Fertilizing Plants 101: Best Gardening Guide

By Diana Smith

Author bio: Diana Smith is a full time mom of two beautiful girls interested in topics related to home improvement and latest DIY projects. In her free time she enjoys exercising and preparing healthy meals for her family.

We all know that plants need quality air and soil rich in many nutrients in order to produce beautiful greenery, flowers, fruits and grains. While these nutrients often just float around the air and chill in the soil, some essential nutrients are usually missing from the plant's natural environment. In that case, fertilizing is the solution that provides plants with key nutrients from soil and air that will nurture them and feed them for a long time. If your garden plants might be looking a bit hungry, here are a few beginner tips on how to fertilize plants: 

gardening tools for safety planting

Test your soil

It's more than possible to overfeed your plants, so make sure to fertilize in moderation. Better yet, grab a sample of your soil and get it tested for essential nutrients. This way, you'll get to learn about your soil biology, choose the best fertilizer and know exactly how much of it to give to your plants without pushing things overboard. 
Read more: Soil Preparation Guide for Beginners.

Don't fertilize from the start

If you're just starting your garden and want to get big flowers or fruit as soon as possible, you might be eager to start fertilizing from the start. However, fertilizing before plants settle in the soil can stunt their growth or even kill them. Wait until your young seedlings and transplants adjust to their new environment in the metal raised garden beds and the soil instead of fertilizing too early and burning their sensitive roots. Make sure to wait between 7 and 10 days before you start the fertilizing process. 

Time your fertilizing well

When providing your plants with food, make sure to avoid fertilizing during the hottest part of the day. During the heat of the day, plants are already overwhelmed with stress, so they won't be able to soak up any nutrients from your fertilizers. Instead, aim for early morning or late evening to prevent injury to the plant and allow it a hearty breakfast or dinner. 

Trim your garden

Before you start fertilizing your plants, it's best to give your garden a nice trim. This will make your space look better and prevent waste of valuable fertilizing, like on perennials that are finished blooming. Also, your fertilizer will give the plants a powerful growth boost after pruning. If your garden has been neglected a bit, it's smart to call professional lawn mowing and gardening services to help you with your mowing, weeding, hedging and pruning. These are all heavy physical tasks that you might not be up to, plus the professionals will do a much better job. After everything is trimmed nicely, you can go ahead with the fertilizing process. 

Choose the best products

The key is to focus on fertilizers that provide your greenery with a strong shot of nitrogen, potassium and phosphorus—most vegetable plants need these elements the most. You'll most likely find granular and water-soluble fertilizers in your local garden center. Granular ones have a slow release of nutrients since the grains need to be broken down by the water before the plant can absorb them. On the other hand, water-soluble fertilizers act fasters, but they need to be applied more frequently. 

Try power mulch

Here's a secret to fertilizing not every gardener knows: power mulch for extra success. What is power mulching? Well, it's a process that includes putting nutrient-enriched mulch at the base of the plant to feed it slowly over time. You can add some extra food to the plant by mulching it with a few inches of compost mixed with some worm castings. This is a slow-release nutrient bomb for the plants that will also hold in moisture and prevent weeds from growing. And every time it rains, more nutrients will be released into the roots! 

Practice your fertilizing

There are two ways of fertilization: base and foliar application. The base application includes watering the soil with a water-soluble fertilizer (with a watering can or hose attachment) or placing granular fertilizer at the base of the plant. The foliar application applies fertilized water to the leaves for quick absorption of elements like iron. Each has its own set of benefits and you might want to try both just to see how your plants react. 

Stop at the right time

Garden plants don't have to be fertilized all year round. It's very important to know when to stop the process—usually in the summer when the plant hits its full potential and production power. When the plant is fully grown, the fertilizer will be completely wasted on foliage, and you won't get to see additional blooms or any new crops on stems. The best results are achieved when the garden is fertilized during the first 8 to 10 weeks (do the process every other week) and that's it. 


You don't have to be a professional gardener in order to give your plants a better life. With regular and smart fertilizing, you can see gorgeous foliage, colorful blooms and many tasty crops.