It can be difficult to find information on gardening in South Florida. After all, the rules about how and when to fertilize your lawn and garden often speaks to the winter weather and spring thaw, which we do not experience.
Although our climate is more mild and we can generally grow plants successfully year-round, there are definitely best practices, favorable time frames, and product information which you should know.
If you are looking to fill your spring and summer garden with colorful tropical blooms, take a look at these quick tips.
Types of Fertilizers
It is important to note that Florida’s sandy soil does need some help in order to support many types of plants and flowers. Our native soil has little to no nutritional value, so it is up to you to supply that for your garden,
Slow Release Granular fertilizer is an easy and cost effective product. The fertilizer is applied around plants in the soil, and each time the flowers are watered they will absorb a bit more of the food. Be advised it may “burn” plants so cannot be placed on the plant or too close to its root base.
Controlled release fertilizer will not harm the plants in the same way as slow release products, so can be applied closer, and may even be sprayed among close growing plants or ground cover. It is activated by water and warm weather.
Liquid fertilizer is absorbed immediately by the plant. It can be sprayed directly on the leaves or at the base, but must be applied more often than granules, usually once per month.
More Fertilizer Facts for Florida
Fertilizers are categorized by three numbers, which represent the three major components of nutrients that flowers need. For instance, you may see 7-0-7, or 20-20-20.
The first number stands for the concentration of nitrogen, the last for potassium.
The middle number is phosphorous, which is necessary for flowering plants – but has been removed from all slow-release granules, related to fears about its connection to red tide.
This correlation is still disputed, yet currently every slow release granule product approved for use in Florida has zero phosphorous.
To get your flowers the phosphorous they need, you can spray with 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer once a month, work bone meal into the soil around the plants, or use controlled release products.
When to Fertilize for Spring Flowers
It is important to note that there is a complete fertilizer ban in Florida between June 1st and September 30th. It is actually illegal to fertilize during this time. Therefore you should fertilize for spring in March, for summer in late May, and for winter in late October. During the blackout period, you can use other nutritional products to help your plans to thrive.
The best time to fertilize for spring flowers in the Tampa area is early-to-mid March. Avoid applying fertilizer during winter months, or when there is still a chance for a hard overnight freeze. If you fertilize too early, new growth could be killed if we experience an unexpected cold snap.
You can apply liquid fertilizer whenever you want to encourage more blooms, to “green things up”, or to promote health.
Be sure to water well in addition to this treatment.
Because some Florida flowers and plants have special needs, it is a good idea to research the fertilizing requirements of what is in your garden. You can also ask the experts at Big Earth Landscape Supply – we are committed to helping you make your lawn and garden beautiful, during every season.
Shop online today, or stop by one of our area locations today – we ‘d love to answer any landscaping questions you may have.