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when to use booster fertilizer

This is a discussion on when to use booster fertilizer within the New Growers: Ask the Senior Members forums, part of the New Growers category; I noticed there is a regular orchid fertilizer by miracle grow and a orchid booster ...

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  1. #1
    barbara winter is offline Junior Member
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    Default when to use booster fertilizer

    I noticed there is a regular orchid fertilizer by miracle grow and a orchid booster fertilizer. What is the difference and when do you use the booster one?
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  2. #2
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    chemist is offline Senior Member
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    Are they both same brand?
    Im not sure about miracle grow but better gro has two formulas, one for regular fertilizing and another bloom boosting. Second one recomended to use once a month if you are on weekly fert schedule.

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    78Terp's Avatar
    78Terp is offline An Avant Gardner
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    I switch to booster for any orchid in spike (as soon as I see a spike, I switch) or any orchid I think will be growing an inflorescence next (leaf count). And stay with the booster until the blooms are beginning to fade.

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    There is no such thing as a bloom-boosting fertilizer; it is all and extension of marketing hype and much spread lore.

    Back when Dr. O. Wesley Davidson of Rutgers University invented Mir-Acid (30-10-10) - one of the first "chemical" fertilizers - it was recommended for orchids, as the high nitrogen level increased its acidity, something orchids like, up to a point. People used it at a pretty heavy dosage rate, and noticed tremendous growth, and a "star was born".

    Unfortunately, over time, folks started to notice that their plants weren't blooming well, if at all.

    More research was done, and it was discovered that excessive nitrogen application can quash blooming, so the formulator threw in extra phosphorus, effectively diluting the nitrogen, and - lo & behold! - folks plants started blooming again months later. Marketing got hold of it and the "Bloom Booster" was born. In fact, it does not "boost" anything, but by reducing the levels of nitrogen applied, it "allowed" the plant to bloom normally.

    So, back when folks routinely overfed their plants, switching to the low-N/high-P formula for a couple months in anticipation of the normal blooming period for the plant, removed that burden.

    The fact is this: Give your plant all of the cultural parameters it needs, don't overdo anything, and it will bloom to its maximum, genetically-programmed capability.

    ---------- Post Merged at 07:55 AM ----------

    Let me add to that a little.

    I was always of the impression that the formula is what determined if you were feeding "high" nitrogen or not. I've since learned that it isn't the formula of the fertilizer that's so important (it is, but to a lesser degree), it's the amount-, and frequency of application.

    If you think of the mass of applied fertilizer minerals as being analogous to calories when we eat, it's easier to grasp.

    In nature, most orchids will see no more than 15-25 ppm dissolved solids cascading down on them from the forest canopy as it just starts to rain. They may get that several times a day - frequent, periodic "snacks". It's mostly nitrogen, but at that low amount, there's no issue. Then there is the average in-home grower...

    The plants are fed once a week, and using a good general orchid fertilizer - the original MSU formulation (19-4-23) - at the often-recommended 1/2 teaspoon/gallon, and you're applying somewhere in the neighborhood of 800-900 ppm of dissolved solids, and around 125 ppm N alone, roughly 10x what the plant sees in nature. That's sort-of like starving yourself for a week, then gorging at the local all-you-can-eat buffet. Which is healthier? (For you, or the plant.)

    I now exclusively use K-Lite fertilizer (12-1-1) on all of my plants, and that, from a formula perspective, is one of the highest nitrogen formulas out there. However, I apply it at about 25 ppm N every two or three days, depending upon the weather (sunlight levels), mimicking nature, and I am seeing some of the best growth and flowering I've ever experienced in 40+ years of growing.

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    As always very interesting Ray.

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    I have heard two sides to using miracle grow orchid products in general. I have one side that believes it is truly a miracle and others that blame the product for the death of their orchid. Maybe it does have to do with their individual feeding routines, but I also think it just has to do with too much of a good thing. The MG orchid soil is fertilized already but then when added with another fertilizer and the "fabled" bloom booster, yikes.

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    I have ordered K-Lite as my fertilizers are running out. I will finish off the old ferts first before I start in on the K-Lite. Now I can get down to K-Lite, worm tea and kelp extract as food for the orchids. That is cutting down my food types from 6 to 3.

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    Quote Originally Posted by kspalding View Post
    I have heard two sides to using miracle grow orchid products in general. I have one side that believes it is truly a miracle and others that blame the product for the death of their orchid. Maybe it does have to do with their individual feeding routines, but I also think it just has to do with too much of a good thing. The MG orchid soil is fertilized already but then when added with another fertilizer and the "fabled" bloom booster, yikes.
    I'm quite sure you're right.

    I remember when the MSU fertilizer article was published in the AOS Orchids magazine, folks were touting it as being "miraculous".

    I think some of that is due to the fact that their feeding regimen was, up until then, a very haphazard, hit-or-miss thing, rather than been well planned out. Then, having been "fired up" by the reported results in the articles, they suddenly started paying attention to their plants again, and - wow! - they're growing really well... THAT STUFF really is a miracle.

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    I agree that "bloom booster" is mostly sales hype. But even if it wasn't, starting bloom booster AFTER you see a spike would be pointless. If there was any chance a fertilizer formula is going to promote blooming it would have to start several weeks or more before you expect reproductive growth to be triggered, which is itself weeks to months before you see the first sign of a spike.

  10. #10
    Plantcrazed101 is offline Junior Member
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    I use dyna-grow foliage pro fertilizer... I thought the foliage pro had enough nitrogen, but you're using k-lite? Does that work for orchids only or do you use it for other plants too?

    And why the 12-1-1 ratio?

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