Plant food, technically called fertilizer, actually provides nutrients, the building blocks, that a flower or tree needs to grow and to create its own food using sunlight captured by the leaves. Organic fertilizers come originally from living things.
Organic fertilizers add humus to the soil, improving its texture and water-holding capacity. They usually release nutrients, including trace elements, slowly so less frequent applications are needed.
Applying an organic fertilizer might be more difficult because they tend to be bulky and heavier than synthetics. Some, such as manure, might vary considerably in nutrient content.
The easiest way to apply organics is to buy a balanced fertilizer mix with the major nutrient ingredients stated on the label as three numbers: nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. Individual materials are often available and might be less expensive than a mix.
The first of the three numbers on a fertilizer package concerns nitrogen, which coaxes plants to grow green and leafy. Organics high in nitrogen include blood meal, cottonseed meal, fish emulsion and alfalfa meal.
The second number on a package stands for phosphorous, a nutrient used for producing flowers, fruit, strong stems and roots. Good sources include bone meal and rock phosphate.
The third number stands for potassium, which is useful for flower and fruit production and the health of the whole plant. Sources include kelp meal and greensand.
- Fertilizer Homepage
- Organic Gardening
fertilizer, organic, nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium
About this Author
Over the past 30 years, Mara Grey has sold plants in nurseries, designed gardens and volunteered as a Master Gardener. She is the author of "The Lazy Gardener" and "The Complete Idiot's Guide to Flower Gardening" and has a Bachelor of Science in botany.