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If you’re looking to maximise the potential of your plants to provide bigger flowers, more colour or more leaf growth, we have a wide range of garden fertiliser to help you.
Different plant types need specific types of fertiliser and many people have their favourite brands, which is why we have plenty of choice.
Have you ever looked at the small print on the back of a pack of garden fertiliser? There is a good deal of information available to the gardener, to enable you to compare products.
What nutrients do plants need?
Plants use three main types of food. Nitrogen ( “N” ) which helps shoots and leaves to grow, Phosphorous (“P”) which encourages roots, and Potassium (“K”) which is responsible for flowers and fruits. So, we could look at a pack of garden fertiliser and read that it has a ratio of N:P:K equal to 7:7:7. We would then know that this has equal amounts of these nutrients and would know it is a general-purpose, balanced fertiliser. For example, Growmore can be used in all different parts of the garden. You can also buy these nutrients separately, we call them “straight” fertilisers. Be careful using these, you can have too much of a good thing!
There are many nutrients a plant needs besides the basic three we have already mentioned, these are called trace elements. Along with Magnesium, we could list iron, boron, copper, manganese, molybdenum and zinc. As with our own nutrition, a balanced diet is the best way forward and some products will also list these nutrients as well. Look out for Vitax Q4 or Miracle-Gro plant food.
Garden fertilisers are sold in different formulations. Liquids tend to be fast-acting whereas granules can be slower in their action. Miracle-Gro Controlled Release fertiliser is capable of releasing food over many weeks so that you don’t have to keep remembering to feed your plants. This clever product has nutrients stored inside a “prill” or granule, the coating of which is a resin. In warmer weather, it expands, exposing cracks through which moisture in the compost will drain and take food into the compost for plant roots to absorb. So the warmer it is, the more food there is available to the plant and the better it will grow!
Specialist garden fertiliser
Tomorite works because it is high in potash.(K). From the label, we see it is 4:3:8 NPK. Encouraging flowers to form results in more fruits, but this product would also be useful for hanging baskets and containers where flower production is important.
“Bonemeal” is on our shelves to be used to encourage root growth and is high in phosphate. One of its features is that it does not move far in the soil. This means that if applied on top, it would be months before it worked its way down to the roots. It is, however, very useful indeed if incorporated into the soil at planting time and can still be effective three or four years later.
One last group of garden fertilisers is those that are targeted at plants that do not like living in lime laden soil, such as Rhododendrons, Azaleas and Camellias. A plant that likes acid soil or hates lime soil is called an Ericaceous plant. When looking for specialist garden composts and fertilisers, this word is often used and with the products likely to be predominantly pink. Problems can occur because, often, soil has lots of lime in it and so does our tap water. If a plant hates lime but you want to have one in your garden, you could grow it in a pot as an alternative. However, be sure not to use tap water when watering as the lime within it will cause problems by locking up iron that the plant needs to thrive (think of the limescale that builds up in your kettle). When a problem does occur, the leaves turn yellow all over the plant. The remedy for this is to use a feed, high in iron. Look out for these as a special group of products on our shelves.
If you have any questions about garden fertiliser or any of the above, please ask a member of our expert team for help.