What do those fertilizer numbers mean?

Gordon Galay

Gord is the owner of Galay Landscaping & Irrigation, founded in 2003. Galay Landscaping designs and creates functional and beautiful outdoor living spaces as determined by the customers wants and needs. From cozy backyard patios and water features, to complete acreage and park development, Galay Landscaping is the place to call.

Published on February 15, 2021

We all know fertilizing our gardens and lawns is beneficial and makes them look even more beautiful, but trying to figure out which fertilizer to use can be very confusing. But it’s really quite easy! Let’s see how easy!

Those 3 numbers on the front of the fertilizer container are a great help in figuring out which fertilizer is best for your plants’ needs. The 3 numbers indicate the minimum guaranteed percentage of nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) in the container. All fertilizers are listed in that order; N-P-K.

For example, a common all-purpose fertilizer is 10-10-10, this means that there is at least 10% nitrogen, 10% phosphorous and 10% potassium contained in that bag of fertilizer.

The percentages of N-P-K will never add up to 100%. Fillers and conditioners such as sand and clay must be added to the bag to improve the quality of the fertilizer, ensure even distribution and make it easier to use by you and the plants.

Each nutrient helps your plant in a different way.

  • Nitrogen encourages vegetation growth and lush green colour.
  • Phosphorous helps with root growth and promotes flower development.
  • Potassium boosts the overall health of the plant, helps with disease resistance and drought and cold tolerance.

I hope this helps clear up some of the confusion next time you go to buy fertilizer.

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