Organic flower gardening is the practice of using only natural products in your flower gardens. There are many reasons people use organic techniques. If you have pets or children, organic gardening avoids toxic materials that could cause harm. Organic gardening also helps maintain soil health by encouraging soil microbes and other beneficial organisms.
Fertilizers, gardening and farming have used organic fertilizers for thousands of years. In the mid-20th century, however, the manufacture and use of synthetic petroleum-based fertilizers became common as ways to quickly increase productivity in industrial agriculture. As chemical fertilizers became popular in agriculture, they began to be used in flower gardens.
The United States Department of Agriculture began offering incentives to return to organic gardening in the 1980s. As agriculture trends back toward more organic production, more organic (non-toxic, non-petroleum-based) fertilizers are available to help you grow flowers.
Organic flower gardening is defined as growing flowers using only plant, animal, fish and other biodegradable soil augmenters. In addition to these, ground stone and other natural materials are considered organic. Organic flower gardening is defined as using these types of fertilizers and not using synthetic insecticides to control pests.
There are many kinds of organic fertilizers available for flower gardening. When selecting a fertilizer, consider the stage of growth of your flowers. Organic fertilizers with high nitrogen may be good for your plants early in their growth, but can sometimes encourage leaf growth at the expense of flower blossoms. Organic fertilizers are available in dry powdered forms--such as fish, kelp, bone, blood and seed meals. They are also available as liquid fertilizers--such as fish emulsion and kelp emulsion. If you have a compost bin or pile, you can turn your waste vegetable scraps and grass clippings into compost, which can then be applied to your flower gardens.
For organic control of pests, introducing natural predatory species often works well. For example, ladybugs eat aphids and can be a good way to deal with an aphid infestation on organically grown flowers. In other cases, companion planting can help keep insect populations down. For example, marigolds can help control a whitefly infestation.
Organic fertilizers and pest controls can be effective, but may not work as quickly as synthetic methods. Organic fertilizers need to be broken down by microbes in the soil before they can be used by the plants. Chemical fertilizers are usually already in a form that the plants can use, making them more readily available for your flowers. Chemical insecticides can work more quickly than natural control methods, but can also have an adverse affect on beneficial insects.