University of Florida

Nitrogen

Nitrogen is important to all life, and plants are no exception. They need nitrogen to produce lush, green growth.

In natural systems, the main source of nitrogen in the soil is organic matter. This comes from decaying plant and animal material. In home landscapes, it's sometimes necessary to provide supplemental nitrogen. Most gardeners do this by applying fertilizer to their plants.

But nitrogen doesn't always go only to the plants. It can be washed away by the rain or leach so deep into the soil that plants can't use it. This "lost" nitrogen can enter rivers, streams, or underground water sources, leading to water pollution.

To best benefit the environment and your plants, fertilize only when necessary and make sure to apply the correct amount.

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