The Basics of Fertilizer

Have you headed over to the local big box store to get your springtime fertilizer yet? Do you have any idea what those three numbers on the bag or box mean? Well, if you’d gone to your local nursery instead, the pros there could explain it to you and tell you which one you need.

To give you some education on the issues, those numbers represent the ratio of the following:

  • Nitrogen (N): Promotes new growth and is essential for that growth.
  • Phosphorous (P): Promotes good health for root growth while stimulating flowering.
  • Potassium (K): Overall important for the health of your plants.

So, that bag you picked up with 10-10-10 means you got 10% of each. But that’s only 30%, right? What’s in that other 70%? There are micronutrients that your garden, lawn, and plants need along with some filler.

The question becomes what ratio does your garden, lawn and plants need? Well, that is where having a trained expert like the ones at your local nursery could help. They know each element, and what they do, so they can advise you which fertilizer is what you need.

When first planting your annuals, perennials, shrubs or trees, you need a certain ratio of those three elements we discussed above. The right combination is akin to feeding infants baby food – it gives them a good, strong foundation.

Then, there is the choice of either a granular form or powdered form of fertilizer. Or, is the liquid better than the slow-released pellets? Well, it depends on if you need your plants to be fed instantly or will a slow-release which is coated and release a little at a time better? Then, the biggest question of all – when do you need to fertilize and how much?

These are all things that professionals at your local nursery will know. While the big box stores may have helpful employees, most who mean well, they may be over in plumbing tomorrow. The staff at your local nursery does nothing but gardening each and every day. Many go to college to learn more, and they attend seminars on these things. Not to mention, many will go through vendor training as well.