How Long Does It Take Fertilizer To Work - How Long Does It Last

Written by Ivy

Jan 03 2023

How Long Does It Take Fertilizer To Work - How Long Does It Last

You have applied turf builder or fertilizer to your lawn that is rich in nitrogen. It was evenly distributed by you. Now that you're thinking about it, you're probably wondering how long it takes for granular fertilizer to dissolve and when you can expect to start seeing some amazing, healthy plant growth.

To start working, liquid fertilizer needs about 24 hours. The liquid quickly penetrates the soil and leaves, releasing nutrients that are then accessible to the plant. Additionally, it could take up to 4 days for the fertilizer to start working, depending on the temperature and humidity.

Liquid Or Dry?

According to Michigan State University Extension, the rate of decomposition varies for each kind of fertilizer, whether liquid or granular. You can pick a fast-acting fertilizer to feed your vegetables or a slow-release product to keep your flowers blooming all through the growing season.

There are many different liquid fertilizer formulations, but because a plant's roots absorb nutrients so quickly, their impact on the soil only lasts one to two weeks. Thus, you will need to reapply it more frequently than you would with a dry fertilizer with a slow release. Apply fertilizer to the soil every seven to fourteen days by combining between 1/2 teaspoon and 1 tablespoon of liquid or water-soluble powdered fertilizer with 1 gallon of water, depending on the manufacturer.

Granules comprise the composition of dry fertilizer products. The University of Illinois Extension recommends applying turf fertilizer at a rate of 1 pound of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of lawn. The fertilizer should be reapplied every six to eight weeks. Texas A&M Extension advises mixing two to three pounds of fertilizer for every 100 feet of garden space when fertilizing flowers or gardens. Reapply in the fall at a rate that is roughly half that of the spring application.

How Long Does Fertilizer Take to Work?

Finally, now that you are fully informed about the situation, I can share with you how long fertilizer takes to work. From quickest to longest, I'll proceed in order.

Liquid Fertilizer

The fastest-acting fertilizer on this list is, you guessed it, liquid fertilizer. Depending on the product, results ought to be visible in 1 to 2 weeks.

If you really need quick results, I recommend looking for a product that's labeled as "fast-acting" or totes "instant results." Within just a few days, you might start to notice a difference, but you should watch out that the nutrient composition isn't too potent for your garden.

Powder Fertilizer

Fertilizer in powder form is equally as effective as that in liquid form, but it can take a few days longer and has a formula that releases nutrients more slowly. Again, you can look for a "quick-release" product and have almost instant results.

Because powder fertilizers have a milder composition than liquid fertilizers, the effects aren't always as dramatic, especially for tough and established plants. Just keep that in mind if you want results right away!

Granular Fertilizer

Granular fertilizer is the final but most important item. It's great in so many ways, but just not for quick results. It may take up to two weeks before you start to see results, though some products do work more quickly than others, so always read the label.

Due to the less mobile nutrient molecules in granular fertilizers, the release of nutrients is delayed. Because they can move more quickly in liquid form, nutrient molecules can more quickly reach the roots of your plant and be processed there.

Granular fertilizers are fantastic, but they're occasionally not the fastest. Granular fertilizers with a quick effect do exist, but they occasionally cause plant burn. Before applying, it is important to always check the nutrient composition.

How Liquid Fertilizer Works

Products with a liquid base can take on a variety of shapes. You could purchase them as liquid concentrates or as powders that dissolve in water. In any case, water must be added to both forms for proper dilution.

You can spread fertilizer throughout your garden once it has reached the proper liquid state. The liquid evenly permeates the soil. By doing this, it is made sure that all plants can access the nutrients that are available.

Additionally, the plants can begin utilizing the fertilizer quickly. There is a longer waiting period for organic compost or granular fertilizers. This is due to the need for the fertilizer to break down.

It can take up to six weeks for compost and granules to decompose and become available to plants.

Liquid fertilizers only need one day, as I mentioned earlier.

Urea and ammonium nitrate are typically combined in liquid formulas. A less expensive form of nitrogen fertilizer is urea. The urea will quickly decompose in the soil after being applied, providing the plants with more usable energy.

How Often Should I Apply Liquid Fertilizer to Plants?

When you need to give your plants a boost right away, liquid fertilizers are fantastic. Its quick reactions could, however, prove to be a weakness.

Liquid fertilizers, as you can see, aren't very durable. The fertilizer will typically only supplement the soil for one to two weeks. In stark contrast, slow-release fertilizers last for only six to eight weeks.

Due to the fertilizer's liquid form, the soil will absorb it much more quickly. Before you know it, the fertilizer has already reached the subsoil and rock layers.

Therefore, throughout the growing season, you will need to continue applying fertilizer. Using liquid fertilizers has a number of significant drawbacks, including this. Other slow-release products typically only see one or two applications per year. You must reapply liquid fertilizers every two to three weeks.

In terms of enhancing soil quality, quick-acting fertilizers are not very effective. In actuality, some fertilizers with a chemical base can harm your garden over time.

You must follow a regular fertilization schedule if you want to make sure that your plants are receiving the nutrients they require to thrive.

What is the Best Way to Apply Liquid Fertilizer?

The versatility of liquid fertilizer is one of its best qualities. Unlike compost, you can use it in a variety of ways. Here are a few of the most typical uses among gardeners.

