Fertilizers – Giving our plants a helping hand

Over time, the nutrients in our soil (especially with potted plants) naturally depletes itself as it is consumed by the plant or washed away from watering.

With so many fertilizer options, choosing the right fertilizer to boost nutrients can be daunting.  To help you choose the right option, first we need to understand some basics about plant nutrition.

Apart from the 3 basic elements (soil, water, air) that plants need, there are also Macro and Micronutrients that are required to support plant growth and development.

The most common which is talked about in our gardening community relates to NPK (macronutrients) and here is how each one of them benefits our plants: 

  • N (nitrogen) – supports plant growth above ground with lush foliage
  • P (phosphorus) – supports plant growth below ground with healthy roots
  • K (potassium) – supports overall plant wellbeing and promotes flowering / fruiting 

On the product labels, each respective element is indicated by a number that reflects the quantity of the element in the fertilizer and is always indicated in the following order: 

First Number – indicates the quantity of Nitrogen

Second Number – indicates the quantity of Phosphorus

Third Number – indicates the quantity of Potassium

An example of a general use NPK fertilizer for ornamental plants is 20-20-20. This is also referred to as a “balanced” fertilizer, as it offers 20 units of nitrogen, 20 of phosphorus and 20 of potassium (ie.  equal quantities for each element).

NPK fertilizers with varied values are widely available in the market.  It is always recommended to check what value your plants require, depending on specific requirements or to treat a specific deficiency the plant is suffering from.

Apart from these 3 numbers, that define the quantity of nutrients, fertilizers can also come in many different forms and types. The two distinct categories are organic and inorganic (or mineral) fertilizers. 

  • Organic fertilizers have a plant or animal origin and the most commonly used are compost or animal manure, fish meal, seaweed and bone meal. Organic fertilizers provide a slow nutrient release and improve the overall health of the soil, while it reduces the necessity of repeated application of synthetic fertilizers to maintain soil fertility.
  • Inorganic or mineral fertilizers are produced through a chemical process and release plant nutrients much faster compared to the organic options, so you will see the results and impact on your plants much quicker.  This category however does not provide live bacteria that aides soil rejuvenation and does not contribute to the overall long-term improvement of a healthy garden.

 3 types of inorganic fertilizers that are most commonly used, include:

  • Granular – these dissolve gradually and provide plant nutrition over a longer period (1 – 2 months)
  • Liquid – this can easily be applied through irrigation or spraying, but will require more frequent application (every 2 – 4 weeks) 
  • Hydrosoluble – they look like sugar and they are also applied through irrigation or spraying. Usually they contain higher quantities of nutrients, so the application rate and frequency is very low. 

To avoid the risk of potentially burning the roots from oversupply, we always recommend beginner gardeners to first use a lower dosage.

These are some fertilizers available in the Qatar market and where to find it:

  1. Granular and hydro soluble products such as “All Purpose”, “Super Bloomer” and “Relaxe Blue Pellet” can be found at nurseries such as Floranza and Mashtal Al Hadaf.
  2. Agri-Qatar liquid fertilizers can be purchased directly from the Mitras store and shops like Carrefour or Lulu Hypermarket.  Global Farm Market also has a wide variety of options to choose from.
  3. Organic compost or animal manure – the Agri-Qatar brand can be purchased directly at the Mitras store (https://www.mitraswll.com/organic-fertilizer.html).  Some plant nurseries also stock these products.

During the current growing season (November to April) the following inorganic fertilizer application schedule can be followed:

  • 20-20-20 solution every 3-4 weeks can be applied to plants with only green foliage
  • 15-30-15 solution every 2-3 weeks can be applied to flowering plants
  • For vegetables we recommend mixing manure or compost upon plantation. Later, to encourage flowering,  we recommend using a 15-30-15 solution and when the first fruits start appearing, a 12-12-36 solution can be applied.

To learn more about plant nutrition and how to best apply fertilizers to your plants, join our upcoming live online workshop at https://hadiqaa.com/product/plant-nutrition-online-workshop/ 

As always, enjoy the outdoors and your gardening journey!

Happy Gardening 

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