Fertilizers are the nutrients flowers need to produce healthy plants with robust blooms. Most flowers do quite well with an all-purpose, balanced fertilizer especially formulated for blooming plants. Some flowering plants have special nutrient requirements and there are fertilizers specially formulated to meet their needs. In general, most flowers are not heavy feeders and the adage "less is more" is a good one to keep in mind when it comes to applying the product.
All-Purpose Flower Fertilizers
A good balanced fertilizer will contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium along with smaller amounts of other needed minerals. Nitrogen stimulates the strong, vigorous growth of the stems and leaves. Phosphorus helps plants develop a strong root system and also plays a significant role in prolific bud and flower formation. Potassium boosts the plant's resistance to disease and ability to withstand periods of drought and weather fluctuations.
Roses need greater amounts of phosphorus, nitrogen, potassium and calcium than other flowers. Repeat -flowering varieties also benefit from regular feeding throughout the growing season. There are many good commercial rose foods available.
Rhododendrons and Azaleas
These flowering shrubs need acid soil for beautiful blooms. Most general fertilizers are alkaline in composition and may inhibit these plants from absorbing the nutrients they need. Specially formulated fertilizers are available that raise the acid level of the soil and deliver the nutrients the shallow-rooted rhododendrons and azaleas require.
Tulips, Daffodils and Crocuses
Fertilizers developed for bulbs consist of a fast-acting and also a slow-release, long-lasting fertilizer. The fast-acting fertilizer gets the newly planted bulbs off to a good start. The slower-acting fertilizer provides the bulbs with the nutrients they need for vigorous flowers throughout the growing season.
Fertilizers for flowers are available in both dry and liquid forms. Dry fertilizers are either spread on top of the soil, or dug into it and are absorbed gradually as they dissolve. Liquid fertilizers are mixed with water and are applied either by hand with a watering can or with a hose-end sprayer. Liquid fertilizers are absorbed immediately by the plant roots and need to be reapplied frequently.
Organic or Non-Organic
Organic fertilizers are composed of natural sources, such as blood meal, bone meal, manure and compost. This type of fertilizer decomposes slowly and adds humus and microorganisms to the soil along with nutrients for the plant.
Non-organic or synthetic fertilizers are commercial preparations containing combinations of basic mineral and trace elements in the proper ratios. Non-organic fertilizers dissolve rapidly in water, making the nutrients immediately available to the plants.
Tips and Warnings
When applying fertilizer, whether using wet or dry, it is important to follow label directions carefully. Distribute the fertilizer evenly over the soil. Concentrated fertilizer causes more harm than good. Take care not to get fertilizer on the leaves or flowers as it can burn them. Water the flower beds well after every application. This ensures that the nutrients penetrate the soil and delivers the nutrients to the root system quickly and thoroughly.