We all enjoy a good healthy meal, and plants are no different. But while we may cozy up to a buffet table, cultivated plants get their nutrients primarily in the form of fertilizer. Concentrated liquid plant food is an easy solution for home gardeners looking to feed a variety of plants. But as with humans, too much food can be unhealthy for plants, too. Understanding concentrated liquid plant food is the first step toward properly feeding your plants.
What Is Liquid Plant Food?
Fertilizer comes in many forms, concentrated liquid being just one type. Being concentrated, it's economical because one bottle, when diluted with water, will feed many plants. Usually its strength is diluted with water based upon the type of plant being fed. Concentrated liquid plant food comes with detailed manufacturer's instructions regarding how much to dilute it for what types of plants.
What Does It Contain?
Like people, plants crave a well-balanced diet. Concentrated liquid plant foods provide three main macronutrients in various strengths and combinations. The strengths are indicated by those cryptic three numbers that will appear on most fertilizer labels, such as NPK (8-6-6). The letters stand for the three main macronutrients of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). The numbers represent the percentage of that nutrient available in a standard application when following the manufacturer's instructions. Different percentage combinations exist for different types of plants, so be sure to read the label.
Nitrogen is a key building block of all concentrated liquid plant food, and it contributes to chlorophyll production, which makes a healthy plant green. Adequate levels of nitrogen in plant food also increase yields, resulting in more corn and tomatoes, for instance. It's also a chief component in developing protein.
Phosphorus is critical to all living things and is crucial to growing large, healthy plants. Without it, plants struggle to convert other nutrients and energy from the sun into readily usable food, thus, like nitrogen, it is a primary component of concentrated liquid plant food. Additionally, it is best absorbed when in a liquid form, giving concentrated liquid plant food a leg up on its powdered and granular competition.
Another macronutrient in concentrated liquid plant food, potassium, is readily available in the soil, but can be difficult for plants to absorb, making liquid applications ideal. Much in the same way calcium builds strong teeth and bones, potassium strengthens the core of the plant, resulting in healthy stalks and more abundant yields.
Concentrated liquid plant food, when mixed according to manufacturer's directions, may only contain roughly 25 percent of the macronutrients. The other 75 percent contains trace minerals such as zinc, iron, sulfur, calcium and copper because these micronutrients also contribute to healthy plant growth. Other ingredients may include fillers, which aid in the even application of the liquid plant food.