Understanding Fertilizers labels to most people is harder than trying to understand stock market symbols as they roll by the screen. In this post, i will make a huge attempt to simplify this matter for you.

Fertilizer Label
Fertilizer Label


Understanding Fertilizers

Even trying to buy a bag of fertilizer at home improvement stores can seem like a daunting task,  most over the counter fertilizers bags have somewhat of a helpful labels like Palm Fertilizer with one set of numbers right next to another bag of palm fertilizer with a different set of numbers, and god forbid you ask the person with store uniform that walks by you only to tell you they don’t work in that department but they will find the right person who is in another department they don’t work in either, when he does arrive he gets that confused look and the popular huh phrase as they read the label of both bags of palm fertilizers and say well this one is an 8-10-10 and this one is a 12-4-12 and you say oh thank you, that explains it.

If you ask a nursery grower or anyone that has a degree in agronomy what fertilizer should I use in my landscape? You will get one of the following answers in the form of questions, what are you growing? have you done a soil analysis? If they are real geeks they will ask you, have you done a tissue analysis as they grin? A what you say, ah no; to which all would reply you can’t know what fertilizer you will need until you know what the plant needs and what you are missing in the soil.

To which i would say they are right, however in ten years of treating plants, palms and trees the only thing a customer cares about in fertilizer is, does my garden look awesome or what?

But on a serious note you can be better informed if you want your landscape to look its best, some simple steps can get you on the right track awesome. Let’s take a look whats in a bag of fertilizer and why.

There are different formulations for palm trees, lawns, shrubs, flowering plants, trees, and a fruit tree, all fertilizer selections require you have an understanding of the plant and soil. As nutritional dificancies can disquises themselves as diseases.

Fertilizers are broken down into 4 major parts

  • Non-Mineral Nutrients
  • Macro Nutrients
  • Secondary Nutrients
  • Micro Nutrients.

There are 16 essential elements that are used in the growth of plants, lets take a further look at these.

The Non-Mineral Nutrients:

hydrogen (H), oxygen (O), & carbon (C).
These are supplied by air and water.

Macro Nutrients:

Macro-nutrients or major nutrients are nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K). Don’t ask me why K for potassium. My Guess P was already taken by Phosphorus.

Macro nutrients usually are lacking from the soil first because plants use these in larger amounts for their growth and survival. These are the primary nutrients plants use most this is why they are Macro Nutrients.

The nutrition information on a bag of fertilizer might read 12-4-12. lets try to understand what all these numbers mean. The first 12 that is the nitrogen the second number 4 is the phosphorus and the last number 12 well if you guessed potassium you would be correct.

The bag might say 50% slow release nitrogen this means that 50% is fast release and available immediately to the plant while the other 50% will release or dissolve and become available over a period of time usually between 2 to 4 months depending on rain or irrigation.

Fertilizer are chemicals and if applied incorrectly can cause damage to plants and lawns furthermore they can contaminate ground water, streams and lakes. This is why precautions need to be taken to apply fertilizers correctly. As most parts of the country are experiencing more and more fertilizer restriction and bans consumers need to be informed as to how and when to apply fertilizers correctly.

Don’t worry about under applying fertilizing it is better than over applying it, if in one to two months your not seeing the results you should you could have the wrong fertilizer or you need to apply more, the point is that it is a learning process.

Depending on what part of the country or world for that matter you live in these major or macro nutrients would be different. Depending on the crop or plant this also would be different and depending on your soil type this also would be different. A transplant from New Jersey is shocked to find out that all the numbers on his bags of fertilizers had been changed when he got to Florida.

What do these Macro nutrients do?

Nitrogen (N) is a part of chlorophyll, the green pigment of the plant that is responsible for photosynthesis, Photosynthesis is when a plant uses light produce its food glucose.

Phosphorus (P) is an essential to the process of photosynthesis, growth, blooming and root growth.

Potassium is absorbed by plants in larger amounts than any other mineral element except nitrogen and, in some cases, calcium. It helps in the building of protein, photosynthesis, fruit quality and reduction of diseases.

Secondary Nutrients:

calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), and sulfur (S).

Calcium is essential to plant cell wall structure.

