Types of Fertilizers

Jan 01, 2011 | Sirena Rubinoff
fertilizing garden

If you’ve always wanted a beautiful lawn or garden but haven’t had much luck creating a healthy and vibrant outdoor space, fertilizer is a great way to enrich your soil and promote plant growth. Fertilizers come in several varieties, so it’s important to educate yourself before heading off to your local home gardening store or nursery. Check out our guide to different types of fertilizer below and get ready to give your garden growth a boost!

Organic Fertilizer

As the name implies, organic fertilizers are composed of naturally occurring biodegradable materials. Most organic fertilizers are made with:

  • animal manure plus
  • compost
  • seaweed
  • peat moss
  • mineral deposits
  • and other ingredients from nature.

Organic fertilizer is a great product because it is good for your garden now and later. It will help increase the direct yield of your plants as soon as you start fertilizing, and  also improve the health and long-term productivity of your soil.

Inorganic Fertilizer

Inorganic fertilizer, or synthetic fertilizer, comes in several different forms -- liquid, powdered, and granular. Often it is a brew of concentrated ammonia diluted with water. Rock phosphate and potassium are sometimes added to make a compound fertilizer.

Inorganic fertilizers are generally used to treat sizable industrial fields because they are cheaper and more easily produced on a large scale than inorganic fertilizer. Inorganic fertilizers are also less bulky than organic fertilizers, which allows the plant to carry nutrients more easily from the soil to its leaves and fruits.

However, inorganic fertilizer can also lead to trace mineral depletion over time because most inorganic fertilizers do not put minerals back into the ground like organic fertilizers do. This results in fruit and vegetables with a lower mineral content.

Chemical Nitrogenous Fertilizer

Again, as the name implies, this type of fertilizer is rich in nitrogen content. Nitrogen gets converted into ammonia when the fertilizer is applied and dissolves when rain or irrigation systems wet the ground. The nutrients from the chemical nitrogenous fertilizer are then carried through the ground into the root system of the plant. Chemical nitrogenous fertilizers usually come in the form of white granules or pellets which are used to fertilize the soil before or during planting.

Phosphate Fertilizer

Phosphate fertilizer is good for acidic soils. Obtain organic phosphates or synthetic phosphate fertilizer depending on your needs. Bone meal is usually used to make organic phosphate fertilizer by grinding or steaming. Superphosphate is the chemical version of phosphate fertilizer. It comes in three grades: single, triple and dicalcium, and it is usually used during the sowing season.

Potassium Fertilizer

Potassium fertilizers work well in sandy soil to improve the quality of plants and vegetables by increasing the potassium content in inadequate fields. The two main varieties of potassium fertilizer are: 1) sulfate of potash and 2) muriate of potash. Sulfate of potash is made by treating potassium chloride with magnesium sulfate to produce a fertilizer that can be used to enrich garden soil any time up to sowing. Muriate of potash uses a crystallized form of potash to fertilize plants. It does so without leaching into the soil, since most of the potash is absorbed at the ground surface level.

Now that you know a bit more about the different types of fertilizers available, you'll be better prepared for your shopping trip to the local home and gardening store. For expert advice, consult a reliable landscaping professional.

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