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Plant Fertilizer: The Basics of a Beautiful Landscape

by Shannon Lee, All About Lawns Columnist

Plant fertilizer gives an essential boost to your houseplants, landscaping shrubs, and your garden. But how does it work, and what is the best way to apply it? Read on for everything you need to know about plant fertilizer!

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What is Plant Fertilizer?

Plant fertilizer is a combination of nutrients plants need for optimum health. All plants must have oxygen, hydrogen, and carbon, which they can obtain from air and water. Fertilizer helps provide more macronutrients for your plants. Each bag of fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

The numbers on a bag of fertilizer tell you the percentages of each of the macronutrients found in that bag. Your plants also need other nutrients, such as sulfur, magnesium, and calcium, but these are readily available from the surrounding soil.

Which Plant Fertilizer Do You Need?

Fertilizer is sold in all-purpose formulas, which is meant to be suitable for any type of plant. For even more assurance that your landscape is as perfect as it can be, turn to specialized fertilizers. Those that cater to roses, certain trees, vegetable gardens, shrubs, and the like are carefully formulated to provide the proper macronutrients for that particular type of plant. You can also choose synthetic or organic fertilizers.

Applying Plant Fertilizer

When you are ready to apply plant fertilizer, read the instructions very carefully. Mix and measure the fertilizer as directed, and apply it with the recommended methods. If your shrubs are newly planted or your plants are stressed by drought, avoid fertilizing them at all.

Finally, remember that overuse of fertilizer can do more harm than good--a little bit goes a long way toward a beautiful plant boost.

About the Author

Shannon Dauphin is a freelance writer based near Nashville, Tennessee. Her house was built in 1901, so home repair and renovation have become her hobbies.

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