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How to Choose the Perfect Plant Food

By The National Gardening Association, Bob Beckstrom, Karan Davis Cutler, Kathleen Fisher, Phillip Giroux, Judy Glattstein, Michael MacCaskey, Bill Marken, Charlie Nardozzi, Sally Roth, Marcia Tatroe, Lance Walheim, Ann Whitman

No matter what the manufacturers tell you, there is no one plant food that works well for all of your garden needs. Different kinds of plants need different kinds of fertilizers, and the table here lists some guidelines. Of course, the best advice before using any plant food is to have your soil tested.

What to Feed Your Plants
Plant Fertilizer Comments
Annuals Granular Apply before planting, supplemented by liquid soluble
applications after planting.
Bulbs Granular 8-8-8 or similar Apply at planting time.
Fruit trees Granular and/or organic Apply as necessary in spring only.
Hanging baskets Slow-release or liquid soluble Apply every two weeks.
House plants Slow-release or liquid soluble Apply every two weeks in spring and summer.
Lawns Granular and/or organic Apply spring and fall in cool climates, and early and late
summer in warm climates.
Perennials Granular and/or organic Apply in autumn; supplement with liquid soluble.
Roses Granular and/or organic Apply in spring and autumn for good growth.
Trees and shrubs Granular and/or organic Apply in autumn; supplement with complete granular (10-10-10 or
similar) if spring growth is poor.
Vegetables Organic Apply in autumn or at least one month prior to planting.
Continually enrich soil with organic fertilizers; supplement with
granular 5-10-10 first two gardening seasons.