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How Long Does Granular Fertilizer Last In Soil?

Fertilization is important in plant care as it helps them get all the required nutrients, especially for potted ones. If you are using granular fertilizers for your plants and want to know how long they last, you are at the right place.

In general, Granular fertilizers can last 60-150 days in potted plants. Granular fertilizers take time to break down, so they tend to last longer than liquid fertilizers. The period can depend on the fertilizer type, the amount used, and whether the fertilizer is organic or synthetic.

In this article, I will discuss how long granular fertilizers last in soil and everything you need to know about using granular fertilizers. So, keep reading.

fertilizer 1

I have done my best to address all of your concerns in the article below. However, if you still have any questions or are confused about the article, you can receive personalized one-on-one assistance from me by leaving a comment below. I will respond to your comment within a few hours.

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What is the difference between granular and liquid fertilizers?

When we differentiate between fertilizers, we divide them into 2 major categories:

  • Liquid fertilizer
  • Granular fertilizer

Most people use liquid fertilizer, especially for their potted plants, because liquid fertilizers are easy to use and are more suitable for indoor gardening.

However, many also go for granular fertilizers because they last longer, so they don’t have to fertilize the plants too frequently.

Here are the basic differences between granular and liquid fertilizers:

Granular fertilizerLiquid fertilizer
Granular fertilizers are solid and dry, and you get them in the form of granules.Liquid fertilizers are wet, and you usually need to add them to water before applying them to your plants.
Granular fertilizers take longer to break down entirely and last longer in the soil.Liquid fertilizers get absorbed fast, and therefore, more applications are required.
Granular fertilizers are usually added to the soil before planting; you cannot add them directly to the soil like liquid fertilizers.You can apply liquid fertilizers at any time and mix them with water before adding them to the soil.
Granular fertilizers are more suitable for outdoor gardening.Liquid fertilizers are more suitable for indoor gardening.

How long does granular fertilizer last?

Now that you know that granular fertilizer last longer than liquid fertilizers, let’s understand why that happens and how long they last.

The texture of the granular fertilizer doesn’t allow them to get absorbed fast.

Since they come in dry granular form, you must mix them with soil and plant your plant.

The fertilizer breaks down slowly every time you water the plants, and the plants absorb them slowly too.

On average, granular fertilizers can last 60-120 days.

Some even last for 6 months, so you only need to apply them twice a year.


Let’s check the factors that influence how long the granular fertilizer lasts:

1. The purpose of the fertilizer

If you are wondering why the time might vary, different granular fertilizers are designed differently.

Some granular fertilizers are designed for flowering plants, some for grass, and some for indoor plants.

And every fertilizer is designed to last for different periods.

For example, a granular fertilizer designed for grass will last longer than one designed for flowering plants.

2. Organic or commercial

When we talk about granular fertilizers, we usually mean commercial ones.

But, if you get organic granular fertilizers, know that they will last longer as they take longer to break down.

Organic matters take longer to decompose, which increases its durability.

But commercial ones are synthetically designed to get absorbed faster.

3. The application time

The season you choose to apply the granular fertilizer can also determine how long it lasts.

For example, applying fertilizer before fall and winter will last longer because of the temperature and weather conditions.

But, applying the fertilizer during summer and spring will make it get used up faster, and therefore, it will not last as long.

The rain during the rainy season will leech the soil and some fertilizer, so it won’t last as long as the fall application.

How long can I store granular fertilizer?

If you keep your gardening supplies stocked in the house, you might want to know how long you can store the granular fertilizers.

Granular fertilizers won’t break down or expire unless you mix them with soil.

Therefore, if you store them right, they won’t expire.

But you need to know how to store them properly.

If you leave them open or expose them to sunlight, they will expire faster or form clumps.

Here are a few tips on how you should store granular fertilizers:

  • Do not expose the granular fertilizers to sunlight.
  • Keep them in an air-tight container or bag and avoid exposing them to air or moisture.
  • Store them in a cool and dry place.

Do I need to water after adding granular fertilizer?

Schefflera soggy soil and overwatering

The short answer is yes.

Watering the soil helps the granular fertilizer start the breakdown process that leads to the release of nutrients.

Therefore, it is best to water before and after applying granular fertilizer to the soil.

You can add granular fertilizer to water and then add it to the soil.

This allows the nutrients to release quicker and prevents your pets from consuming the dry granules they find in the soil.

If you are planning to mix granular fertilizers with water, follow these steps:

  • Take 1 gallon of water.
  • Mix 1 cup of granular fertilizer into the water.
  • Leave it for 1-2 days and occasionally stir to help the granules dissolve.

You can then apply this to the soil.

How do I apply granular fertilizer to the soil?

fertilizer 4

If you are going for a granular fertilizer, here are the steps of how you can apply them to the soil:

1. Read the instructions

You must read the application directions behind the fertilizer bag or container, so you don’t make any mistakes.

Not reading instructions can lead to issues like overuse or wrong application technique.

2. Take the right amount

You should understand the measurement and use the right amount of granular fertilizers to fertilize your garden or potted plants.

If you don’t take the right amount and use excess, it can burn the plants, and if you use too little, the plants will not get all the nutrients they need.

Therefore, read the label and research online if you can’t find enough information on the label.

3. Spread the fertilizer

Many people use a spreader for spreading the granules across the soil.

So, you can get a spreader if you don’t have one.

Otherwise, you can use your hands to spread the granules.

Make sure to wear gloves while doing this.

4. Water the soil

After spreading the granules, you must water the soil thoroughly.

This will allow the granules to settle in the soil and release nutrients.

And by any chance, if you spread the fertilizer on any leaves, the water will help to get them off.

5. Apply again when required

fertilizer 2

Wait for the fertilizer to get used completely.

Once that is done, you must add the fertilizers to the soil after a few weeks or months, based on the conditions.

Final thoughts

Gardeners prefer granular fertilizers because they last longer in the soil and require less frequent application than liquid ones. I have discussed all the factors that influence the durability of granular fertilizers in the soil.

If you use granular fertilizers, don’t forget to add water to the soil before and after application. You must also spread it evenly in the soil and use the right amount as instructed on the label at the back of the bottle or bag.

You can make a liquid fertilizer by mixing granular fertilizers with water, letting it break down for 1-2 days, and then adding it to the soil. This will allow the nutrients to release faster and get absorbed more easily by the soil.

Can you over-fertilize with granular fertilizer?

Yes. If you use more than the prescribed amount, it can burn your lawn or the plants. It works the same way as liquid fertilizers, so you should never overuse any.

What happens if you don’t water after applying granular fertilizer?

The dry granules can burn your plants if you don’t apply water after application. I always add water to my lawn after applying granular fertilizer, and it has worked great, so I don’t take any risk.

Is granular fertilizer better than liquid?

If you don’t want to apply fertilizers too frequently and want your plants to get all the nutrients they need, granular fertilizers will be better for you than liquid fertilizers.

How long can I wait to water in granular fertilizer?

You can wait 1 day before adding water to the soil after fertilizing it with granular fertilizer.

Source: Indoor Plant Care, Effects of Winter Foliar Fertilizing, and Plant Growth Promoters, HELPING PLANTS PREPARE FOR WINTER.

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