Fall & Winter Fertilizer Basics

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Learn such fall and winter fertilizer basics as how to use spikes to help fertilize trees and shrubs, how to fertilize grass and which fertilizers to use with plants in indoor containers. A landscaping expert explains in this free video on winter garden care.

Part of the Video Series: Winter Garden Care
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Video Transcript

Hi, I'm Marci Degman, the aspiring gardener. And today, we're going to talk about fall and winter fertilizer basics. Now, what you have to remember is that during the time of year that you don't want to be out in the garden, is when a lot of things are going on under the ground. The roots of your trees and shrubs are actually growing even when the top of the tree is dormant. So, what we want to do, is we want to fertilize at the time of the year that we can get that right to the roots. And, there are several ways that you can do that. One popular way that you can get your trees and shrubs directly is with spikes. Now, you can buy regular spikes, or organic spikes. And, they're just little compacted fertilizers that you can push right down where the roots are. Now, it'll tell you how much to use for what size plant, and you just put that down in that area in the fall. And that way, it'll just kind of release it slowly through the winter, and give those roots the extra energy that they need. That way, in the spring when all the leaves and everything take the energy away, the roots are not going to be robbed of that. Now, one important thing to remember is that grass is best fertilized in the fall too, and most of us like to get out in the spring and do it. But, if you really want to do something good for your grass, fertilize September/October. For your outdoor container plants, you might want to use timed release fertilizer, which will look something like this. Kind of little granules, and what they do is, they slowly dissolve, so you can put that in your containers in the fall, and not bother again until spring to do anything else. So, it'll last the whole time. Most of them say three to four months, so it's a one time fertilizer. You'll notice these little things a lot of times in your pots when you get container plants at the nursery. So, those are timed release. And, of course, you can also use just your typical houseplant liquid fertilizer to fertilize your outdoor containers. Probably, the most useful for your overall landscape is your typical granular all-purpose fertilizer. You can buy this kind of fertilizer, and just fertilizer pretty much everything that you have. It'll go a lot further if you go around and target it right to the base of your plants, rather than just broadcasting it everywhere. Some plants don't even like to be fertilized. So, if you know that's the case, succulents usually don't need a lot, herbs do not need a lot. Just kind of avoid those areas, and focus on the things that you know grow really fast in the spring, and need that extra help. One more thing I want to mention is that you'll notice on any fertilizer, there'll be three numbers. That stands for NPK, which is Nitrogen, Phosphorous, and Potassium. Now, nitrogen is what you need more in the springtime when you're getting that upper foliar growth. So, a lot of the best fertilizers for fall are those that have a smaller first number, the nitrogen, and the middle number is the largest. That's the one that really helps your roots out. The last number, potassium, is just good for overall cell growth, and just health and stamina. So, the middle number's important. So, even if you want to use a fertilizer with zero, 10, zero, that's alright. Just make sure it's not higher in nitrogen and that you have a good middle number. And, that's basically all you have to know. If you don't want to think about it, just buy a good general purpose fertilizer, fertilize in the fall, and rest, and your plants will be growing underground until spring.

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