No matter what type of garden you have, or which plants you grow, fertilizers play a key role in keeping your plants and soil healthy and nutrient-rich. If your soil is not healthy, you cannot possibly grow a vibrant looking garden. Fertilizer will provide your plants the food and nutrition they need to reach their full potential.
Fertilizers come in different forms: liquid, pellets, powder and capsule or pellets. Liquid fertilizers are quickly absorbed and require more frequent doses. They are best used during a plant’s flowering period. Powder and capsules come in both quick-release and slow-release form. Slow-release fertilizer can take up to 12 months to fully absorb into the soil.
If you have shrubs or trees, buy a fertilizer that is specially formulated for them; likewise for certain garden flowers like roses and mums.
If you have containers that your plants are permanently planted in, you can use the pellet form of fertilizers. Push the pellets into the soil and you will be assured of extra nutrition for your plants.
Hanging plants require fertilizer in the liquid form, as they are fast acting and get absorbed quickly.
A general-purpose fertilizer will usually be adequate for many gardens containing annuals, perennials and climbing plants like honeysuckle.
Like the labels you read in the grocery store for your consumption, it is also important to read the labels on the food you will give your plants. Each label will contain three numbers. This will tell you the percentage of each key nutrient: Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium. If the label says 10-10-10, this means it has 10% of nitrogen, 10% phosphorus and 10% potassium.
Generally, you want to choose a fertilizer that is evenly balanced between the three nutrients; however, if you find that your flowers are not blooming as they should or are not growing to their full height, you may want to choose a fertilizer that is higher in nitrogen. Nitrogen is the nutrient that give you new growth and will help your flowers grow strong and bloom in full.
Whichever fertilizer you choose, you will want to make sure you read the instructions carefully. Over or under fertilizing can cause problems and not give you the results you desire.
You may also want to test your soil to make sure it is not overly acidic or alkaline; this will also affect the type of fertilizer you choose for your garden. Your local nursery will be able to supply you with a test kit for this purpose.
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