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Fertilizers are any naturally or chemically derived material containing the nutrients essential for plant growth. They are available in the form of manures, compost , and granular or liquid amendments. To the new gardener, a stroll through the fertilizer aisle can be a very confusing exercise triggering memories of chemistry class. What do these numbers mean to my garden?

  • Fertilizing Flower Garden Plants
  • How to fertilize your garden organically
  • Do You Really Need to Fertilize Your Plants? Here's What You Need to Know
  • Using Magnesium in Your Home Garden
  • Watering Plants? Use Cooking Water for Extra Nutrition
  • Vegetable Gardening: Applying Fertilizer
  • Iron Deficiency in Plants & How to Add Iron to Garden Soil
  • Using Garden Lime for Healthy Plants
  • Gardening Basics: Plant Fertilizers for Late Season
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Fertilizing Flower Garden Plants

The other day, I noticed that the top leaves of some of my houseplants were turning yellow. I did some research, and sure enough, this is a good indicator of iron deficiency. I decided to do some research to find out ways to add iron to soil. So, how do you add iron to garden soil? You can add chelated iron powder or blood meal directly to the soil to add iron.

You can also add fertilizer or your own compost, as long as the iron content is high enough. Another option is to add chelated iron or iron sulfate in liquid form by spraying the leaves of the plant. Before you go adding supplements and fertilizers to your soil, it is a good idea to make sure that you really do need more iron in your garden. That way, you can tell if your plants are suffering from iron deficiency.

Iron serves several important functions in plants. First of all, iron is involved in the production of chlorophyll through photosynthesis. Remember: chlorophyll is the compound that makes plants green.

Iron is also important in plant respiration, which is when plants use sugar from photosynthesis and oxygen to produce energy for growth. In short, iron is vital to the overall health and development of plants. A deficiency will interfere with all of the processes mentioned above.

Once you know what to look out for, you can identify the problem when it occurs, and take appropriate steps to solve the problem. Here are a few of the telling symptoms of iron deficiency in plants. One of the most obvious symptoms of iron deficiency in a plant is iron chlorosis. You will see the top leaves of the plant turn yellow first, and then the lower leaves will follow. However, the veins of the leaves will remain green. This appearance yellow leaves with green veins is called interveinal chlorosis.

The newer leaves on the plant are affected first because iron is an immobile nutrient. This means that a plant cannot easily move iron throughout its tissues. Thus, the older, more established leaves keep their iron and stay green for a while, while new leaves quickly turn yellow due to lack of iron.

A plant suffering from iron deficiency may also show signs of poor growth. Such a plant may look smaller than the others in your garden. This is because iron deficiency disrupts plant respiration and nutrient transport. Finally, an iron deficiency may cause a plant to produce small flowers, along with small fruit and less fruit than other healthy plants.

Some of the reasons may surprise you! If the pH of your soil is too high, then your plants can end up with an iron deficiency — even if there is plenty of iron in the soil! How can this happen? For every nutrient that a plant needs, including iron, there is an ideal pH range for the soil.

Within this range, the nutrient is highly available, and the plant can easily absorb the nutrient through its roots. Outside of this range, the nutrient is not available, and so the plant cannot absorb enough of the nutrient, even if it is present in the soil. As a general rule, you will want to keep your soil pH between 5. More specifically, iron is highly available in acidic soil pH below 7.

However, as pH rises to 8 or higher, iron becomes less available in the soil. For more information, check out this chart from Research Gate that gives you nutrient availability based on pH. Plants that like acidic soil, such as raspberries, blueberries, pears, and azaleas, are more likely to get iron chlorosis. The moral of the story is to check your soil pH before you add iron supplements or fertilizers. The problem may be your pH, and adding iron when there is no need can lead to iron toxicity more on this later.

If you want to check your pH, buy a pH test kit at a garden center or online. For more information, see my article on how to test your soil. If you need to make your soil more acidic, you can add sulfur. For more information, check out my article on how to make your soil more acidic. This is another tricky problem that can cause iron deficiency in your plants, even when there is plenty of iron in the soil and the pH is in the proper range.

