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.