Fertilizers and Their Uses
There are a few different types of fertilizer. The two most popular, and the ones ExperTrees recommends are the granular (slow-release) fertilizer and the water-soluble (quick-release)
fertilizer. Before buying fertilizer you must first understand what the numbers on the packaging represent. All fertilizers have these three numbers, and they represent the proportion
of Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium as a percentage of the total contents. The first number represents the nitrogen content, second number represents phosphorus, third is for the potassium.
They are always listed in this order. Choosing which fertilizer is easier when you know how the plants use these nutrients.
Other deficiencies that may occur:
- Nitrogen promotes leafy growth and will always be proportionally higher in lawn fertilizer such as a 20-3-4. Nitrogen is represented but the first number and produces
rich, dark green colour in a healthy lawn. Nitrogen deficiency: stunted growth, off-yellow/green colour. Cause: lack of organic material, a cold, waterlogged
or poorly drained soil, pH level too low, and low bacterial action.
- Phosphorus is essential in promoting good root developments and will always be proportionally higher in plant-starter or Transplant fertilizers, such as 5-15-5 or
10-52-10. Fertilizers with a high phosphorus content should be used for ALL new planting though out the first season. ALL plants benefit for phosphorus in becoming well established.
Phosphorus deficiency: dull greenish in colour, poor root growth. Cause: lack of organic material to produce humus, pH level too low, acid or clay soil, cold
waterlogged and poorly drained soils, low bacterial action.
- Potassium provides overall strength and vigor and is important for winter hardiness and root development. Potassium deficiency: leaves turn a blue-green colour,
and brown scorch marks appear on the tips of shoots and in the leaf margins. Cause: free-draining sandy soils and chalky soils, lack of organic matter.
- Calcium plays an important part in the growing tips above the ground and in the tips of the roots below the ground, plus helps in the formulation of cells and strengthening
the plant structure. Deficiency: poor root growth, the tips of the leaves unsightly. Cause: acidic soil, pH too low, lack of organic matter.
- Magnesium helps to form chlorophyll and works with phosphorus which in turn assists in seed formation. Deficiency: yellow/green colour found in the older leaves
of the plant, affecting the younger leaves at a later stage (this is called ‘chlorosis’). Cause: sandy soil, lack of organic matter.
- Manganese assists in the formation of chlorophyll. Deficiency: yellow/green to yellow leaves. Cause: over-limed or chalky soil, too much organic activity.
- Iron plays an important part in the forming of chlorophyll. Deficiency: yellow leaves and other parts of the plant (the green sections) containing chlorophyll. Cause:
chalky soil, lime soil, over-liming and any other condition where iron becomes insoluble.
When buying fertilizer, choose the brand name products, not necessarily the cheapest. Here is a list of the brands that ExperTrees suggests:
- C.I.L. / Golf Green
- Plant Prod
- Miracle Grow
- Green Earth
- Smart Cote
- Canada Way
Fertilizers and their Uses
NOTE:The various manufacturers use different number formulation for the content of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, but essentially do the same job. The different numbers are used
more as a marketing tool.
Sod and Seed-Starter
Lawns - spring fertilizer with crabgrass control
Lawns - in fall with weed control
‘Green Earth’ Natural Organic Lawn Food
Liquid Lawn Fertilizer with Weed Control
Moss Control Fertilizer for Lawns
Tree and Hedge Feeder
Plant Starter or Transplant Fertilizer
2-14-0 (bone meal)
12-0-0 (blood meal)
7-7-0 (blood and bone meal)
All Purpose Garden Food
All Purpose Fertilizer
Tomato and Vegetable Food
Annual Flower Food
Hanging Basket Food
Rhododendron / Azalea / Camellia Food
Clematis and Vine Fertilizer
Ultimate Tree and Shrub Food
Fish Based Fertilizer (organic)
All Purpose Fish Based Fertilizer (organic)
Muskie Fish Fertilizer (organic)
Flowering Plant Fertilizer
Rose, Tree and Shrub Fertilizer
Evergreen and Cedar Feeder
Ever-Acid (for acid loving plants)
Muriate of Potash
Granular Gypsum - a natural source of calcium and sulphur, absorbs harmful salts from the soil.
Dolomitic Lime - a natural soil conditioner that neutralizes acidic soil and provides calcium and magnesium