Garden Starter Solutions’ Usefulness Fading
MANHATTAN, Kan. – Using a starter solution or “root stimulator” to help new transplants for the garden settle in has been standard practice for decades.
“Research has found, however, these products are only useful for a while. In Kansas, for example, I’d be hesitant to apply them after Mother’s Day,” said Ward Upham, K-State Research and Extension horticulturist.
“Stimulator” solutions are typically a weak fertilizer that contains nitrogen and phosphate, Upham said. Some gardeners actually make their own. Given the Internet, recipes are easy to find.
Good formulas can be a real boost for transplants moving into the garden while the soil is still cool.
“Early in the growing season, soil nutrients aren’t readily available to help plants develop roots and become established,” he explained. “So, applying a starter solution near a plant’s roots is like providing a substitute meal.”
As the environment warms, though, plants can access soil’s underground nutrients more and more easily.
“Unless your soil is nutrient-poor, you’re wasting time and solution if you apply a starter product after that,” Upham said. “In fact, if your soil is fertile and the weather gets pretty warm, your applying a starter solution might actually cause some plant damage by burning roots.”
K-State Research and Extension is a short name for the Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service, a program designed to generate and distribute useful knowledge for the well-being of Kansans. Supported by county, state, federal and private funds, the program has county Extension offices, experiment fields, area Extension offices and regional research centers statewide. Its headquarters is on the K-State campus, Manhattan.
Story by: Kathleen Wardkward@ksu.eduK-State Research & Extension News
Ward Upham is at 785-532-1438