frequent fertilizer than those in the soil.
container garden image by andreaschneider from Fotolia.com

Fertilizing established plants in pots or containers outside keeps plants healthy and promotes lush growth. Because nutrients leach from the soil through the bottom of the pot with repeated watering, container-grown plants require more frequent fertilizer than their counterparts grown directly in the soil. Many gardeners prefer to use a liquid foliar feeder to keep outdoor plants healthy. The key to success is choosing the appropriate formula and following the recommended application rate.

Visit your local garden supply center or hardware store to purchase foliar feeder for your plants. Read the label carefully to determine the correct formula for your specific plants. Foliar feeder is typically sold as a granular fertilizer designed to mix with water, but it may be available as a concentrated liquid.

Look for fertilizer formulas designed for blooming plants if your primary plants are flowers. Purchase a general formula for vegetables if you have a selection of vegetable plants. Buy a specific formula designed for one type of vegetable, like tomato food, if you are only growing one kind of vegetable.

Mix the foliar feeder granules (or liquid) with water in a bucket or watering can, following the recommended strength. Stir to dissolve. You can also use a feed sprayer that attaches to your hose. Follow the directions with the sprayer to fill the reservoir with the proper amount of fertilizer formula. Attach the feed sprayer to the hose as instructed by the manufacturer.

Fertilize plants with foliar feeder by sprinkling, or spraying, the solution onto the foliage, allowing the excess to drain into the soil beneath the plant. Foliar feeder penetrates the leaves, giving plants an instant burst of nutrients. Solution that drains into the soil provides nutrients for the roots.

Apply foliar feeder following the recommendations on the package. Typically, it is applied every 10 to 14 days during periods of active growth. Some prefer to mix fertilizer to 1/2 strength and apply with each watering.


Things You Will Need

  • Foliar feeder
  • Watering can
  • Wooden spoon
  • Feed sprayer
  • Garden hose


  • If soil is dry, water the plants prior to applying foliar feeder.

About the Author


Nannette Richford is an avid gardener, teacher and nature enthusiast with more than four years' experience in online writing. Richford holds a Bachelor of Science in secondary education from the University of Maine Orono and certifications in teaching 7-12 English, K-8 General Elementary and Birth to age 5.