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Fertilization of Fuchsias - unplugged 

To keep your fuchsias vital you have to fertilize them the right way

Unfortunately, on this issue haunts much misinformation through the Internet and by far the biggest nonsense I have read on a topic one of the pages of plant community. I therefore would like to give in the following part of this article a little insight from the biological point of view.

Fuchsias are in most commercial nurseries grown in peat based substrates and later on offered in this for sale. Such substrates are well suited for watering and fertilizing in one step (each time) to rapidly produce plants for sale, but such substrates can not maintain larger deposits of fertilzer over longer periods. This is one of the reasons why plants grown in this way often start very quickly to weaken and to turn yellow. 

Therefore, repotting after the purchase and fertilizing them regularly is important. If the fertilization is initially suspended the soil impoverishes by nutrient uptake of the plant and by leaching of important macro and micro nutrients - the result are a series of effects from dropping flowers, enhaced weakness again fungal attacks to lacks in flower development.

Commercial fertilizers - no matter in what form they are offered for sale - differ in their chemical compositions - and this is reflected very often in the prize for them. Special fertilizers are usually very expensive. Therefore, you should be careful when buying them what you are going to apply later to your plants.
On the product packaging the content is obligated listed.

NPK - stands for the composition of the fertilizer in terms of available nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potash (K). In addition, however, are still indications of any trace elements that are essential for plant development. There are usually also magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), boron (B), molybdenum (Mo) and zinc (Zn) - these are the most important ones in this context.

Why not just nitrogen / phosphorus / potash, but also trace elements?
Plants are some kind of living organisms, in order to grow, bloom and reproduce the have to produce in the cycle of the assimilation chemical substances which use enzyme catalyzed reactions. These enzymes, that are found in the liguids of the cells or integrated into leave membranes, have usually included in the active catalytic center metal ions of so-called trace elements. Absence of these or deficiencies by calcification of the soil substrates (change of pH) makes plants suffering and showing typically signs of deficiency symptoms (such as iron and manganese deficiency, the yellow leaves of chlorosis).
Therefore, a good fuchsia fertilizer has not only NPK included!

Permanent fertilizer, blue grain, liquid fertilizer or leaf fertilization
Fuchsias need compared to other plantgroups like angels trumpets only low resources and are sometimes sensitive to overfertilizing - thus the correct choice and the application is just as important as the composition of the fertilizer itself.
Liquid fertilizers are by far the most commonly used ones. A certain amount of the fertilizers stock solution  (liquid or grain) is diluted in water and then poured on the surface of the soil. The major nutrients are in the form of ions  which are uptaken via the plants hair roots. The pros often use head/ leaf fertilization, however, in many cases it is more effective than other methods. Here, the green part of the plant is sprayed with a weak fertilizer solution. The plants can uptake the nutrients via small openings on the leaves surfaces, which are normally important for the uptake of  carbon dioxide / oxygen. Preferred times are days with cooler temperatures or the evening hours, when the plants regenerate and the energy gained during the day (ATP / GTP) are converted in the dark reaction into sugars and other basic building blocks of plant growth.

Permanent fertilizer versus blue grain - since a few years pilled (encoated) fertilizers are available on the market. The fertilizers coat material is made of permeable polymer material and releases the capsuled fertilizer only in low amounts. Compared to the blue corn (Hakaphos) which are normally  for direct use coated fertilizers have the advantage that the hair roots of the plants are not harmed by excessive use. A further plus is that the use of such coated fertilizers can help you save time during the first 6-8 weeks - you don't have to fertilize your plants in addition during this time.

Nitrogen - in which form ever - is an essential component of all plants. Some plants such as leguminoses have therefore specialized in fixation of atmospheric nitrogen via a symbiosis with special soil bacterias. Unfortunately, fuchsias do not have such a bundle!
Nitrogen is found in commercial fertilizers mostly as nitrate (NO3-) or ammonium (NH4+) proportionally added - the latter one is  the common form the roots like. High nitrate concentrations during hot weather periods effect the hairroots of the plants - especially in connex with the plant stress hormone ABS it has influence on the plant grow in a negative way.

