Fertilising can be one of THE most overlooked, yet important things one should do in the garden. It can be the difference between plants looking just ok or amazing. Just as we need food to sustain growth and development, so do plants. The weather warming up in the beginning of spring produces a frenzy of growth and thus, the perfect time to feed.
To stay healthy, plants need a variety of nutrients and minerals, but the main three to remember are Nitrogen for leafy growth, Phosphorous for healthy root growth and Potassium for strong healthy flowers and fruit - they're like the meat and veg. Then there are the other minor elements and trace elements that are of benefit to plants - as certain vitamins are to us.
However, when it comes to feeding the garden, the good news is that you don't have to get bogged down in the chemistry of it all, because it's all been done for you with products that are formulated for specific needs.
Water-soluble fertilisers are excellent because you see the results fast. The key is to apply them often - every 7-14 days throughout the growing season.
All Purpose MaxFeed
This fertiliser feeds plants through their roots and leaves and also contains a wetting agent, so water and nutrients get down to the roots where they’re needed most.
Some plants warrant special attention:
Roses and all flowers
This contains more flowering elements in the mix to promote both the number of flowers and enhanced flower colour.
Acid Loving Plants
MaxFeed Azalea, Camellia and Rhododendron Plant Food is perfect for acid loving plants and promote vigorous blooming. It is also good to use on native plants, which are largely acid-loving, but check requirements of the particular native you are fertilising, as some are not, such as many from WA.
A garden feeder is an easy way to apply fertiliser, but be mindful of the water restrictions that apply in your area. The feeder attaches to a garden hose and dilutes the product automatically at the correct rate, as the plants are watered.
Controlled release fertiliser
If you don't have time to get out into the garden too often, try controlled release fertiliser. They deliver a continuous balanced release of nutrients for at least 6 months. Each little prill contains the same ratio of nutrients encapsulated in a soy-based coating which biodegrades. Mix controlled release fertilisers in with potting mix when you are potting up plants or top dress established plants. Use Osmocote for native plants- some native plants are sensitive to phosphorous, particularly plants like Banksias and Grevilleas.
Another option is, using an organic fertiliser like Blood and Bone, which also releases the nutrients slowly to plants. It promotes healthy soil by improving the structure and encouraging good soil micro-organisms and earth worms.
Remember a healthy soil means healthy plants.
• Plants need fertilising during peak growing times
• Don't feed plants during winter months when they are dormant
• Yellowing leaves and slow growth are signs that the plant needs fertilising
Tip: Blood and Bone lacks potassium - so mix Blood and Bone with Potash for an organically based complete fertiliser that can be used on everything in the garden - about two handfuls of potash to a bucket full of blood and bone.
www.scottsaustralia.com.au - (fertilisers)