Ready-to-Use Liquid Fertilizers: Throwing Money Out the Window

Ill.: Dirt Divas And Dudes LLC & HiClipart, montage: laidbackgardener.blog

When you’re shopping for fertilizer, beware of ready-to-use liquids, also called “pour and feeds”. They’re designed to be poured directly onto the soil of your plants, with some to be sprayed on leaves as foliar fertilizer. “No mixing required!” the label proudly claims… but have you thought about what that means?

If you’re not mixing it yourself, someone else has already done it for you. In fact, you have essentially just bought water! Okay, there is a tiny amount of fertilizer in the container (about one part fertilizer to 50 parts water in most cases), but that’s pretty much water, wouldn’t you say? So, if you have running water at home (and so many people do these days), or even in a rain barrel or a creek out back, you’ve just spent about 50 times too much. A concentrated fertilizer – be it granules, a powder, a spike or a concentrated liquid – at the same price or even several times more is actually much, much less expensive.

I may be a laidback gardener, but I’m laidback and penny-pinching. It only takes a few seconds to drop a teaspoonful of concentrated fertilizer into a watering can… and where I come from, tap water is dirt cheap.

To get the right dilution, follow the instructions indicated on the label (be careful if you change brands: dosage can easily vary from one brand of fertilizer to another). Personally, I further dilute the concentrated fertilizer to 1/4 or even 1/8th of the recommended dose. My experience is that plants rarely need as much fertilizer as the supplier claims… and the more I dilute while still getting excellent growth, the more I save!

Great results for less money? I’d call that a win-win situation!

Text based on an article originally published on March 13, 2016

Garden writer and blogger, author of 65 gardening books, lecturer and communicator, the Laidback Gardener, Larry Hodgson, passed away in October 2022. Known for his great generosity, his thoroughness and his sense of humor, he reached several generations of amateur and professional gardeners over his 40-year career. Thanks to his son, Mathieu Hodgson, and a team of contributors, laidbackgardener.blog will continue its mission of demystifying gardening and making it more accessible to all.

1 comment on “Ready-to-Use Liquid Fertilizers: Throwing Money Out the Window

  1. Well, people commonly purchase pesticides that are already diluted too. At least pesticides are not used in such large volumes. I would not be so annoyed if someone spent a few extra dollars on an herbicide that would be used for weeds that come up in expansion joints in the concrete, because so little of it gets used at a time. One bottle of it may last for a few years, so the expense is not as bad as that of fertilize that gets used up in a single or a few applications.

Leave a Reply

Sign up for the Laidback Gardener blog and receive articles in your inbox every morning!