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Selecting Fertilizer

A walk down the fertilizer aisle of your garden center can be overwhelming. So many different products to choose from; it is hard to know where to start.

But selecting the right type of fertilizer will help you grow attractive, healthy and productive plants.

Look at the three numbers on the fertilizer bag. The first number is for nitrogen. This promotes leaf, stem, and overall growth. Too much nitrogen can result in all leaves and no flowers. Excessive amounts of nitrogen can even burn or kill plants and harm our environment.

The middle number represents phosphorous. This nutrient promotes rooting, flowering, and fruit formation. The last number represents potassium. It helps plants ward off disease and increases cold tolerance.

Make sure your plants need all three nutrients before adding a complete fertilizer like 10-10-10. Adding more is a waste of money, can be harmful to the plants and our environment.

A bit more information: Consider using a slow release fertilizer. Slow release fertilizers come from a natural source, are coated with sulfur or another material to control release or are formulated in a way to release small amounts of nutrients over a long period of time. This reduces the risk of burn and provides plants with a steady diet of nutrients. This means less work for you. One application lasts a long, often the whole season, time.

Most manufacturers will label their products slow release. Check the Guaranteed Analysis on the back of the bag for the percent of Water Insoluble Nitrogen (WIN). The higher the percent the more slow release nitrogen in the mix.

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