Se­lect the right fer­til­izer for your soil’s needs

The Enterprise - - Real Estate - Metro Cre­ative

For plants to truly flour­ish, the right grow­ing con­di­tions and soil that of­fers the right nu­tri­ents is of para­mount importance. Fer­til­izer en­hances soil so that plants and flow­ers can thrive. How­ever, fer­til­izer is not a one-size-fits-all mix.

Choos­ing fer­til­izer can be a lit­tle over­whelm­ing thanks to the va­ri­ety of for­mu­la­tions avail­able at neigh­bor­hood lawn and gar­den cen­ters. Shelves con­tain all-pur­pose prod­ucts, such as those billed as veg­etable fer­til­izer, and even for­mu­la­tions geared to­ward spe­cific flower va­ri­eties. Oth­ers may fea­ture buzz words like “all-nat­u­ral” or “or­ganic,” and con­sumers may not be sure just what they need to keep plants healthy. The fol­low­ing guide­lines can help any would-be gar­dener or land­scaper grow more vi­brant plants.

Start with a soil test

It’s dif­fi­cult to de­ter­mine what plants need with­out an ac­cu­rate pic­ture of what’s go­ing on in the ground. A soil test can paint a pic­ture of what’s go­ing on and in­di­cate if any nu­tri­ents are lack­ing. A com­mon mis­con­cep­tion is that gardeners fer­til­ize plants. But fer­til­izer amends the soil that feeds plants, ac­cord­ing to the soil-test­ing lab pro­fes­sion­als at Vir­ginia Tech. Soil types vary by re­gion, and con­di­tions may even vary be­tween spots on a land­scape. Test­ing where the plants will be placed can yield the most ac­cu­rate re­sults. Soil tests are avail­able at gar­den­ing cen­ters and on­line. Oth­er­wise, land­scap­ing pro­fes­sion­als can con­duct tests.

Know the N-P-K ra­tio

Most fer­til­iz­ers will come with in­for­ma­tion con­cern­ing the nu­tri­ents within. Most no­tably it will have a break­down of how much ni­tro­gen (N), phos­pho­rous (P) and potas­sium (K) is in the mix. Judg­ing by the soil test, gardeners can choose a prod­uct that will give them the right ra­tio to amend the soil for the type of plant they are hop­ing to grow. Com­plete fer­til­iz­ers of­ten have NPK in the for­mu­la­tion. In­com­plete fer­til­iz­ers may have only one or two nu­tri­ents. This al­lows a per­son to cus­tom­ize fer­til­izer even more with­out over­do­ing it with a par­tic­u­lar nu­tri­ent.

Grow plant knowl­edge

A cur­sory knowl­edge of the plants be­ing planted in the gar­den also can be help­ful. Gardeners must rec­og­nize that some plants will not tol­er­ate ex­cess amounts of a par­tic­u­lar fer­til­izer com­po­nent, while some may need more. Check­ing books out of the li­brary, seek­ing in­for­ma­tion on­line and con­sult­ing with land­scap­ing ex­perts will help ex­pand home­own­ers’ knowl­edge about plant types and the needs of each par­tic­u­lar plant they hope to grow.

Solid and liq­uid fer­til­izer

Fer­til­iz­ers are gen­er­ally sold in pel­lets, spikes and liq­uid forms. Pel­lets or gran­ules are dis­persed over large ar­eas and will grad­u­ally of­fer nu­tri­ents when the soil is wa­tered. Liq­uid fer­til­izer is con­cen­trated and fast-act­ing. These may be used for con­tainer plants or smaller ar­eas. Spikes usu­ally are placed in house­plants or to feed in­di­vid­ual trees or shrubs. De­pend­ing on the for­mu­la­tion, fer­til­izer may need to be reap­plied once a month or more. Con­sult the prod­uct pack­ag­ing for the cor­rect ap­pli­ca­tion advice.

Fer­til­izer amends soil to grow stronger, more re­silient plants.

Se­lect the right fer­til­izer for your plants and your soil. Start­ing with a soil test will get things mov­ing in the right direc­tion.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.