| Your patio should be your
own special haven.
It's Time to Fertilize
Now is a good time to add some fertilizer to your annual containers gardens. Annuals are “heavy feeders” – they require a lot of nutrients to keep up their show of flowers. Picking the right fertilizer is important. Let me help by explaining a little about fertilizer analysis so you can feel comfortable that you are making the right choice.
The analysis is actually the three large numbers you see on every fertilizer label – put there by law – such as 10-20-10 or 10-10-10 or 18-46-0. These numbers represent the percentage (by weight) of the three major nutrients required for healthy plant growth, always in the same order: nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium (N-P-K – the symbols from the periodic table).
The first number is the percentage of nitrogen in the bag. So a bag of 24-8-4 has 24 percent total nitrogen. Nitrogen provides plants with the ability to produce more chlorophyll, so they look greener and grow faster. Early season nitrogen fertilizer helps your annual plants grow big, fast.
The second number in the analysis is the percentage of phosphorus in the mix. Phosphorous aids in root development and increases flowering ability and bloom size. The fertilizer industry smartly markets high phosphorus fertilizer as bloom booster. High-phosphorous fertilizer is the fertilizer to use on your container gardens now. You can place up to 4 tablespoons of a water soluble fertilizer in your drip irrigation system’s fertilizer canister or use a watering can. I like Fertilome Rooting and Blooming (9-59-8). If you want something natural and organic, sprinkle bone meal (0-12-0) on the soil.
The third number represents the percentage of potassium. A bag of 24-8-4 has 4 percent potassium in the mix. Potassium has many functions: it guards the plant against diseases; aids in drought protection and cold tolerance; and helps root development and photosynthesis. You might consider using a high-potassium fertilizer if insects or disease have caused damage to your plants.
You’ve probably noticed that the sum of the percentages don’t equal 100 percent. That’s because there are other nutrients and filler product in fertilizer mixtures. This filler helps to apply the nutrients evenly over an area or aids water solubility.
Feed your plants now and be rewarded with more flowers next week!
I sincerely hope your patio is your own special haven.
Keep on Deadheading
You may remember from the Patio Plants newsletter last April that plants called "annuals" mature, flower and die in one year. Therefore, they consider it their life purpose to set seed before they die. For a reminder from the April newsletter, click here.
You can prolong the life of the annuals in your containers and keep them blooming by removing the spent flowers (a.k.a. deadheading) regularly. Removing the seed heads as they form tricks the plant into flowering more.
If your plants are getting a bit leggy or seem to be taking a break from blooming, cut the stems back by up to 1/2 of the length. For more information about pinching and clipping your plants, check the July newsletter from 2009: click here.
Tell Your Friends
When your guests admire your lovely container gardens, please refer them to Patio Plants Unlimited. You can earn $25 off next year's planting service for each referral.