Fertilizer is an essential ingredient for green lawns, healthy vegetables and burgeoning blooms. It’s particularly important if the soil is less than optimal. Fertilizer provides edible and decorative plantings with a steady supply of the nutrients needed for strong growth. The first order of business is understanding what the labeling on fertilizer means.

Fertilizer bags will have three numbers listed in bold, for instance 12-12-12. The first number is the amount of nitrogen the fertilizer contains, the second is phosphorous, and the third is potassium. The fertilizer will also contain smaller amounts of other nutrients. Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are the three major ingredients with which gardeners should be concerned.

Nitrogen is used for strong leaf growth and healthy green color. Phosphorus provides the nutrients required for plants to sustain faster growth, fight disease, form strong roots, and produce fruits, flowers and seeds. Potassium helps in fighting disease, producing strong stems, and faster, sustained growth. The nutrients are released over time.

If an organic-based fertilizer is selected, the bag will show an N-P-K ratio and the numbers will be smaller. They’re as potent as traditional, synthetic fertilizers, but the numbers in organic fertilizer represents the nutrients that are immediately available to plants once the compound has been applied. It also contains components that are released over time.

Applying a fertilizer high in nitrogen stimulates leaf growth. If applied to flowering plants, it will encourage growth rather than flowers or fruits. However, a fertilizer high in nitrogen is a good idea for lettuce, spinach and other leafy, green vegetables in food gardens.

Phosphorus promotes root growth and encourages fruit and flower production. It’s valuable in vegetable gardens for edible root crops such as onions and carrots, along with cucumbers and tomatoes for good yields. It also provides new plantings with a boost for root formation. Potassium levels are necessary for producing vigorous, sturdy and hearty plants.

Individuals need to choose their fertilizer carefully to match the effects they want to achieve – growth, fruit or flowers. Applying the wrong fertilizer mix, or applying it at the incorrect time of the year, will damage plants or a lawn and it may require the services of a professional landscaper to correct.

RCH Landscaping is a full-service landscape company based in Boca Raton, Florida. We design, install and maintain Commercial and Residential landscapes all around Boca Raton, Delray Beach, and The Palm Beach areas. Our team of highly skilled landscape technicians has an undisputed track record of creating and maintaining beautiful commercial and residential landscapes all over South Florida.

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