Plants need fertilization because most soil does not provide the essential nutrients required for optimum growth. By fertilizing your garden, you replenish lost nutrients and ensure that this year's plants have the food they need to flourish.
There are six primary nutrients that plants require in pretty large quantities.
1. Carbon from CO2 in the air
2. Hydrogen from water
3. Oxygen from water and air
4. Nitrogen helps plants make the necessary proteins to produce new tissues. In nature, nitrogen is often in short supply, so plants have evolved to take up as much nitrogen as possible, even if it means not taking up other necessary elements. If too much nitrogen is available, the plant may grow abundant foliage but not produce fruit or flowers. It may stunt growth because the plant isn't absorbing enough of the other elements it needs.
5. Phosphorus stimulates root growth, helps the plant set buds and flowers, improves vitality, and increases seed size. It does this by helping transfer energy from one part of the plant to another. To absorb phosphorus, most plants require a soil pH of 6.5 to 6.8. Organic matter and the activity of soil organisms also increase the availability of phosphorus.
6. Potassium improves the overall vigor of the plant. It helps the plants make carbohydrates and provides disease resistance. It also helps regulate metabolic activities.
The three numbers on a fertilizer label, such as 12-12-12, tell you what proportion of each macronutrient the fertilizer contains.
1st Number: Nitrogen (N)
2nd Number: Phosphorus (P)
3rd Number: Potassium (K)
This "N-P-K" ratio reflects the available nutrients —by weight—contained in that fertilizer.
Before you shop for fertilizer, perform a soil test. You can purchase a home test kit or send a soil sample to your local cooperative extension office for testing. The results will tell you what to add to the soil to make it ideal for the plants you plan to grow.
Granular Organic Fertilizers
Organic fertilizers are made from naturally occurring mineral deposits and organic material, such as bone or plant meal, or composted manure. In general, the nutrients in organic fertilizers are not water-soluble and are released to the plants slowly over a period of time. Organic fertilizers have advantages, they improve water movement into the soil and, in time, add structure to the soil. Organics feed beneficial microbes, making the soil easier to work.
Some Of The Kinds We Carry:
Bumper Crop Starter Food (3-5-2):
Is a blend of natural ingredients formulated to help newly transplanted plants develop strong roots and sturdy growth. It is rich in natural sources of phosphate to help your plants develop a strong foundation for future growth. We recommend using a starter fertilizer for the first year after the planting of trees and shrubs.
Bumper Crop Tomato & Vegetable (4-6-3): Is a blend of natural ingredients formulated for use throughout the vegetable garden as well as with soft fruits like strawberries. It will contribute to even plant growth without producing excessive foliage at the expense of fruit. The additional phosphate helps to ensure the production of high-quality fruits and vegetables. Its calcium aids in preventing disorders like blossom end rot.
Bumper Crop Citrus & Fruit Tree (8-4-2): A blend of natural ingredients for use with citrus and other home orchard fruit trees. It may also be used to feed shade trees, flowering trees, berries, ornamental and fruiting vines.
Bumper Crop All-Purpose (4-4-4): It is suitable for use with vegetables, trees, shrubs, lawns, and flower gardens. It is ideal for use when preparing new planting areas and for feeding existing plants.
Bumper Crop Rhody, Azalea & Holly Food (4-5-2): A blend of natural ingredients formulated specifically for the needs of acid-loving plants. It will encourage growth, green foliage, and beautiful flowers. It is also suited for use on other acid-loving plants including fuchsia and evergreen conifers.
Bumper Crop Rose & Flower (4-6-2): Is a blend of natural ingredients designed to encourage sturdy growth and flowering in roses, perennials, and other flowering plants.
Espoma Garden Tone (3-4-4): Use on all herbs and vegetables
· Mix into the garden soil before planting.
· Seedlings / Transplants: 7 – 10 days after planting.
· Established plants: Monthly, May through Aug.
· Herbs will only require feeding at the time of planting or after an abundant harvest
Espoma Plant-Tone (5-3-3): Use on all flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs
· Established Trees & Shrubs: Spring and late Fall
· Flowers and Vegetables: Once per month during the growing season.
