The key factor that separates plants from animals is that plants take the energy from the sun and, through a process called photosynthesis, combines certain elements together to create their own food in the form of carbohydrates and sugars. Therefore, we DO NOT FEED plants, they feed themselves.

What we do is provide nutrients which must be combined with the correct amounts of sunlight, water, chlorophyll and heat for the plant to produce its own food. If any one of these five factors is below the minimum needed for photosynthesis, no growth will occur. You cannot force growth by giving the plant more nutrients if the light level is too low.

Fertilizers are the human way of providing nutrients to our plants. Any product that is sold and makes a claim that it aids plant growth is a fertilizer. According to the law, such products must be analyzed for their nutrient content and these contents must be listed on the container.

At a minimum, fertilizers must display the levels of the the three macro-nutrients (the ones needed in the highest levels by plants) which are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). A bag with the numbers 15-10-20 on it  would include 15% nitrogen, 10 % phosphorus (P) in the form of phosphate (P2O5) and 20% potassium (K) in the form of potash (K2O).  

 

Note: We have provided some general information and observations on this topic aimed at the home gardener. Before you take any serious action in your landscape, check with your state's land grant university's Cooperative Extension Service for the most current, appropriate, localized recommendations.

 

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