Most of us want to keep our plants and lawns healthy. All plants need appropriate nourishment through nutrients, which can be obtained from the soil they grow in or other sources. When our flowers and grass are dying, we wonder what we are doing wrong. It is not uncommon to think “more fertilizer”.
The use of fertilizer can help plants thrive if used properly. Each plant has unique needs, and thus the right type and quantity of fertilizer are important to consider. Too much fertilizer can increase pest problems, promote excessive plant growth, require frequent watering, pollute our aquifers and drain into our stormwater systems. It’s important to note that many of Florida soils are naturally high in phosphorous, which is one of the three major nutrients in fertilizer.
Here are some things to consider before using fertilizer:
- Conduct a soil test before choosing your fertilizer.
- Determine what and how much nutrients are needed.
- How is it applied and how often?
- How much water is required after application?
- Avoid fertilizing before a heavy rain
In Orange County, Florida June 1 through September 30 residents are not allowed to apply fertilizer containing nitrogen or phosphorus to turf. There are two exceptions to this rule:
- Commercial applicators certified under Section 15-809 may conduct these applications.
- Homeowners who have completed the Orange County online educational program may conduct these applications.
When plants and lawns are appropriately fertilized, they can produce a healthy ecosystem that absorbs pollutants and stabilizes soil, thereby reducing contaminants into our waterways.