How to Fertilize Flowers
Just as children do, flowers need plenty of good food to grow healthy and strong - and that food is fertilizer. Fertilizers usually have three elements: nitrogen, which promotes green, lush growth; phosphorous, which helps flowering; and potassium, which contributes to root formation. There are also a whole host of trace elements that plants also need, which may or may not be included in a fertilizer.
Decide first whether you want to use organic or synthetic (chemical) fertilizers. Organic fertilizers are earth-friendly and pose little danger of burning a plant's roots; they also tend to improve the soil's texture. Synthetic fertilizers are usually less expensive than organic fertilizers, but they also are easier to misuse and do nothing to improve soil texture.
Check out the nutrient content of the fertilizer, listed on the package. Many synthetic fertilizers have various balances of nutrients for a specific purpose, such as feeding roses or for root development. Organic fertilizers also have varying ratios of nutrients. When in doubt, use an all-purpose or general fertilizer.
- Compost is the king of all organic fertilizers, truly earning its nickname "black gold." Other organic fertilizers include manure, alfalfa meal, bloodmeal, bonemeal, fish emulsion, fish meal, granite dust and greensand.
Apply a liquid fertilizer to most annual flowers every two to four weeks and to most perennials or small shrubs - including roses - every four weeks. Follow package directions exactly.
Apply organic fertilizers according to package directions.
Apply a slow-release granular fertilizer as an alternative. Apply once or twice a growing season, following package directions exactly.
Fertilize with compost two different ways: One way is to spread 1 to 2 inches thick on the top of the soil so that nutrients trickle down to the roots. The other way is to put it at the bottom of large planting holes or to work it into a planting area when adding new plants to your garden.
- Many gardeners use a combination of compost and other fertilizers.
- Fertilizing is more art than science. Even highly experienced gardeners change their fertilizing strategies from year to year, constantly experimenting to see which gives them the best results or responds to their garden's ever-changing needs.
- Be careful not to overfertilize. Even if you're using an organic fertilizer that can't burn roots, too much of a good thing can be a problem. If you give a plant too much nitrogen, for example, the plant will grow tall and leggy with few flowers because nitrogen contributes to green, lush growth.
Article courtesy of eHow.com