NPK fertilizer=No Plants Killed—
When you stroll the shelves of your local garden center, your 5th-grade science class might come back to haunt you. You might be left standing at the fertilizer aisle wishing you had paid more attention to Charlie Brown’s teacher when she was rattling off those elements and their letter symbols. Now for the life of you, you can’t remember what they all mean. All you want is a ‘green thumb’ to prove to the guy next door that you’re a ‘real gardener.’ So what’s with all the mumbo jumbo about NPK fertilizer? For all you know, it may mean “No Plants Killed” or that’s what you’re hoping for anyway! Let’s go back to 5th-grade science class and get a little refresher and we’ll keep it ‘simple, stupid’ for the not-so-fast learners.
What does ‘NPK’ stand for anyway? —
‘N’ in NPK fertilizer stands for nitrogen and nitrogen is why you get nice, green foliage on your grass. It works in unison with the chlorophyll to make your neighbor’s green with envy. If you’re fertilizing your yard, you’ll pick a fertilizer that is higher in this number like 8-0-0. (The numbers represent the ratios of each element in the particular formula.) Some formulas will have more or less of another depending on what it’s used for in particular. So for lawns, we recommend a higher number. For your benefit, the N stands for ‘Neighbor’s envy.‘
‘P’ in NPK fertilizer stands for phosphorus and phosphorus is the element that produces root growth, stem development and flower and seed production. If you are ‘farmer in the dell’, and you want a veggie garden, you’ll be looking for the middle number to be higher in ratio than the other. For instance, a ratio of 3-5-3 would be giving you 5 parts phosphorus in the formula. Heavy flowering annuals and trees need more of this element during heavy production. And to help you remember what it does, ‘P’ stands for ‘Produce more.’
‘K’ in NPK fertilizer stands for potassium. Potassium acts as an overall one-a-day vitamin in your medicine cabinet. It gives overall health to the plant and helps in resisting diseases. So a well-balanced diet of each, when needed will give the plant all it needs to get established, flower (if applicable) and produce fruit. Remember the words, ‘Keep healthy.’
So this should demystify your flash back moment in the 5th grade and help you decide which fertilizer you need for that next planting. If you’re still unsure, we advise doing a soil test and sending it to your local extension service center for testing. If you need help with your lawn and garden, we are available to give advice and meet with you on some needs including making your neighbor’s green with envy!