A basic guide to water soluble fertilizers. Including information pertaining to it’s contents and usages, as well as, how what’s on the label can differ from what’s inside.
Water soluble fertilizers are fertilizers that can be dissolved in water and added or leached out of the soil easily. With water soluble fertilizers it is easy to control the precise amount of nutrients available to your plants(the control is more exact with soilless mixes).
Soluble fertilizers usually have N-P-K numbers listed on their label. The numbers listed are not always the exact percentages, they are an indication of the smallest percentage that the fertilizer contains of the listed element. The reason for this is that companies do not want their competitors to know the exact amount of nutrients they have in their product, so they list the lowest levels their product might contain to thwart any copying of their secret growing compounds. The N is for nitrogen, the P is for phosphorus and the K is for potassium or potash. Of the 16(12 of which are contained in water soluble fertlizers) known elements necessary for plant life, N-P-K, are the three that are of the most importance and always listed on water soluble fertilizers, in that order(except Eco-Grow, which lists N-K-P). Following N-P-K, calcium(Ca) and magnesium(Mg) are the two, second most important nutrients listed on the label. The rest, iron(Fe), sulfur(S), manganese(Mn), boron(B), molybdenum(Mb), zinc(Zn) and copper(Cu) are trace elements or micro-nutrients.
Nitrogen is the most important of the nutrients. It controls the processes used to make proteins vital to new protoplasm in the cells. Nitrogen is essential to the production of chlorophyll and is responsible for leaf growth, as well as, overall size and vigor.
Phosphorus is necessary for photosynthesis and provides a mechanism for energy transfer within the plant. Phosphorus is associated with overall vigor and is used at it’s highest levels during germination, seedling and the fruiting or flowering stages of growth.
Potassium, or potash, provides the manufacturing and movement of sugars and starches, as well as, growth by cell division. It also increases chlorophyll levels in the foliage and helps regulate the stomata openings so plants make better use of light and air. Potassium is important in all stages of plant growth.
Magnesium is the central atom in every chlorophyll molecule and is essential to the absorbtion of light. It aids in the utilization of nutrients and also neutralizes soil acids and toxic compounds produced by the plant. Adding dolomite lime before planting(found at most retail garden supply stores;follow directions for usage on the label) helps stabilize pH and adds magnesium and calcium to the soil. The other secondary nutrient, calcium, is for the manufacturing of cells and overall growth.
Trace elements are vital to chlorophyll formation and must be present in minute amounts. Little is known about the exact amounts needed. They function mainly as a catalyst to plant’s processes and the utilization of other elements.
The ultimate goal of fertilizing is to supply your plant with the right amount of nutrients, yet, at the same time not toxifying the soil via over-fertilization. Once a plant is placed into a container, with new potting soil, the plant will have enough nutrients to last about a month and will then need to be fertilized for continued growth. Fertilizers are in mass abundance and it should be no trouble locating one in a retail garden center that fits your plant type. The directions for usage, given on the products label, should be followed accordingly to acheive maximum results with your plants.
With a regular watering/fertilization system your plants can reach amazing results and in some instances can almost double the growth of a slow, sickly growing plant. Using water soluble fertilizers is the easiest way to keep your plants (household, garden, or container) constantly recieving the most nutrients that they are able to absorb, thereby, increasing the amount of growth. It is also the easiest fertilizer to apply for the beginning or the professional gardener and is, therefore, the most widely used. So try it with your plants and see what amazing results you too can yield with the proper usage of water soluble fertilizers.