The Q&A Archives: nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium

Question: What does nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium do for plants? And, what can I do for better plant health? I live in the high desert. Does wind have a bad affect such as drying out a plant?

Answer: Nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium are the major nutrients in a package of fertilizer (NPK). Each has a specific task to accomplish, but they all work in conjunction with one another. Nitrogen promotes lush, green growth; phosphorous promotes blooming and strengthens stems and potassium helps root growth and encourages stem growth. When you are choosing fertilizers, you'll want one with a higher nitrogen content if you're growing a lawn; one with a higher phosphorous content if you want to promote flowering, or one with a higher potassium content if you are growing carrots.

To have healthy plants, you'll want to make sure they are getting adequate sunshine and that your soil is rich, loose and well draining. You can amend your soil with compost or aged manure prior to planting to promote healthy root growth, which makes healthier plants.

Wind affects some plants more than others. Those with thin or tender leaves will be most affected. Plants with thick, leathery leaves will be less affected by drying winds.

Hope this answers all your questions.

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