For growers, the great number of fertilizers available and the different types of specialty additives can become overwhelming. However, there is one thing that is always constant for everyone no matter the experience, and that is that fertilizers come in two forms: Solid (Granular fertilizer) and Liquid fertilizer (Hydroponic nutrients). Although these two forms are quite different, the basic purpose of both is the same: to provide nutrition to a garden or particular crop.
Solid and liquid fertilizers each have their own advantages and disadvantages. A closer look at those advantages and disadvantages will help growers decide which to use and when.
Solid fertilizers, also known as granular fertilizers, are the ones that come in a dried form. The size and consistency of granular fertilizers vary depending on the brand and what the product is derived from. The physical consistency of these fertilizers varies from large grains like the size of an orange seed to a very fine, powdered form.
Solid fertilizers are generally designed to be amended into the soil and released to the plants over a certain period of time. This is done by mixing the soil with the fertilizer so plants can have access to it progressively.
Always be sure to check the manufacturer’s intended use and dosage instructions. There is a wide variety of dry fertilizers on the market, but we have the best you can find and we are proud of it.
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An individual ingredient solid fertilizer is an amendment that is derived from a single source such as, bat guano, worm castings, and seaweed. Individual ingredients are labeled just like any other fertilizer with the N-P-K percentages listed on the packaging. Some growers like to purchase individual ingredients in order to create their own custom blends.
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Complete Hydroponics has also manufactured fertilizers for a specific purpose by creating blends of fertilizers. For instance, to grow flowers, a grower may want to use “Bloom Blasters” or a mix of different soil amendments such as fulvic acid, humic acid, or Yuccah extracts. Blends are comprised of a mix of individual ingredients which are combined for a specific purpose.
There are a variety of specialty blends on the market suited for many different applications.
Advantages of Granular Fertilizers
Time release is the biggest advantage of granular fertilizer; this is because it gives nutrition to plants over a period of time. Despite the fact that amending the soil with fertilizers could be a very tedious activity, time release fertilization can save a lot of time in the long run.
Another advantage of dry fertilizers is an extended shelf life. If kept out of moisture and intense light, most dry fertilizers will last close to forever.
Disadvantages of Dry Fertilizers
One of the principal disadvantages of solid fertilizers are precisely the lack of control by the grower . For example, if the plants are experiencing nutrient toxicity, it is impossible to remove nutrients after they have been mixed into the soil.
Another disadvantage of some granular fertilizers is the amount of time it takes for the nutrients to become available to the plants
Lastly, solid fertilizers can be dusty and messy. It is always a good idea to wear a dust mask when dealing with solid fertilizers.
Liquid fertilizers are fertilizers that come in a liquid form and they are very concentrated. In other words, the grower must dilute the liquid fertilizer in water before feeding it to the garden. Each fertilizer can have different concentrations so it is important to closely follow our suggestions.
“Liquid fertilizers can be classified as either base fertilizers or special purpose fertilizers.”
Liquid fertilizers that are designed to supply the basic nutritional needs to a crop are referred to as base fertilizers. Base fertilizers are usually categorized as either vegetative (grow) fertilizers or blooming (flower) fertilizers. The vegetative fertilizers are comprised of ingredients that are best suited for vegetative growth while the blooming fertilizers are comprised of ingredients that are best suited for flowering or blooming.
There are many liquid special purpose fertilizers or additives that can be used for specific puposes. These can be derived from a single source or multiple sources and they are not meant to supply the plants with their basic nutritional needs but instead provide some other benefit.
For example, an enzyme formula designed to enhance root growth could be considered a specialty purpose fertilizer.
Advantages of Liquid Fertilizers / Hydroponic Nutrients
Control is the biggest advantage. With a liquid fertilizer the gardener has control over dosage and how often the plants are being fed. Liquid fertilizers also give increased control when problems arise.
The dilution rates and ratios between multiple Hydroponic Nutrients can be quickly changed to reflect the growth of the garden. In other words, it is much easier to tailor a feeding program to the garden’s current stage of growth with a liquid fertilizer than with a solid fertilizer.
Another advantage of Hydroponic Fertilizers is the instant availability of some nutrients. Many liquid fertilizers supply nutrients in a form that plants can use inmediately. This is advantageous because it allows growers to give the plants what they need at the exact time they need it.
Disadvantages of Liquid Fertilizers / Hydroponic Nutrients
Some liquid fertilizers tend to coagulate after sitting on the shelf for an extended period of time. Liquid fertilizers are also generally more expensive than dry fertilizers due to the extra processing and packaging.
In conclusion, no matter what kind of fertilizer you chose, there are no rules to experimentation in this realm. It is completely fine to experiment with both dry and liquid fertilizers until you have found the best fit for your plants or crop. You may even find that a combination of both solid and liquid fertilizers is the best way to supply your garden with nutrition.
We know growers that have master the ability to use both fertilizers to achieve incredible results. When used correctly, granular fertilizers or liquid fertilizers (or a combination) can produce better and healthier plants. As with so many other aspects of the gardening hobby, the only way to know for sure which fertilization regiment is best for your garden is to experiment and try it out for yourself.