Plants have four basic needs: light, water, and air. All of these elements can vary by plant but the complete lack of any one of them can be detrimental to a plant. But wait, that’s only three? AH! Yes, nutrients! Plants need nutrients to grow strong and reach their full potential.
Feeding plants properly can be quite tricky. There are ideal times of the growing season that it should be applied.
Most plants will benefit when nutrients are applied during the growing season. The growing season is different from plant to plant. There are many, many fertilizers on the market and it can be hard to determine which one is best but there is one good rule of thumb to follow: research what your plant needs.
Most plant food packages will have a set of numbers on the label indicating the strength of the fertilizer. The first number is nitrogen(N), the second number is phosphorus(P) and the third number is potassium(K). For example, a label reading 20-20-20 means the total mixture is 20% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus, and 20% potassium. This number is based on the total weight of the entire mixture as fertilizer often has other trace elements and ingredients involved. A 20-lb bag of fertilizer may read 20-15-25 which means the mixture is:
4 pounds of nitrogen
3 pounds of phosphorus
5 pounds of potassium
It is very important that you feed your plants the types of fertilizer they are meant to have. Not all fertilizers are created equally and you can actually severely harm your plants by feeding them the wrong types of fertilizer or too much fertilizer. Too much fertilizer can burn a plant.
Research your plant and fertilizer before applying and always follow the instructions on the label.