Mix organic matter and fertilizer into your soil when you plant annuals, or use a packaged potting mix that has fertilizer in it. Make sure to water thoroughly, so the plant roots don’t get burned. Most annuals bloom heavily for several weeks before they need feeding again; then you can add a slow-release fertilizer or use a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer about every two weeks. Shown here: Superbells® 'Strawberry Punch' Calibrachoa
Seedlings don’t need fertilizer until their second set of leaves—the so-called “true leaves”—appear. Then give them a water-soluble fertilizer diluted to half-strength, and apply twice a week. If the seedlings are growing in potting mix with fertilizer already in it, you don’t need to feed them until you transplant them into the garden.
Vines and other woody plants, such as groundcovers, can be fertilized at planting and again in fall. If you miss the fall feeding, fertilize in early spring, before growth begins. Water thoroughly after feeding. Shown here: Clematis 'Ernest Markham'
After you plant your bulbs in the fall, top dress them with a balanced 10-10-10 or 10-15-10 slow-release fertilizer or a product formulated especially for bulbs. Feed again in the spring, as soon as new growth emerges from the ground. Mix the fertilizer into the soil to avoid burning the bulbs.
Indoor plant fertilizers come in a variety of forms. You can find liquid fertilizers and powders that you mix with water, as well as slow release stakes and prills (small pellets). Do a little homework to make sure you choose the best fertilizer for your plants. For most foliage plants, general indoor plant fertilizers that are water soluble or slow release work fine.
Shrubs can be fertilized in early spring and most can be fed again, more lightly, in autumn. But wait about a month after the first fall frost, so you don’t stimulate new growth that will be killed back in cold weather. Shown here: Rhododendron 'Amy Cotta'
Potting mix that has fertilizer in it will give your houseplants or other container plants a good start. But eventually, the nutrients will either be used up, or they'll leach out after frequent waterings. When your plants are ready for a boost, apply a slow release fertilizer that lasts for several months, or feed more often with a liquid or water-soluble fertilizer. Stop fertilizing if your indoor plant goes into a period of dormancy for awhile.
Well-fed plants are healthier and more attractive than those that aren't fertilized. There are many kinds of fertilizers, including slow-release fertilizers that release nutrients for 2 or more months before they need to be reapplied. Liquid or water-soluble fertilizers are usually reapplied every week to 10 days. Choose the product that's right for whatever you're growing, and follow label directions.
Apply fertilizer to your lawn in early fall. Look for a fertilizer with a formula designed to meet your lawn's needs and follow application instructions on the product. The numbers on a fertilizer bag, in N-P-K order, indicate the percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, respectively, on weight basis. If you aren’t sure what your lawn needs, consult with a lawn care or landscape professional. A soil test can determine what ratio is best for your lawn. Be sure to check with your local agricultural extension office, as some locations regulate the time of year that fertilizer can be applied to reduce runoff.
Apply a starter fertilizer to grass after about four weeks’ growth. Continue to avoid heavy activity on your new lawn for the first four weeks following installation. After that, enjoy your new toe-tickling lawn.
Problem: Stunted, pale or weak-looking plants. Solution: Before you can treat this problem, you need to figure out exactly what’s causing it. Insects may be attacking your plants, or you may be watering too much, or not fertilizing enough. Check both sides of the leaves, and look along the stems and branches for signs of trouble. Make sure the roots aren't standing in a saucer full of water. Read up on how and when to fertilize your plant, and feed it with a balanced plant food or a specialized plant food, if necessary.
Water your perennials the day before you fertilize, and apply the fertilizer about the time that new spring growth appears. Some perennials, such as daylilies, are heavier feeders than others, so you may want to feed twice more in the growing season, at 6-week intervals. A slow-release fertilizer is a good choice for the spring feeding. Follow up with a liquid fertilizer, if desired, in summer.
When it comes to fertilizing vegetables, you can group them into 3 categories: light, moderate and heavy feeders. Peas, beans, radishes, turnips and mustard greens among the light feeders. Give them starter fertilizer when you plant; if they’re growing in compost-enriched soil, they probably won’t need to be fed again. For best results, do a soil test before planting to determine what kind of amendments and fertilizer your soil needs. Shown here: Snow Pea 'Green Beauty'
Vegetables that need moderate amounts of fertilizer are plants like beets, potatoes, okra and carrots. Start by planting them in loose, well-drained soil that’s been enriched with compost, and mix fertilizer in the planting holes or rows. They probably won't need feeding again.
Traditional wisdom calls for fertilizing trees in early spring, if needed, but some research indicates that fall may be a better time. Wait a month after the first hard frost to feed; fertilizing while the temperatures are still warm and the tree is actively growing may lead to new growth that is killed back. For best results, test your soil and ask your local county extension agent for advice on what kind of fertilizer and how much to use.
Herbs growing in loose, well-drained soil enriched with compost don’t usually need much fertilizer. But frequent waterings will leach away some of the nutrients, so feed them with a light, all-purpose fertilizer about every three weeks during the growing season. You can also give them some compost tea about once a week.