Container Plant Nutrients


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I have been reading a lot about the soil food web and how plants get nutrients. I was wondering in a container how all the nutrients are made available to the plant sense it doesn't really have a soil food web like in a garden. How does a natural fertilizer get broken down so the plant can use it? I have some potting soil with alfalfa meal, feather meal, kelp meal, worm castings and mycorrhizae. I know the mycorrhizae will some of the work at least. But they weren't in the soil mix how would the nutrients get processed?
 
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Hello, and welcome to the Forum.

Artificial soil mixes are not entirely sterile. Various bacteria and fungi that help break down nutrient molecules can grow well in a container environment, though they may be different from the strains one might find in native soil. As for mycorrhizae, these symbioses can greatly benefit plants in their natural environment as well as in cultivation, but they are not always necessary in containers because ample water and fertilizer is provided and plant competition for resources is limited.

So yes, I agree that some of these processes may work less efficiently in a container. Also some solid, bulky fertilizers could impede drainage, especially if added after the initial planting. Therefore, I prefer to use faster acting liquid fertilizers in my containers, even though for my in-ground plantings, I do mostly fertilize compostable material and other slower-acting organic compounds.
 
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Marck,

Thanks for the help and info and help. I figured there had to something in there or containers wouldn't work. I'm having a lot of fun learning about all.
You are a wise one to consider the context. Potting up is a lot different than soil growing in some ways, temperatures included. Successful potting is instructive for raised bed planting as well.
 

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