Answer: Fertilizer is simply an alternate source of all the basic nutrients, such as nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and trace minerals that exist naturally in a healthy soil. Fertilizer feeds the soil, not the plants. It breaks down in the soil, either by being dissolved in water or by microbial action, releasing its nutrients in a form that plant roots can absorb. Plants use nitrogen for leaf production, phosphorus for root and flower production and potassium for flower production and general vigor. Fertilizer products are useful to either compensate for thin, poor soil or to supplement the nutrients existing in healthy soil.
General purpose fertilizers are typically balanced. They contain all three major nutrients which are present in the proportions likely to be found in a healthy soil. These general purpose fertilizers are suitable for use on lawns, trees, shrubs, flowers, even vegetable gardens where there are no special problems with the soil. They are most commonly and easily used in a granular form that can be spread uniformly with a mechanical spreader and watered in by rain or your sprinkler.
For your bougainvillea, choose a general purpose 10-10-10 or 20-20-20 ratio of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium and apply in amounts and with the frequency recommended on the fertilizer package.
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