Nursery owner

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner.

Many times when people look at their landscapes, all they see is an area full of green plants. They might be called by different names, but to many, they are just plants. They don’t realize that not all plants are the same.

They don’t all require the same conditions. Some plants grow best in sunny areas, some may prefer shady conditions, some might like wet conditions as some like dry conditions, some like more acidic soils, and some plants don’t. Basically all plants, like all humans, have their differences.

Fertilizers we use to feed our plants can cause different results in the different varieties of plants. Have you ever noticed a series of three numbers on the front of a bag of fertilizer? These three numbers indicate how much nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium each bag contains. These three main nutrients, known as N-P-K, are very important to plants.

Plants need these nutrients to grow strong and healthy. Many of these nutrients are present in the soils of our organic gardens. Amounts of these valuable nutrients can vary with time, and that’s when fertilizing can help.

Each of the three nutrients in fertilizers can affect a plant’s growth in different ways. The formulation you select should depend on what the plant is needing.

The first number tells you the percentage of nitrogen in that product. Nitrogen plays an important role in the health and growth of all plants, and it is responsible for a plant’s green foliage.

Phosphorus, the middle number, contributes to many processes such as the root growth and setting flower buds.

Potassium, the third number, contributes to the overall health and vigor of plants. It is important for the correct development of plants.

All plants can only use so much fertilizer at a time. One good thing about organic fertilizers is they are slow release, putting out lower amounts over time. On the other hand, synthetic fertilizers release an overload of fertilizers and then leach out of the soil and into our creeks, rivers and oceans.

Until next time, let’s try to garden with nature, not against it, and maybe all our weeds will become wildflowers.

Laurie Garretson is a Victoria gardener and nursery owner. Send your gardening questions to or in care of the Advocate, P.O. Box 1518, Victoria, TX 77902.

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