Recently, while visiting a number of plant sales, I was approached by patrons curious about caring for ornamental plants in their landscape. Many of the established ornamental plants that you have in your landscape will require care to stay healthy, lush and beautiful. Regular fertilization plays a part in good landscape management.
There are varieties of fertilizer products on the market today that perform well. You can choose a “general-purpose” fertilizer or specialty products such as slow-release fertilizers, pre-mixed fertilizers and rose food. Whether fertilizers are granulated, liquefied or pelletized, ornamental plants need additional nutrients to thrive. Organic fertilizers such as bone meal, compost and animal manures can be used as well.
A soil test is the best way to determine the best fertilizer for your soil. Soil test kits are available here at the UT-TSU Shelby County Extension Office. Most ornamental plants will benefit from a fertilizer that contains nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K).
Be sure the foliage is dry when fertilizing with broadcast fertilizers. Distribute broadcast fertilizers evenly throughout the landscape bed. If the fertilizer becomes lodged in the foliage of the plant, brush it off before watering. You may broadcast fertilizer on top of mulch as long as you water it in. Tree roots grow beyond the dripline of established trees. Fertilize trees over an area extending two to three times the canopy spread.
To minimize fertilizer runoff, follow the manufacturer’s directions and apply only the recommended amount of fertilizer when needed. In this case, more is not better. By implementing good fertilizing practices, you not only minimize the environmental impact but you will also save money and time.
Drop by the Extension office to pick up a soil test kit. I am happy to assist you. As I like to say, “Why guess? Soil test!”