Thinking about making the switch from synthetic to organic fertilizer for your flowering plants?
Like Mary, Mary, Quite Contrary-wondering how your garden will grow?
The answers to these questions lie with a basic understanding of how fertilizers work.
All plants need food in order to survive, and flowers are no exception. They require nourishment to take root, fully bloom and develop their pleasing scents. The fertilizer you choose must be the right formula for floral maturity-applied in the proper amounts, at the proper times.
The quest for beautiful flowers begins with healthy soil. Soil rich in organic matter holds moisture longer. You'll lose less to runoff, which pollutes our water systems.
All fertilizers contain three basic ingredients for plant growth: nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium:
- Nitrogen stimulates early spring growth; promotes a healthy green color; and fosters root, stem and leaf growth.
- Phosphorous is necessary for plants to produce sugar during photosynthesis, which promotes floral growth. It also strengthens stems, which helps guard against pests and disease.
- Potassium regulates plant metabolism and aids in early growth, stem strength, flower color, and resistance to disease.
Organic fertilizers are flower-friendly because they're produced naturally from living organisms (leaves, manure, twigs and kitchen scraps, among other "starters"). By contrast, chemical fertilizers are manufactured from mineral salts-typically, potassium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, calcium nitrate, potassium chloride and potassium sulfate-which makes them excessively potent.
Think of chemical fertilizer as a bodybuilder who uses steroids to "pump up" drastically. Synthetic fertilizers work in the same manner: They produce rapid results by pumping up your flowers with nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium. This comes at a steep price: The acceleration dissipates quickly, forcing you to apply more chemical fertilizer more often. You end up with a fertilizer overdose, with strong chemicals burning your flowers' roots. They shrivel, shrink and lose their ability to carry water up to the blooms. Ultimately, they wither or die. If they do manage to survive, you'll have a less vibrant and more fragile bloom.
That's why organic fertilizers are your best bet for growing flowers. They interact with microorganisms in soil and produce longer-lasting results. Your flower garden becomes its own little ecosystem, with all elements working synergistically and harmoniously.
Lastly, organic fertilizers are superior because they're slower to leach from the soil and leave no residue of harmful chemical salts. You won't need to continually add them to your soil. In fact, you'll probably find yourself using less fertilizer each year, while your flowers continue to dazzle. And as you admire your annual yield, you'll not only take pride in your garden's appearance, but also know you gave Mother Nature the respect she deserves.