Garden Fertilizer: How And What To Use For Feeding Plants

We get lots of questions on “garden fertilizer.” When, what and how to feed garden plants and vegetables?

Fertilizer brands and fertilizer prices vary around the country, however, we can give you some ideas on the type of garden fertilizers to look for when feeding your plants.

Some people like solid granular time-release fertilizer and others prefer feeding with a liquid fertilizer.

garden fertilizer

The choice is yours, just follow the application instructions on the label. It’s always best to perform a soil test before applying any fertilizer or adding any soil amendments.

Best Fertilizer For Annual Flowering Plants

A complete fertilizer with a 5-10-5 n-p-k ratio formula applied in the spring and again in early August.

Learn more about fertilizer numbers and your plant foods.

Best Fertilizer For Perennial Flowering Plants:

A 5-10-5 or similar fertilizer, or equivalent organic fertilizer, applied at rate of 2-1/2 pounds to 100 square feet in early spring and worked into the soil.

Best Fertilizer For Bulbs

Organic fertilizers, such as bonemeal (5 pounds to 100 square feet) applied in the fall in the case of tulips and daffodils, are good as they are slowly available; 5-10-5 will also do, applied at rate of 2-1/2 pounds to 100 square feet at the time of planting.

Be sure to mix thoroughly in the soil. Hardy bulbs will be improved by a second fertilizer application in early spring.

Best Garden Fertilizer For Roses:

There are special rose fertilizers on the market; also slow-acting organic fertilizers such as bonemeal , fish emulsion or a compost tea are all good.

A 5-10-5 commercial fertilizer, 2-1/2 pounds to 100 square feet, can be applied in early spring and a similar amount after the first crop of blooms.

Maintain lime supply and humus-forming materials.

For knockout roses care use a fertilizer blended for roses.

Fertilizer For Root Crop Vegetables

A 5-10-5 commercial fertilizer, 2-1/2 to 3 pounds per 100 square feet when preparing soil in the spring.

Maintain lime supply if the soil tends to be acid, adding 2-1/2 to 3 pounds of high magnesium pulverized limestone each year. Deep digging is essential.

Tips on Fertilizer For Your Garden and Bigger Yields

Fertilizer For Leafy Vegetables

A 5-10-5 commercial fertilizer to 100 square feet when preparing soil in spring. As plants must be kept in continuous and vigorous growth, a steady supply of nutrients and moisture is essential.

When plants are well along in growth, side dress with a booster solution or with nitrate of soda every 2 weeks, at rate of 5 teaspoonfuls to 2 quarts of water for every 8 feet of row.

Use one quart to each side of row, about 3 inches from row; the next application 6 inches from the row.

Fertilizer For Lawns:

A 5-10-5 or similar complete fertilizer. 2-1/2 pounds to 100 square feet in late winter or early spring before much growth starts.

Make similar applications about August 15th to September 1 for fall growth. Wash grass and yard fertilizer off grass blades thoroughly with a hose right after the application is made.

Fertilizer For Deciduous Shrubs:

Apply 5-10-5 or similar fertilizer about 1-1/2 pounds to 100 square feet in early spring and cultivate in.

Fertilizer For Deciduous Trees:

Trees prefer a complete fertilizer with an analysis of 10-8-6 or similar fertilizer with about half the nitrogen in an organic form for slow action.

A 5-10-5 will also serve. Use 2 pounds for each 1 inch diameter of trunk, measured at 4 feet from the ground.

Divide up and place in holes made with a crowbar or soil auger, 2 feet deep and 2 feet apart, under the outer two-thirds of the tree’s branch spread. Applications may be made in early spring before growth starts or after September 1st.

Fertilizer For Evergreen Shrubs (conifers or narrow leafed):

A 5-10-5 or fertilizer with similar formula, 1 pound to 100 square feet broadcast and worked in. Well-rotted manure, about 1 inch deep, and then forked in, also effective.

Fertilizer For Evergreen Shrubs – broad-leaved preferring acid soil, such as rhododendrons, azaleas, mountain-laurel:

Do not use ordinary fertilizers. If growth isn’t satisfactory, use a special mixture prepared for acid-loving plants, and about one-third less than application recommended by the manufacturer.

It is important to maintain a mulch of oak leaves 6 inches deep or pine needles 3 inches deep, which keeps the roots cool in summer and protects them in winter.

Decay of mulch usually gives sufficient nutrients.

Fertilizer For Evergreen Shrubs – broad-leaved (boxwood, hollies), not required acid soils:

Well-rotted manure, cottonseed meal and other organic fertilizers, about 3 pounds to 100 square feet, or a 5-10-5 fertilizer, 1-1/2 pounds to 100 square feet, in early spring and worked into soil. Read our article – Boxwood Shrubs: How To Grow And Care For Boxwoods – for more.

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