Magnesium is part of the chlorophyll in all green plants and is essential for photosynthesis, Improves root growth and seed production.

Micro Nutrients:

Micro Nutrients are essential elements that are used by plants in small quantities.

boron (B), chlorine (Cl), copper (Cu), iron (Fe), manganese (Mn), molybdenum (Mo), and zinc (Zn).

Functions of micronutrients in plants

Element Function in plant
(B) Important in sugar transport, cell division, and amino acid production
(Cl) Used in turgor regulation, resisting diseases and photosynthesis reactions
(Cu) Component of enzymes, involved with photosynthesis
(Fe) Component of enzymes, essential for chlorophyll synthesis, photosynthesis
(Mo) Involved in nitrogen metabolism, essential in nitrogen fixation by legumes
(Mn) Chloroplast production, cofactor in many plant reactions, activates enzymes
(Zn) Component of many enzymes, essential for plant hormone balance and auxin activity

So which bag of fertilizer do i need?

The most important thing to do first is a little research and the best place to start is your local extension service and your local state university, they already know what soils you have and what plants grow well in your part of the country. Looking online at sites about plants could really confuse you because different plants behave differently in different climate zones and with different soils.

But now when the agent or the university fact sheet tells you what are the deficiencies that your plants suffers from in your area you know what to look for on that label. if your palm suffers from manganese (mn) deficiency you can look at a bag of fertilizer and see if it has manganese in it, In most cases they will make label formulation recommendation for you.

Product Recommendation

Understanding Fertilizers
Palm Pro 12-4-12

I will recommend to you the same professional products we use for our customers, they are a lot simpler to use, measure and apply than granular fertilizers you purchase at the local big box home improvement stores since it comes in highly concentrated liquid formula that can be measured in a regular measuring cup by ounces, and they are far superior in quality and price since they come in 2.5 gallon jugs not 55 pound bags. There is no waste because you measure what you need and store the rest, no more bags that rip and scatter fertilizer all over you garage floor and hardens because humidity got in the bag from storing it too long. Your life just got simpler!

If you are looking for a complete fertilizer for lawn, palms and shrubs but you don’t know what your soil type is nor do you know what type of specific nutrients your plants need then this product is for you.

Palm Pro 12-4-12, don’t let the name fool you all though it is specially formulated for palms it is labeled for plants, trees and lawns it is a phenomenal fertilizer product.

Palm Pro 12-4-12

Feeding Palms Just Got Easier with PALM PRO 12-4-12

Newly introduced by Growth Products, Ltd., Palm Pro 12-4-12 has 60% slow-release nitrogen plus Mg, Mn, Fe, Zn and humic acid. With its chelated micronutrients, low salt index, easy-to-use liquid formulation, and attractive price, Palm Pro is the perfect choice for all native and nonnative palms.

Palm Pro matches these needs by including 60% slow-release nitrogen that allows for a 3- to 4-month nitrogen feed.

The chelation of these nutrients in Palm Pro is a huge positive, since it allows the nutrients to bond to the soil and roots where they can be fully utilized by the plants.

In sandy soils, which naturally have excessive permeability, and a low nutrient holding capacity. Thanks to its high organic content, Palm Pro excels in actually improving these soils and thus boosting overall health.  Palm Pro contains 2% humic acid and 2% organic sugars, both of which can improve soil moisture retention, increase exchange capacity, and enhance soil fertility. Organic yucca extract serves as a natural wetting agent and an aid to nutrient uptake. This is nutrition that you won’t get in a bag of granular fertilizer.

Palm Pro can be used as a soil injection , in drip irrigation for nursery stock, for hand watering in interiorscapes, and as a foliar feed.  Versatility with no need to get special equipment a measuring cup and 5 gallon pail is all you need or as a foliar spray 1 one gallon hand pump sprayer will do the job.

If you would like to purchase Palm Pro 12-4-12 you can contact me directly at 786-222-7069

For more information you can read the label by clicking the link below


I want to help as many people as i can to perform their own pest control services safely and effectively. If you would be so kind as to leave a comment or review about this post it would really help me do the best job i can for you. Don’t forget to register to receive free updates, exclusive content, and product reviews straight to your inbox.


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