How to choose the right fertilizer for your Plant?

You know that your vegetable garden and rose bushes need some extra nourishment, but how do you go about choosing the best fertilizer? This guide will teach you the keys to buying the best types of fertilizer to buy whether you need fertilizer for a container, your garden or yard.

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Fertilizer Types, Application Tips & Nutrients

Before buying fertilizer, you must first do some research on the different types available. The three-number code on the fertilizer package indicates the amount of its three primary ingredients: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Different plants and vegetables need varying concentrations of these nutrients and other elements.

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Types

There are three main types of fertilizers: organic, water-soluble and synthetic. Organic fertilizers are made from natural ingredients and have a slow release, meaning that the materials in these fertilizers must be broken down by soil microorganisms for the gradual release of nitrogen and other elements.

Application Tips

Different types of plants need varying amounts of fertilizer, so make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package label for best results. Work organic fertilizers into the soil before you plant, then around your plants afterward.

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With granular fertilizers, measure out the required amount and sprinkle lightly around the bottom of the plant, mixing the fertilizer into the soil. Mix water-soluble fertilizers with water then apply using a watering can or sprayer

Nutrients

Every fertilizer package features three numbers that indicate the percentage of primary nutrients included in the fertilizer: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. For example, a fertilizer showing 5-10-5 on its package has 5 percent nitrogen, 10 percent phosphorus and 5 percent potassium. Depending upon the type of plant you are fertilizing and the growth stage of the plant, look for higher or lower levels of these chemicals

Best Fertilizer Features

Different fertilizers work best for the particular plant that they are best designed for.

Flowers

Special fertilizers are available just for flowers. Many are water-soluble, which work especially well for annuals.

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Roses

Roses need more fertilizer than any other type of landscaping plant and thrive on regular feedings of slow-release fertilizers high in nitrogen.

Vegetables

Special fertilizers uniquely formulated for vegetables are often granular or controlled-release fertilizers that provide deep penetration into the soil where small amounts of the nutrients are released as water penetrates the soil.

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Houseplants

Fertilizers designed for houseplants, also called “plant food,” are typically available in granular or water-soluble forms such as crystals, liquid or spikes.

Liquids

Spray liquid fertilizer on plant leaves or pour directly on root systems, depending upon the manufacturer’s instructions. Because it is water soluble, liquid fertilizer is quickly and easily absorbed into a plant’s root system for an immediate boost.

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All-purpose fertilizers

All-purpose fertilizer works on all flowers, vegetables, trees, shrubs and houseplants, and is appropriate for soil that is fairly balanced.

Plant Characteristics

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Flowers

  • Use bone meal at planting time for string roots and blooms
  • Start feeding established roses in springtime
  • Roses that bloom all summer need regular feeding
  • Use fertilizer with iron, sulphur and magnesium for azaleas and acid-loving shrubs
  • Flowers need lots of phosphorus

Vegetables

  • Add a few inches of compost or manure to prepare soil before planting
  • Vegetable grown in pots require more plant food
  • Leafy green vegetables prefer fertilizers high in nitrogen
  • Broccoli and sweet corn also require more nitrogen
  • Peas and beans get nitrogen from the air and do not require much fertilizer

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Houseplants

  • Use water-soluble formulas if you feed plants weekly or monthly
  • Use slow-release formulas for plants that go months between feedings

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  • Always check fertilizer label to apply correct amount
  • Brown roots and leaf tips, wilting and white residue on pots may indicate over-fertilization
  • Weak stems, pale leaves and fewer flowers may indicate under-fertilization


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In general use a soil-based compost placed over a generous layer of drainage material such as earthenware crocks, pebbles or gravel. Water and feed regularly, especially while plants are bearing flowers and fruit, when a high-potash fertilizer is recommended.


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Using pebbles in a garden brings different colours and textures to the garden. Pebbles can also fill up otherwise empty space in the garden, leaving a visual that might be considered more interesting and aesthetic than simple dirt, soil or mulch.