Fertilizer 101

Plants need fertilizer to survive and provide key nutrients. Here’s what you need to know.

Plants need fertilizer to survive, even in the cold winter months, and especially when there is a lack of proper soil conditions. Plants thrive when living in soil that contains sufficient nutrients to encourage optimum growth. There are many kinds of fertilizer, so choosing the right one for your garden can be tricky. Understanding basic facts about ingredients can help you understand more about the right fertilizer for you and how it can benefit your plant growth.

Ingredient Ratio of Fertilizer

Fertilizer replenishes plants and soils with the essential nutrients it can’t always receive naturally, whether it’s due to the area it is planted in, the season, or poor plant health. The key ingredients in fertilizer are carbon, hydrogen, and oxygen, which plants naturally receive from air and water.


Fertilizer includes major minerals required by plants, like nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium. Most fertilizers have this ratio and contain a mixture of these ingredients. The ratio of minerals and ingredients within fertilizer will determine what kind of purpose it serves. An all-around fertilizer has an equal percentage of all nutrients.


Fertilizer with a high ratio of nitrogen is best for a plant with yellow foliage, lose color, or showing signs of a stunted growth. A high concentration of phosphorous in fertilizer helps plants with stem and root problems. A high ratio of potassium helps stimulate overall plant growth and winter hardiness.


Uses of Fertilizer

Other uses of fertilizers include providing additional nutrients to the plants and improving the yield of the crops. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers are used for the greening of lawns, while organic fertilizers improve the texture and fertility of the soil.  Gardeners use fertilizers to address certain needs of the plants, such as nutritional needs. Fertilizers are also added to potted plants that have lost nutrients.


Fertilizer can also increase plant tolerance towards pests, water holding capacity, and root depth. Potassium content strengthens the stalks of plants and nitrogen in the fertilizer enhances the growth of the plants, which can be characterized by how green the plant becomes.



Advantages and Disadvantages

The advantages of fertilizers are that they are easy to transport, store, apply, and they can provide a vast majority of nutrients, or just a specific nutrient. They are also water-soluble, have rapid effects, can increase the crop yield and can even provide enough food to feed a large number of plants.  In addition, they are usually very predictable and reliable.


The disadvantages of fertilizers are that they are expensive, the ingredients in the fertilizer are toxic to the skin and respiratory system, they can damage plant and soil fertility, and long-term use can disturb the pH of the soil. However, the advantages far outweigh the disadvantages when it comes to making sure your plants are healthy, strong, and can survive the unpredictable weather.


At Front Range Arborists, we’re the plant care experts. Within our Turf Care Program, we offer fertilization that provides your plants with the necessary nutrition it needs for the year, with a minimal amount of applications. With high quality slow-release fertilizer and application timing, your yard will be in optimum health in no time. Sign up for our program today! And for more information, contact us and speak to an expert.