Espoma Berry-Tone (4-3-4): Use on all berries – Blueberries, Strawberries & Raspberries.
· Feed twice per year ~ Early Spring & Late Spring.
Espoma Rose-Tone (4-3-2): Use on all varieties of roses in the landscape or containers. It can also be used on flowering plants like Viburnum, Bougainvilleas & Clematis. Feed monthly through the growing season – May through September.
Espoma Tomato-Tone (3-4-6): Use on all varieties of Tomatoes. Can also be used on fruiting crops like peppers, squash & melons.
· Use to enhance soil before planting
· First application after the plant is established (10-14 days)
· Established Plants: Twice per month May through August
Espoma Holly-Tone (4-3-4): For use on all acid-loving plants, trees, and shrubs.
Example: Azaleas, Gardenia, Holly, Hydrangea, Pieris, Rhododendron, etc….
· Feed in the Spring and late Fall at half the Spring rate.
· Blooming evergreens like azaleas and rhododendron are best fed in the Spring at the first hint of bloom color.
· Berry crops should be fed twice; early Spring and late Spring (45-60 days apart).
· Never apply fertilizer to frozen soils.
Espoma Evergreen-Tone (4-3-4): Use on all evergreen trees & shrubs. Feed-in the Spring and late fall at half the Spring rate. Never apply to frozen soils.
Liquid Organic Fertilizers
Organic liquid fertilizer is derived from naturally existing products such as plants and animal manure. Waste from animals such as cows, rabbits, fish and chicken is used to make organic fertilizer that provides much-needed nutrition to plants and soil as well.
Organic liquid fertilizers are short-acting. They go to work almost immediately, assuring continued, superlative growth and quick recovery for those that are tired and under-nourished. Consequently, they are easier to regulate than dry organic ones which are longer-acting. Typically packaged in a concentrated form that must be diluted with water. Mix at just the right strength for the plants you are tending. Use liquid fertilizer to provide a strategic nutrient boost at just the right time of the season.
Kinds We Carry:
Fox Farm Bushdoctor Kelp Me Kelp You (.5-0-.5): Is a seaweed plant food derived from Ascophyllum nodosum and designed for use in organic gardening. A liquid concentrate that can be used for growing fruits, vegetables, gardens, or flowers. Suitable for use in gardens, drip-irrigation systems, or hydroponic applications.
Fox Farm Bushdoctor Wholly MacKeral (3-1-0): Is a liquid plant nutrient derived from fish. Apply every other week throughout the vegetative cycle until early fruiting.
Fox Fertilizer Big Bloom (0-0.5-0.7): Big Bloom® contains bat guano and earthworm castings. Bat guano has been used for centuries as a fertilizer for all kinds of plants. Combined with earthworm castings they create a nutrient-rich mix that can help your plants thrive. Garden tip: Big Bloom® is formulated for all fruiting and flowering plants, and it can be used during all stages of plant growth.
Synthetic fertilizers are made by chemically processing raw materials. Synthetic fertilizers are water-soluble and can be taken up by the plant almost immediately. Applying too much synthetic fertilizer can "burn" foliage and damage your plants. Synthetic fertilizers do have some advantages in early Spring. Because they are water-soluble, they are available to plants even when the soil is still cold, and soil microbes are inactive.
· Avoid contact with the foliage, unless it says it can be used as a foliar fertilizer.
· Do not use during the heat of the day. Apply early morning or evening when temperatures are lower.
· Always follow the directions indicated on the package.
Kinds We Carry Here:
Jack’s Classic All Purpose (20-20-20):
Use for all indoor and outdoor plants: bedding and container plants, trees and shrubs, vegetables, fruits, and turf.
Jack’s Classic Petunia FeED (20-6-22): Use on Petunias, Calibrachoa, Bacopa, Diascia, Nemesia, Scaevola, Verbena, Pansies, Salvia, and vinca.
Jack’s Classic Acid Special (17-6-6):
For use on Azaleas, Camellias, Rhododendrons, Pin Oaks, Holly, Hydrangea, Magnolias, Pines, Spruce Cedar, Birch, Blueberries, and any other acid-loving plants.
