For years, one gardener or another has recommended a particular fertilizer. These different fertilizers are purported, (and rightly so) to develop larger blooms, better roots, and better overall health of a plant when compared to another fertilizer.
Some of these fertilizers are hard to obtain, and not found locally, or even in my area of the country. You can resort to the internet (and I did) but with freight prices rising, it gets a bit pricey. As an example, I bought a 32 oz. liquid bottle of fertilizer just for this experiment, and although the fertilizer was only 12.65, the freight rounded the price out to 20.00 bucks. That's expensive, in my opinion.
So, I came to the conclusion that I would run an actual experiment, using 6 various fertilizers, all having different NPK values, and all except one are found within a 5 mile radius of me. I want to know which one is the best, and thought I'd share my results.
This fertilizer and angel trumpet cuttings experiment will take me a couple of months or so to finish. I am starting it on October 10th, 2012. By the way, here in South Florida, this is the time of year to begin taking cuttings, as the brutal summer heat usually kills them. The cooler weather that will be just around the corner is perfect for the experiment. The cuttings will be left in the screen house for protection from direct sun, insects, and excessive wind or weather.
For the experiment, I have chosen the following fertilizers:
- No. 1: Mater Magic Natural Organic pellets
1 tbsp. per 4 to 4 1/2 inch pot. NPK∼8.5.5.
- No. 2: Schultz All Purpose Liquid Fertilizer
1/4 cap (2 tsp) to 1 gallon. NPK∼10.15.10.
- No. 3: Miracle Gro All Purpose soluble granules
1 tbsp. to 1 gallon. NPK∼21.8.16.
- No. 4: Vigoro All Purpose soluble granules
1 tbsp to 1 gallon. NPK∼24.8.16.
- No. 5: Miracle Gro Tomato, soluble granules
1 tbsp to 1 gallon. NPK∼18.18.21.
- No. 6: Vigoro Liquid All Purpose Fertilizer
1/4 cap (2 tsp) per gallon. NPK∼10.10.10.
Week 1∼October 10th through 16th
The brugmansia plant used in the fertilizer experiment is Fleming Island Rachel. I took 6 cuttings, as equal as I could possibly make them, and all were dipped in a good dose of Superthrive and then into Root Tone rooting hormone. They were each nestled into Superthrive and water soaked unmilled sphagnum moss, that was then placed into a 4 inch pot of homemade seedling soil mixture.
I also made a seperate bottle of each fertilizer, mixed with distilled water to the appropriate measure for a 32 ounce spray bottle, to use as a foliar feed for the matching cutting. This will keep them moist as they start growing leaves and keep the fertilizer true to the experiment.
The water used to regularly feed the root part of the cuttings is well water. I could not use it in the spray bottles because it would potentially clog the sprayer's filter.
The only fertilizer that does not get a spray bottle filled with the matching fertilizer is the Magic Mater Organic. For this spray bottle, I used Black Kow 5.5.5. compost tea. This spray bottle will also receive rain water as opposed to distilled.
Check back next week for the next set of results and photos.
Week 2∼October 17th through 22nd
It's the beginning of week two. I have been lightly misting the cuttings from last week with the appropriate fertilizer a few times a day now, for the past week. Here is a set of photos showing what each fertilizer has done (or not) to help those little cuttings get started.
If you look closely, there is growth on both of these cuttings, although there is better growth on the Organic Mater Magic. There is also more macroscopic life on this one, present at the soil surface.
Cuttings 3 and 4 also show growth, more on number 4 than 3.
The last two cuttings, 5 and 6, also have growth on them, although 5 is taking much better, and you might not even see the tiny leaves on cutting 6, as I do from being up close.
Week 3∼October 23rd through 29th
It' October 25th of week number 3 of the experiment. I am beginning to see some real results now. There were ant issues concerning the organic fertilizer pellets in no. 1, so I had to flush the pot with regular water and then soak in a dish overnight before removing the pot and letting it dry out. Other than that, all were sprayed with their matching fertilizer daily. Below are the results so far.
Number 1 is organically fertilized, and the ants seemed to love it. I had to flush it out with water to remove them. Notice growth on 2
Number 3 is showing less growth than any in the experiment. Number 4 is doing very well
Number 5 is the best of all in the experiment, while 6 is right there with number 2. Cutting 6 is a replacement, and is 3 weeks old, as shown in photo.
Week 6 November 14th through 19th
I skipped a couple of weeks of photographing, but kept on the regimen of spraying each cutting with the appropriate fertilizer. One big change? Number 6 cutting died, so I had to start over. That's why in the last photo, that cutting is missing. It is now 3 weeks into the experiment, and can be seen above in Week 3. I will fill it in as it catches up to the rest.
Cuttings 1 and 2 are doing very well, as you can see from the photo.
Cutting 3 is alive, but still with no green growth. Remember, this is the Miracle Gro All Purpose Fertilizer used on this one. Cutting 4 has begun to actually root a small shoot from the base, as opposed to actually the cutting leafing up.
Cutting 5 has done very well, and from what I see so far, is doing the best of all. Cutting 5 is under the care of MiracleGro Tomato Fertilizer. This makes sense to me, as brugmansia are relatives of tomato, and both are very heavy feeders. Cutting 6 died, as I mentioned above, and is 3 weeks behind. To see Cutting 6 at three weeks growth, scroll up to that week.
It is January 23rd, and I have finished experiment. My camera took a dive on me, and sadly, have no photos. I will tell you the clear winners were the organic MagicMater and the Miracle Gro Tomato fertilizer. Both did almost parallel results, although the Miracle Gro is about 2 inches taller. I would use either of them when doing cutting/rootings.