The Q&A Archives: Fertilizer Appropriate For All Flowering Plants

Question: Would it be safe to use a slow release plant food on my roses, perennials and annuals? The formulation is 10-18-10, and the suggestion is that it ensures lush growth and bloom development for six months. It sounds convenient. I am a new gardener and would like to minimize my confusion.

Answer: Slow-. Depending on the fertility of your soil, you may need to apply more frequently than once every six months because roses and annuals are heavy feeders. But even so, the slow release fertilizers are indeed convenient. The 10-18-10 formulation would be fine for flowering plants. 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 the 10-18-10. Hope this info helps!

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