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What Is Inorganic Fertilizer?

A farmer spreading fertilizer.
Potash, which is often included in fertilizer.
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  • Written By: Deneatra Harmon
  • Edited By: R. Halprin
  • Last Modified Date: 29 August 2014
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Inorganic fertilizer is comprised of synthetic, artificial ingredients manufactured and ready to use on plants. Chemical and mineral deposits often comprise the properties of this fertilizer. Similar to organic fertilizer, this fertilizer supplies the nutrients necessary to grow plants. The use of a chemical fertilizer, which can be bought at most gardening supply stores, offers some conveniences, but it also has some drawbacks.

Inorganic fertilizer, which is often reasonably priced, consists of mineral-based nutrients manufactured for immediate application on crops. Unlike the organic variety, inorganic fertilizer does not need to decompose over time to supply nutrients to plants. Most inorganic fertilizers contain balanced amounts of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorous to feed plants and to foster growth. These substances found in nonorganic fertilizer often derive from chemical processes such as urea, ammonium sulfate, and calcium nitrate. Mined deposits of potash, phosphate rock, and lime can also be processed as inorganic fertilizer.

Some gardeners find nonorganic fertilizer handy for salvaging malnourished plants because the phosphorous, potassium, and nitrogen mix can provide instant treatment. Overall, the nutrients of inorganic fertilizer help nourish a plant's roots, stems, shoots, leaves, and blooms. Depending on the crop, these fertilizers must be applied at least twice within a given growing season for effective plant growth. Gardeners generally use their hands or a gardening applicator to evenly distribute chemical fertilizer over soil according to package instructions. Fertilization with broadcast spreaders or other tools ensures that plants get equal amounts of nutrients from the nonorganic fertilizer.

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Inorganic fertilizers provide some advantages such as affordability, convenience, and effectiveness in nourishing plants. Disadvantages also apply when using chemical-based fertilizers. For instance, a process known as leeching occurs from overwatering. Too much water causes the fertilizer to wash away, thereby depriving the plants of some of their vital nutrients.

Another problem may arise when a gardener uses too much inorganic fertilizer. Besides the nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium nutrients, fertilizer also contains other chemicals and salts. The salts and compounds that mix with nutrients often build up in soil rather than absorb into a plant's roots. The buildup eventually becomes toxic and poses a threat to human health if it contaminates groundwater supply.

Adding too much of the inorganic fertilizer also burns or kills the plants and their roots. It is important to add the exact amount to the soil and refrain from applying the fertilizer to any part of plants. Overall, experts note that nonorganic fertilizer offers just as many benefits as organic fertilizer. It is generally safe to use as long as a gardener follows directions.

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kylee07drg
Post 3

Liquid inorganic fertilizers work great on rose bushes. I use one on mine every two weeks, or less frequently as long as it's looking good.

I had been having problems with my rose bushes losing leaves and not putting out blooms. I bought a powdered inorganic fertilizer that is made of bright blue crystals that you mix with water. I sprinkled them into a watering can and filled it with a gallon of water.

Then, I poured it over the leaves and blooms. I watered over the drip line, and I used half a gallon of the stuff per bush. The plant perked up within a day or two.

Sometimes, if we aren't getting a lot of rain or if it is scorching hot outside, the roses will need the fertilizer every two weeks. If we are having plenty of rain and temperatures that aren't quite so brutal, then one dose can sustain them for months.

OeKc05
Post 2

@StarJo – Thanks for the tip! My azalea bushes have been performing rather poorly over the past year. Maybe all they need is some inorganic fertilizer.

Other than the azaleas, I grow mostly bulb flowers. I have hyacinths, tulips, and daffodils, and I fertilize them with bone meal.

I sprinkle it on the ground during the fall, and I water the area well to let it soak in and reach the bulbs below. I try to water the ground until most of the bone meal has disappeared, because it does attract animals that will dig up the area and potentially damage the bulbs.

StarJo
Post 1

I use inorganic and organic fertilizers in my yard. I reserve the inorganic ones for the plants that won't respond to the organic type.

My azalea bushes require inorganic fertilizer. I suppose my soil must be lacking in something that they need, because they start to turn yellowish and refuse to produce blooms if I don't give them this kind of fertilizer.

In other areas of my yard, I use manure and compost. Some plants respond perfectly well to this organic matter, and I think it's best to use organic whenever possible.

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