Aggressive (Focused) Feeding of Plants for Recovery

One of the techniques used to get plants to grow quicker is what’s known as “aggressive feeding.”  We employed it a lot after the February 2021 Freeze, and it helped a great many plants. But it’s not just after freezes that this can and should be employed. It should be kicked in after flooding, after droughts, after bloom cycles and especially after neglect.

It’s not a mean or angry technique – it’s simply a protocol used to get super-stressed plants to bounce back a little faster. Basically, what we are doing is adding a bit more fertilizer to the normal fertilization schedule for very specific plants. But – and this is absolutely the most important point – you must be certain to buffer or biologically enrich the feeding by watering it in with a liquid organic drench. In other words, if there’s a particular granular food or fertilizer for an azalea, camellia, rose, hibiscus, citrus, palm, tree, shrub, bougainvillea, bulb, annual or perennial, water it in with a liquid organic drench of any kind.

Here's why you should use this protocol:

There are many plants still alive in their root system but pruned down to the nubs. There are also plants we have had to prune way before their normal time. Azaleas are a good example. We normally prune them at the end of the bloom cycle and feed them six weeks later. That’s been the norm for decades.

So, I don’t care if you think they’re still going to bloom … PRUNE THEM! This way, we can start the aggressive feeding and focused fertilizing. This year, we prune and feed, mark 4 or 5 weeks later on the calendar, and mark it one more time 4 or 5 weeks after that … past what essentially would have been the normal second feeding. So, yes, … we get three feedings in this year.

Roses need rose food a few times a year, bump that up 1 or 2 feedings. Magnolias when they’re done with their stressed-out month of May, and after lots of blooms, an aggressive feeding is in order. 

But, again, the most important thing to do after aggressive and focused fertilizing is following with a saturation of liquid organic.  There are many reasons for this, but mainly (1) it helps generate new roots, and (2) it buffers the aggressive feeding and remediates the soil. Say it out loud: Buffering and soil remediation!

Palms need more feedings throughout the year, not just a couple of heavy feedings, which used to be the norm. Real Palm Foods break down quick and actually should be used both going into freezing weather and coming right out.

Citrus is another great candidate for aggressive feeding with a little more fertilizer than normal. We normally prune citrus in late February or early March, then immediately feed them. In normal years, the pruning is more of a clean-up, clean-out or shape up type of project. Then, we feed them every other month, hoping to get in around three or four before suspending by October 1.  This year, we have to prune them more than ever, and feed immediately. And instead of every 60 days, let’s get a feeding down every 45 days with any fruit, nut, pecan, avocado, or citrus food you can find. AND…drench each time with a liquid organic. My hope is you can get in four to five feedings this year.

Remember – it is truly important – even if you use some kind of “all-purpose” fertilizer – PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE, water it in with any liquid organic you can find at most of the nurseries, garden centers, the feed the stores we talk about on the show and all Greater Houston Ace Hardware stores.

Here’s a quick list of several liquid organic drenches that will be fine:

  • Medina Soil Activator
  • Medina Plus
  • Medina Seaweed Extract
  • Medina Hasta-Gro 6-12-6
  • MicroLife Oceans Harvest
  • Fox Farm’s Boomerang
  • Fox Farm’s Kangaroots
  • EM-1
  • Super Thrive
  • Nature’s Creation 100% Organic Root Stimulator
  • Carl Pool’s 100% Organic Root Stimulator
  • Any liquid molasses
  • Any liquid humus

Here are a few random thoughts on this topic:

I know there are dozens of other drenches available in Texas and nationwide. I’ve just focused on those I know of in the Houston area. If it’s not on this list, just make sure it is mostly organic or that the label says “100% organic.” Please don’t just use any old root stimulator, because there are tons of “synthetic” root stimulators on the market made from synthetic fertilizer. Remember, our goal is to buffer the aggressive fertilizing we are doing. We don’t want to add more synthetic fertilizer.

Some of the products above are not 100% organic but are “mostly” organic in composition.  

Some may be vitamins and hormones, but they’re still better than anything that’s 100% synthetic, in my opinion.

Dial-and-spray hose-end sprayers work as well as old-fashioned hand-watering cans. But I would never randomly pour on buckets of liquid drench.

Yes, I’m fine with any organic all-purpose fertilizer for the focused feeding. I’m not going to debate specific foods. If you want to debate any of this, I invite you to call the program one weekend.

And, yes, this concept can be used on the lawn, but it can also be a financial drain since the liquid organic drench will be quite expensive over a large area.