Tips & Tricks

Plant Food 101

An assortment of tropical plants on display in the Rooted Chinatown location in 2019.

Never let your plants go hungry again. Yes–plants need to eat to survive! It's true that they make their own food through the act of photosynthesis (☀️), but in nature, they also get a bulk of their essential nutrients from soil and even rainwater. This is why healthy soil and plant food is essential when we bring greenery inside.  

What Is Plant Food?

Plant food, a.k.a fertilizer, is a remedy for plants that are suffering from nutrient deficiencies or just need an extra boost during the growing season. It’s not a complete substitute for healthy soil, but it definitely helps produce lush foliage at a faster rate. Fresh soils and potting mixes are usually jam-packed with nutrients, but over time, these are depleted. This is why all plant collectors should add feeding to their care regimen ~6 weeks after repotting during the growing season.

When it comes to food type, you have a couple of options. The most popular, soil food, is liquid fertilizer that is diluted and watered into the soil. It can also come in the form of compost, but this is less typical. Foliar food is a topical fertilizer that’s absorbed through the foliage of the plant. In most instances, foliar food is less likely to cause leaf burn, but can also be less powerful. 

Usually, you can apply fertilizer March through October, about one to two times a month, but always look up the specific needs of your plant before feeding! Keep scrolling to learn how to use both and decide which type is best for you. 


How to Use Soil Food:

Carefully measure your plant food to avoid leaf burn, especially on more delicate plants. If you’re nervous about overdoing it, use less than recommended until you’re more comfortable with the process. Dilute the food in water per recommended instructions, and use the solution to water your plants. Alternatively, you can use Instant Plant Food, which are pre-measured tablets, to never go wrong. 

How to Use Foliar Food:

Quick and fool proof? Say no more. Spray your foliar plant food directly onto the foliage. Don’t forget the undersides–this is actually home to thousands of your plant's pores! The nutrients are then absorbed through the stomata, and your plant is left full and happy for the next two weeks or so.


You're ready to feed a whole family (of plants) at this point. 🧑‍🍳 On a serious note, both options contain a great source of nutrients for your houseplants, and should be included in your routine if you want healthy foliage. Always be sure to read the instructions for whichever food type you go with, and your plants will be growing in no time. If you're still feeling like a sous-chef, email us at and we'll walk you through it.

Back to blog