How to Use Liquid Fertilisers

Fertilisers come in two forms. Solid and liquid.

As the name would suggest, liquid fertilisers have their beneficial ingredients suspended in a liquid that you apply to your plants or soil. We already wrote about how often to use fertilisers.

But how to use liquid fertilisers?

Your liquid fertiliser will have the basic direction written on the label, but it’s a bit more involved than just following that.

Read on as we give some quick advice. 

How do liquid fertilisers work?

Before you learn how to use a liquid fertiliser, it’s worthwhile learning how they work.

Liquid fertilisers most often come in pre-blended concentrates that need to be mixed with water before being applied. They’re applied to either the soil or the foliage of the plants.

Liquid fertilisers which are delivered to the soil will provide their nutrients, enzymes, organic matter into the top layer of the soil, before soaking down deeper. These beneficial ingredients are then available for the plant’s roots or used by soil micro-organisms.

Liquid fertilisers which are applied to the foliage of a plant are absorbed by pores in the leaves. Only nutrients and hormones can be delivered through the leaves, but these are quickly absorbed and used by the plant.

When it comes to the nutrients, foliar applications of liquid fertilisers don’t give long-lasting effects, however. Once they’re absorbed, they’re done. However, if you’re using an organic fertiliser full of microbes, like Arktivate, these will reproduce and help create an ecosystem that will help your plants grow over long periods of time. 

Why would you use liquid fertiliser?

In terms of ease of use, liquid fertilisers are much easier to apply than solid fertilisers because you just need to mix the correct amount with water and apply it to your target area.

Liquid fertilisers also immediately deliver the nutrients in soluble form, unlike solid fertilisers, which will most often need to be watered once applied.

Organic liquid fertilisers applied to leaves don’t cause leaf burn like their inorganic counterparts may do.

The other huge benefit of organic liquid fertilisers is their ability to deliver live micro-organisms to your garden soil fast. Products like Arktivate can have active eco-systems ready to work for your plants’ faster and longer blooming. This is extremely beneficial to your plants and soil.

Because you’re mixing up a liquid, there’s also no chance of inhalation risks that you can get with powdered fertilisers, so liquids are a little bit safer, too. 

How to use liquid fertilisers properly

If you’re using artificial fertilisers, the most important thing to do with any chemical product is to read the label carefully. Labels will have all the important information you need on mixing rates and what method you should use to apply them.

If you decide not to follow the label’s directions, or ‘free pour’ your liquids rather than measure them, you can waste product and cause damage to your gardens.

While organic liquid fertilisers are so much safer for your plants, you should also follow the use directions on the labels. This is to make the most out of it.

Application methods

Liquid fertilisers can be applied in two ways. By a watering can, bucket, or hose which delivers a lot of water and fertiliser at a time. Or by a spray unit that delivers the liquid as small droplets.

Larger droplets from watering cans or buckets are best applied to the soil.

Spray packs that broadcast smaller droplets are best applied to the foliage of plants.  

Depending on what product you’re using will determine which method is best.

Time of day and weather conditions

When you apply your liquid fertiliser is very important too.

If you’re applying a foliar spray, you want to do it in weather that will give it a chance to absorb before being washed off.

Similarly, if your soil is already waterlogged from heavy rain, then using a liquid fertiliser can delay your soil drying out which can cause issues.

Wet soils can also dilute your liquid fertiliser further and allow it to be washed away into non-target areas of your garden.

Hot weather should be avoided when using liquid fertiliser as well.

Sunny days can cause evaporation of the liquid before it gets the chance to transport the fertiliser to where it needs to go.

On hot days over around 35C plants will begin to close the pores on their leaves to prevent moisture loss. This is where a foliar application will be absorbed, so if they’re closed, you run the risk of the nutrients not absorbing straight away and washing off before they can.

Of course, it’s always hot in Singapore, so it’s best to apply the liquid fertiliser in the morning, or in the early evening. 

Safety precautions

Always follow the safety labels on the product when applying liquid fertilisers. Most artificial liquid fertilisers are chemical-based, and may contain compounds that may irritate or harm your skin and body.

When applying synthetic and chemical based fertilisers, at a minimum, you should always wear gloves, eye protection, and covered shoes when mixing and applying. These will stop splashes from contacting your skin or getting into your eyes.

Some labels for more concentrated formulas may even suggest wearing more protective equipment, like long sleeves or a respirator, and you definitely should.

Products that are organic and made from natural ingredients may be milder than synthetic fertilisers, but they all can contain ingredients that might not agree with your body, so you should still wash your hands thoroughly after applying. Some may even smell really good due to plant extracts or scents, but you definitely should not be tempted to sniff it too much or have it too close to your nose!

In Summary

Using liquid fertilisers may seem relatively straightforward, but there is a little bit more to them than just mixing with water.

Ensuring you’re mixing at the correct rates, and applying them in the correct manner are the biggest points to remember.

Applying at the right time of day and in the right weather will mean that you’ll get the most benefit out of your products, and your plants will bloom faster.

Finally, doing everything according to the required safety precautions will mean that using liquid fertilisers won’t be detrimental to your health.

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