Everything You Need to Know About Fertilizing: The Basics


Knowing and understanding fertilizers and how they can help your plants vigorously grow is as important as knowing the hardiness zones of your plants. In this article, we will introduce you to the basic information you need to know about fertilizers. 


There are three principal chemical elements in mixed fertilizers. They are N, P, and K.

  • Nitrogen (N) plays an important role in growing the leaves by stimulating the production of the natural green pigment found in plants called chlorophyll. This pigment is involved in photosynthesis so plants can convert sunlight into their own food.
  • Phosphorus (P) is vital for the development of blossoms, stems, roots, and fruits of your plants.
  • Potassium (K) is essential for assisting plants in the manufacture and digesting of their own foods.


How Much Fertilizer Do You Need


When you buy your fertilizer, you will see the proportions or the N-P-K ratio in the packaging. There are many types of fertilizers depending on the proportions of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. 


For instance, 20-20-20 means that the general-purpose fertilizer contains 20 percent of N, 20 percent of P, and 20 percent of K by weight in the total fertilizer formula, and the remaining 40 percent are composed of trace elements and inert materials.


If you want to grow your lawn, you can use a 25-6-4 fertilizer mix that has a high nitrogen content that will help make your lawns greener. Now, if you want to increase flower production, you can use a mix of 15-30-15, which has a high phosphorus content, great for flower development. 


Depending on which plant you want to grow, you can choose a specific fertilizer for that specific plant, so always check the N-P-K ratio.


Why You Need to Fertilize


Plants need water, sunlight, air, and nutrients in order to grow. And these are present around the plants and in the soil. So the question is, why do you still need to fertilize your plants?


Remember that not all plants are able to get the key nutrients in the soil or in their environment. The type of fertilizer and how much you need will depend on the soil mix (which has its own nutrients) and the plant’s nutrient requirements. 


You also need to know which soil is used for specific types of plants. Gardening activities can also change the soil structure and its chemistry, limiting the nutrients that the plant can harness from the soil. With this in mind, fertilizing the soil can bring back the nutrients that your plants need in order to thrive and grow.


In other cases, the soil may not have enough nutrients needed to support your plants. Additionally, if your land has been continuously used for farming and other gardening activities, the nutrients from the soil may have leached out. You can add fertilizers to replenish the necessary nutrients before you start growing your plants.


But take note: Just because you think your plants need the nutrients doesn’t mean you will bombard them with a lot of fertilizers. Too much fertilizer can have negative effects on your plants. So before using any fertilizers, you need to check your soil first to know which type and formula of fertilizer you need.


How Do You Apply Your Fertilizer

  • Broadcast Application 


This type of application refers to the uniform application of fertilizer that covers large areas and uses granular forms of fertilizer. You can do this using a drop spreader or a hand rotary to fertilize new beds before you start planting.

  • Top Dress Application


This method uses granular fertilizer which is broadcasted in individual plants such as the perennials and shrubs, using a spin-type spreader or manually by hand. This allows the nutrients to be distributed to plants slowly but for the purpose of longevity.


The fertilizer can be placed parallel to the planting row, in the case of vegetables.

  • Base Application


This application type uses water-soluble fertilizers, so as you water your plants, they get the nutrients right away. You can just follow the mixing instructions carefully before watering the soil at the plant’s base.

  • Foliar Application


This type of application works just like the base application. But instead of watering the base, you will water the leaves so your plants will immediately get the trace elements they need, such as iron. 




When choosing the right fertilizer for your plant, make sure that you consider the type of soil and the kind of plant you wish to grow. That’s because aside from the general-purpose fertilizer, you can choose a mix of fertilizers fit for the specific needs of your growing plants. 


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