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By Percy_s

United Kingdom Gb

I am emailing to ask you advice in relation to feeding my garden next season. I have been recommended to Chempak, but having read the instructions on the box at the garden centre, I am confused as to how it works.

My garden consists mainly of the following:

1. In the planted borders, there are rhododendrons, azeleas, camellias, and general other shrubs, most of which have been there for a few years. In summer, we add some bedding plants.
2. In containers, we have clematis, shrub roses, and hardy fuchsias. In the summer we add bedding plants in baskets, including annual fuchsias, begonias etc.

It was suggested to me that for all of the plants, including those in the garden itself, that we should use Chempak no 3 at the beginning of the season, and then change to Chempak no 4 when buds start to appear, and on the summer annuals that we put in the garden and baskets.

Is this correct advice?

I have the following questions:

1. Having looked at the box for Chempak no 3, in the garden centre, it does not say when the use should start and finish. On most of the other feeds, such as Growmore etc, it says use between February and October for example. When should I start to use Chempak no 3?
2. Most of the other feeds for use at the beginning of the season are granular, and I can understand how mixing the granules into the compost in February/March would then result in the wet weather watering them in for the next 5-6 weeks before the next application. However, with Chempak, it is liquid feed and so it would mean that I would be watering every week or so in February/March when the containers or soil are already very wet from the weather wouldn’t it? Wouldn’t this be too much water on top of that from the weather? Would the feed in Chempak 3 still remain in the soil to start growth off well, or would it not simply wash away through the soil in the garden or container?
3. In addition to feeding as above, would it also be a good idea to replace part of the compost in the containers or would that be unnecessary if I use Chempak 3 and 4.
4. If I use Chempak 3 and 4 in this way, should that be sufficient for all of my gardening feeding needs?
5. Would you recommend any other methods of feeding in my situation? I have read for example, that fish bone and blood provides a good start to the season, and it is a slow releasing fertilizer. Would this be better, and could it be used for both containers and the garden borders?

I apologise for my ignorance in these matters, but hope that you will be able to advise me as to the best way to ensure the maximum from the plants and flowers. I am looking for something effective, but relatively straight forward.

Thank you for your assistance.




Hi Percy and welcome to GoY. I am going to simply answer part 1 of your question, as you have ericaceous shrubs in your border you will need to use an ericaceous feed otherwise they are going to be less than happy. In spring apply an application of ericaceous fertiliser, controlled release fertiliser pellets, or ‘Vitax Q4’ at a rate of 70gms per m2 (2oz per sq yd) in cool, moist conditions.

I'll let others answer the rest of your question.

16 Oct, 2016


Possibly you are worrying too much Percy! Most garden plants will grow reasonably happily without any fertilizer at all. My borders are rarely fed at all and seem happy enough though with fruit and veg its a different matter. February and March are a bit early for feeding the container plants you have as they aren't growing yet. The hardy fuchsias could well be repotted in fresh compost with the addition of slow release granules while they are still dormant and then they should be OK for the rest of the season, although a liquid feed or two with a high potash fertilizer in summer wouldn't come amiss.

I've never used Chempax so can't advise there but as you say there's not much point in giving a liquid feed when the plants are not in active growth.

If you access to well rotted compost a mulch of that would be even better than chemical fertilizers.

If your plants look healthy and are growing well they will be getting what they need already - more isn't always better.

16 Oct, 2016


I agree that shrubs in the garden really don't need fertilizer applications, unless for some reason they're not doing well, maybe they've an infection or infestation, or you've just cut something back really hard, when a feed with Growmore granules raked around the base is perfectly adequate. It is, though, very useful to apply composted animal manure or good garden compost as a layer in spring - you don't even have to dig it in, it'll get taken into the soil over time, and will improve the fertility of the soil without doing anything else. Broadcasting Growmore granules first, then immediately applying the composted materials over the top in late April will be helpful, but there's really no need to do anything else

Container plants are a bit different - if you're growing annuals like summer bedding, then an application of something like Miracle Gro general purpose mixed in water once a week from planting onwards gives good results. Permanent plantings in pots are a different matter - the same Miracle gro applied fortnightly between April/May up to mid June, then stop, will work well for clematis and fuchsia. You can do the same with roses,but the best feed for roses is actually Toprose, which is applied in April, then again 6 weeks later,but not later than mid June. Given you're adding summer bedding to permanent plantings in pots, it would be best to restrict them by feeding only fortnightly if you use Miracle gro, and do not feed past mid June, or the longest day. Annual summer bedding plants in pots on their own, with no permanent planting, can be fed up till August or longer, they're dying anyway as autumn/winter arrives, so they don't need to prepare themselves for winter.

To sum up, I'd spend money on composted animal manure and a pack of Miracle Gro as well as a tub of Growmore, rather than spending on more expensive fertilizer preparations such as Chempak, good though most of them are.

16 Oct, 2016


Yes I agree. The bushes shouldn't need feeding and the potted plants will do well with miracle grow!

16 Oct, 2016

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