Plants Grow Faster

Plant parent? New to gardening and exploring your green thumb? Then this topic is a must-know for all green lovers tending to their sprouts and wanting to see them grow by leaps and bounds. So, what is a fertilizer in the first place? A fertilizer is a substance, chemical, organic or a mix of both that makes the soil fertile. In simple words, it provides the superfoods your plants need to grow healthy and strong. When it comes to the topic of the best fertilizer to grow plants at an exponential growth rate, there’s no one-fit-for-all solution. This is because the kind of fertilizer suited depends on the kind of plants you are growing, the soil and weather conditions. Every plant has its own requirement, so needs a different kind of nutrients.

#What are the kinds of fertilizers available?

When it comes to fertilizer categorization, commonly it is done as organic, synthetic, and hybrid. You will find that they are also categorized by nutrient content (with N-P-K ratio) and by the mode of application, as solid fertilizer, liquid fertilizer, and powdered fertilizer.  Let’s find out about each kind one by one and which one is most suited for boosting plant growth:

  • Organic Fertilizers: These are fertilizers which are naturally sourced. Like, they come from plant and animal remains, sometimes referred to as manure. It could be animal droppings, feather meal, crab meal, cottonseed meal, animal droppings, vegetable compost and similar. They help the soil microbes to break down this fertilizer to make the nutrients easily accessible to the plants. They also support the natural habitat of the soil.
  • Synthetic Fertilizers: These are man-made fertilizers prepared in laboratories and manufactured in factories. They have compounds that boost plant growth like ammonium nitrate, phosphates and sulphates. Although they provide a growth booster, unbalanced use of these can increase the salt content of the soil and kill off the naturally occurring microbes that are helpful for the soil.
  • Hybrid Fertilizers:  This is a blend of both organic and synthetic fertilizers. Basically, a synthetic compound added to an organic variety of fertilizer. This is done for a quick release of nutrients so that they are available to the plants fast. This is the most commonly used kind and they don’t harm the soil as much as purely synthetic/chemical fertilizers do.

Different kinds of fertilizers are available in the market for different kinds of plants. For the fast growth of both indoor and outdoor plants around residential and office spaces, this liquid fertilizer is a good pick.

#What nutrients does your soil need?

You’ll find that fertilizer bags come with an N-P-K marking. This simply denotes the ratio in which the major plant nutrients are occurring in that particular fertilizer. The major soil nutrients are Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K). These major nutrients or macronutrients are an absolute must for the healthy growth of your plants. Let’s take a small peek into the way these health boosters help the plants and soil:

  • Nitrogen: The protein builder helping in growth. It increases chlorophyll synthesis which is the green color we see in plants. This aids photosynthesis and in turn the growth of more leaves.
  • Phosphorus: This helps your green buddy to stay grounded, literally. Phosphorus helps in root development and also in producing healthy flowers and fruits.
  • Potassium: Builds the immune system of the plants. It builds resilience and the ability of the plant to withstand temperature extremes and immunity against diseases.

Fertilizers come in different N-P-K ratios and the choice is made depending on the soil requirement. The term N-P-K may not be always used, instead only the numbers of the ratio in the mentioned sequence are always there and constant. E.g., a 10:10:10 labelled fertilizer would consist of 10 parts of Nitrogen (N), 10 parts of Phosphorus (P) and 10 parts of Potassium (K). Use a fertilizer with a higher part of a particular macronutrient which it is deficient in, after getting your soil tested for what it needs. Soil testing kits are available and are usually an inexpensive process.

Apart from the macronutrients, the soil also needs micronutrients or trace minerals to maintain good health for plant growth. The top 3 micronutrients are Calcium (Ca), Magnesium (Mg) and Sulphur (S). Calcium helps in root and shoot development and develops the plant’s vigor. Magnesium helps in chlorophyll synthesis and nutrient absorption. Sulphur helps in growth. Other trace elements include copper, boron, iron, manganese, zinc, chlorine and molybdenum.

#How will you apply the fertilizers?

This depends on the form the fertilizer is available in, i.e., solid, liquid or powdered.

Solid fertilizers are usually slow-release which means that they dissolve and mix with the soil over weeks. This means they don’t need to be applied frequently. They can be sprinkled or applied to the plant roots. They come in granular forms.

A liquid fertilizer comes in liquid form and is applied near the root area of the plants. This kind of fertilizer is quick-release, high in nitrogen and gives a growth spurt.

Powdered fertilizers are similar to liquid fertilizers. They need to be mixed with water and applied to the plant base. They are also quick-release and do not build up the soil for future growth.

Most gardeners use a mix of all these kinds. Usually, the soil is prepared before plantation around spring and it is tilled and mixed with fertilizer. For this, solid fertilizers are mainly used. Once the plants start growing, liquid or powdered fertilizers are applied at the base for quick-release and growth spurt.

#When to apply fertilizers?

Now that you have the bigger picture about fertilizers, it all depends on the kind of plants you are growing when it comes to the timing of application. Seasons also play an important role. Take the help of professional gardeners on how to improve your gardening skills and the best way to nurture your plant babies. As a thumb rule, most fertilizers are applied in the pre-plantation and growth phase. They should be avoided at the end of the growth phase as the growth becomes static. Also, fertilizers, especially synthetic ones should not be directly applied on the plants as they can cause burns.

We hope this comprehensive guide on fertilizers gives you a heads up on at least the basics of what you need for growing healthy plants. So, go ahead, whether you choose a liquid fertilizer or a powdered one, make the right choice and indulge in your pampering of the green ones in the right way!