Thursday, July 25, 2013

Fertilizing plants : Why and how ?

Good evening,

In the while, plants draw the nutrients and minerals they need from the soil by extending their roots. In containers, however, the room for root expansion and the amount of growing medium is drastically reduced, making it vital to replace nutrients on a regular basis.

Types of fertilizer :
The two main types of fertilizer available for plants are classes as organic and inorganic. Organic fertilizers are made from a plant or animal base, and tend to be absorbed slowly by the plant, which means they are longer-lasting. Inorganic fertilizers are mineral-based and tend to be faster-acting, which means that they are used up more quickly.

All plants require three main chemical elements for healthy growth: Nitrogen(N) for shoots and leaves, phosphorus(P) for roots; and potassium(K) fruit and flowers. The amount of each of these in relation to the others in a soil mix or fertilizer is shown on the pack as the N:P:K ratio. A balanced general fertilizer should contain equal quantities of each. Different plants require different levels of these elements, including iron, copper, zinc, magnesium, and manganese. For example, foliage plants have a lower requirement for potassium than a plant being grown for flowers, but a higher need for nitrogen. Flowering plants need a balance of all three main elements, changing to a n emphasis on potassium as the buds develop.

Plant fertilizers contain the three main nutrients, plus a full range of trace elements. They are available in a variety of forms, as either quick-release or slow-release, depending on how quickly they dissolve in water. Liquid fertilizers ( including soluble powder, granules, and crystals) have an immediate effect because they are readily absorbed, and the plant should respond within a week. Foliar fertilizers are useful for plants that do not take nutrients easily through the roots, such as bromeliads, since they are absorbed directly by the leaves, acting as a rapid "pick-me-up" Pellets, spikes, and pills are placed in the soil in a solid form. These dissolve slowly, taking longer to become available to the plant. High-potash ( potassium ) fertilizers are often referred to as "tomato fertilizers" because they are used widely to promote the production of flower and fruit on tomatoes, These are ideal for indoor plants that need a boost to produce a good display of flowers

How to fertilize: 

Liquid formulations come as a concentrate or as dry granules or powder, to be diluted with, or dissolved in, water. These are applied with a watering can, or in the case of a liquid foliar feed, with a mister. Dry formulations are added to the soil when the plant is potted, or as a top-dressing on the surface of an older plant. Pins and spikes are pushed into the soil using the end of a pencil - but do not to place them too close to the roots, since localized burning can occur as a result of the high concentration of fertilizer. The drawback of pins and spiked is that they cannot be "switched off" as the plant goes into its winter rest period, which may result in weak, elongated growth. Slow-release granules break down over three to six months, so can be adjusted to the needs of individual plants.


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