Knowing how and when to apply fertilizer is as crucial to vigorous plant growth as knowing the plants attributes. In the interest of growing healthy plants, we've compiled a brief introduction to the why, what, how, and when to apply fertilizers to your garden.

Annuals, Perennials, and Roses work especially hard to form flowers and a little help from you along the way will help ensure that they provide the best show possible in your garden.

Fertilizer composition

There are 3 primary elements found in fertilizers, mostly commonly referred to as N.P.K.

N = Nitrogen which promotes healthy leaf growth by stimulating the production of chlorophyll by the plant.  Chlorophyll is how the plant uses sunlight to produce its food.

P = Phosphorous which supports the vigorous growth and development of roots, stems, flowers, and fruits.

K = Potassium, this element plays a key role in helping plants digest and manufacture their food.  Potassium is generally required for the overall health of the plant.

When it comes to fertilizing, more does not mean better.  It is very possible to over-feed your plants; too much fertilizer can damage or perhaps kill your plants.  By carefully reading the package directions on the fertilizer you can ensure that you are feeding your plants in the correct amounts and thus your plants will reward you with bigger flowers, more frequent blooms, lush leaves, and bigger fruits and vegetables.

Types of Fertilizer 

There are two types of fertilizer that you can use, granular fertilizer and liquid fertilizer.

Granular fertilizers are an option that is very effective for garden beds with annuals, perennials, vegetables, and shrubs.  Granular fertilizers are the “low and slow” approach to feeding your plants.  Granular fertilizers provide a slow release of fertilizer over time and thus don’t need to be applied as often.

Liquid fertilizers or water soluble fertilizers are ideal for potted plants and annuals.  Liquid fertilizers are generally mixed with water and applied. Liquid fertilizers are more quickly absorbed and used by the plants and are usually applied more frequently than granular fertilizers.  Again, we cannot stress enough to always read the package directions for proper rates for application.