The Q&A Archives: Fertilizer For Bleeding Hearts

Question: Last year my bleeding hearts did not bloom. They're emerging from the ground now. Zone 5. For maximum bloom, when should I fertilize, and with what?

Answer: Here?s some basic info on fertilizer and nutrients that plants require. The 3 numbers on a fertilizer bag refer to the percentage of N (nitrogen), P (phosphorus), and K (potassium) in the bag. There are different formulations for different purposes. In general terms, nitrogen produces lush green growth, phosphorus helps strengthen stems and produce flowers, and potassium keeps the root system healthy. If you're applying fertilizer to fruiting (e.g., tomatoes) or flowering plants, you're not as interested in the plant developing leaves as you are in it flowers and fruit, so you'd use a formulation lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus, such as Miracle-Gro's Plant Food at 15-30-15. Bone meal is an organic source of phosphorus.

Fertilize when you see new growth starting. Water soil well before and after applying to help prevent burn.

Organic sources of nutrients:

Nitrogen: alfalfa meal, blood meal, coffee grounds, cottonseed meal, fish emulsion, seabird guano.
Phosphorus: bone meal, rock phosphate
Potassium: greensand, seaweed, kelp

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