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Fertilizers



Those Three Little Numbers

When talking store-bought, commercial Fertilizers there is usually the same question that comes up first. And that is what are those three numbers always listed on every package? Let me begin by saying that those three numbers are required to ALWAYS mean the same thing, and to ALWAYS be listed in the same order every time. The First number indicates the percentage of Nitrogen(N). The second number,the percentage of Phosphorus(P). And the third number, the percentage of Potassium(K) or also called Potash. For example: a 5-10-10 listed fertilizer is 5 percent Nitrogen, 10 percent Phosphorus, and 10 percent Potassium.

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These are the three Major Nutrients needed for healthy plant growth, (they are often called the macronutrients). Plants need these three nutrients in relatively large quantites. And here are there functions:

THE 3 MAJOR NUTRIENT FUNCTIONS

NITROGEN (N)

Needed for strong,vigorous growth. What gives plants their green leaf color.It is a key part of proteins and chlorophyll,the plant pigment that plays a vital role in Photosyntheses.

PHOSPHORUS (P)

Needed for good root growth, and fruit and seed formation and ripening.

POTASSIUM / POTASH (K)

This nutrient promotes vigorous growth and disease resistance. Also helps in fruit formation, photosynthesis,and uptake of other nutrients.
(Works along with Nitrogen).

For More information about these and the other Nutrients needed in plant growth, visit my page on Plant Nutrients.


Types of Fertilizers

After you decide to feed your plants,you're then faced with the many,many kinds of fertilizers at the nursery and garden centers.Below is a list and short explanation of the different types of Fertilizers that are out there to choose from.

COMPLETE

Any fertilizer that contains all three of the primary nutrients- Nitrogen,Phosphorus, and Potash - is a complete fertilizer. The garden term complete has its basis in laws and regulations that apply to the fertilizer industry.It does NOT however mean that the fertilizer literally contains everything a plant may need.

GRANULAR

These fertilizers are the most common kind.They are commonly sold in boxes or bags, and most are partially soluble.They will supply nutrients over a longer period of time than some fertilizers but still not as long as slow-release kinds. This type can also supply special formulations, such as azalea food or rose food to target certain types of plans.

FOLIAR

As the name implies, these fertilizers are sprayed over a plants leaves. They contain nutrients that plant leaves can absorb directly. Nutrients absorbed through leaves are said to have a quick effect on certain plants. However, do NOT apply foliar fertilizers in hot weather because they could possibly damage the leaves.

LIQUID

Although most fertilizers are dry, some come in a liquid form. Some come ready-to-use and some require mixture with water, (Miracle-Gro). This type is usually the best type for instant results. A lot of professional growers prefer this type because it can be easily injected into irrigation systems.On a per-nutrient basis, liquid fertilizers are more expensive than most dry fertilizers.

SLOW-RELEASE

These fertilizers release the nutrients at slow,specific rates in specific conditions. Some are coated with "resins" that respond to types of soil moisture. And some are coated with a "sulfur" substance that is slowly acted upon by soil microorganisms until released. Some can release their nutrients for as long as eight months. Slow-release fertilizers are very useful for container plants that otherwise would need frequent fertilizing.

ORGANIC

These fertilizers have nutrients derived from something that was once alive. Examples of this type are: Blood Meal, Bone Meal, Fish Emulsion, and Manure.Nutrients in organic fertilizers are made available to the plant roots after breakdowns in the soil microorganisms. Activity of these microorganisms is faster in the summer when the soil is the warmest. Usually, organic fertilizers contain significant amounts of only one of the major nutrients; for example, Bone Meal contains only Phosphorus.And Blood Meal contains only Nitrogen.


FERTILIZERS FOR VARIOUS PLANTS

Below are some personal recommendations for Fertilizers to use for different kinds of plants. Remember however, depending on the specific species there will be many exceptions to this list.

ANNUAL FLOWERS
Granular; supplemented by liquid soluble two weeks after planting.

BULBS
Granular; 8-8-8 or similar, applied at planting time.

HANGING BASKETS
Slow-release

HOUSE PLANTS
Slow-release or liquid soluble.

PERENNIALS
Organic; applied in fall, supplemented if needed by liquid soluble.

VEGETABLES
Organic;applied in fall at least one month prior to planting. Can supplement with granular or liquid soluble if needed.

ROSES
Organic; applied in fall, supplemented when needed with liquid soluble or granular rose food.

LAWNS
Granular; 27-7-14 or similar,preferably slow-release or an organic high-nitrogen fertilizer.


LINKS TO OTHER PAGES

Home Page & Guestbook

(Birthday) Flowers of the Month

Poisonous Plants

Gardening Terms

Botanicial Names

Plant Nutrients

Shelf-Life of Vegetable Seeds

Record-Size Vegetables

Scoville Scale for HOT Peppers

Hardiness-Zone & Heat-Zone Maps

Temperature Conversion Table


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