Types of Fertilizer & How They Help Plants Grow

Gardening Basics
// July 7, 2017
garden fertilizer

Plants prepare their food by the process of photosynthesis. In this process, plants use sunlight, carbon dioxide & water. Therefore, photosynthesis covers 95% of the plant’s food requirement. Plants require oxygen for respiration, just like we do. However, to stay healthy plants need basic nutrients, supplementary nutrients & micronutrients.

Basic nutrients: Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) are 3 major essential nutrients that are provided via soil.

Supplementary nutrients: Calcium, Magnesium & sulphur are also essential nutrients, but are required in a moderate amount in the soil.

Micronutrients: Iron, Boron, Copper, Zinc, Molybdenum, & chlorine are mineral nutrients that are required in a very less amount in the soil. These play a key role in plant growth.

All the above nutrients can be provided to plants by applying following fertilizers:

types of organic fertilizers

1. Organic fertilizers:

All organic fertilizers release nutrients slowly & steadily over a period. Organic fertilizers are required to be provided in bulk i.e. larger quantities for an insured continuous supply of nutrients. They increase the humus content of the soil, keeping the soil moist & overall improving health & quality of the soil.

natural fertilizer for plants

2. Cow dung manure:

It is most commonly available organic fertilizer in India. Well, rotten cow-dung manure should be used instead of fresh cow-dung. Ideal cow-dung manure is black, moist powdered form. Buy Cow Manure Online.

Cow dung manure

3. Bio-Compost:

Compost is obtained from the process of home or farm level composting. It’s either done in composter or compost pit. Compost is made from household green waste & farmyard brown waste.

Click here to buy home composting kit online in India.

bio compost fertilizer

4. Leaf mould:

It is a form of compost exclusively made by the fungal & bacterial breakdown of dry leaves. Leaf mould is good quality humus. It is used as rooting medium for stem cutting & pot mixture for orchids & ferns.

Read more about what is leaf mould & how to make it.

Leaf compost

5. Vermicompost:

It is manure obtained from the disintegration of organic waste by earthworms. Vermicompost is moist, dark, consistent manure with a slow & steady supply of nutrients.

Read more about where to use vermicompost.


6. Chemical fertilizers:

These are available in granular or powdered or liquid form. Chemical fertilizers are strong & concentrated, therefore they are provided to plants in lesser quantity.

Plant nutrients

Following are basic types of chemical fertilizers:

1. Nitrates (The leaf makers):

These fertilizers are high in nitrogen. Nitrate help plants to grow faster by encouraging formation of more & more leaves.

Common Nitrates: Ammonium sulphate, Ammonium chloride, Calcium-ammonium nitrate, Urea. Buy Multican and Multi-Nitrate online in India.

2. Phosphates (The root makers):

These fertilizers are high in phosphorus. Phosphates encourage the root formation & rapid root growth; hence helping the overall growth of plants.

Common Phosphates: Single Super phosphate, Basic slag, Rock phosphate. Buy phosphate fertilizers Multipeak and Multibloom online in India.

3. Potash (The fruit makers):

These fertilizers are high in potassium. Potash fertilizers encourage flower & fruit formation in plants. Addition of potash leads to increased fruit production, with high quality, better tasting, shiny fruits.

Common Potash: Muriate of Potash(60%), Sulphate of Potash(50%).

4. Mixed fertilizers: (N:P:K):

These are combinations of all 3 NPK. Therefore these are given to plants as complete fertilizers for better growth of leaves, roots, flowers & fruits.

Common combinations: Nitrophosphate (20:20:0), Mono Ammonium phosphate (11:18:0), Diammonium phosphate (21:54:0), Nitrophosphate with potash- Suphala (15:15:15), Sampurna (19:19:19). Buy NPK fertilizers Multiphos and Multifeed online in India.

npk fertilizer components

Image Source: http://www.zone9garden.com


These are given in lesser quantity to plants for enhanced growth. Micronutrients are provided in case if plants are showing deficiency of any particular micronutrient. They are given as basal dose during plantation or during top dressing of garden plants. Many brands of micronutrients are available in market. eg.  Mixol Micromix Chelated (EDTA)

Read more about why should you add manure to plants?

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Gardening Basics