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No, not for your car but for your garden.

Right about now, things are probably looking a little played out. Unless you have been fertilizing all along this season, your containers are most likely looking a little tired when you want them to look perky and those plants that are supposed to rebloom don’t have much hope of doing that unless you have been helping them through this unusual summer. We have been graced with plentiful rain but that means less sun and heat and, therefore, fewer UVs and cooler temps to bring on those flowers and veggies which I’m sure you have noticed.

The fact is that watering those containers and all the rain we enjoyed also leached precious nutrients. Now it’s up to us as gardeners to get those nutrients back. It’s easy to just turn away, however, and look towards fall. Instead, invest just an hour or two now to bring things back to life for the remainder of the season. AND you get those promised second blooms from repeat flowering daylilies, irises and spiraeas, not to mention a robust harvest from your veggies still to come (YUM!). Plus if you have roses, you have another season of bloom on the way up so here is your chance to get those fall flowers.

So just what to do? Fertilize your annuals, the veggie garden and repeat flowering perennials and shrubs with a flowering plant fertilizer. Among all the choices you have, use a liquid foliar fertilizer and not a granular one. Why is that? Aside from the obvious, plants respond more quickly when their leaves receive the fertilizer: it gets taken in more quickly by the plant and this time of year, faster is better. Think of it the same way you would getting an injection vs. taking a pill: that injection goes straight into your body but that pill takes a longer time to get absorbed before your body can use it.

Stay away from anything with a high first number (nitrogen) because you don’t want to encourage unnecessary leafy green growth. Nitrogen always gets quickly and easily absorbed as evidenced by all those green lawns we see. Conversely, plants take up phosphorous (the middle number) very slowly so something like a 10-30-10 this time of year is a useless waste of money, not to mention a source of problems as the phosphorous doesn’t get absorbed and most often runs off causing water pollution.

Your best bet is to go with an organic product that has much lower numbers on the label. The product should specifically state it is for FLOWERING plants to give those flowers the oomph they need to bring on a fresh round of blooms (which of course lead to veggies) if that’s in their genetic code. Despite the lower formulation of an organic product vs. a chemical product, the results will come in the form of an overall healthier and stronger plant and more flowers over an extended period of time.

It just so happens that Coast of Maine has an excellent concentrated liquid organic rose and flower fertilizer with a 2-2-0 formulation. It is just what the doctor ordered!

Written by Lorraine Ballato

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