Plant food vs fertilizer are often confused. Even though it is common to label many fertilizers as plant food, the term is inaccurate. Neither fertilizer nor plant food is fertilizers.

Despite using interchangeably, fertilizer and plant food are technically different. Using fertilizers for your soil will enrich it so plants will grow and bloom while receiving the necessary nutrients. 

We need soil to provide 13 other nutrients to our plants using hydrogen, oxygen, and carbon. Nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium are often fertilizer labels by their periodic table abbreviations, N-P-K.

Is Fertilizer a Good Thing?

Ballast, or fillers, are part of plant fertilizers. They are made up of macronutrients, micronutrients, and micronutrients. Fertilizers may contain equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the “Big 3” macronutrients. Commonly, these are B-10-10-10 or N-P-K 20-20-20.

Numerical values represent the percentage of nutrients in the fertilizer. Throughout the example, nitrogen represents nitrogen, phosphorus represents phosphorus, and potassium represents potassium.

In some fertilizers, one of the three nutrients is in greater quantity than the others. To promote foliage growth, nitrogen is utilized. Therefore, a fertilizer specifically formulated for foliage would contain 20-5-5. Some fertilizers can be mixed in varying N, P, and K ratios for plants that require different levels of nutrients.

In addition to micronutrients like calcium and iron, fertilizers also contain other essential elements. Fertilizers made with organic components range from boron to copper to iron to chlorine to manganese to molybdenum.  

One fertilizer labeled as “10-10-10” contains 10 percent of each macronutrient, giving it a total of 30 percent macronutrient content. Approximately 10 to 20 percent of fertilizer consists of micronutrients, and the remaining 50 percent is filler. 

Almost all fertilizers contain micro-and macronutrients, but most fertilizers are primarily prepared for fillers. In addition to occupying space, fillers help distribute nutrients and enhance their absorption abilities.

Synthetic Fertilizer

Using liquid ammonia as a fertilizer, synthetic fertilizer is created. In the past few decades, it has revolutionized American agriculture thanks to its low production costs. 

Over the period 1950-1975, total farm production increased by 50 percent compared to farm labor hours which decreased by 60 percent. 

In the last several decades, chemical pesticides and fertilizers have become more prevalent in agriculture. Global pollution is being attributed in part to nitrogen overload from synthetic fertilizers, according to a World Resources Institute report.

Soil nutrients are food for plants. Fertilizers high in nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium deprive plants of essential nutrients.

Natural Fertilizer

In natural fertilizer, materials taken from the environment are used. Organic fertilizer is commonly composed of cottonseed meal, feather meal, bone meal, and blood meal. 

  • Microorganisms are necessary for the effectiveness of natural fertilizer. According to the Colorado State University Extension website, “A soil temperature above 50 degrees F and adequate moisture are key conditions for microorganism activity.”

Which is the Best Fertilizer, Synthetic or Natural?

Chemical fertilizers and organic fertilizers are both available. Organic fertilizers can be created by using manure, compost, and fish meal. It would be better to use them, but they would take longer to break down in the soil. 

In the meantime, chemical fertilizers are formulated from liquid ammonia. They are less expensive, but they are purer water-soluble solutions. Additionally, they are frequently irrigated into the plants directly.

Plant Food

You water your houseplants regularly, but they require more than just water to thrive. As well as plant food, they need soil.

Because indoor plants make their food, they are pretty intelligent. Do you know of a better term? Photosynthesis, I suppose, is one of its functions.

Photosynthesis (the process of converting sunlight into energy), carbon dioxide, and water are all essential in plant growth. Sunlight and water are given, and therefore carbon dioxide is emitted by the houseplant.

Plants absorb carbon dioxide by way of their leaves, where it interacts with chlorophyll and leaf pigment. In this way, food is composed of carbohydrates and sugar, the latter being created by chloroplasts. By watering your houseplant, you allow soil minerals and newly made sugar to reach the plant, helping it stay healthy.

Using the nutrients in its food and the nutrients already present in the soil, a plant can produce vitamins, enzymes, and protein.

Finally, A Word About

Nutrients must be absorbed from the soil for plants to grow and thrive. But, eventually, the earth will have to be replenished with fertilizer vs plant food. Since fertilizers and plant food are distinctly different, please refer to the information in this guide to understand their importance and how they differ. If you’re buying a plant enhancer, choose a reputable product.

Utilize our plant nutrition enhancer for optimal plant growth. By strengthening plant roots, your plants will produce bigger fruits, and their resilience to stress will increase. Now is the time to order!