Home & Garden Gardening

All You Need to Know About Soil Nutrition

It is all well and good to select an attractive plant or shrub for a client's garden but attention needs to be paid to the nature and content of the soil to ensure that plant grows into a healthy and robust specimen Some plants require an acid soil (Rhododendron, Hydrangea) and will not thrive and they may even die in a limey soil, so always test the soil before you plant.
Also, some plants will not grow in an acid soil.
A simple test kit that will be available from a local garden centre will allow you to test the soil and buy the correct plants for the soil.
Always try to work with the soil you have and improve as best you can, as it is costly and time consuming to try to change it.
When doing a test, select a teaspoon of soil from 4 to 5 locations in the garden bed or lawn that you are analysing to give an overall range of soil from the garden.
Lime can be added to make a soil more alkaline and sulphate of iron to make it more acid.
Soil Fertility Fertile soils allow the best plant growth as long as water is not limited.
Different soil types will however have different fertility-holding characteristics.
As a basic rule, most plants require a balanced ratio of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium (NPK).
To ensure that plants receive these balanced nutrients, most fertilisers are sold as balanced, complete fertilisers, which contain all three nutrients.
In summary; Nitrogen - is essential for green growth.
Phosphorous - is essential for strong roots and stems, runner and rhizome development.
Potassium - provides plant strength and produces fruit and flower.
Too much nitrogen will mean lots of leaf growth but little in the way of flowers.
Wherever possible try to avoid high nitrogen fertilizer in the autumn as it will produce green growth that will be soft and could be killed by frost.
For watering tubs and hanging baskets tomato fertiliser is a good choice as it has plenty of potassium to produce flower.
Balanced Nutrition is Essential To re-cap: Too much nitrogen: gives too much leaf and poor trunk and root development.
Too much phosphorus: strong roots and stem growing well but poor leaf colour and development.
Growth unbalanced.
Only potassium: poor overall growth.
Lack of potassium: means a green but weak plant, too much lush foliage, wilts easily


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