Unfortunately, the ions in the form of salts soluble in water very well, so a considerable part will be washed out by every watering.

Phosphorus as phosphate - P2O5 is not a herbal form of energy and also not  the form used in  fertilizers. Only the phosphate content in the ignition of a chemical analysis is applied to this formula. Phosphorus in different chemical compounds, but mainly as phosphate (PO43-) and dihydrogenphoshat (HPO42-) plays an important role in biological processes (energy, leaves material, DNA, cell puffering ....).

Potassium - an important component of cell liquids. In plant cells, many trans-membrane processes - such as turgor (cell liquid pressure in the leaves) -  a driven by  a K+/Ca++-Gradient. So a sufficient supply is important for all plants, but not the K20 is the best form. Potassium is enhacing the ripening process of shoots and also the induction of flowers. If you apply to much of this element to your plants the leave size will be reduced and you get a negative effect on flower induction.

Magnesia - an essential element for green in plants. Many plants growers know it that magnesium in the form of the metal ion is an essential part of chlorophyll. The latter is important part of the assimilation process in the sunlight where the plants gain energy components and thus indirectly has influence on the plants development itself. A Magnesiasulfate donation enhaces not only the green effect and reduces deficiency symptoms of the leaves - but contributes significantly to the vitality of plants.

Iron and manganese as chelates - both metal ions can be present in nature in different chemical valence levels and are easy inactivated by forming inclusion compounds with calcium carbonate. Iron and manganese bound in these complexes are not available for plants. Therefore, it is important that plants, which suffer from chlorosis (yellow zoned leaves) need a donation of iron and manganese in an appropriate form and procedure. Therefore you will find on the packs of such special fertilizers a special note - iron bound with EDTA. The latter is a stable complexing agent for both ions and allows a slow release of the ions to the substrate. 

pH-value - this factor which is very often underestimated by plant growers and  is somehow a value which is hard to measure (it's for ure different to claims in some plant forums). It is usually not sufficient to stick a sensors head without calibration in the soil and wait, what the device displays says. A lot of other factors are here important too - so in most cases not trained users get house numbers or approximated values. 

Please note: the pH-value is per definition bound to solutions of water. So the actuell humidity of the soil at the time when pH is measured plays an important role.

However, the existing soil nutrient ions for the plant will remain available -  it is therefore important to keep the pH-value of the soil in a certain ph-range (from 5.5 - 6.5). Strongly different values therefore have negative impact on plant development.

Effects of fertilizers and their compositions on the growth behavior of the plant
Passionate fuchsias growers know,  when  they are fertilizing their plants from June to end of August that the correct composition of the fertilizer has an influence on the growth of plants and  the formation of new flowers itself. High amounts of nitrogen in the flowering phase are counter-productive! Be careful and use therefore higher proportions KP. This is also essential for lignitfication process in autumn (maturing of the wood). At various relevant fuchsia pages very special cocktails are often threaded for the plants, which should give them a special kick. The special kick is probably the money you spent for buying these materials and cocktails. Sometimes a little amount wood ash or a plant extract is more effective than many commercial fertilizer in a utopic NPK composition.

Water does not equal water
Tea consumers know it - many plantfriends - too. Water is not the same when pouring water. If possible, you should watered your with rainwater. It helps you if you use peat-based soil material in several respects. On one hand, no lime is entered into the substrate - so a fixation of trace elements largely avoided - on the other hand rainwater reacts slightly acidic, which is beneficial to keep the pH of the soil in the optimum area. The hardness of the water (= content in mg/l of Mg/ Ca-carbonate) is not only recognized when you use your washing machine, its also gets visible showing whitish edges of ceramic plant pots, the soil material and other vessels.


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