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Can You Fertilize Plants In The Winter? Don’t Deprive Your Plants

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Plants don’t need fertilizers in winter. That may be true for some plants, but not all. So what are the criteria?

Fertilizing plants in the winter depends on the types of plants you’re growing, their location in the house, and your geographical location. Most houseplants go dormant during the winter, and fertilization is not required. However, vegetable plants need fertilizer, even in the colder season. Lawn grass should be fed with the proper ratio of nutrients before the soil enters the freezing state.

In this article, we’ll discuss whether you should fertilize houseplants, vegetable plants, and lawn grass and will also explain the benefits and the methodology for each.

Can You Fertilize In The Winter?

Fertilizing Plants during winter

Winter fertilization requirements and regimes vary from plant to plant and location to location. However, a few general guidelines apply to all. 

We disclose that for three main types of plants


Winter is when indoor plants are not actively growing, so it is not necessary to nourish them. By doing this, you risk browning leaf tips and fertilizer burn. 

However, certain tropical plants—mainly vining climbers or trailers grow even in the dead of winter, so they may still need some feeding, albeit at a lower rate.

Additionally, plants that are grown indoors may have artificial light to use as a way to create food and grow. Be it a grow light or a ceiling light or a lamp, indoor plants will utilize it to produce food, and as a result, they will require fertilizer to keep them growing.

Vegetable Plants

How frequently you should fertilize your vegetable plants depend on the plants you are growing. Utilizing inorganic fertilizers is encouraged. They are more appropriate, and winter crops can easily receive their nutrients from them.

Lawn or Grass

Fertilizing frozen soil serves no purpose. Fall is the ideal time to feed cool-season lawns because the nutrients are more easily available and are better suited to their needs.

This also helps winter crops to sustain their color and break dormancy once spring sets in. This is one particular advantage of fertilizing during winter months as they get a head start once spring sets in.

Benefits of Fertilizing during Winter Months

Just like humans, the metabolism of plants decreases in winter, so they don’t need much food (aka fertilizers). However, some plants need them and won’t survive until they receive this nourishment. 

Earlier spring green-up

If you provide proper nutrients in the proper amounts during the winter to stimulate the roots, your lawn and garden will get off to a terrific start in the spring.

Improved winter and spring root growth

Plant roots grow in the winter until the entire ground starts freezing. 

Although applying fertilizer in the winter won’t provide visible results right away above ground, the underground root system is strengthened, making it more capable of supporting springtime new shoot growth.

Boost the storage of energy reserves within the turf plant

The nitrogen-based nutrient applied upfront in your fall treatment encourages carbohydrate storage and root development and will also intensify the turf’s green hue over the winter.

Makes it healthier

Throughout the summer, your grass experiences several changes. Ground compaction, illness, weeds, insects, and heavy use all have an impact. 

By the time fall rolls around, your grass needs a “pick-me-up.” So, after a demanding growing season, reviving the health of your lawn by applying a winter fertilizer as part of your fall lawn maintenance program is a good idea.

What is the Best Fertilizer for Winter?

The best fertilizer for winter is the one that has lower nitrogen and a higher potassium content. Too much nitrogen can turn the leaves softer and more prone to diseases.

But the right nitrogen-potassium proportion will assist the plant in maintaining its strength and health throughout the season.

When in doubt, a 20-20-20 fertilizer ratio works well on most plants, even in the winter. When choosing a fertilizer, you should opt for more water-soluble rather than slow-release granules because of the cold.

A water-soluble fertilizer will ensure that nutrients be delivered quickly to the roots of the plant.

I have had the best results from using Miracle-Gro Soluble fertilizer. It’s great value for money and will last a long time. You can find it by clicking here.

Miracle-Gro 1001233 Water Soluble

Table of Plant Nutrient, Use and Deficiency Symptoms to Note During Winter

NutrientUse Deficiency Symptom
Nitrogen – NA major component of chlorophyll and is used in photosynthesisStunted Growth, Pale color, Light green yellowish leaves
Prosperous – PEnergy transfer, photosynthesis, the transformation of sugars and starchesStunted growth, darkening of the leaves
Potassium – KEnzyme activation in plants, Increases root growth and improves drought resistance. Brown scorching and curling of leaf tips
Calcium – CaTo provide structural support to cell wallsPlant dark green, Drying starts from the tips, Tender leaves pale
Magnesium – MgUsed in chlorophyll production and enzyme regulationPaleness from leaf edges. Edges have cup shapes folds
Sulfur – SUsed in the formation of amino acids, proteins, and oilsLeaves light green, veins pale green
Boron – BUsed for cell wall formation and plant stabilitydiscoloration of leaf buds. breaking and dropping of buds
Copper – CuPhotosynthetic and respiratory electron transport chainsPale pink between the veins. wilt and Drop.
Chlorine – ClOsmotic and stomatal regulation, disease resistance and toleranceWilting of leaves, especially at the margins
Iron – FeUsed for the synthesis of chlorophyll, and it is essential for chloroplast functionLeaves are pale, No spots, major veins Green
Manganese – MnSustains metabolic roles within different plant cell compartmentsLeaves pale in color, veins dark green
Zinc – ZnFormation of chlorophyll and some carbohydratesLeaves pale, dark spots on leaf edges
* These are the more predominant nutrients found in fertilizers and can vary by brand.

How to Fertilize Plants During Winter?

It’s a good idea to examine your soil for nutrient deficiencies before adding fertilizer. You may use a soil test kit to check nitrogen, phosphorus, and potash levels. 

Once confirmed, you can proceed, but different plants need different treatments.


Never fertilize a dry lawn. Wait till the day following a rainshower, as the earth will be damp. Time your application so that there are a few days before the next storm. This helps avoid fertilizer getting washed away before it has a chance to penetrate into the soil.

Calculate how much fertilizer your lawn will need. Use a spreader or broadcaster to walk your grass in a regular pattern to ensure that the fertilizer is applied as evenly as possible.


To give houseplants a boost for the growing season, start fertilizing them as you notice any indications of new growth or a recoloring of the current leaves.

However, the kind of potting soil and the frequency of watering will determine whether you need to fertilize houseplants in the winter or not.

If you water your indoor plants a few times each week during the winter, use a weak fertilizer solution that is at least 50% diluted.

Vegetable plants

You can fertilize your vegetable crop using a slow-release 10-10-10 fertilizer at the beginning of winter. This kind of fertilizer slowly releases nutrients into the soil and contains 10% potassium, nitrogen, and phosphorus.

After working the fertilizer into the ground, add a thick layer of mulch to protect it.

What is the best time to fertilize the plants in winter?

Fertilize your plants in the morning. This lowers the risk of fungal illnesses. Avoid fertilizing your plants when the ground is covered in snow or frozen.

When using a liquid fertilizer, apply it directly to the soil after diluting it with 50% water; make sure you do not drop it on the leaves.

Note: Use slow-release formulations to provide nutrients gradually without damaging the roots. They are made for the long term.

Is it Better to Fertilize before Winter?

During winter, plants enter a state of dormancy where they don’t grow and restrict the uptake of nutrients from the soil. This encourages them to conserve energy and keep them alive even when there are minimal amounts of sunlight to produce food.

When the turf stops growing but is still green, often in mid-to-late October, apply a fertilizer to promote good winter survival and early-spring green-up. 

But timing is essential. A lawn will be more vulnerable to winter damage if fertilizer is given too early since it will encourage succulent growth in the fall. The lawn will only benefit from fertilizer that is put in later.

Remember, your plants will have the best chance of growing and remaining healthy during the winter if you fertilize them properly.

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