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How to feed your plants


Plants are able to make their own food by capturing the energy from sunlight to convert carbon dioxide and water into sugar. But in order to stay healthy and give the best results they take additional nutrients out of the soil or compost, so it's important to provide them with supplementary fertiliser. The basic nutrients required by plants are nitrogen (N) for leaf and stem growth, phosphorus (P) for root growth and potassium (K) for flowers, fruit and to maintain healthy growth.

How to do it


Well-rotted horse and cattle manure contains plenty of nutrients for plants. It can be added before planting or used as a surface mulch around established plants.


Adding fertiliser to the base of planting holes for new plants will encourage good root establishment and growth in the first season. 


Balanced granular fertiliser can be applied around all established plants in spring, especially those growing in pots. Distribute it around the base of plants at the rate recommended on the packaging. Avoid getting granules on soft stems and leaves as it may scorch them.


Slow-release granules or pellets can be mixed with the compost in pots when planting summer bedding to provide nutrients for the whole growing season.


Fertilisers are also available to mix up with water for liquid application. Liquid concentrates and ready-to-use liquid feeds are also available. These are quick acting as the plant roots can take in the dissolved nutrients with the water.


Recycle the nutrients that you apply to your garden by composting leafy prunings, dead flowers, vegetables peelings and any other suitable material.

Our tip

For best results apply fertilisers when the soil is moist.

Apply high-potash fertilisers to encourage flowering of all plants and a good crop of any plant grown for its fruit.

Diluted liquid feeds or fertilisers can be applied to the foliage of many plants for quick results. Always check packaging for details.

Discuss this project

Talkback: How to feed your plants
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kaycurtis 24/11/2011 at 15:27

It is good to be reminded to feed the plants in the garden especially the ones in pots as they can't fend for themselves, when we've trapped them in pots.

gloriaeve 24/11/2011 at 15:27

How long can you keep chicken pellet for, I have some from last year, will it still be effective?

inezhardie 24/11/2011 at 15:27

I can't get the link to how to create a fragrant garden - I keep coming to a how to on broccoli... help please!

kparry 24/11/2011 at 15:27

Can anyone tell me the correct fertiliser for grapes in pots please

lolmordue 24/11/2011 at 15:28

when is the best time to replant camelies?

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