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What Do The Numbers On A Bag Of Fertilizer Mean?

Fertilizers have 3 numbers listed on their container known as N-P-K

N = Nitrogen which makes your plant grow and makes it greener.

P = Phosphorus makes it bloom, fruit and build good roots

K = Potassium heat and cold hardiness

Hang in there – we’re going to talk numbers, but I’ll keep it simple.  The NPK numbers tell you how much of each item is in the fertilizer.  Knowing what the NPK does will help you choose the fertilizer for your need.

General Lawn fertilizers – look for a larger 1st number.  (29-0-4)

To increase blooms or fruiting – look for a larger 2nd number (12-24-12)

For all purpose fertilizing – look for a balanced number (13-13-13)

For you Geeks, if you add up the numbers of the NPK it totals the amount of fertilizer in the bag.  For example, the total fertilizer in a bag of 13-13-13 equals 39.  So, 39% of the material in the bag is fertilizer and 61% is filler which helps in spreading the fertilizer.

Fillers can include sand, limestone, sawdust, clean or sterile dirt, peat moss, sphagnum, ground corn cobs or other similar fillers.

You may have noticed that organic fertilizers show much lower N-P-K numbers than a synthetic fertilizer.  By law, the ratio can only list nutrients that are immediately available to a plant. Many organic fertilizers contain slow-release nutrients that are available over time instead of immediately and therefore cannot be counted in the N-P-K numbers.  However, they will continue to fertilize a plant longer than a synthetic fertilizer. 

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How To Grow Beautiful Annual Vinca

Vinca like it sunny, hot and dryer than a lot of plants. The dark, glossy-green foliage and bright flowers add color to our flower beds and pots from April through the first hard freeze. They bloom consistently, and don’t require deadheading of their flowers.

What they don’t like is to be overwatered or to be planted in poor draining soil. If your vinca turns yellow, it’s too wet. Either too much water or the soil is too wet – one of these is the problem. They almost melt away (like the Wicked Witch who had water issues too) or rot from being too wet.

One solution is to plant them in a raised area that is higher than the surrounding ground level. This allows the water to drain away faster.  You can create this higher ground by adding soil to the area or form a berm to plant them on.

Feed them with a water soluble fertilizer like Schultz weekly to help them produce even more flowers.

TRAILING OR CASCADING VINCA


You will find these in many of the same colors as standard vinca. The difference is in their growth habit – they drape or cascade over the side of the container instead of growing upright. 

These are perfect in hanging baskets, they are nice and full, bloom nonstop and cascade as much as 12” over the side of the basket, Use them as a spiller (thriller, filler, spiller) in containers or create a carpet of flowers by planting in beds. Use water soluble fertilizer on them weekly to keep them healthy.

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Spring To-Do List

What to do now:

  • Plant shrubs, container roses, perennials and trees now.
  • Spread pre-emergent on your lawn and in your flower beds if you have not done so yet this spring.
  • You can lay sod in your yard.  It will not be green, but the roots will grow into your soil and the grass should begin to green up by the middle of April depending upon temperature.
  • You can fertilize your rose bushes once you begin to see new growth emerging.
  • Fertilize established shrubs in late March or early April, use an all purpose granular fertilizer (13-13-13) and make sure to water it in thoroughly.
  • Watch for aphids on plants this time of year.  They are small and come in a variety of colors and can be found on the new growth of your plant.  Treat with insecticide and prevent re-infestation with a systemic insecticide.
  • Finish up pruning any summer blooming shrubs by the end of March. 
  • Established perennials should be cleaned up (remove dead stems, leaves, etc.) and fertilized this month or in early April.  Use an all-purpose granular fertilizer (13-13-13) and water it in thoroughly. 
  • Fertilize seasonal color (annuals) with a water-soluble fertilizer to promote growth and flowering.
  • You can continue to prune deciduous trees during March.

What not to do yet:

  • Wait until mowing grass (not weeds) 2 times before fertilizing your lawn.
  • Wait until after your azaleas bloom to fertilize the plant.
  • The soil is not warm enough to plant warm season grass seed like Centipede, Bermuda or Zoysia.  Soil temperature must be over 65 degrees for the seed to germinate.  Wait until our night-time temps are at least 65 degrees consistently (mid April).
  • Do not prune pine trees in March – they tend to bleed more during this time of the year.
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Using Epsom Salts in your Garden

Epsom salt – also known as magnesium sulfate – helps seeds germinate, makes plants grow bushier, produces more flowers, and deters pests, such as slugs and voles. It also provides vital nutrients to supplement your regular fertilizer.

Plants will have visible signs that they are starved for a particular nutrient. If a plant’s leaves turn yellow all over the plant, it can be a sign they need more sulfate. If lower leaves turn yellow between the veins (and the veins stay green), they may need more magnesium.

Epsom Salt is recommended by Master Gardeners and used regularly by commercial growers around the world. Tests by the National Gardening Association confirm that roses fertilized with Epsom Salt grow bushier and produce more flowers, and it also makes pepper plants grow larger than those treated only with commercial fertilizer.

Here are some other tips for using Epsom salt in the garden:

Houseplants: 

– 2 tablespoons per gallon of water; feed plants monthly.

– Frequent watering for indoor plants can cause a buildup of salts in their pot. A tablespoon of Epsom Salt sprinkled on top can aid in flushing the salt buildup out.

– Spray leaves of houseplants to increase their green color, just combine 2 tablespoons of Epsom Salt and a gallon of warm water in a spray bottle and spray directly onto the leaves of the plant.

Roses: 

– 1 tablespoon per foot of plant height per plant; apply every two weeks. Also scratch 1/2 cup into soil at base to encourage flowering canes and healthy new canes. Soak unplanted rose bushes in 1 cup of Epsom Salt per gallon of water to help roots recover. Add a tablespoon of Epsom Salt to each hole at planting time.

