How to Choose Food for your Plants!
You’ve chosen the perfect plants for your garden! They’re lush and beautiful and you want to keep them that way. What is the magic recipe for a happy, healthy plant? Water and sunshine will get you pretty far, but feeding your plants with the correct fertilizer will help them grow even better! But how do you choose the right fertilizer?
Every fertilizer contains three elements – nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium – the ratio of which changes depending on what you need to accomplish. Let’s start by looking at how each of these elements works:
• Essential for growth of foliage
• Produces lush, tender, green leaves (or grass blades)
• Is easily flushed through the soil
• Deficiency leads to chlorosis (yellow-green colour) and little or no growth
• Stimulates root growth
• Hastens the maturity of plants
• Promotes development of flowers, fruit, and seeds
• Remains in the soil quite well
• Deficiency can result in slow or stunted growth and purplish discoloration on leaves
• Helps plants tolerate changing weather conditions
• Helps resist disease
• Assists in the food manufacturing process
• Strengthens cell wall structure for strong stems
• Leaches from the soil (not as fast as nitrogen)
• Deficiency can cause weak stems and slow growth
What do the numbers mean?
A 20-20-20 fertilizer (That’s 20% N, 20% P, and 20% K) is your go-to fertilizer for maintaining a balanced environment for all types of plants.
A 30-10-20 fertilizer is higher in nitrogen and is best used for plants while they are in a period of vegetative growth.
A 10-52-10 fertilizer is higher in phosphorous and is great to use during the early stages of growth. New roots love phosphorous!
Organic fertilizers are fertilizers derived from animal or vegetable matter (i.e. compost or manure). These are great to use, but are often quite a bit lower in N-P-K ratios, so you may need to fertilize considerably more often (watch any raw manure as too much may “burn” your plants with excessive nitrogren).
Once you have chosen a product, reference the label for information on how much to use, and how often. It may take some practice to find the right mix for every area of your garden, but once you do, your plants will thank you!