Fertilizing plants is crucial, but it can also be confusing sometimes since so many types of fertilizers are available in the market. If you are wondering whether you can apply both liquid and granular fertilizers, you are at the right place.
You can use both liquid and granular fertilizers depending on the needs of the plants. If your plant needs a quick boost of nutrients or light feeding, go with liquid fertilizer but if you want a heavy dose that dissolves slowly and fertilizes the plant for longer, go with granular fertilizer.
This article will discuss the correct way to use granular and liquid fertilizers together. We will also discuss the benefits and risks of using them and signs of over-fertilization and suggest ways to treat over-fertilization.
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Importance of fertilizers
The first thing to understand before delving into liquid and granular fertilizers are the nutrients in fertilizers: NPK, which stands for Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium.
These are the three basic nutrients that provide plants with the strength to grow.
- Nitrogen helps plants produce new growth.
- Phosphorous helps build and strengthen the root system and produce flowers.
- Potassium helps to make the plant’s cells stronger.
Apart from the three basic nutrients, other micronutrients like iron, zinc, magnesium, calcium, and manganese are also present in fertilizers.
Dry fertilizers are generally termed granular fertilizers as they come in the solid form of granules.
Thus, they take more time to break down and get absorbed into the soil.
They either come in coarse powder or pellets that take months to break down.
With watering, they gradually mix into the soil and show their results.
Granular fertilizers are dense; thus, before using them, you must read the instructions carefully and follow the prescribed dosage.
Liquid fertilizers have become extremely popular recently, especially among home gardeners, as they are milder and quickly absorbed in the soil.
They can be diluted with water and then applied to the soil or sprayed on the foliage.
They also tend to show faster results on the plants.
These fertilizers are also easy to use, as you can water your plants with them every three to four weeks n the growing season or spray them on the plant with a fertilizer mix.
The method of spraying fertilizers is known as foliar feeding, and the plants can absorb this the fastest.
As plants regularly absorb moisture through their leaves, spraying them gives quick results and visibly increases their growth.
Can I use both liquid and granular fertilizers?
Fertilizers provide different nutrients to plants, so you should include them in your plant care routine.
These nutrients give the plant the energy and strength to grow and produce fruits and flowers.
The primary difference between granular and liquid fertilizers is the time they take to mix with the soil.
The soil absorbs the liquid fertilizers quickly as they are in liquid form, but granular fertilizers need more time to break down into the soil.
Their results are much slower and long-term.
This denotes if you use both these types of fertilizer in the right amount and follow the right method, you can apply them simultaneously without causing any harm to the plant.
However, that being said, using two different types of fertilizers that do not go with each other can damage your plants.
Thus you need to know the correct process and combination before proceeding.
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Benefits of using two types of fertilizers
Liquid fertilizers are absorbed faster by plants.
Houseplants or indoor plants especially find them easier to absorb, and they are milder.
Thus, the chances of raising your plants are much lesser.
However, if you want to help your plant grow stronger and stay in the soil longer, you need granular fertilizers.
As the granules are in solid form, they take time to show results, but their results are much longer.
Both types of fertilizers are helpful for plants as the liquid fertilizers instantly help the plants to improve their health, and the granular ones are more long-term.
Can using granular and liquid fertilizers together damage my plants?
If you wish to apply granular and liquid fertilizers to your plants, it is important to ensure that the combination will not damage the plant.
Issues primarily arise because different fertilizers have varying nutritional content, which may get toxic if they are not synthesized correctly.
If any one nutrient exceeds the required amount, then it may harm the plant.
Therefore, you must first ensure that the nutritional content in the two fertilizers complements each other.
How to apply both granular and liquid fertilizer?
Here is how you can use both granular and liquid fertilizers on your plants:
First, use the dry granular fertilizers in the soil and add the liquid fertilizers afterward.
Another highly recommended way to combine them is by soaking the granular fertilizer in the liquid fertilizer.
Soak the granular fertilizer in the liquid overnight so the granules’ richness gets transferred into the mix.
Combining two different fertilizers is extremely beneficial for plants as they receive different nutrients.
Liquid fertilizers give an instant boost to the plant, while granular fertilizers can provide a long-term boost to the plant’s health.
However, before combining the two, you must read the dosage carefully to not over-fertilize the plants.
Check the NPK of the fertilizers on the label to know how much nutrients the plant will receive.
Granular fertilizers save labor as they do not need to be applied frequently, but liquid fertilizers need to be applied more often.
