What Do the Three Numbers on Fertilizer Stand For?


posted on June 13th, 2019 by

Have you ever wondered what the three numbers on your bag of fertilizer stand for? The three bold numbers represent the primary nutrients that are present in each bag. They each stand for a certain percentage of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). In this blog, we will use a bag of our Nutri-20 fertilizer to explain how each primary nutrient is helpful to grasses and plants alike. We will give you a scientific explanation along with a basic explanation.

Scientific Explanation: The first number in the sequence represents the percentage of nitrogen (N) in the bag. Our Nutri-20 is 20 percent nitrogen. Nitrogen is very important as it is a major component of chlorophyll, which allows plants to undergo photosynthesis and gives them their green color. It is also a major component of amino acids, which are the building blocks of proteins. The proteins can then be used to grow new leaves and even defend against pests. Without these proteins, plants would not be able to survive. Lastly, nitrogen is a major component of DNA, which allows plants to grow and reproduce as well.

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Basic Explanation: Nitrogen helps plants grow and defend against pests as well as gives them deep green color.

Scientific Explanation: The second number represents the phosphorus (P). Phosphorus helps transfer energy from one point to another in a plant. This way, energy from the stem of each plant can travel to the tips of the leaves. It is a very critical nutrient to the roots as well. Because our Nutri-20 fertilizer is formulated for established Zoysia lawns, it does not contain phosphorus. However, our Stim-U-Root starter fertilizer does as it should be applied after you first plant to strengthen the root system of the Zoysia.

Basic Explanation: Phosphorus mainly helps with root growth.

Scientific Explanation: The last number in this sequence represents the percentage of potassium. Potassium is responsible for plant metabolism and also affects the water pressure inside and outside of the plants. Our Nutri-20 fertilizer is 20 percent potassium, which helps the Zoysia to be more drought-tolerant than it already is.

Basic Explanation: Potassium allows Zoysia to be heat, cold, and drought tolerant as well as helps defend against diseases.

            Overall, it is important to know what the numbers represent on your bag of fertilizer. Keep in mind that only water-soluble fertilizers should be used on Zoysia; never anything granular. Our Nutri-20 fertilizer should be mixed with water and applied using a hose-end sprayer. For our Stim-U-Root starter fertilizer, that can be applied using a simple watering can. Just be sure to follow the instructions on any fertilizer that you choose, and your Zoysia will be even stronger than before!

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