Shrubs (evergreens, azaleas, rhododendron): 

– 1 tablespoon per 9 square feet. Apply over root zone every 2-4 weeks.

Lawns: 

– Apply 3 pounds for every 1,250 square feet with a spreader or dilute in water and apply with a sprayer.

Trees:

– Apply 2 tablespoons per 9 square feet. Apply over the root zone 3 times annually.

Garden Startup:

– Sprinkle 1 cup per 100 square feet. Mix into soil before planting.

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Houseplant Care Series: Fertilizing

Since the roots of houseplants are trapped and unable to go elsewhere, unlike in-ground plants that can look ‘elsewhere’ for food, they’re counting on you for feeding!

Houseplants need fertilizing with an all-purpose plant food, such as Schultz® Liquid Plant Food, Schultz® All Purpose Slow Release Granular Plant Food, or Bonide® 10-10-10 Liquid Plant Food. How much your plant will need will depend on how large the plant is, the size of its root ball, and what kind of houseplant it is.

You’ll want to fertilize during the growing season (Spring, Summer, and Early Fall). That way, the plant can use it’s energy to absorb the fertilizer properly and grow.

Research your specific plant and make sure to follow the instructions on the fertilizer package!

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Grass Got the Summertime Blues?

You’ve been watering your grass all summer long and it may look bleached out.

Make it look like spring again with Ironite!  This granular iron product is simple to apply to your lawn and will make your lawn or plants turn green – not overnight but almost.ironite-fertilizer-mineral-supplement-canada-reviews-broadcast-spreader-settings

You might ask, why not just use some fertilizer?  DON’T!!!  Applying fertilizer to your lawn at this time of the year can burn your grass and can easily stripe your yard.

The Importance of Iron

Plants need iron and cannot properly create chlorophyll without it. This results in poor growth because chlorophyll plays an important role in photosynthesis.  Chlorophyll also gives plants their green color, and the primary symptom of iron deficiency are leaves that are yellow between their veins.

ironite-lawn-fertilizer-hi-yield-iron-plus-grassHow to Apply

A 10 pound bag covers 5000 sq feet and is easily applied with a spreader.

HINT:

Combine a granular ant killer with the Ironite into your spreader and get a 2 for 1 punch.

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How to Use Bat Guano

Bat guano, or dung, has a long history of use as a soil enricher. It is obtained from only fruit and insect-feeding species of bats. Bat guano makes an excellent fertilizer; it’s fast-acting, has little odor, and can be worked into the soil prior to planting or during active growth.bat-guano-400x266

What Do They Use Bat Guano For?
There are several uses for bat guano. It can be used as a soil conditioner, enriching the soil and improving drainage and texture, and a suitable fertilizer for plants and lawns, making them healthy and green. It can be used as a natural fungicide and controls nematodes in the soil as well. In addition, bat guano makes an acceptable compost activator, speeding up the decomposition process. With so many uses, why would you not use bat guano?!

How to Use Bat Guano as a Fertilizer
As a fertilizer, bat guano can be used as top dressing or worked into the soil and can be use fresh or dried. Typically, this fertilizer is applied in smaller quantities than other types of manure.

Bat guano provides a high concentration of nutrients to plants and the surrounding soil. According to the NPK of bat guano, its concentration ingredients are 10-3-1. This NPK fertilizer analysis translates to 10 percent nitrogen (N), 3 percent phosphorus (P), and 1 percent potassium or potash (K). The higher nitrogen levels are responsible for fast, green growth. Phosphorus aids with root and flower development while potassium provides for the plant’s overall health.

Note: You may also find bat guano with higher phosphorus ratios, such as 3-10-1. Why? Some types are processed this way. It’s also believed that the diet of some bat species may have an effect. For example, those feeding strictly on insects produce higher nitrogen content, whereas fruit-eating bats result in a high phosphorus guano.

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“Which fertilizer should I use for annuals?”

We hear this question daily.  All plants – annuals, shrubs, perennials and trees need proper nutrients to grow, stay healthy and look good.  But there are so many fertilizer choices it is easy to be discouraged and end up choosing the easy route – a slow-release fertilizer.  Apply it once and be done with fertilizing for the season.fertilized vs unfertilized plants

Sounds easy, right?  While great for many plants (shrubs) it is not the best for your annuals and hanging baskets.  They need more than a slow-release fertilizer can give them.  They are best fed with a water-soluble fertilizer.

Water soluble fertilizers are fertilizers that can be dissolved in water and makes it is easy to control the precise amount of nutrients available to your plants.  Soluble fertilizers usually have N-P-K numbers listed on their label.  bloom plusThe N is for nitrogen, the P is for phosphorus and the K is for potassium or potash.

Of the 16 (12 of which are contained in water soluble fertilizers) known elements necessary for plant life, N-P-K, are the three that are of the most importance and always listed on water soluble fertilizers, in that order.

  • Nitrogen is the most important of the nutrients and is essential to the production of chlorophyll and is responsible for leaf growth, as well as, overall size of the plant.
  • Phosphorus is necessary for photosynthesis and provides for energy transfer within the plant and is associated with the fruiting or flowering stages of growth.
  • Potassium, or potash, increases chlorophyll levels, helps plants make better use of light and air and increases growth by cell division.

all purposeThe ultimate goal of fertilizing is to supply your plant with the right amount of liquid feednutrients.  Applying a water soluble fertilizer to the annuals and perennials both in the ground and in containers every 7 to 14 days can make a remarkable difference.

Ultimately, your plants will only be as great as the care they receive, and while understanding the best fertilizer for the job may take a little bit of work, the rewards of healthier, longer-lasting plants is the pay off.

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