Liquid Fertilizer: How To Feed Plants, Grow Better & Improve Yield

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A transplanting solution aka Liquid fertilizer feeding solutions has long been popular.

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Home gardeners use liquid fertilizer for plants because they are:

  • Safe for plant roots and food crops
  • Used in many more ways than dry chemical fertilizers
  • Produce results faster

For this reason, many homeowners believe organic fertilizer like liquid fish fertilizer is better than those made as granular fertilizers, like those used in a liquid grass fertilizer.

Liquid Plant Food For Plants Not a Fad

Liquid feeding is not a fad. As early as the 16th Century it was found that water coming from muddy streams stimulated plant growth while rainwater had no such effect.

Water in which animal manures had soaked was found to contain plant micronutrients by the Chinese in the 17th Century.

However, the procurement of water is a laborious process and retarded their use.

Water-soluble fertilizer solutions may be made at home, bought in bottles, or in a form of soluble dry salts.

There are a large number of concerning applications of homemade liquid fertilizer for vegetables and garden use.

Fish emulsion or fish fertilizers (available at Amazon), kelp fertilizer, liquid bone meal, and blood meal, are liquid or water-soluble fertilizers you can also use.

Dry plants fertilizers sold for mixing in water are numerous from Scotts, Miracle-Gro Plant Food, Dyna Gro, and Schultz.

What is the best liquid fertilizer food or solution to grow a plant is difficult to say?

1-2-1 Ratio A Good Choice in Plant Food Fertilizer

A number of years ago a large number of liquid fertilizers for plants were compared for use as transplanting solutions and the largest yield was obtained with a 1-2-1 n-p-k ratio (nitrogen phosphorus and potassium).

This mixture is comparable to a 5-10-5 dry fertilizer commonly used for growing commercial crops.


In deciding which one to use, the only thing I can say is to figure out where you get the most units of plant food for a dollar.

These dry mixtures of liquid fertilizers are a little more expensive than dry fertilizer applications because water-soluble salts are more difficult to get.

Liquid plant fertilizer solutions sold in bottles, jugs, or barrels are a different story. A gallon of these liquids is now made up to contain 10 pounds of fertilizer.

They are highly concentrated liquid plant fertilizers and must be diluted before they are used.

Here again, I can only say that the 1-2-1 ratio has given excellent results. Whether this ratio of plant nutrients will stand up under close scrutiny is still somewhat of a question.

One important factor to keep in mind, however, is that any fertilizer applied dry or in solution will not do much good if the soil is already fertile enough.

NOTE: We all want growth but a nitrogen-rich fertilizer will push leaves over flowers and fruit.

“NO fertilizer Should Be Used Unless The Plants Need It”

Liquid organic fertilizers or not, do not administer if the soil or plants do not require it.

And before application, always conduct a soil pH test.

Liquid lawn fertilizer applications have given a good account of themselves when used as transplanting solutions or as starter solutions to fertilize seedlings when applied directly on the seed when sown. [source]

Transplanting solutions contain the equivalent of 6 to 8 pounds of 5-10-5 in 100 gallons of water or a tablespoon to a gallon. About 1/4 to a pint of the solution is applied to the roots before they are covered.

Two precautions to observe, however, are:

  • Don’t have any dry fertilizer in the soil surrounding the roots
  • Don’t press the soil around the roots when they are set with the solution

I have gotten yield increases of 2 to 3 pounds per plant with transplanting solutions applying liquid nutrients for plants over using plain water.

On sweet potatoes, I have harvested 35 bushels more with the transplanting solution. Shrubs, trees, and flowering plants may be fertilized with trans-planting or starter solutions.

Organic liquid plant food applications may, likewise, be used for side dressing or any other purposes where dry fertilizer is used. The crop usually dictates the concentration.

They may be used as they come or diluted with one or two parts of water. In most cases 10 pounds in 50 gallons are sufficient.

These homemade fertilizer solutions may also be placed in a deep furrow and the plants set over it with 2 or 3 inches of soil between the solution and the roots.

This method has given exceptionally good results on unproductive sandy soils.

Read our article: A Guide To Fertilizing Succulent Plants

Advantages Of Liquid Fertilizer Over Dry Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizing solutions have other advantages over dry fertilizers.

When superphosphate is applied to the average soil we can expect to obtain between 20 to 25 percent back in our plants.

When the same amount of superphosphate is applied in the solution, we can recover practically all of it.

For this reason, I have obtained as good yields with 500 pounds of 5-10-5 in solution as I got with a ton of dry commercial fertilizer where phosphoric acid was deficient and nitrogen and potassium were not limiting factors.

I had some misgivings about applying liquid fertilizer on acid soils because I expected to see the phosphorus become unavailable.

This did not happen. If anything, the response was better than on limestone soil.

Also when using liquid applications we must keep in mind that magnesium and calcium are not present in the liquid forms and, if needed, we must supply these essential nutrients in the form of limestone.

The newest development in the use of liquid plant feeding and applications, of course, is a spray fertilizer for plants like compost tea or manure tea on the foliage with great results.

The natural ingredients available to make these liquid type of fertilizer is wide:

  • Grass clippings and weeds
  • Chicken manure
  • Composted vegetable plants
  • Livestock manure
  • Kitchen waste and vegetable scraps
  • Wood ash (good trace elements)

Such, methods offer possibilities of growing more crops with the same amount of fertilizer.

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