49January 31, 2019

Over the last few weeks, I have been telling you about why your plants need fertilizer and how important it is to be fertilizing your plants on a regular schedule. But once you go into a store to buy fertilizer, there is this whole array of fertilizers. Some are granular, some are powders, some are liquids, some are organic and some are synthetic. How are you supposed to know which one is best for your plants?

When choosing what form of fertilizer to use, it doesn’t make a lot of difference in what you select. I usually tell people that it is kind of like asking what is the best automobile. Everyone would have a different answer based on there own personal preference. If you like scattering the fertilizer around, then a granular fertilizer would be right for you. If you like mixing the fertilizer with water, then the powder form or the liquid form may be the right one for you. The more important choice is choosing the right ratio of numbers that appear on the package.

If you look at the package, you will notice that the numbers will have one or more numbers higher than the other numbers. For example, you may see a fertilizer package with the numbers 15 –30 –20. What this means is that there is 15% nitrogen, 30% phosphorous and 20% potassium. Whenever you see the numbers, whichever number is higher will determine what that fertilizer will do. A fertilizer that is higher in phosphorous will help to form a stronger root system and to develop lots of flower buds. If on the other hand, the nitrogen is higher, you will get a lot more leafy growth as opposed to root development or flower bud formation. If you were buying a fertilizer for your lawn, you would probably see that the nitrogen number is very high, with little or no phosphorous and a small percentage of potassium. This type of fertilizer will encourage lots of new blades of grass and the potassium will help with controlling diseases.

You will notice that in the example I showed you above, the numbers added up come to 65% active ingredients. You would probably never see the 3 numbers add up to 100%. This is because there are carriers and in some cases organic materials that make up the other percentage to equal the 100%.

When you look at the numbers on an organic fertilizer, you will notice that the numbers appear to be low in comparison to a synthetic fertilizer. This doesn’t mean that the organic fertilizer is not as good for your plants. The organic matter that makes up the fertilizer makes up the bulk of the container lowers the percentage of active ingredients. This means that even though the numbers are lower, you still will get the performance of the fertilizer based on how those numbers appear. The bonus is that the organic fertilizers will slowly release their nutrients over a long period of time. You should think of organic fertilizers being 3 meals a day.

When you go looking for fertilizer, if the first number is higher than the other two numbers, the fertilizer is designed for leafy growth. If the second number is higher than the other two, then the fertilizer is designed to encourage root growth and to help with flower bud production.

As always, if you have more questions about fertilizer, you can stop by the store and we can set you up with the proper fertilizer for your plants.

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

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