The Q&A Archives: Fertilizer

Question: On fertilizer bags, what do the number combinations such as 10-10-15 or 10-15-10 mean?

Answer: The 3 numbers indicate the 3 major nutrients in a fertilizer package. The first number represents nitrogen. Nitrogen helps plants green up. The second number is for phosphorous. Phosphorous promotes flowering and helps stengthen stems. The third number is for Potassium. This mineral encourages root growth and works in conjunction with the other two for strong stems. If you want to fertilize turfgrass, a fertilizer formula higher in nitrogen will help it green up. But it should also contain some potassium for good root growth, and very little phosphorous because it isn't necessary to promote flowering in turfgrass. If you want to encourage flowering, choose a fertilizer with a higher middle number such as a 10-20-10. For general purpose garden fertilizers, choose a balanced formula such as a 10-10-10 or 20-20-20. Hope this information clarifies things for you!

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