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Choosing Fertilizers

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February 3, 2019

Selecting fertilizers is one of the confusing decisions many gardeners face each year. Today let’s clear up the confusion. Regardless of type, any fertilizer you buy will specify the percentage of nutrients it contains, primarily nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). This is called the N-P-K ratio. For example, a fertilizer labelled with a ratio of 7-22-8 contains 7% nitrogen, 22% phosphorus, and 8% potassium. Let’s look at some common products. Granular fertilizers are made from synthetic sources. These contain readily water soluble nutrients that are released quickly in response to rain or irrigation. But this quick release can injure roots if heavily applied. Water soluble fertilizers are just the name sounds, these are dissolved in water before applying. I think this is an easy way to feed your all of your plants at the same time while watering. Controlled Release fertilizers have a coating around release their nutrients in response to rain or irrigation and feed your plants over a period of time. There is also a time period, indicated in months, as too how long the fertilizers are effective. Organic Fertilizers are preferred by many gardeners. These products release their nutrient slowly by breaking down in the potting mix rather than relying on moisture solubilize the nutrients. Feeding your plants is not rocket science when you supply enough nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. I’m horticulturist Gary Bachman and I’ll see you next time on Southern Gardening.

Department: Coastal Research & Extension Center

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