56February 3, 2016

I don’t want to put a curse on it but so far this has been a nice winter. A common phrase that I hear from people is that they don’t really mind having a winter with a break from shoveling snow especially after last winters’ record snow.

I have a question for you. Do you feed your plants? Most of you will fertilize the lawn in the early spring. Do you remember to fertilize the lawn in the late spring, the early fall and late fall. Do you fertilize your shrubs in the spring? How often do you fertilize those shrubs that need more than one application of fertilizer? If you have a vegetable garden or vegetable plants in containers, do you remember to fertilize them all spring, summer and fall? Do you fertilize your perennials, annual flowerbeds, hanging baskets and window boxes all season long? The answer to these questions is probably not.

For many years, I have given people a bit of advice; “ Plants are a lot like people. They both like to eat.” Fertilizing your plants is a critical part of gardening. If you don’t keep up with fertilizing your plants, they are not going to grow and if you don’t fertilize the plants, they are likely to die. This is especially true for any plant that you grow in a container. A plant growing in a container has a limited amount of soil to spread out its roots and to take up the food it needs. Once a plant that is growing in a container has taken the nutrients out of the soil; it has no ability to spread out its roots in search of food. Without your help, the plant will die. Let me give you an example. Usually in mid June, I will be talking to a customer who is having a problem with the beautiful hanging flowering basket that they got around Mother’s Day. The plant has stopped flowering and some of the leaves are beginning to drop off the plant. I will ask them how often they fertilize the plant. The answer I usually get is “ Well, I water the plant” If the plant isn’t too far-gone an application of fertilizer every two weeks can bring the plant back to its former beauty.

If you garden, you must get to know how often your plants need to be fertilized and you need to know which type of fertilizer is best for your plant. This is really something that would take a lot more time to explain than space in this column would allow. To toot the horn of the independently owned garden centers, we are the people who can tell you which plants need to be fertilized once a year and which plants need to be fertilized on a consistent basis. We can also tell you which type of fertilizer will work best under the conditions in your yard. In the early Spring, when you begin to plan your gardens make sure that you know how to properly fertilize all of your plants. If you don’t know, it is probably the most important question you need to ask if you want to be successful in gardening.

Well, that’s all for this week. I’ll talk to you again next week.

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