Fertilising for happier, healthier plants

Every gardener is brought loads of joy from seeing their precious plants flourish!  Vibrant and colourful pot plants, lush green lawns, healthy vegetables and strong, disease resistant trees and shrubs laden with flowers and fruits.

Although compost is the number one source of food for your plants, there are times when they will need that extra boost. When flowering, fighting pests or dealing with inclement weather, a little more nutrition can go a long way. Bedding and container plants are also always grateful for that extra bit. Knowing when and how and with what to fertilise your garden and container plants is fairly simple.

Life is a Garden have these great tips for you:

Plants require three main elements known are macro-nutrients, for good health: Nitrogen (N) for green leafy growth; Phosphorous (P) for healthy roots and shoots; and Potassium (K) for fruits, flowers and hardiness. These three elements are required in greater quantities than any others, but smaller amounts of secondary elements and trace minerals also contribute towards optimal growth.

What to feed?  Firstly, you need to decide whether you prefer to fertilise with a chemical or organic fertiliser. Once you have established this, you will find a variety of fertilisers pre-made with the correct balance of nutrients for your plant’s specific needs e.g. roses, vegetables, fruit and flowers (shrubs and trees), general and lawn. Chemical fertilisers are available in a slow release form which means that you only need to reapply every 3 months in the growing season. Normal chemical fertilisers will last for a 6-week period.

Organic fertilisers have the added benefit in that they help to build the soil structure, which in turn assists with retaining soil water and nutrients. They stimulate microbial activity and are environmentally friendly, minimising toxic build up in the soil (which is detrimental to plants). They are naturally slow release and, for your convenience, are available in both a pellet and a powder form.

Water soluble fertilisers are faster acting than granular fertilisers and although they need to be applied more frequently, they are easy to use. These are also available in both organic and non-organic forms. Because plants are able to absorb essential nutrients through their leaves, we can fertilise them using a technique called foliar feeding. The easiest method for foliar feeding is to add or dissolve the fertiliser in water using a pressure sprayer or watering can, and then to simply wet the leaves until the mixture is dripping off. It is best to do this early morning or late afternoon and repeat every two to three weeks. This method of fertilising will rapidly reward you with spectacular container plants, hanging baskets, vegetables, herbs or annuals.

When to fertilise?

Most vegetables, lawns, annuals and perennials give the best results when fertilised at the beginning of the growing season or early spring.

With this season’s late rainfall, and the fact that we are officially still in spring, it’s not too late to fertilise! So, get feeding and enjoy your flourishing rewards over the coming festive season. Remember to always read the fertilising instructions carefully and follow the correct application rate for the best outcome.

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