We all know fertilizer helps plants thrive by supplying them
with essential minerals and nutrients. But with all the choices on the market,
choosing the right one can be tricky. Here’s a guide to some of the most common
types of fertilizer and why you might choose each one:
Inorganic fertilizers are artificial, synthetic fertilizers that infuse nutrients directly into plants, but don’t enrich the soil they’re growing in. They’re a good emergency choice for plants that are dying of malnutrition, but aren’t very effective at helping plants thrive long-term. Think of them as the equivalent of getting a vitamin injection: it will help you in the short run, but if your diet is bad, it can’t keep you healthy for long.
Organic fertilizers refer to any natural substance that is used to create
healthier, richer soils for your plants to grow in. They’re a lasting solution,
because healthier soils grow healthier plants for the long haul. Some of the
most common kinds of organic fertilizers:
Just like it sounds, bone meal is made from crushed animal bones.
It’s rich in phosphorus and calcium, and supplies some nitrogen. Bone meal is
often used for flowering plants like bulbs and roses.
This blend of finely ground, decomposed fish delivers a big
dose of nitrogen. Used in small quantities early in the spring, it can give
plants a big increase in growth. It’s smelly, but the odor fades quickly.
One of the most common organic fertilizers, manure can come from a variety of
animal sources including horses, cows and chicken. Commercial manure
fertilizer is pasteurized to kill bacteria, which makes it less odoriferous than
you might imagine, and it’s widely available everywhere from nurseries to
hardware and big-box stores.
Recycled kitchen waste – everything from vegetable scraps to cardboard – is
mixed together and allowed to break down over time, creating a rich substance
that can be used as an effective garden fertilizer. Compost can be made at home
or purchased commercially, and may contain manure and other animal by-products.
One of the most effective non-animal-based fertilizers, cottonseed
meal is super-high in nitrogen and can help you grow thick, green grass. It
works best for plants that like acidic soils.