Feeding Climbing Plants
Many wall plants, once they are established and making good root growth, become strong, vigorous growers and will benefit by regular annual feeding. This is especially necessary if they are growing in poor or light gravellywhere the essential plant foods quickly become leached out, or where the plants are growing in a narrow border along a wall or near buildings where there is little soil and the nutrients become exhausted.
Any of the organic manures, such as hoof and horn,or meal bone, can be used to supply the nutrients. These can be obtained in various grades, although the coarser grades are slower acting and are best applied to the plant during the late winter or very early spring months. If these are difficult to obtain a general fertilizer is recommended. These contain the three major plant nutrients, nitrogen, potassium and phosphate. A good dressing should be scattered around the root of the plant and surrounding soil (about 2-3 oz. per square yard (56-85 g per m2)) and lightly forked into the top few inches of soil. This should preferably be done during showery weather or when the soil is moist. If the soil is dry, as often is the case against walls or near buildings where it is difficult for rain to penetrate, then it may be necessary to give it a good watering after the fertilizer has been applied.
Mulching or top dressing the soil with some well-rotted manure, compost, or leafmould not only keeps the soil and plant roots relatively warm in winter and cool and moist in the summer, but it can also provide some nutrients. The mulch can either be left on the surface or it can be forked lightly into the top few inches of soil during the winter months, but care should be taken not to expose the roots above the soil surface when forking. For plants which have just been transplanted it is better to leave the mulch on the surface to help retain moisture and keep the roots cool during the summer rather than fork it in.
With camellias and other plants which prefer plenty of leaf mould and peat in the soil, there is nothing better than a good annual top dressing of decayed leaves which provide a natural feed for this particular class of plant.