Nutrients for your plants

Plants typically need more than just water and sunlight to grow to be tall and beautiful, especially if they're in containers. Fertilizer gives plants extra nutrients that may be leached out of the soil by watering. The fertilizing compound can be organic or chemical-based.

Most fertilizers have three elements essential for growing plants: nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus; however, they can include other elements like calcium, sulfur and magnesium.

Inorganic Fertilizers

Many inorganic fertilizers occur naturally - these include limestone, rock phosphorus and sodium nitrate. However, artificial chemical fertilizers fall under the inorganic category, and tend to be much easier to find. They are intentionally mixed to provide the right amount of nutrients to whatever plants you're trying to grow. Often, the fertilizer will be directly created for a specific plant.

Your inorganic garden fertilizer bag may include:

  • Some measurement of the three main elements of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus. Fertilizers with these specifications are labeled N-P-K, and the bag will tell you exactly how much of each element you will find.
  • Ammonia is another popular compound that reacts with nitrogen to produce ammonia nitrate or urea. These, combined with water, can produce an excellent liquid fertilizer.

It's best to remember that inorganic fertilizer, while a good short-term solution, doesn't always replace the nutrients in the soil that plants need. For this, a combination of organic and inorganic material will give the plants the nutrients they need.

Organic Fertilizers

Organic gardening is becoming the norm - with all the controversy over pesticides and harmful chemicals on our food, the best way to get plants the nutrients they need is through organic fertilizers. These can include animal matter, like bone or blood meal, manure, slurry, worm castings, peat or seaweed. Organic matter works well to create humus, which is thick, black, nutrient-rich soil that's ideal for growing seedlings.

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