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Sunday, November 19, 2017

Fertilizers: Pay for Convenience or Do-It-Yourself?

Q. What are the year-long fertilizer requirements for landscape plants ranging from acid loving to desert lovers such as cacti, palms and other plants to beautify home landscapes.
Many cactus lovers swear byproducts such as cactus juice but most cacti do quite well with a variety of different types of fertilizers
A. Desert gardening and horticulture is more difficult to practice than traditional horticulture talked about on most blogs, information sheets, YouTube videos, books and other places. Most information in the media is derived from “traditional horticulture” and these practices may or may not work in the desert.
This powdered fertilizer meant for dry or liquid applications has combined fertilizers that create more acidity than some other types. But it has other fertilizers in it as well good for acid loving plants.
            When applying fertilizers to landscapes in desert climates and soils, consider soil improvement and irrigation beforehand. Soil improvement, where and when needed, solves many fertilizer issues.
A good citrus fertilizer that can be mimicked by combining other fertilizers less expensive. But it's convenience and knowledge that make the sale for most homeowners.
            The biggest mistake made by desert horticulturists and gardeners is a lack of soil improvement to desert soils when and where needed. Desert soil improvement solves 90% of the fertilizer and irrigation issues in residential landscapes. Because the majority of plants grown in desert landscapes are NOT desert plants.
Compost is a great all around fertilizer for most plants. It contains dozens of different minerals and elements not found in commercial fertilizers. Besides that, good compost is biologically active and help stimulate microorganisms better than commercial fertilizers.
            Spend more money and effort on improving the soil than buying and applying specialty fertilizers. Improving the soil and using organic surface mulches around non-desert plants reduces the need for chemical soil amendments, fertilizer applications and pesticides.
Called a starter fertilizer because it is high in phosphorus, the middle number. Excellent fertilizer when planting for the first time or seeding in the garden. You can mimic this fertilizer and save a little bit of money but is it worth it?
            With proper soil improvement, here are my recommendations for fertilizer applications, either conventional or organic:
·        nitrogen and potassium is needed by all plants on a regular basis
·        apply phosphorous fertilizers when planting: seed, transplants from containers or bare root, rhizomes, bulbs or any plant just getting started
·        plants grown for their flowers or fruit require at least one fertilizer application of nitrogen plus phosphorus during the growing season and applied 2 weeks before flowering and fruiting
·        fertilize vegetables and annual flowers monthly; lawns every 8 weeks
·        fertilize prized landscape plants more often than “ordinary” landscape plants
·        use specialty fertilizers on rare occasions for very specific reasons

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