Gardening is a hobby that people have enjoyed for centuries. As time progresses, so does technology, allowing for a greater range of products to help modern gardeners manage their time while still achieving quality results. One such product that gardeners are choosing is the fertilizer spike. Fertilizer spikes are small sticks that can be driven into the soil to provide nutrients to aid in the growth of plants. Nearly all fertilizer spikes operate on the same principles, but there are some important variations.
Different nutrients are recommended for different plants. As a general rule, fertilizer spike labels list a series of three numbers, such as 10-10-10. These numbers each represent, by weight, a different nutrient contained within the spike. The first number represents the percentage of nitrogen, the second number indicates the percentage of phosphorus and the third number represents the amount of potassium. Each nutrient benefits a different part of a plant, and this numbering system is an easy and convenient way to figure out which fertilizer spike would benefit a specific garden.
Nitrogen helps with leaf development, and it promotes the process of photosynthesis to create rich green leaves. Phosphorus helps maintain and speed up root growth, and potassium encourages root development and disease resistance. Other beneficial nutrients may be added to fertilizer spikes, and the package should indicate which ones, if this is the case. Yearly soil testing will indicate which nutrients are needed the most, and kits are readily available at most home improvement stores and local health department extensions.
Fertilizer spikes specifically formulated for trees often contain both quick- and slow-release formulas, with some fertilizer tree spikes lasting for up to a year. Tree spikes are specially marked as such, and are often larger than their flower or lawn counterparts. Even more specialized tree spike products are available for fruit trees to encourage more bountiful and timely fruit harvest. Other specialized tree spike products include items for shade trees and evergreens. It should be noted that fertilizer spikes dissolve more rapidly in wet environments, and gardeners should plan their fertilization accordingly.
Many gardeners consider fertilizer spikes the most cost effective way to maintain plant health. Fertilizer spikes may range in price from $2 US Dollars (USD) for houseplant products to $10 USD for tree spike packs. More specialized products, such as eco-friendly fertilizer spikes, may be ordered from online retailers. It is important to follow the manufacturer's instructions regarding proper application and re-application.