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What do those numbers mean?

  • Have you ever scratched your head and wondered what those three numbers on a bag, box or package of fertilizer mean? Well we will do our best to explain just that!


  • These numbers analyze the amount of: Nitrogen, Potash and Phosphate. These nutrients are what all plants, trees, flowers and shrubs need.


  • Nitrogen- Is the first number on the product and referred to by the symbol N. This is a naturally occurring element in our air. It is needed by plants to produce green healthy growth. A higher number on the bag means MORE nitrogen. If your plant, shrub or tree is turning yellowish color, it probably needs nitrogen.


  • Phosphate- The second number and referred to by the symbol P. Plants need phosphate to stimulate healthy root development for flowering and to help in the prevention of disease and stress. The phosphate process combines phosphate rock with sulphur and produces phosphoric solution. Phosphate helps in root stimulation and flowering of plants. When planting trees, or shrubs be sure to use a fertilizer with a HIGH phosphate number.


  • Potash- Or sometimes referred to as potassium. This is usually the last number and is referred to by the symbol K. This contains minerals and potassium which are mined from naturally occurring ORE bodies. All plants need this nutrient, potash regulates water balance, enzyme activity, starch and protein synthesis and nitrogen uptake.


  • Why do your plants need these nutrients? Because in your area these nutrients may be missing and are needed for continuous growth on your plants, trees and or shrubs.


  • Here in the lower elevations of the southwest, your soil is probably missing the above minerals needed for growing plants, trees, or shrubs.


  • A good all purpose fertilizer will usually have numbers with 16-8-8 printed across the product. This type of fertilizer no matter what brand name will have all the nutrients needed for a healthy plant.


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