Laidback Gardener Tip of the Day

The cheapest fertilizer

Soluble fertilizers are often more expensive than they appear.
Soluble fertilizers are often more expensive than they appear.

Quick: which fertilizer is the least expensive? A $7 quick-release fertilizer or a $12 slow-release fertilizer?

The $7 fertilizer seems cheaper: after all, you paid $5 less than for the $12 fertilizer. But you have to read the label to find out which is really the bargain.

Look especially at the recommended application frequency. Quick-release fertilizers are usually designed for weekly or biweekly applications. At that rate, you may well have used up the entire box or bottle before the end of the season.

Slow release fertilizers often seem more expensive at first, but do the math: most of them are designed to be applied only once or twice a year. At that rate, it may take you a decade to go through them entirely!

Larry Hodgson is one of Canada’s best-known garden communicators. He has notably been editor-in-chief of HousePlant Magazine, Fleurs, Plantes et Jardins, À Fleur de Pot and Houseplant Forum magazines and is currently the garden correspondent for Le Soleil and radio garden commentator for CKIA-FM Radio. He has written for many garden publications in both the United States and Canada, including Canadian Gardening, Harrowsmith, Horticulture, Fine Gardening and Organic Gardening. He also speaks frequently to horticultural groups throughout Canada and the U.S. His book credits include The Garden Lover’s Guide to Canada, Complete Guide to Houseplants, Making the Most of Shade, Perennials for Every Purpose, Annuals for Every Purpose, and Houseplants for Dummies, as well as nearly 60 other titles in English and French. He is a past president of the Garden Writers Association (now Garden Communicators International) and the winner of the prestigious 2006 Garden Media Promoter Award offered by the Perennial Plant Association. He resides in Quebec City, Quebec, Canada.

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