How do I know if the fertilizer is compatible?
Before you combine the granular and liquid fertilizers, you need to know they can interact with one another and are compatible.
Let us discuss two commonly used fertilizers in our indoor gardens.
You can very efficiently use Epsom salt with phosphorous to create a perfect insoluble ammonium sulfate.
You need to carry on the jar test to find more ideal combinations.
A jar test is conducted to determine whether the fertilizers are compatible with being used in your garden.
To carry on this test, mix all the ingredients in the exact quantity you would use in a jar, add some water, and give the mixing time to settle down.
Examine the mix in the jar to see signs of any reaction.
The insoluble products will form a layer of sediment at the bottom.
If the different fertilizers react with one another, you may see several signs, like foaming or a change in the color of the mix.
If you see such reactions, you should not be applying them together.
Which is better, liquid or granular fertilizer?
Both liquid and granular fertilizers have their pros and cons of usage.
You need to choose either or both of them depending on the plant’s needs, soil type, climate, etc.
Benefits of granular fertilizer
Here are the benefits of using granular fertilizers:
- Cost-effective when purchased in bulk
- Easy to store
- They are slow-release fertilizers and yield long-term benefits
- Suitable for plants that require heavy application
- Ideal to use during planting
- Granular fertilizers have a long shelf life
Granular fertilizers are slowly released and release nutrients gradually over a longer period.
They stick to the soil for a longer period as opposed to liquid fertilizers.
They are also very heavily concentrated.
Thus if you overuse them, they may risk the plants.
Benefits of liquid fertilizer
Here are the benefits of using liquid fertilizers:
- Easy to apply
- Milder, therefore, has a lesser risk of over-fertilization
- The plants absorb nutrients immediately
- You can apply it anytime
- Uniformity in application
- It gets distributed evenly in the soil
You can apply liquid fertilizers easily with regular watering.
They show their effects quickly on the plants and leave the soil faster with regular watering.
You can apply liquid fertilizers every few weeks during the growing season as these are milder in concentration.
Sandier soil may wash off liquid fertilizers quicker than granular fertilizers; thus, they are unsuitable for such soil.
Disadvantages of granular fertilizer
There are also some disadvantages to using granular fertilizers:
- It needs water to get absorbed by the soil. Fertilizing in dry soil can be hazardous for the plant.
- It is very hot; thus, if not applied in the correct quantity can quickly bur your plant.
- They are difficult to get mixed with the soil, unlike liquid ones.
- They take time to deliver nutrients to the soil.
Disadvantages of liquid fertilizer
Here are the cons of using liquid fertilizers:
- Liquid fertilizer gets washed away quickly
- Needs frequent reapplication
- They are more expensive than granular fertilizers
- They have a shorter shelf life
How to tell if you have over-fertilized your plants?
It is easy to go overboard with fertilization, especially for houseplants.
You need to watch out for the signs of over-fertilization, which we will discuss below.
- You may notice browning or yellowing of the plant leaves prematurely.
- The leaves can turn droopy or crispy if the fertilizers burn the plant’s roots.
- Another sign of over-fertilization is the accumulation of salt layers on the soil’s surface.
How to correct over-fertilization?
Over fertilization can be dangerous for your plant, as it burns the roots and the leaves.
If you suspect you have over-fertilized the soil, there are ways to correct it.
If you have over-applied nitrogen to the soil, the plant will suffer initial burns; however, it gets washed away quickly in 4-6 weeks.
You can remove the burnt or affected leaves and let the nitrogen wash out.
For this, you need to water the soil 3-4 times so that the excess fertilizer gets washed out with water.
However, for nutrients like phosphorus that stay in the soil for years, it is impossible to wait for the soil to get rid of it naturally.
In this case, you must immediately change the soil and transplant the plant to fresh soil.
How to apply liquid fertilizer?
You can mix the liquid fertilizer with water or water the plants with plain water, saturate them with it, and then apply the liquid fertilizer to them.
How to apply granular fertilizer?
You can mix granular fertilizer with the soil while planting our plants or top dress your plants with it during the growing season.
Both liquid and granular fertilizers are highly effective and recommended for plants. Both have their pros and cons, which we have already discussed above.
Combining the two types of fertilizers for your plants can help them improve their produce immensely, but before that, you must know the right combination and method.
Do not use both liquid and granular fertilizers before doing your research first.
Also read: 11 Homemade Houseplant Fertilizers You Must Try.