Fertilizers are used to give plants their much-needed nutrients. Along with water and sunlight, nutrients increase the growth and development of plants with the ultimate goal of the overall health of the plant and in some plants to increase crop production. With the continuous use of soil for agricultural products, plants will absorb nutrients in the soil. This is where fertilizer comes in and restores the depleted or lacked nutrients needed in the soil.
Nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are the big three macronutrients that plants need to grow and produce. Plants in a small quantity depending on their needs also need magnesium, sulfur, iron, and other nutrients. Without these nutrients, plants can have a slow or even stunted growth with weak branches, small leaves, discoloration, and susceptible to disease.
Regular fertilization helps with good plant growth
Regular application of fertilizer can give the plant a boost for its growth. Fertilization can depend on many factors, stages of growth, type of plants, weather, and the soil where plants are grown. With each growing stage of the plant, nutrients play a big part in ensuring that the growth is successful. But that does not mean that the application of fertilizer is the same in every stage of growth. For example, the application of fertilizer containing nitrogen and phosphorus during the first planting stage helps plants to grow stronger roots. While application of fertilizer when flowers are blooming is not advisable for it can cause the bloom to fall out.
Fertilizer application also depends on the plants. Some need more nutrients than others, therefore more frequent application of fertilizer. These plants are fruit plants, roses, and hydrangea. Regular application of fertilizer for these plants helps the plant to produce more fruits or flowers. While plants such as bushes and trees do not require much fertilizer especially if the soil is treated with compost or organic matter before planting.
Seasons also play a role in deciding fertilizer application. During the dry season, plants may need more frequent application of fertilizer than during the rainy season to compensate for the lack of water. Many leafy and flowering ornamental plants follow this seasonal schedule.
How to apply fertilizer in pots
Fertilizer for potted plants is very crucial. With the limited space, the root cannot develop and seek out more nutrients. This is why a good soil choice when planting in pots is important. Usually, the soil for planting in pots is already mixed with fertilizer to ensure that the plant can get its nutrients.
After the initial nutrients in the soil are absorbed by the plant, additional fertilizer is needed to ensure the continued supply of nutrients for plants. But keep in mind that less is more when it comes to fertilizer in potted plants. Over-fertilizing can make it hard for roots to absorb water and causes yellow or browning of the leaves.
Using half of the recommended dosage from the fertilizer package can help to make sure that the plants are not over-fertilized. For example, when using a liquid fertilizer that needs to mix with water, lower the quantity of the fertilizer so that the plants get the nutrients it needs without the threat of over-fertilizing. Then apply the fertilizer to the soil so that it can be absorbed by the roots.
When using dry fertilizer, make sure that after applying the fertilizer to water the soil. This releases the nutrients in the fertilizer and makes it easier to be absorbed by the roots. Pellets or beads of slow-release fertilizer can be used to supply nutrients for a long period, just make sure not to reapply too soon. It can also be used alongside liquid fertilizer in a small quantity depending on the needs of the plant.
How to apply fertilizer in the garden
Getting to know the soil before planting in the garden is the first step in planting. While the roots have more space to expand and search for nutrients in the garden, some soil lacks the nutrients or fertility to properly supply plants. Treating the soil by mixing in compost, mulch, or other organic forms of fertilizer before planting helps to increase the fertility of the soil. But that may not be enough initially to supply nutrient needs for plants, because using organic matter means that the matter needs to break down over time.
To overcome this, liquid or dry fertilizer can be used to supply the nutrients needed. The NPK or nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are great for the initial growth of the plants. Using the ones labeled 10-10-10 is suitable for most plants. The label means that the ratio of nutrients in the fertilizer is equally 10-10-10.
Fertilizer recommendations for horticultural crops
Fertilizer for any crops requires an analysis of the soil and what the plant needs. A method or dosage for one plant in one area can be different from another. The analysis is done to ensure that there’s no over-fertilizing of the plant. An over-fertilized plant can mean that there’s an imbalance of nutrients and can affect the plant’s ability to absorb water. This means that the plant’s ability to produce can also be affected.
As mentioned before, the timing of applying fertilizer can also affect the growth and production of the plant. As with horticultural plants that produce fruits and vegetables, fertilizing can affect the quality of the yield. For annual horticultural crops, it is advisable to fertilize three times a year; immediately after harvest and pruning with high nitrogen composition fertilizer, before blooming with a high phosphorus composition fertilizer, and after it produces fruit, during the rapid fruit growth with a high potassium composition fertilizer.
Adding a natural fertilizer such as organic fertilizer mixed in with live organisms, compost or used coffee grounds from daily use can also be an alternative to chemical fertilizer. It can add natural organisms that would regulate and balance nutrients for plants so that they won’t depend too much on chemical fertilizer.