Garden stores and nurseries have rows and rows of plant fertilizer. But is feeding your plants really necessary? The answer is a definite yes, if you want plants that are the most healthy, with lush foliage and profusely blooming flowers. However, there is such a thing as too much of a good thing; excess fertilizer is just as bad for plants as is too much. With a happy medium amount of fertilizer and with feeding according to the directions given on the fertilizer, all plants benefit in a number of ways from the nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium that most fertilizers provide.
As living things, plants need nutrients in order to survive, and various minerals in fertilizers provide those nutrients because most garden soils are not as rich in nutrients as they could be. Sunset Magazine experts report for instance that potassium enhances a plant’s ability to manufacture and move sugars and starches through the roots and stems, and that potassium also promotes normal cell division. The editors go on to say that sulfur, magnesium, calcium and iron also play a large role in cell manufacture and growth and also that iron is essential to chlorophyll formation in the cells of leaves.
As a result of a healthy metabolism, a plant is equipped to do what it does best, grow and flourish. Two young California Science Fair winners demonstrated this; Natasha Meyers-Cherry reported that rabbit manure increased a plant’s height, the number of flowers produced and the width of flowers compared to other types of fertilizer. One can conclude from the experiment that no fertilizer at all would result in even less growth, less height and fewer, smaller flowers. This is exactly what Amanda Turk, the second science fair student did demonstrate, showing an increase in the height of fertilized grass compared to grass that was not fertilized at all.
Reduction in Yellowing Leaves, Leaf Death and Stunting
If a plant does not get enough nutrients, its natural response is to slow down its life processes, resulting in very slow and limited growth. If a plant is unable to gather the minerals necessary to produce chlorophyll, its leaves will naturally lose their bright green color. If the plant is deficient in manganese and zinc, which strengthen the enzymes that allow the plant to make use of other nutrients, the plant will not be able to get enough food out to the stems, leaves and buds and as a result, growth will be stunted.
- "Sunset Western Garden Guide": editors of Sunset Magazine and Sunset Books: 1977
- Mad Science Network: Botany: Re: How do the amounts of fertilizer affect plant growth?: Message
- 2004 Project Summary: Organic vs. Synthetic: The Effect of Fertilizer on Plant Growth
- California State Science Fair: 2002 Project Summary: The Effects of Fertilizer Variations on Plant Growth