Just like people need the proper food and nutrients to survive, plants have their own requirements for healthy growth. When you fertilize, you supply the proper nutrients to improve plant health, enhance appearance and improve pest tolerance.
Of the 17 elements that plants need to survive, the plant’s roots absorb 14 from the soil. The other three—carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen—come from air and water.
Many of the nutrients required for proper growth are contained in fertilizer. Most fertilizers contain three primary elements needed by plants—nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium—which are shown in the N-P-K analysis, represented by the numbers on the fertilizer packaging. Each of these elements is used for a specific purpose by the plant. Nitrogen is used for top growth; phosphorus is used for root growth; and potassium is used for overall vigor.
Test your soil.
Plants use their roots to get their food, so the soil must have the proper nutrients in order for the plant to thrive. Obtaining a soil test is very important and can be used to create a fertility program for your lawn and landscape. Soil testing can help you determine the proper amount of fertilizer to apply, and can help you identify opportunities to fine-tune cultural practices (such as mowing height or frequency) or management (like irrigation run times) approaches that can impact fertility. Once you obtain the results of a soil test, you can then determine what nutrients need to be applied to the soil for optimal plant health. Your local Ewing branch can help you get your soil tested.
Know what your plants need.
Plant species can vary widely in their need for different levels of nutrients, and that need will continue to change over the lifetime of that plant. Prior to installing your plant material, it is a good idea to get a grasp of the optimal fertility program(s) throughout the life cycle of your plant material to maintain overall plant health. This information can be found online by searching for the nutrient needs of your specific plant(s). Your local extension office may have information, too.
To learn more about fertility programs, talk to your local Ewing location to get connected with a Ewing Turf Specialist.