N-P-K. Fertilizing for Beginners
N-P-K for Beginners.
What is NPK?
NPK stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium which are the 3 macronutrients plants depend on the most.
Why are there different ratios?
Plants have different environments and needs that determine the ratio of fertilizer to use. Some plants need more support to foliage, some plants need root support, some plants have flowers, and many times plants just need support all-around.
What does Nitrogen do? Nitrogen is a key compound in the cellular building blocks of plants and supports growth and photosynthesis. Nitrogen is also important in the root system to help the uptake of water. Essentially nitrogen helps build the observable plant structures like the leaves and petals.
What does Phosphorous do? Phosphorous is a key nutrient for capturing and converting the sun's energy into plant growth through cellular reproduction. Phosphorous impacts plants on the genetic level. A lack of Phosphorous will impact growth, delay maturity, and reduce yields. Phosphorous is important to the development of plants roots and flowers.
What does Potassium do? Potassium is important for the part it plays in moving water and nutrients throughout the plants' structures. Potassium is important throughout a whole plant as a processing nutrient. It also aids plants' natural immune system, and thickens cell walls, keeping your plants turgid.
What is the main difference between a granular and liquid fertilizer?
The main thing to remember is this typically a granular fertilizer is designed to have a slower release which controls a sustained amount of feed for plants that is released when you water. Liquid fertilizer is water-soluble and can be mixed to higher or lower concentrations making it a little more flexible but more time-consuming. Some people like to fertilize once per season with a granular slow release, some people like to water every time with diluted liquid fertilizer. Some plants have specific requirements though which are important to check first. The reality is, good care takes a mix of routines, and knowing which plants like what is based off your environment.
When should you fertilize? Typically, a good rule of thumb is to feed things once per season, Spring, Summer, and a little in Autumn. Personally, I like to use a little liquid fertilizer mixed into my watering once a month but at a highly diluted rate.
Some good rules of thumb are:
Don’t add fertilizer to dry soil. Water first, then add fertilizer of choice and water through again to prevent burning/shock.
Don’t over-fertilize. Less is more when adding chemistry.
Don’t fertilize in the winter unless you have active growth.
Adding new soil is always a good refresher.