Whether you are new to gardening or if you’re an experienced person with a green thumb, fertilizers can be a bit confusing. It isn’t easy to know precisely what the numbers, letters, and ratios mean. It’s essential to feed your plant to ensure it is growing to its fullest capacity, but knowing exactly what that consists of can take some research. What is better to use, DAP vs. NPK for flowering plants?
Ultimately, NPK fertilizer is better for the average home gardener to use on their flowers. DAP does not contain potassium, an essential nutrient for plant growth, whereas NPK does. NPK seems to be the better choice for gardeners who primarily grow flowers, and DAP seems to have the advantage for larger-scale agricultural practices.
Continue reading to learn more about DAP and NPK, which is better for flowering plants, and other tips on getting the most out of your flowers.
Which one is better: DAP or NPK?
DAP is more associated with large-scale agricultural crops than home gardening. DAP is the shortening of the chemical name “diammonium phosphate,” indicating it is comprised of ammonia and phosphoric acid. These are two of the three primary nutrients needs for plant growth: nitrogen from ammonia and phosphorus from phosphoric acid.
NPK stands for “nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium,” which are all three major nutrients needed for optimal growth of plants. Nitrogen (N) helps with foliage growth, phosphorus (P) aids in root growth and development as well as bud and flower development, and potassium (K) is good for stem strength and overall vigor and health of your plants. Potassium is the missing nutrient in DAP.
All three of these elements are essential in plant growth, function, and overall performance, so it might seem like a no-brainer that NPK is the best. It would be in their best interest to have the added potassium for a more well-rounded development of flowering plants.
DAP is more useful in a wide application where the benefits of potassium are not necessarily needed. Additionally, DAP is more concentrated in nitrogen than phosphate, leading to more foliage growth and less flowering or bud production. This can be advantageous for plants like spinach or lettuce, though for flowers or fruits, DAP is not necessarily the way to go.
A balanced NPK fertilizer is an excellent place to start for home gardeners who aren’t sure of their plant’s specific needs. Giving a dose of these three nutrients can stave off deficiencies that can ultimately stunt your plant’s growth and make it more susceptible to pests or disease.
Is DAP good for flowering plants?
DAP is not bad for flowering plants, though the lack of potassium might make it so their growth is less rigorous and robust. Its higher nitrogen concentration may also lead your flowering plants to have less than ideal yields. It is better to use DAP than to mitigate fertilizer use entirely, as it still has two of the three required nutrients for optimal growing conditions.
Potassium helps aid in stem strength and your flowering plants’ overall productivity and health. This is not to be overlooked, especially for heavier flowers like sunflowers, where a weak stem will just not cut it when you’re trying to cultivate tall, lovely blooms. For crops like soybeans or corn, there is not much need to worry about these parameters, and therefore the added nutrient doesn’t affect the outcome of the crop.
Another benefit of using NPK fertilizers is that you can be a bit more selective when you are growing flowering plants using NPK. A balanced fertilizer refers to those with NPK numbers that are the same, whereas their numbers would refer to any other combination. For example, 8-8-8 or 10-10-10 would be “balanced,” and 8-10-10 would be a more “specific” ratio better suited to plants currently flowering or setting buds. Depending on your plant and the growth stage, you can choose a fertilizer with different percentages of each element to meet your plant’s needs.
How can I make my flowers bloom more?
Making your flowers bloom more throughout the season starts with proper nutrition, light, water, and care. Keeping your plant flowering throughout the season relies on keeping up with trimming and deadheading your plants and providing extra feeding sessions as needed.
Flowering annuals, such as petunias and zinnias, should be fed throughout the growing season. Starting this regimen early in the spring and again in midsummer is the best way to set up your plant for success and keep that momentum going.
When fertilizing, it is crucial to do so when the soil is moist and to water afterward. This will help the plant absorb the nutrients better and help to avoid nutrient burn, which can happen to the roots if too much fertilizer is used.
Granular fertilizers can be used by mixing directly into the potting soil when planting or incorporating them into the top two inches of soil if your plant is already established. Water-soluble fertilizers can be mixed into the water at the appropriate dilution and applied to your plant.
Deadheading your blooms as they wilt is also a good way to encourage your plant to continue blooming and extend your blooms through the growing season. Snipping the flower head off at the first set of leaves you encounter will suffice and encourage your plant to continually produce flowers until it goes dormant. Always use clean and sharp tools to deadhead or prune your plants.
While both DAP and NPK have their uses, it seems that NPK fertilizer is the better option when it comes to flowering plants.
DAP is used more widely in larger-scale agricultural practices and does what it needs to do to achieve the necessary results for the industrial scale. This will not yield any advantages for the average home gardener that using an NPK fertilizer couldn’t also provide. The additional benefits potassium gives to plants make it a relatively easy choice for feeding your flowers.
There are more options available for gardeners to choose from using NPK fertilizers depending on their specific plant and its needs. It also provides an extra essential nutrient that DAP does not. For these reasons, NPK should be the choice fertilizer to use for flowering plants.
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!