So your lawn needs some food. But you don’t know what to feed it. At the store you see all these fertilizer bags with numbers on it. What the heck is that about? In this article I’ll explain exactly what the numbers are and what they are used for.
There are always three numbers on each package of fertilizer. These numbers represent the percentage of the three most active ingredients in a bag of fertilizer. The three most active ingredients in fertilizer are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium and the label represents those ingredients in that order. It is also abbreviated as N-P-K. N for nitrogen, P for phosphorus and K for potassium.
The N-P-K numbers are percentages. For example, if you have 10-5-5 bag of fertilizer, then out of 100 pounds 10% is nitrogen, 5% is phosphorus and 5% is potassium. The remaining 80% are inert ingredients. Inert ingredients often include boron, magnesium, manganese, calcium, iron, sulfur and zinc. These are essential nutrients the plants need called trace elements. Many of these ingredients are necessary to a plants survival. You should always read the label to find out what percentage of trace elements the fertilizer contains.
Plants take in nutrients from elements and chemicals through their roots from the soil. During this process they convert these elements and chemicals into vitamins and nutrients. They do not however convert vitamins or fatty proteins into elements. Always avoid buying fertilizer with large amounts of vitamins or proteins and fats. Remember, people take in vitamins and convert them into elements. Plants take in elements and convert them into vitamins.
Some of the best fertilizer you can get is composted vegetation mixed with soil. The vegetation that breaks down releases the nutrients that the previous plants didn’t use. The spaces the composted vegetation leaves in the soil also helps to promote oxygen in the soil and among the roots.
Remember that dry fertilizers don’t often produce instant results. It takes some time for the dry elements to liquefy and dissolve into the soil and become available to the roots. If you’re looking for instant results, use a liquid fertilizer. These fertilizers can be added to a watering schedule to produce a quick injection of fertilizer into the plant.
Seedlings and young plants don’t benefit from fertilization. Wait until the plants are at least four to five weeks old before you begin any kind of fertilization regiment. When you do fertilize young plants, always under fertilize. Always give half of what the required amount is. If your fertilizer asks for one ounce per month, give the plants ½ ounce every two weeks. House plants should receive half of the required amount as well.