Jack’s Classic Hydrangea Blue (7-3-3): Is a unique combination of high-quality nutrients and aluminum sulfate designed to produce lush leaves and enhance and maintain blue color in many pink and blue varieties of hydrangeas. If the hydrangea is planted next to a concrete foundation or in high alkalinity soil, it will be especially beneficial. It will not change the color of white hydrangea varieties.
Jack's Classic Tomato FeED (12-15-30):
For use on all tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, and zucchini.
Jack’s Classic African Violet (12-36-14): All African violet varieties and all flowering houseplants. The 1-3-1 ratio is a favorite for commercial violet growers and hobbyists. High-quality nutrients are formulated to deliver the perfect blend to produce deep green foliage, stocky stems, strong root and bud development, and colorful blooms. Excellent formula for both top and bottom feeding containers. Root feed only. Apply only to the soil to avoid leaf spotting. Keep leaves dry at all times.
Jack’s Classic Orchid Special (30-10-10): All orchids grown in a fir bark medium and plants with high nitrogen requirements. Can be used on turfs and ornamental grasses. Orchid Special 30-10-10 feeds through both roots and leaves. Orchids need this high nitrogen and special micronutrient formula when potted in porous fibers, fir bark, and rock. This formula emphasizes the vegetative growth stage (leaves) and will assure that the plant’s requirements for increased nitrogen will be satisfied as new leaves develop and mature. It is an excellent root and foliar feeding product, not only for orchids but also for all turf and ornamental grasses.
Jack’s Classic Houseplant Special (15-30-15): Traditional indoor houseplant fertilizer designed for use on all foliage and flowering plants. Great for long-term plants! Used in a constant feed system, it keeps the nutrition levels constant preventing nutrient stress from over or underfeeding. This product can also be used outdoors as a transplant solution and as a blossom booster for all flowering plants. Philodendron, pothos, ficus, spathiphyllum, dracaenas, Schefflera, palms, spider plants & aglaonema.
Jack’s Classic Palm Food (16-5-25): Is a blend of essential nutrients designed for the unique requirements of palms. It is formulated to prevent the build-up of harmful salts while delivering additional potassium, magnesium, sulfur, and micronutrients. Jack’s Classic Palm Food produces lush green leaves and strong growth in both pots and landscapes. Palms including date, royal, queen, majesty, kentia, lady cycad sago palm, and zamia in both pots and landscapes.
Garden Elements Bud & Bloom (10-52-8):
Use on Roses, Flowering Annuals, Perennials, Vegetables, Hanging Baskets, and Container Plants.
Foliar fertilizers are dilute fertilizer solutions applied directly to the plant leaves. As with soil application of fertilizer, the goal of foliar fertilization is to supply plants with the nutrients needed for proper growth. Foliar fertilizing can be beneficial to do when a plant is suffering from certain nutrient deficiencies. However, there are many different opinions on whether or not foliar fertilizing is effective over the long term.
· It must be diluted before application to prevent fertilizer burn.
· When temperatures are cool, and some dew is present on the leaves.
· Don't spray in direct sunshine, as the drying of the salts in the solution may result in leaf scorch.
· Avoid watering normally until the spray has dried, and try not to spray just before a rain, as extra water will dilute the solution and wash some of it away.
· Spray plants until you see the mixture dripping from the leaves.
· Only use those fertilizers that say they are for foliar fertilization. Always follow the directions on the package.
· Not all plants like foliar feeding.
Kinds We Carry:
Fox Farm Tiger Bloom (2-8-4): Is a phosphorus fertilizer that contains nitrogen to support vigorous growth. It is formulated with a low pH to maintain stability in storage and keep micronutrients available. Tiger Bloom® can be used for both hydroponic and soil applications. Tiger Bloom® is designed to encourage abundant fruit, flower, and multiple bud development. Use Tiger Bloom® at the first signs of flowering through harvest. Garden tip: Tiger Bloom® can also be used as a foliar fertilizer. Just dilute in water and spray it onto both sides of leaves early in the morning.