When you think of plant and shrub fertilizer, you probably think of brightly colored granules. A quick walk through any garden center includes pallets of all sorts of granular fertilizers, and if you grew up close to someone who gardened, you’ve probably spread a little 10-10-10. Many of our Nature’s Turf clients love the visibility of granular fertilizers, the presence of which is additional reassurance that we held up our end of the deal.
Just as fertilizer technology progressed from manures to synthetic blends, science continues to find new ways to deliver plant nutrition. The most modern of these methods are liquids and foliar fertilizers. These are powerful tools in the lawn care toolbox, not only offering alternative fertilization methods, but allowing greater flexibility in the ways lawn care programs can be designed.
What Are Liquid Fertilizers?
Liquid fertilizers are nutrient-rich concentrates in liquid or powder forms that are meant to be diluted in water. Depending on the nutrient analysis and carriers, they often also include inert ingredients designed to make them more easily and uniformly dissolve or dilute.
Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) can absolutely be applied as liquid fertilizers in quantities that sufficiently provide enough nutrition in a program combined with granular rounds. On a liquid carrier, certain molecules of N, P, and K can be absorbed through nanopores in leaves, but watering into the soil profile puts them where the roots can absorb them.
What Are Foliar Fertilizers?
Foliar fertilizers are liquid fertilizers formulated and sprayed with adjuvants in a way that intends a portion to be absorbed foliarly. As discussed above, this often includes certain molecules of N, P, and K, but also includes many secondary macro and micronutrients. While a plant’s nitrogen requirement may demand a combination of foliar and liquid/granular applications, nutrients such as manganese, magnesium, and zinc are required in much smaller amounts.
Fertilizer that is absorbed directly by the leaves places some of these micronutrients directly in the locations where they are most efficiently used. Magnesium is fundamental to photosynthesis, for instance. Since photosynthesis takes place in the leaves, delivering magnesium directly to the leaves skips the typical process required for the roots to absorb and move that nutrient to the leaves.
Are Foliar Fertilizers Better Than Granular Fertilizers?
Neither fertilizer is better than the other. Each one has strengths. Because the lawn care professionals at Nature’s Turf understand those strengths, we are able to use each type of fertilizer strategically in our programs. Instead of making compromises, we can combine products ideal for both fertilization and weed control, getting the most out of each round.
Granular fertilizers are wonderful for delivering large volumes of macronutrients, but timing and labeling constraints make using certain weed control products impossible with granular fertilizers. Delivering large amounts of certain nutrients on a liquid carrier may not be cost effective or offer the duration of their polycoated counterparts. Both liquid and granular fertilizers have a place. Strategically using both allows us to ensure you are getting the most out of your turf and conditions.