Apply NPK fertilizer

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Full board thanks to NPK fertilizer

So-called complete fertilizers contain all three main nutrients - nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium - making them something like the main meal for any plant. It started in 1927 with the "Nitrophoska". Until then, complex fertilizers were simply mixtures of single fertilizers, which could not be spread evenly. This became different with the NPK fertilizers, in which all nutrients in each fertilizer pellet are always in the same concentration. The fertilizers are produced industrially from minerals, salts and nitrogen from products of the chemical industry, but also, for example, extracted from raw phosphate in natural deposits and chemically treated. Important phosphate sources are, for example, guano or deposits of sea algae. There are also many organic NPK fertilizers that are made from natural ingredients, but which are industrially processed.

What is in NPK fertilizers?

The print "NPK" on the packaging reveals the composition of an NPK fertilizer, the letters stand for the main nutrients, which can be quite concentrated. Sometimes only the three numbers are on the pack without further explanation or letter, but the statement is always the same: 16-6-12 states that the fertilizer is 16 percent nitrogen (N), 6 percent phosphorus (P) and 12 percent potassium (K) contains. Often there is another number in brackets, which stands for Magnesium (Mg).
The composition allows you to see which application the fertilizer is suitable for: Nitrogen is important for the growth of green plant parts, so nitrogen-stressed fertilizers are mostly spread in the spring. A deficiency is noticeable with bright green leaves, an over-supply of blue-green leaves and rigid growth. Phosphorus is important for the flowering and fruiting, but also the energy supply, in deficiency plants bloom poorly and often get reddish undersides of the leaves, with too much phosphorus the plants grow poorly. Potassium strengthens the plant tissue and regulates the water balance of the cells. In case of deficiency, the leaves hang limp, an oversupply leads to brown leaf margins.

NPK fertilizer for balcony flowers

An NPK fertilizer for balcony flowers contains a large proportion of phosphorus, which is responsible for flower formation

NPK fertilizer is available for different plant groups, the proportion of each nutrient varies. For flowering plants, these NPK fertilizers then have a high phosphate content (P), while herbs or green plants receive more nitrogen (N) and potassium (K), but less phosphorus, since these plants are not primarily responsible for the flowers.

Organic and mineral NPK fertilizers

Liquid or solid, mineral or organic - NPK fertilizer is available in many variants. Gardeners need to know each of the most important properties in order to fertilize them according to their needs, but also in an environmentally friendly manner.

  • Mineral NPK fertilizers are either solid or liquid and contain water-soluble salts. These work fast, but not for long. Mineral fertilizers are therefore also suitable for quick help with nutrient deficiencies. However, the salts are worthless for soil organisms. With mineral depot fertilizers, the nutrient salts are contained in a shell, which slowly dissolves and thus supplies the plants for months. For many depot fertilizers, some of the nutrients are also available immediately.
  • Organic NPK fertilizers are less concentrated, but with regular use they improve the soil and keep the soil organisms in a good mood thanks to their humus constituents. Although there are organic NPK fertilizers as liquid fertilizer, they are usually applied as granules. Organic fertilizers work only after some time, but for weeks or months - ideal for permanent crops. Industrially processed organic NPK fertilizers also contain immediate-acting ingredients.
  • There are mixed forms. These organic-mineral NPK fertilizers combine the main advantages of both fertilizers.

Apply NPK fertilizer correctly

NPK fertilizers are the all-inclusive package for the basic supply of plants, but also for rehydration. The fertilizers are just as suitable for existing plantations as for newly created plant beds in the vegetable garden. They are distributed by hand or spreader and easily incorporated, liquid fertilizer is mixed into the irrigation water.

NPK fertilizer start fertilization spring

Applied in the spring, NPK fertilizer ensures a good start to the new season

NPK fertilizers are applied immediately after winter as soon as plant growth starts. For who wants to start the season without breakfast! Perennials, ornamental shrubs, roses and the lawn will receive their basic fertilizer from late March to mid-April, which will provide them with nutrients until the summer.Organic NPK fertilizers take you out earlier than minerals, as it takes longer for the plants to get started. Particularly hungry plants such as the more flowering roses, perennial shrubs or cabbage vegetables want in June, however, again a lookup. Show deficiency symptoms such as yellow leaves or small flowers, resort to liquid mineral fertilizers that work very fast.
Potted plants first make use of the nutrient supply of the potting soil and then feed on small snacks in the form of liquid NPK fertilizer, which you mix into the irrigation water every one to two weeks, depending on the plant's vigor.

Practical tips for using NPK fertilizers

  • Fertilize sandy soil bit by bit, they do not store fertilizer for long.
  • In cold weather, nutrient deficiency can occur despite fertilization. As soon as it gets warmer, it's done by itself.
  • Fertilize only during the growing season.
  • In case of heat you should not fertilize.
  • Water after fertilization to better absorb nutrients.
  • Those who apply compost can reduce the dosage of the NPK fertilizer by one third.

Advantages and disadvantages of NPK fertilizers

The advantage of NPK fertilizer? They are comfortable. Once spread and is good, further fertilizer inputs are not necessary. Not for now. Because if plants still show deficiency symptoms, you should actually fix them specifically with one-nutrient fertilizers such as nitrogen fertilizer. Otherwise, the advantage of the high nutrient concentration quickly becomes a disadvantage: further doses of a complete fertilizer accumulate in the soil, the plants have none of it. Since NPK fertilizer is so easy to dispose of, they are often distributed according to Scheme F - according to the motto: "It will work out somehow." However, the garden soils are often already over-supplied with nutrients, other gifts are washed out. Therefore, you should at least once decided to a soil sample in order to assess the personal garden situation. If nutrients are generally lacking then do nothing wrong with NPK fertilizers. Otherwise, you prefer to use fertilizers with one or two main nutrients.

Video Board: NPK Fertilizer for Plant Application in Gardening? How Much and How to Use | English.

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