Even though nurseries and garden centers can be beautiful places they might be quite confusing, particularly for the new gardeners. In fact, it is natural for you to become confused with so many fertilizer choices available to you. What is in all these bags of fertilizer anyway? What is the significance of the numbers on the fertilizer package? Is it really important which one you select for your garden?
What exactly is a plant fertilizer?
By the term “plant fertilizer” we actually refer to natural material or chemical which is added to the soil for increasing its fertility. It also helps in the development of the plants in your garden in the proper manner.
You like to make certain that your plants are receiving proper nutrition; however, as mentioned earlier, there are lots of choices in terms of choosing a fertilizer. There are certain regulations that are being followed by all fertilizer manufacturers at present while labeling their products and comprehending these rules will help to make your choice of fertilizers very easy and simple eventually.
Below we have mentioned some essential things to know regarding garden fertilizers and also how they are labeled.
Whenever you come across any fertilizer product available on the market, it is going to have 3 numbers listed on the package, typically on the front. All these numbers are of great significance and inform us regarding what will be done by the fertilizer in question.
These numbers actually refer to nitrogen, phosphorus, as well as potassium (N, P, K). They will be listed in this particular sequence at all times. It is that percentage within the package of every component.
For instance, we usually refer to a common type of all-purpose garden fertilizer as 10-10-10. This signifies a balanced combination of equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, as well as potassium. In case you ended up purchasing a bag weighing 50 pounds, 10% or 5 pounds will be nitrogen, another 10% or 5 pounds is going to be potassium, and one more 5 pounds will be phosphorus. The remaining 70% will simply be inert ingredients or filler which is intended to aid in dispersing the chemicals on most occasions.
Up, down, and all around
It will be possible to describe the purpose of each of these chemicals by thinking “up, down, and all around”. This simple phrase is going to help you in bearing in mind that nitrogen, which happens to be the first chemical to be listed, aids in the development of plants above the ground. A remarkable job is performed by nitrogen when it comes to encouraging the green leafy development of vegetation. Nitrogen is also responsible for providing the required ingredients for producing lush green lawns. For this particular reason, it is a fact that lawn fertilizers are going to have the first number quite high on most occasions.
The middle number, which happens to be phosphorus (P), is extremely effective at encouraging development underneath the ground in the form of nutritious root systems. Apart from this, phosphorus also plays an important role when it comes to the blooming of flowers and the production of fruits. You will often observe that the starter-type fertilizers for your garden or those which have been designed for the production of flowers have a middle number which is quite high.
The last number which is listed happens to be potassium (K) and it is considered to be an essential component that promotes overall plant health. This is mainly because of the fact that it is capable of building strong cells within the tissue of the plant. In turn, the vegetation endures various stresses including cold, heat, diseases, as well as pests. For instance, winterizer fertilizers are going to have a content of potassium which is quite high.
It is essential to be aware of the intended use of fertilizers while purchasing them. It is a fact that fertilizers having equal numbers are going to be used as all-purpose fertilizers on most occasions. 10-10-10 is going to be advisable for you in case you have only one product to work with.
In case you like to encourage the production of fruits or flowers, go for a middle number which is greater than the first. Or else, the plants will be encouraged to put out plenty of green foliage at the expense of the production of flowers or fruits. However, you like the nutrition and energy of the plant to go towards the outcome which is desired by you. Therefore, a higher middle number is going to be the ideal choice.
It will be advisable to look for a fertilizer which promotes the middle number as well as the last number in case you want to toughen up the plants for environmental stresses. In such cases, a high first number will not be ideal since you are not going to promote fresh lush foliage while putting plants to bed for the cold winter months at the same time. Instead, your objective ought to be to encourage strong roots and cell structures that continue to develop during winter.
One last thing we like to mention in this article is that while applying fertilizers never presume that the more will be better. Over-fertilizing can end up burning the plants and the surrounding soil can be damaged as well. Instead, go for the practice of less will be better. In case your soil is loaded with organic matter, it should be having all the nutrients required by the plants. That should be your fertilizer method in the long run.
Being an organic gardener, you should be focusing on building soil health rich in organic matter, and this will be enough for delivering the results on most occasions.
However, if this appears to be a plan for you, then it will be all the better for you. Yet, it is understandable that this particular approach is not intended for everybody out there. As a result, make it a point to use with discretion while applying synthetic fertilizers like 10-10-10 and try to keep it on target at all times.