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Create More Blossoms on Your Flowers, Flowering Shrubs and Trees
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The secret to making your flowering trees, shrubs, annuals, and perennials
bloom more is in the numbers. All fertilizers have analysis
numbers on the package. These numbers represent the percentage
of each chemical the fertilizer contains.
For example, 12-12-12 is a typical garden fertilizer that would contain 12%
nitrogen, 12% phosphorous, and 12% potassium. The quick
explanation is; nitrogen produces vegetative, or top growth,
phosphorous produces flower buds, fruit, and root development,
while potassium builds strong healthy plants.
Most lawn grasses are vigorous growers and therefore require significantly
more nitrogen than the other plants in your yard. A lawn
fertilizer would have an analysis of 26-3-3, indicating a
fertilizer high in nitrogen. You would not want to use a
fertilizer containing such a high percentage of nitrogen on
landscape plants because it would be very easy to burn them. You
must also keep in mind that many lawn fertilizers contain
broadleaf weed killers, and most ornamental plants have broad
leaves. The fertilizer doesn’t know the difference, and it will
damage or kill ornamental trees and shrubs.
During the summer months the growth rate of most plants slows down, and when
plants are not actively growing, they need very little nitrogen.
Although not vigorously putting on new growth, many plants such
as Dogwood Trees, Rhododendrons, and Azaleas are quietly working
to produce flower buds for next year. Annual and perennial
flowers are also busy making new flower buds.
To encourage flower bud production you can apply a fertilizer that contains
a small percentage of nitrogen, a higher percentage of
phosphorous, and a little potassium. I recently purchased a
liquid fertilizer with an analysis of 5-30-5, ideal for flower
production. Because the product is sold as a bloom producer, the
manufacture also added a little chelated iron, manganese, and
zinc, all good for your plants as well.
Most garden centers and discount stores carry similar products. I chose a
liquid fertilizer because liquid fertilizers are absorbed both
through the roots and systemically through the foliage, so they
work quicker. I used a sprayer that attaches to the end of the
garden hose to apply the fertilizer, but do not use the same
hose end sprayer that you use for lawn fertilizers. There could
be residual weed killer still in the sprayer.
About those hose end sprayers. I purchased one that is supposed to
automatically mix the proper ratio for you. I used it to apply a
general insecticide, and it worked, but it sure seemed like I
went through a lot more insecticide than I needed. When I used
it for the fertilizer the screen on the little pick up hose
inside the jar kept getting clogged with the tiny solids in the
fertilizer. I recommend using a solution of one part liquid
fertilizer to one part water in the sprayer jar, and applying at
a heavier rate.
Watch the liquid in the sprayer jar, and if it isn’t going down remove the
lid and clean the little screen by spraying it with water from
the garden hose. Read the application instructions on the
container to determine how much fertilizer to apply, and how
often. A fertilizer high in phosphorous will increase flower
production. You will see a difference. Remember the golden rule
of applying fertilizers. "Not enough is always better than too
About the author:
Michael J. McGroarty is the author of this article. Visit his most
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