Fertilizer—Feed me! Feed me!
To get the most out of your plants--especially those in containers—fertilizing is essential. Here’s why.
Have you ever wondered why some people have larger, healthier plants? The likely answer is they feed them regularly and water correctly. Like people, plants need correct nutrition to reach their full potential. However, they need fertilizer only when they are actively growing. When they are dormant during the winter, there’s not need to feed.
When buying fertilizer, know what’s in it. Commercial fertilizer contains different combinations of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorous (P) and Potassium (K). These are the nutrients plants need to thrive, but all plants do need the same amounts of each. Learn more about the ABC’s of fertilizer. Also know the type of fertilizer you want: water soluble, slow release, or controlled release. Each has advantages.
Water soluble fertilizer is mixed with water, according to directions on the package, and normally applied every 7 to 14 days. It is usually the least expensive.
Slow release fertilizer slowly releases a small amount of nutrients over a period of several months so you apply it less often. How much is released at a time is dependent on microbes in the soil that are more active at warm temperatures.
Controlled or time release fertilizer is directly controlled by soil temperature versus microbial activity. This type of fertilizer is more exact and the most expensive. It lasts from 2 months to more than a year depending on the formulation. Choose the formulation you need based on the length of the growing season of the plant fertilized.
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