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Fertilizing

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Fertilizing

What do N, P, and K stand for?
Nitrogen (N) helps plants produce lush, healthy foliage.
Phosphorus (P) promotes healthy roots and fruit and flower production.
Potassium (K) keeps the plant’s metabolism running smoothly and helps it resist disease.

The numbers for NPK tell you the relative proportions of those nutrients by weight. Specialty fertilizers might promote blooms or fruiting, or even foliage growth. But a balanced 20-20-20, 10-10-10 or something with a slightly higher nitrogen, such as 12-5-7, is a good way to cover all plants if you’d like to simplify your purchases and practices (and keep your garden shed tidy). Just be sure you read the instructions so you know you’re putting the correct amount on your plants.

Applying “weed and feed” to your lawn might injure or kill your tree.

Most combination weed killers and lawn fertilizers will injure trees. Do not use anything that states it will kill broad-leaved weeds (it can harm broad-leaved trees as well). Preemergent herbicides are safe to use near most trees, but always check the label.

Do not overdose.

Fertilizer that is not absorbed by the tree has the potential to alter the soil or leach out and pollute groundwater, rivers, ponds, and lakes. Overdosing with fertilizer can harm your tree.