- $49 for One lawn fertilizer, weed-control, and crabgrass treatment ($200 value)
Plant Food: Soil’s Chemical Buffet
The right nutrients can separate a gorgeous burst of floral decor from an ailing plant patient. Check out Groupon’s guide to plant food to help your ficus chow down.
From the saguaro cactus of arid Arizona to the monkey-ladder vine of the Costa Rican rainforest, all plants are kept alive by the same support team of 13 mineral nutrients. Healthy soil will provide all these and, in concert with the obvious necessities of water, air, sunlight, and carbon, make for beautifully flourishing vegetation. But for plants that spend their days in pots or gardens, some of these nutrients may be hard to come by unless their tenders use plant food—or what’s less appetizingly known as fertilizer.
Plant food concentrates on the things plants are hungriest for: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, primary macronutrients that get sucked up quickly when the land supports a large population of plant life or vegetarian vampires. These three elements are must-haves for powering photosynthesis and creating basic building blocks such as amino acids, chlorophyll, and cell membranes. Most plant food, whether it comes in powdered or liquid form, also contains secondary macronutrients (calcium, magnesium, and sulfur) and micronutrients (crucial elements needed only in small quantities) in varying proportions depending on the type of plant it targets. These chemicals can be synthetically produced or derived from organic sources such as sea kelp, grass clippings, alfalfa hay, or even fishmeal. Even plants at the end of their lives can benefit from plant food, and finding it is easy—it’s inside the packets taped to the bouquets you find at florists, along with a bacterial inhibitor (to keep water fresh) and a pinch of powdered romance.