Remember that gardening is all about balance. In addition to having enough of each nutrient in the soil, you need to have the proper ratios for each nutrient. Too much of one nutrient can block a plant from absorbing another. For example, excessive amounts of phosphorus can prevent iron uptake in a plant.

This can occur if you use a garden fertilizer with high phosphorus content. The middle number represents phosphorus — for more information, check out my article explaining the numbers on a fertilizer package. If you think phosphorus is too high, find a fertilizer with lower or zero phosphorus content.

Likewise, excess calcium can prevent iron uptake in a plant. This can occur in soil with high lime content lime is just another word for certain calcium compounds. Be careful about adding lime to your garden as a supplement if you suspect iron deficiency in your plants. If your soil is too wet or too tightly packed, there will not be enough air for iron uptake.

This can also happen if you use plastic to cover the ground around plants to prevent weeds. Cold soil can also inhibit iron uptake in your plant. If your soil is more like clay, you may want to add some organic material, such as peat moss or your own compost made from leaves, grass clippings, and other organic matter banana peels, coffee grounds, etc.

For more information, check out my article on how to make your own compost. Extreme weather conditions can also cause iron deficiency in plants. As with pH, there is a certain ideal range for temperature.

Outside of this range, the plant will start to suffer. The same is true for sunlight, in terms of both duration and intensity. If none of the above conditions apply to your garden, then your soil may contain insufficient iron for your plants. This can occur for a couple of different reasons. One possible explanation is that there was never enough iron in the soil to begin with.

Another possibility is that the iron that was in your soil has been depleted. This can happen if you plant the same iron-hungry crop in the same place in your garden every year. To avoid some of this depletion, use crop rotation plant a crop in different parts of your garden each year. Whatever the cause of iron deficient soil, you will want to know for sure if this is the problem, and how severe it is.

The best way to find out is to use a soil test kit, which you can buy at a garden center or online. In addition to iron levels, a soil test kit can tell you the levels of other nutrients in your soil. If you are reading this far, it means that you are confident that your soil has a low iron content.

Here are a few ways that you can add iron content to your garden soil. As you may have guessed, simply adding pure elemental iron to your garden may not help with an iron deficiency in the soil.

The iron must be in a form that will be available to plants. One such form is chelated iron, which comes in powder and liquid forms. You can mix the powder directly into the soil for a more long-term fix. Alternatively, you can spray the leaves with the liquid form if there is imminent danger of losing a plant with an iron deficiency. Iron sulfate is another form of iron that is available to plants. You can spray the liquid form on the leaves of the plant.

An added benefit is that iron sulfate also supplies sulfur to plants, which is another necessary nutrient. Blood meal is made from dried and powdered blood from slaughterhouses. As with chelated iron powder, you can mix it directly into the soil. Blood meal does supply some iron to the soil, but it is also high in nitrogen. This is probably difficult to do, since plants use up tons of nitrogen in the vegetative stage as they grow to maturity. Nevertheless, it can happen — if you are concerned, check out my article on low-nitrogen fertilizers.

You can make your own compost from leaves, food scraps not meat! As long as your leaves and grass are not iron deficient, your finished compost should contain plenty of iron for your plants.

You can choose a fertilizer off the shelf that will specifically supplement iron. However, these fertilizers will also contain other nutrients, which could be a problem.

After all this talk of iron deficiency, it must seem impossible to have too much iron in your soil. However, it can happen, especially if you add iron without checking for other problems pH level or levels of other nutrients.

High levels of iron can cause manganese deficiency and disrupt photosynthesis. By now, you have a good idea of whether your plants are suffering from iron deficiency, and what could be causing the problem. I hope this article was helpful. If you have any questions, please leave them in the comments below.

