Learning Center


Flower Power: How to Keep Annuals Blooming All Season Long!


Does fertilizer matter?  Take a look at the image above; one was fertilized regularly with the appropriate fertilizer where as the other received no fertilizer at all.  Guess which is which.  And no, that isn’t a new chartreuse leaf vinca featuring smaller blooms… that plant is just starving for nutrients.

The natural next question is ‘what is the appropriate fertilizer?’  With so many fertilizers out on the market, we understand the confusion.  Here is a simplified plan for fertilizing annual color:

At Planting

When planting annual color, apply a time release, balanced fertilizer.  For blooming annuals, use Ferti-Lome Premium Bedding Plant Food (7-22-8).  For annuals with foliage interest such as coleus, cabbage, kale and others that blooming isn’t encouraged, use Ferti-Lome Start-N-Gro (19-6-12).  Both of these are granules that are sprinkled on the ground at the appropriate application rate listed on the bag.

The three numbers on fertilizer labels stand for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium, in that order.  A simple way of looking at these numbers is that Nitrogen helps encourage leaf growth, Phosphorus encourages stem strength and bloom production and Potassium promotes root development and health which increases overall hardiness.

Notice the ratio difference in the two fertilizers mentioned; see how we have recommended the Bedding Plant Food for blooming plants?  Now you know why!

Good Earth brand Jump Start

Good Earth brand Jump Start at Planting

Jump Start is another kind of fertilizer and the benefits are simply amazing.  This natural fertilizer contains mycorrhizae, which actually changes the structure of roots and allows them to uptake 1,000 more nutrients and water. It’s a great product to use at planting of trees, shrubs, perennials, herbs, vegetables, and annuals.  Jump Start can also be used for additional feedings throughout the growing season.  Jump Start can be used in addition to the Ferti-Lome products mentioned above.

Throughout the Growing Season

BR-61 (9-58-8) is our go-to recommendation to encourage outstanding blooming all season.  It is a water soluble fertilizer, which means you mix it with water and apply with with an applicator sprayer or water into the roots.  For best results, this should be done every couple of weeks throughout the season for warm season annuals.  For cool season annuals, use BR-61 during times the temperatures are 50 degrees and above; they will be taking in nutrients at this temperature range.  If your annual color display is mostly foliage plants, we suggest using a lower phosphorus fertilizer.

Time release fertilizers such as the Ferti-Lome products mentioned at the beginning of the article, as well as Osmocote, can be applied during the growing season at longer intervals.

Natural/ Organic Fertilizers

Our Jump Start is a natural fertilizer and we carry others too, such as the Espoma fertilizers.  We offer a variety of Espoma specialty fertilizers for all kinds of plants such as Holly-Tone, Tomato-Tone, Rose-Tone, in addition to the Plant-Tone for seasonal color.  Hi-Yield Bone Meal and Blood Meal are additional natural fertilizers.

This is just a quick overview of how to feed your annuals to have the best color in the neighborhood!  We are here to answer any questions you have.  And remember, with all fertilizers, follow application instructions carefully for best results!