When & How to Fertilize Your Garden


To choose the correct fertilizer, you must first determine what your plants require. It’s easier to use pre-packaged fertilizers because they’re already prepared to fulfill specific nutrient needs, such as roses, trees and shrubs, vegetables, lawns, or bulbs.


There are organic (plant or animal derived) and inorganic (chemically synthesized) fertilizers on the market (man-made from chemicals). Environmentally friendly and beneficial to soil health, organic varieties are preferable. The use of inorganic fertilizers has no influence on the soil and leaves no lingering effects. Because they have the potential to harm the environment and wildlife in some situations, it’s crucial to assess the benefits and drawbacks of using them before you do.


The several kinds of fertilizers available for use

Determine what your plants need first before choosing a fertilizer. You can save time by using pre-packaged fertilizers because they’ve already been processed to meet specific nutritional requirements, such as those for specific plants.


Organic fertilizers come from plants or animals, while inorganic fertilizers are chemically created (man-made from chemicals). Organic kinds are preferred since they are better for the environment and the health of the soil. Because they contain no organic matter, inorganic fertilizers are completely harmless to the soil and have no long-term consequences. Because they have the potential to harm wildlife and the environment, it’s critical to weigh the advantages and disadvantages of using them before you do.



To jump-start fresh growth, use a slow-acting granular fertilizer to most plants in the early spring. Native and succulent plants, for example, require little to no additional fertilization. When it comes to how well a plant absorbs nutrients, a variety of factors play a role. There may be some exceptions to these generalizations, so be sure to check the specifics before planting.


A slow-release fertilizer is applied around the base of a currant shrub by a gardener. 


Trees and shrubs: Depending on the soil’s health, most trees and shrubs require little or no additional fertilizer. Granular fertilizer can be used in the early spring if necessary. Apply a tree and shrub-specific fertilizer along the drip line of the tree or shrub.



Ordinary garden soil will support the majority of attractive perennials, with minimal need for additional fertilizer. Mulch established plants in the early spring with 1-2 inches of compost or fertilize once in the spring with an all-purpose granular fertilizer.


When it comes to nutrition, roses are heavies. They require a lot of it during the growing season. Depending on the type of fertilizer used, reapply it every 2-6 weeks from spring to summer. Until the first average frost date, stop fertilizing to avoid damaging new growth.


The majority of annuals are heavy feeders and require a constant supply of nutrients to keep them in full bloom throughout the summer. Compost your garden beds, or use a high-quality potting soil for your containers instead of regular potting soil. Every 2-6 weeks, follow the package directions and apply an all-purpose granular or liquid fertilizer, such as fish emulsion.


Soil amendment and fertilization are critical for vegetable crop success. Types of crops have different nutrient requirements.

Young pepper seedlings are treated with a mild liquid fertilizer.


The nutritional requirements and fertilization schedules of fruits, such as strawberry plants, blueberry plants, cane berries, and fruit trees, vary by region. For further information, speak with an extension agent or visit a garden center. Learn how to take care of strawberries with these helpful hints.


For lawns, use a high-nitrogen lawn fertilizer in the spring and again in the fall. There will be variations depending on where you live. Additional nitrogen can be obtained by leaving freshly trimmed grass clippings on the lawn.


Spring-flowering bulbs require the addition of bone meal or bulb fertilizer to the planting hole. In the fall and early spring, give established beds a top dressing of all-purpose or bulb fertilizer. Lilies, which bloom in the summer, require very little additional fertilizer if the soil is healthy. In the early spring, if desired, incorporate bulb fertilizer into the soil around the plants.


If you’re starting from seed, don’t fertilize until you see the first genuine leaves appear on the plant. A light liquid fertilizer such as fish emulsion can be used twice weekly at half strength or once every 7-10 days at full power to keep your lawn lush and green all season long. Potting soil with fertilizers already in it eliminates the need for additional nutrients.

Water well before and after applying any fertilizer, no matter what type of plant you are fertilizing or what type of fertilizer you are using. This will help prevent root burn and better distribute nutrients to the roots.

The Different Ways to Apply Fertilizer

Four methods exist for applying fertilizer: Send out a message before you start planting. Before making rows, the garden should be fertilized to a depth of 3 to 4 inches with the appropriate amount of fertilizer spread equally across the area. This is the safest option for home gardeners because it does the least amount of damage to the plants.

Applications use a band or a row of boats. Just before you plant the seed, apply a thin layer of fertilizer to both sides of the row (Fig. 4). When using this technique, you must take care to keep the roots away from the fertilizer band, which can damage plants if they come into touch.

An easy place to begin. Only transplants like tomato, pepper, eggplant, and cabbage should be treated with this. To fertilize your lawn, use 2 tablespoons of lawn fertilizer with 1 gallon of water and thoroughly mix them together. Before transplanting, add 1 cup of the mixture to the hole and allow it to soak in.


Use as a top dressing on plants or as a condiment on cooked vegetables. This is especially useful if you have sandy soil or a lot of rain, both of which can wash away soil nutrients. It’s common practice to sprinkle fertilizer along the edges of rows before watering it in (Fig. 5). In most cases, about a half-cup of garden fertilizer will suffice for a row measuring 10 feet long. The type of vegetable planted has an impact on how much and when to apply fertilizer. Most veggies yield more when they are served as a side dish.

Plant fall gardens with the same care you would for spring ones. If you plant an autumn garden after a spring garden that has been adequately fertilized, you will only need to use half as much spring fertilizer when you are ready to plant. Use 1 to 2 lbs. per 100 sq. ft.

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