Ah, the exciting topic of plant fertilization! However, we do need to address the questions of what kind and how much? There are three critical elements that all plants need: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium—or N-P-K, the quantities of which are identified as numbers on the package. For example, a general-purpose fertilizer branded 20-20-20 signifies that each chemical element—N, P, and K—offers 20 percent by weight to the total. The element percentages are presented in differing proportions to suit various fertilizer needs. If you are considering an increase in flower production, you want a mix ratio around 15-30-15, which is high in flower-forming phosphorus. Be sure to examine the label for the N-P-K ratio, as you may be able to apply a general fertilizer with close to the same nutrient percentages but at a more cost effective price.
In addition to N-P-K, fertilizers generally include traces of other elements essential to plant health. Some trace elements are more vital than others, but each nourishes a plant in its own way. The most important trace elements in fertilizers are calcium, magnesium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, molybdenum, boron, and sulfur. If any of these elements are deficient, a plant may indicate characteristic deficiency indicators. An iron deficiency, for instance, causes chlorosis, or yellow leaves with green veins, which is simply remedied with a dose of chelated iron.
There are two types of fertilizers accessible to a homeowner: granular and water soluble. Each form has advantages and disadvantages. Granular fertilizers provide food to a plant gradually but have the benefit of longevity. Since they must be broken down by water before a plant can use them, granular fertilizers do not leach out of the soil as promptly as water-soluble types. Water-soluble fertilizers are quicker acting but more fleeting, which means they must be used more often than the granular type.
To have your landscape plants fertilized by a landscape professional or to schedule your spring clean-up, call the All American office today at 402-408-0000.