No matter which type you choose, feed plants regularly during the growing season, and they'll reward you with lush growth.
Here are four easy-to-use types and how to apply them.
1. Granular- The least expensive plant foods, these usually last a month or two and need to be reapplied. Standard for lawns and general garden feeding.
To apply. Broadcast or spread over lawns; sprinkle onto the soil in flower beds, then scratch, rake, or dig it in. Mix into well-tilled soil before planting vegetables, or apply along both sides of an existing row and mix it into top few inches of soil. Soak the soil thoroughly after each application.
2. Liquid- Includes concentrates to dilute in water, and dry products that dissolve in water. They're immediately taken up through leaves and roots. Effective for container plants.
To apply. Follow label directions for dilution to avoid burning plants. Apply close to plant roots with a watering can or an injecting device on a hose every week or two.
3. Controlled Release- Beadlike granules release nutrients into the soil over several months; longevity depends on formulation. Apply it once or twice a year (some products feed for three to four months, others for eight to nine months). But you pay extra for the convenience.
To apply. Dig into the soil at planting time or scratch into the soil surface. Feeds a broad range of plants, from annuals and perennials to ornamentals in containers.
4. Organic- Natural-based products usually sold in boxes. Bat guano (8-5-1.5) and fish pellets (8-5-1) contain all three primary nutrients. For nitrogen (to green up ornamentals in spring), try blood meal, cottonseed meal, or poultry waste; for phosphorus (to boost bloom), bone meal; for potassium, kelp or granite meal.
To apply. Scatter the food above plant roots, work into soil, and water well.