How to fertilize your garden organically

Fish oil, a byproduct from fish processing, provides benefits similar to those of plant oils when used in the garden. The oil can help your plants remain healthy whether you need to combat pests or add nutrients to the soil. Some fish oil products are also certified organic, making them a suitable substitute for their chemical and petroleum-based counterparts. Horticultural oils containing fish oil are primarily used to control soft-bodied garden pests such as mites, aphids and scale. These pests typically pierce leaves and stems, sucking out the sap and weakening the foliage.

Giving your plants enough calcium starts with a soil test. Too much calcium in your garden soil can go hand in hand with a high pH.

Do You Really Need to Fertilize Your Plants? Here's What You Need to Know

Fresh vegetables are an excellent source of the vitamins and minerals essential to good health. A garden soil well supplied with organic matter and needed minerals will, under favorable conditions, produce a good yield of vegetables which are high in quality and nutritional value. In order to use commercial fertilizers to best advantage, the organic content of soils must be maintained at a high level. Adding some form of organic matter to the soil each year is a good garden practice. In addition to the use of animal manure to add organic matter, any composted plant material such as leaves, cotton burrs, hay, or straw will do. Composted materials can either be spread on, mixed with the soil, or used as a mulch around growing crops. Since organic matter is not a balanced fertilizer, a commercial fertilizer may be needed to provide essential nutrients; application rates should be based on soil test results. The fertilizer should be mixed with the soil to prevent damage to seeds or roots of the young plants.

Using Magnesium in Your Home Garden

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Watering Plants? Use Cooking Water for Extra Nutrition

Garden soil is an intricate web of nutrients and vitamins, working together to grow and nourish your plants. One of the essential nutrients is nitrogen, and a deficiency will quickly show both in the appearance and growth pattern of your plants. If you suspect a nitrogen deficiency in your soil, you need to know how to add nitrogen to the soil and proper correction methods. Nitrogen is one of the three most essential nutrients. You might have heard of NPK — nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.


Gardener feeding young tomato plants with a granular fertilizer. Anyone who has gardened knows that plants need nourishment in order to be healthy and thrive. In residential landscapes, Mother Nature needs a little help from gardeners to replace depleted nutrients. Since plants have different needs and there are many different types of fertilizers, knowing when and how to fertilize can be daunting. Pre-packaged fertilizers are formulated to meet different nutritional needs, with some specifically formulated for roses, trees and shrubs, vegetables, lawns, or bulbs to remove the guesswork. Fertilizers are available as organic plant or animal derived or inorganic man-made from chemicals. Organic types are better for the environment and help to improve overall soil health. Inorganic fertilizers do nothing to improve soil and have no positive residual effect.

Magnesium, home garden, home grown, produce, plant nurtients Many commercially bought Magnesium supplements are dangerous to use.

Vegetable Gardening: Applying Fertilizer

Please select your shipping region. Vitamin C is a vital nutrient for your body. Instead of relying completely on supplements , a natural way to boost your vitamin C intake is by adding more vitamin-rich food to your diet.

Iron Deficiency in Plants & How to Add Iron to Garden Soil

Potassium K is an essential element for plant growth it is important to food crops. Potassium, often called potash, helps plants use water and resist drought and enhances fruits and vegetables. If soluble Potassium is deficient in soil it can stunt growth and cause other symptomatic issues. To overcome deficiencies Potassium is commonly applied to gardens, lawns and orchards as part of a balanced fertilizer. In addition, Potassium promotes healthy green lawn grass.

August is an ideal time for gardeners to give their plants a boost into the later stages of growth. Many people who are just learning how to garden at home overlook the benefits of fertilizing their plants.

Using Garden Lime for Healthy Plants

Become a better gardener! Discover our new Almanac Garden Planner features forWe use fertilizer to make our plants grow better, but when is the best time to apply fertilizer? And how much of what kind of fertilizer do we apply? Think of fertilizers as nutritional supplements.

Gardening Basics: Plant Fertilizers for Late Season

The other day, I noticed that the top leaves of some of my houseplants were turning yellow. I did some research, and sure enough, this is a good indicator of iron deficiency. I decided to do some research to find out ways to add iron to soil. So, how do you add iron to garden soil?

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