Fertilizing a young plant

Browsing the fertilizer section at your neighborhood garden retailer can be overwhelming. The shelves are lined with colorful bottles and bags, each bearing a flower, a number, and a claim that it will make your yard better. How can a person decide which product to choose when there are so many options and technical jargon to sort through? You’ll learn the basics of what you need to know about fertilization in this article.

What is a Fertilizer?

Any chemical that is introduced to the soil, sprayed on plant’s above-ground parts (leaves, stem, or flowers), or coated on seeds to give one or more plant nutrients is referred to as a fertilizer. Chemical substances or chemicals that are essential for a plant’s development and reproduction are known as plant nutrients. The 17 nutrients that plants require are present in healthy soil. Carbon, oxygen, and hydrogen are three of them that are found in air and water. The remaining 14 are derived from soil minerals. The soil’s minerals necessary for optimal development and reproduction will be gradually depleted by plants. A fertilizer’s job is to replenish the soil’s depleted mineral nutrients and return it to a healthy state.

The three most significant mineral nutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—are often found in fertilizers. These three nutrients are crucial for plant development and reproduction. These nutrients serve as the starting material for the production of molecules that are both functional and structural in plants, such as chlorophyll, sugars, and carbohydrates, along with carbon dioxide and water.

Types of Fertilizer

  1. Liquid
    Utilizing a watering can, liquid fertilizers are diluted with water. The advantage of liquid fertilizer is that you may precisely manage the amount being applied based on the requirements of your green friends. For instance, you may raise or decrease the amount you feed your plants throughout their active growing season, which is from spring to summer, when their development period decreases.
  2. Granular
    These dry pellets can be incorporated into the soil’s top layer. The fertilizer’s nutrients are released when the plant is watered. Granular fertilizers are wonderful if you’re searching for a cheap choice, but they’re also more difficult to manage how much fertilizer your green friends get at a time (this may be too intense for your green friends). Always keep in mind that it is preferable to fertilize too little than too much!
  3. Slow-release
    In slow-release fertilizers, liquid nutrients are encased in a time-release shell that, when you water, slowly dissolves over time, delivering nutrients to your friends in incremental dosages. One application lasts for three to six months. This choice has grown popular among many plant caregivers and may be quite practical. However, bear in mind that it is created from synthetic nutrients (not very environmentally friendly), which might be a problem if you wish to give your plants organic fertilizer.

What Do a Fertilizer’s Numbers and Letters Mean?

The numbers and letters on the bag of fertilizer will tell you if you’re applying the appropriate fertilizer mix to your lawn. The N-P-K ratio is represented by the number and letters that you see. You might need to go back to your high school chemistry days to properly grasp this. N stands for nitrogen, P for phosphorus, and K for potassium in the first letter. A lawn has to maintain a balance of these three organic components in order to appear at its best.

Understanding NPK

NPK is a set of three numerals that are frequently found on fertilizer packages. It’s not a secret code, so don’t worry! Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) make up the acronym NPK. These components, each of which plays a specific role, are necessary for the proper development of plants.

  • Nitrogen (N)
    For your plants, nitrogen is similar to a shot of espresso. It encourages thriving growth and luxuriant, green leaves. Chlorophyll, a pigment that aids plants in converting sunlight into energy through photosynthesis, is produced as a result of it. Nitrogen ensures that your plants are ready to display all of their green beauty by keeping them looking young and bright.
  • Phosphorus (P)
    Phosphorus is the nourishing element that promotes healthy root growth and powerful blooming. It is essential during the initial phases of development and flowering because it helps with energy transport throughout the plant. Incorporating phosphorus into a potting mix that is deficient in phosphorus can make all the difference since blooming is a crucial component of plant reproduction and the first stage of fruit or vegetable growth. Your plants will produce more fruit and seeds thanks to this element, enabling them to reach their maximum potential. Therefore, be sure to give your flowering home plants and herbs a phosphorus boost if you want them to provide gorgeous flowers and abundant harvests.
  • Potassium (K)
    The multi-tasker of the plant world is potassium. Overall plant health, disease resistance, and stress tolerance are all benefited. It controls water intake, maintains pH levels in balance, and helps activate enzymes that support crucial plant processes. Your indoor plants will be better able to fend off pests, endure droughts, and thrive in a variety of environmental circumstances if potassium is by their side.

Liquid vs. Solid

You’ll discover that you have a choice of topical or liquid application techniques. Concentrated liquid fertilizers are combined with water and applied straight to the soil. They provide plants an immediate boost in nutrients and are simple for plants to absorb. The soil surface is dusted with topical fertilizers, like as granules or slow-release pellets, which gradually decompose and release nutrients over time. Choose the one that best fits your gardening tastes and style because both have their advantages.

While it is possible to locate liquid fertilizers that are ready to use, most of them are offered as concentrated liquids or granular materials that must first be diluted with water. Applying liquid fertilizers to the soil requires highly diluted solutions. Most only a few applications over the course of the growing season and quickly supply nutrients to a plant or grass. For container plants or as an addition to dry fertilizers when you wish to give annuals, veggies, or your lawn an extra push at the start of the season or during periods of vigorous development, liquid fertilizers are appropriate.

Organic vs. Chemical

Now that we are aware of the significance of NPK components, let’s examine the age-old argument between chemical and organic fertilizers. Compost, manure, and bone meal are examples of organic fertilizers that come from natural sources. They give a slow-release of nutrients, enhance soil structure, and encourage microbial activity. On the other hand, chemical fertilizers are made synthetically. They offer an immediate nutritional fix but can endanger helpful soil organisms.

How to Apply Fertilizer

Granular fertilizer is applied using drop and broadcast spreaders across expansive regions like well-established grassy fields or unplanted, sizable lawns, beds, and gardens. Apply to already-existing gardens when the plants are dry. If any grains fall onto the leaves, brush them off. Lightly till the soil, then water it to let the fertilizer to sink in. Apply granular fertilizer to small or medium-sized gardens using hand-held spreaders. Use this method to selectively fertilize the plants that require it. Sprinkle around the plant’s base on the ground and use a rake or trowel to softly work it into the soil. Water immediately away unless a persistent downpour is expected.

How Often Should I Fertilize my Plants?

  • Low-nitrogen fertilizer should be used with annual plants. Every season, use 2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet.
  • Ground coverings without flowers or fall color often don’t require more than one spring application of nitrogen-rich fertilizer.
  • When treated in the spring with compost or aged manure, perennial plants thrive. Every two or three years, apply 2 inches, adding more fertilizer as necessary.
  • Avoid over-fertilizing shrubs and trees, as they frequently receive nutrients from neighboring treated lawns and plants.
  • Before planting, incorporate a slow-release kind into the soil mixture for potted plants. A little amount of fertilizer is released each time you water, delivering a constant flow of nutrients. However, a midseason boost can be required depending on the growth environment and quantity of plants in the container.
  • Depending on your plant’s requirements, restrict fertilizing from September or October through March. For the majority of houseplants, a monthly dose of diluted liquid fertilizer or one application of a slow-release fertilizer in the spring is adequate.
Mow & Blow Logo

Mowandblow.com is a lawn care and landscaping marketplace and servicing platform.

Our team is dedicated to giving customers options, transparency, and control while minimizing the back-office and in-field challenges of service providers.

Additional Disclosures
  1. Use of our website requires that you consent to M&B Technology, LLC's Terms of Use and acknowledge reading our Privacy Policy