Is Fertilizer Supposed To Dissolve in Water?

Fertilizer is essential for gardens everywhere. It can help plants thrive abundantly and it provides gardeners with an easy gardening routine. However, certain environmental factors can influence fertilizer.

Fertilizer is supposed to dissolve in water before application so plants have quick access to nutrients. Most fertilizers will dissolve immediately, but granular blends may take a day or longer to dissolve. However, some organic blends do better with slow-release applications. 

The rest of this article will talk about why fertilizer is supposed to dissolve in water before application. I will also talk about the different fertilizer types and how to properly use them.

Does Fertilizer Have To Dissolve in Water Before Used?

There are many incredible fertilizers on the market today. Although fertilizers vary in ingredient and application style, all of them are fantastic options to consider. Gardeners, however, should educate themselves on the fertilizer they would like to use in their garden beforehand. 

Fertilizer is best when it is dissolved in water before use, but certain blends can also work without water. Dry and granular solutions can be scattered throughout a garden, but this is not usually recommended. Individuals should read the instructions of their fertilizer before proceeding.

Generally, water is fantastic for fertilizer. All kinds of moisture, especially water, help fertilizers kick into action quickly. Many gardeners love quick release formulas because their plants will have the capability to receive nutrients at a quick pace. 

Sometimes, organic fertilizers take a bit longer, especially if gardeners are sprinkling fertilizer across a garden without water. This is why many organic fertilizers are known for slow-release techniques. 

However, every type of fertilizer is different. Gardeners should research beforehand, and decide what method of application they prefer. For many fertilizers, water is a necessity and makes a huge difference. 

Dry Fertilizers 

Dry fertilizers are terrific. Many have come to love dry formulas because they are easy to use, easy to store, and plants absolutely love them. However, do dry fertilizers need water before application? 

The easy answer to this popular question is no, but it is highly recommended that dry fertilizers are dissolved in water. Dissolving dry fertilizer is a very easy process as well because water will dissolve the dry fertilizer immediately. Most dry formulas are designed to dissolve in water before they are applied. 

There are certain fertilizers, especially organic options, that are dry and do not need water. However, the dry fertilizer will sit on the top of the soil and slowly soak in. Water can also be added when you water your plants or through the rain. 

Granular Fertilizers

Granular fertilizers are terrific and easy to use. Although not as popular as some other types of fertilizer, granular fertilizers have become well recommended over the years. 

This type of fertilizer works relatively well with spikes and slow-release applications. Although granular fertilizers can be dissolved in water, this type of fertilizer blend is not necessarily made for water. 

Granular fertilizers will take 24 hours at the least to dissolve in water. It is best to give granular fertilizers a little bit longer than a day to soak in water before use. 

Wet Fertilizers 

Wet fertilizers come ready to use since they are pre-packaged in a container and are a complete liquid formula. However, that does not mean wet formulas do not need water. 

Wet formulas, most of the time, come in a concentrated formula and are too strong for plants on their own. This is not true for every wet blend, but for many. 

Individuals should dilute their fertilizers with water before applying. Gardeners can also research their plant’s needs prior to accomplishing this task. 

As mentioned, some wet fertilizers can come ready to use.

What Will Happen if You Don’t Use Water With Your Fertilizer?

Every fertilizer is different. Some options are fantastic and provide excellent instructions for use, while others are vague. Although every fertilizer varies in what works best, there is still a concern that remains, and that concern is water.

If you don’t use water with your fertilizer, your fertilizer will remain on the top layer of the soil until it is able to dissolve and soak into the ground. This can take a couple of days to a week and can be problematic if environmental factors come into play. 

Gardeners of all levels are usually aware that fertilizer works efficiently when exposed to moisture. Water can increase the release rate for many fertilizers, providing plants quick access to nutrients. Many gardeners prefer synthetic blends for this exact reason. 

If fertilizers are not diluted or mixed with water, a few things can happen:

  • Your plants will receive too much fertilizer, and fertilizer burn may occur. Although not all blends require water as a form of dilution, it is common for many blends. This is also true for homemade fish fertilizers and other organic fertilizers. If fertilizer is not diluted, plants will receive too much, and they may begin to suffocate (you can link here or above where it says fertilizer burn), wither away, and even decay. 
  • Your fertilizer may remain on the surface of the soil and lose its quality. If you give your plants dry fertilizer or granular pellets, your fertilizer might sit on the top of the soil for a bit. This isn’t entirely bad, but your plants might not receive all of the nutrients, and your fertilizer may lose its potency if exposed to many environmental factors. 
  • Environmental factors may create groundwater pollution, damaging your soil. When fertilizer remains on the top of your soil, it is not necessarily rooted in the soil. If environmental factors come into play, your fertilizer may move and wash into different areas. This can create toxic groundwater, which is negative for other parts of your garden. 
  • Your fertilizer may move, and rust can occur. If fertilizer is exposed to cement or sidewalks, it’s very common for the metal in your fertilizer to create rust. Although this isn’t a huge issue to worry about, it can happen. If you can, make sure your fertilizer properly soaks into your garden.

Using Less Water With Your Organic Fertilizer 

Many worry about their fertilizer blends. There are lots of chemicals that exist in fertilizers, and a majority of options do well with water because of the chemicals. Nevertheless, organic options can vary because many organic fertilizers are applied in many different ways.

Organic fertilizers usually need water, but much less than synthetic blends. Even if a homemade option is implemented, water can be helpful. There are specific formulas that do well while mixed with water, while others can work great with water that comes after fertilizer has been applied. 

Here are the different types of formulas that do well with a little water mixed in beforehand: 

  • Dry formulas 
  • Granular formulas 
  • Wet formulas (sometimes, a small amount for dilution) 
  • DIY formulas like fish fertilizer 

There are other types of fertilizer options that do not require water at all. This will be up to the discretion of the gardener fertilizing the plants: 

  • Compost 
  • Bone Meal 
  • Alfalfa meal 
  • Certain dry and granular blends 
  • Certain wet blends 
  • Calcified seaweed

Additionally, there are far fewer worries when using an organic fertilizer. The risks are not as high, and gardeners can feel safe when making the silliest of mistakes. 

Why Is Water Unnecessary for Slow Release Formulas?

As we now know, water is great for fertilization. However, it is also not entirely necessary for all fertilizers. Slow-release formulas are applied differently than others, usually coming in organic blends. 

Water is unnecessary for slow-release formulas because water speeds up the release process, giving plants immediate access to nutrients. Water helps plants throughout the growth process but is not required for all fertilizers before it is applied. 

Slow-release fertilizers are fertilizers that are released over a long period of time slowly. These formulas are provided through granular pellets, and a small dosage is released time and time again. 

Slow-release formulas can usually feed plants over a four-month period. Sometimes, slow-release options can last as long as nine months. This is fantastic for plants during their growing season and is very effective. 

Many do not like slow-release formulas because the results take much longer to occur. However, it is much healthier for the plants and the soil. 

There are many benefits to having slow-release formulas that lack the addition of water. These formulas are far less likely to burn the soil or your plants, and negative elements won’t be attracted to the soil. 

Organic fertilizers, in general, do not need as much water because they do not have as many chemicals in their blend. Water can help with the process but is not something that is an absolute requirement like it is with synthetic blends. 

In Conclusion

At first, gardeners might not believe that they need to add a heavy amount of water to their fertilizers before beginning. However, it is extremely helpful and might be considered a necessity by many. 

Depending on your gardening goals, water can help or harm your plants. Gardeners can consult with an expert on fertilizers, if they feel it is necessary.

They can provide you with the necessary information you might need to make an educated decision on all of your gardening needs. 

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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