How can I increase the nitrogen in my soil in a flower pot?

Janice Ball
by Janice Ball
  4 answers
  • Jeanette S Jeanette S on Jun 12, 2019

    In my flower pots, I use Miracle Grow soil. Plant it and forget it.

    And remember to transplant your flower pots occasionally, putting in fresh soil!

  • Kathy Gunter Law Kathy Gunter Law on Jun 12, 2019

    Compost vegetables, coffee grounds, and food scraps then add to your soil. Planting legumes also produces nitrogen as they grow.

  • Mindshift Mindshift on Jun 12, 2019

    Nitrogen makes up 78% of our air, and is delivered to plants via thunderstorm rainfall. Unfortunately, while helpful, this is not the main source of nitrogen for plants. Nitrogen can be fixed into the soil by legumes (plants in the family Fabacea) or result from the breakdown of organic matter by other soil organisms. Breakdown of an organic source is the most used method.

    Animal manures provide readily available nitrogen and soil organisms as does vegetable compost. Poultry manure probably provides the highest nitrogen content of manures. It is always best to compost animal manure before using. Animal-based additives such as blood meal, feather meal, and fish meal are bi-products of the food industry. These are high nitrogen and quickly available to the plant. They are best added to the entire pot of soil rather than as top dressing to avoid burning. Here is a list:

  • Lynn Sorrell Lynn Sorrell on Jun 12, 2019

    why do you think the nitrogen needs raised in the soil??? Soil testing should be your first step before addressing any nutrient imbalance in the soil. not all vegetables and plants require the same amount of nitrogen, so you can't just feed and forget. Different plants have different needs. Some plants, like tomatoes, are heavy feeders. While others, like lettuce, are light feeders.Earthworms also help create good soil structure; their burrows open up the soil and create aeration and drainage channels. Earthworm castings or excrement are rich in nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium the key minerals needed for plant growth. INFO.....Too much nitrogen will produce lots of leaves but no fruit Some plants even put some nitrogen back into the soil. Plant-based organic soil amendments like alfalfa meal, soy meal, and cottonseed meal are light-weight and won’t attract animals if mixed into the soil or potting mix. They’re usually balanced organic fertilizers, in that they supply small amounts of phosphorous and potassium, in addition to nitrogen.Plant-based organic nitrogen sources tend to be less concentrated, and have a lower percent of nitrogen than animal-based organic nitrogen sources, so they need to be applied at higher rates.They also only work well when the soil is warm, because they rely on an active soil food web for the release of their nutrients.They’re summertime soil amendments. For best results, soil temperatures should be in the 50’s (10-15° C) or higher when using a plant-based organic nitrogen fertilizer. Regularly amending the earth with compost helps to build healthy soil, which in turn will experience fewer incidences of deficiency. It's a win-win situation.Calling composting ingredients brown or green is useful because it is simple for people to understand. However the terms are not always correct. It would be better to use the terms high nitrogen ingredient, and low nitrogen ingredient. The greens contain higher levels of nitrogen. For example, fresh green plant material contains high levels of nitrogen.

    As the greens age they lose nitrogen and turn brown at the same time. Green leaves have high levels of nitrogen, but as they go brown in fall, the nitrogen levels drop. Wood products and straw have low levels of nitrogen.

    So is manure a brown or a green? Based on color it is a brown, but based on nitrogen levels it is a green. As far as composting goes, it’s a green.

    Other ingredients are also confusing. Alfalfa hay is ‘brown’ in color, but is considered to be a green since it contains a lot of nitrogen. leftover grounds from your coffee are an excellent compost additive but are relatively useless and potentially harmful when added directly to garden soil. If you want to re-use your coffee grounds, add them to your compost first. FYI....Today, we’ve nearly doubled the natural rate of nitrogen available in soils. An estimated 1/3 of global food production is made possible by its use, with 100 million tons applied to Earth’s surface annually. But its use has come at a price.

    When nitrogen fertilizer is applied faster than plants can use it, soil bacteria convert it to nitrate. Water-soluble nitrate is flushed out of soils in runoff, where it pollutes groundwater, streams, estuaries, and coastal oceans. In farming communities, it’s not uncommon for nitrate to render drinking wells unusable.

    In streams and rivers, as on land, nitrate encourages plant growth. When aquatic plants die, their decomposition strips oxygen from the water, causing fish and shellfish kills. At the mouth of the Mississippi River, in the Gulf of Mexico, agricultural pollution has resulted in a dead zone the size of New Jersey.

    Ammonia is volatized from nitrogen fertilizer and it forms fine particles in the atmosphere that are hazardous to human health. As the popularity of confined animal feeding operations has increased, so have emissions of ammonia, which can be traced to the nitrogen in feed crops.

    Finally, nitrification releases a small amount of nitrous oxide which mixes into the stratosphere, where it destroys ozone. Not only does nitrous oxide destroy the ozone layer, it contributes to the greenhouse effect.

    For policy makers, synthetic nitrogen may be the new carbon.