Fertilizing Perennials - Knowledgebase Question

Newtonville, MA
Question by GaryFausett
January 13, 1998
When should I apply fertilizer and epsom salt to my perennial beds to prepare for the new season?


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Answer from NGA
January 13, 1998

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First let me recommend that you contact your State University Extension Service for a soil test to be sure you apply what you need in the right quantities. The U. Mass. Extension in Amherst phone number is (413)545-4800. They also have a web site at: umass.edu/umest/

If the soil was prepared properly before you planted them, there are few perennials that need more than an annual topdressing of a balanced (ie. 10-10-10) slow-release fertilizer. A layer of compost mulch is always appreciated. Either should be applied in the early spring.

I'm curious why you fertilize with epsom salts to prepare for the season. Generally, epsom salts, a source of magnesium, are applied as a side-dressing or foliar spray during the growing season. Certain crops, in particular tomatoes, peppers, and roses, seeem to benefit from the additional magnesium. Has a soil test shown that your soil is deficient?

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