Pick up any kind of fertilizer and you will see three numbers, separated by dashes. 14-5-12. This is the N-P-K ratio. All-purpose fertilizers provide all three nutrients in the same formula, while organic materials like Bone Meal (eg. 0-20-0) or Blood Meal (eg. 14-0-0) just provide one.
(N) Nitrogen: A major component of chlorophyll, it’s responsible for making things green. It’s the most heavily used nutrient and is used in new shoots, buds, and leaves.
(P) Phosphorus: This is the nutrient responsible for the energy storage and transfer within a plant. It’s used for growth and reproduction – which means root production and flowering.
(K) Potassium: This nutrient controls water regulation, improves drought resistance, and is required for protein synthesis.
The easiest way to remember what they do is “Up, Down, All Around.” Nitrogen predominantly supports things “up” at the top of the plant, like healthy green foliage growth. Phosphorus impacts what’s “down” such as root growth (a big deal for root veggies like carrots or potatoes). Potassium is “all around” beneficial, similar to a plant’s immune system. It strengthens the plant’s defense system against bugs and diseases, and helps it adjust to sudden changes in temperature or moisture.
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