Applying Fertilizer to the Soil

Adding liquid fertilizer to irrigation water is the simplest way to benefit from it. Many gardeners believe that adding granular products to the soil is the only way to supplement it. That's not true.

When fertilizer is applied as a liquid to the soil, the roots will be better able to absorb it because it will have time to seep down.

Make sure to water the plant with ordinary water first before doing this. The fertilizer could cause the roots to burn if the soil is dry.

If necessary, water your plant as usual after adding the diluted fertilizer to a garden pail. Pay attention to the soil near the plant's base. If you have a row of crops to supplement, you can also practice side-dressing application.

Using Liquid Fertilizer for Foliar Spray

Liquid fertilizer works well as a foliar spray in addition to conventional soil applications. Sprays on the leaves of plants make it easier for them to absorb nutrients than through the roots.

Through the epidermis, the leaves will take in the liquid fertilizer. Also absorbing the fertilizer are teeny pores known as stomata.

Create a properly diluted mixture if you plan to spray the fertilizer on the leaves. Apply it evenly over the plants after that.

When it's cooler outside, do this early in the morning. Evenings after midnight also function. In the heat and in direct sunlight, the stomata close. As a result, the plant is unable to absorb the nutrients. The plant will be ready to benefit from the fertilizer if you apply the spray in the morning.

How Much Liquid Fertilizer to Apply

It's not always simple to determine how much liquid fertilizer to use. Complex formulations are used by farmers and industrial-scale farming operations to determine how to amend the soil.

You probably won't need to calculate fertilizer rates for a lot of acres. The majority of fertilizer products include directions on how to mix or diluted the product. To create your foliar spray or soil application, simply follow those instructions.

A single application typically requires one gallon of water, though exact measurements can differ. Add the appropriate amount of liquid concentrate or dry powder. Typically, 1 tablespoon of concentrate is added to 1 gallon of water.

Don't disobey those directives. Fertilizer burn may result from using too much concentrate. Your plant's growth will be stunted as a result. The plant might die in extreme circumstances.

How Long Does It Take Fertilizer To Work

What Kind of Liquid Fertilizer Should I Use?

Different strengths and compositions of fertilizer are available. On the packaging, you might see a number of them. These figures show how much nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are present.

Those are the "Big 3" nutrients that plants need to reach their full potential. Nitrogen aids in promoting plant growth. In order for the plant to maintain growth, phosphorus aids in the conversion of other nutrients into usable energy. Finally, potassium helps crops produce more and resist disease.

Different ratios of these nutrients are used in commercial fertilizers. The various ratios will encourage various forms of growth.

For instance, if your plant is still young, you could use a fertilizer with more nitrogen. Early in the growing season, applying a nitrogen-rich fertilizer will ensure that the plant's structure is sturdy.

Other fertilizers might contain more phosphorus and potassium. Later in the growing season, those are at their best. They contribute more to the plant's ability to produce fruits and flowers, which is why.

Select a fertilizer grade based on the requirements of your soil and plant. You can purchase a soil test kit and refer to it as a reference.

Or, you could purchase a multipurpose formula. The essential nutrients that plants need in equal amounts to thrive are present in all-purpose liquid fertilizers. They are useful for most plants.

When Should I Apply Liquid Fertilizer to My Plants?

Any time during the growth cycle is appropriate to apply liquid fertilizers. But you must remember when you last used it. Overfeeding the plant with nutrients is the last thing you want to do. This will only result in problems with development and stunted growth.

The majority of gardeners will delay applying fertilizer for a few weeks after planting. The roots will have enough time to repair any damage they may have sustained. To prevent burn, you want the roots to be strong.

When you water your plants, apply your liquid fertilizer. You must apply again every two to three weeks, as I already mentioned. Continuous application of liquid fertilizers is necessary because they don't last very long.

Apply foliar sprays when it's cool outside for improved absorption.

There is a way to increase how frequently fertilizer applications are made. Some gardeners prefer to use weekly. The fertilizer will need to be heavily diluted in this situation to reduce its potency.

Use only a quarter of the suggested concentrate, as a general rule. So you would use a quarter of a tablespoon per gallon rather than one tablespoon. The fertilizer will become weaker from the smaller dosage and become secure for routine use.

Plant and Lawn Fertilizer

When your lawn or plants appear to be sagging or aren't producing as much as you'd like, fertilizer can give them a boost. To get the most benefit from a turf builder, fertilize your lawn at the right time. Home Depot claims that autumn is the ideal season because that is when your grass is growing and storing nutrients. The nutrients will be stored in your lawn over the winter and released in the spring as your grass starts to grow.

Instead, if you purchase lawn fertilizer designed to be applied in the spring, it will begin to decompose as soon as it is applied. When your grass is 50% green, Home Depot suggests applying spring lawn fertilizer.

If you want to give flowering or vegetable plants a quick boost, according to Bob Vila, you can use quick-release synthetic granular fertilizers. The improvement takes about a week to manifest, and they last for three to four weeks. Slow-release granular fertilizers last between two and nine months before decomposing and starting to benefit plants in about two weeks after application.

Organic Advantages and Disadvantages

According to Bob Vila, organic fertilizers are better for the environment than synthetic fertilizers. Many of these are available in dry granular form, including fish emulsion, bone meal, blood meal, and cottonseed meal.

As these fertilizers break down, they will increase the nutrients in the soil. Additionally, they will add beneficial microorganisms to the soil, enhancing its structure. This will improve the soil's capacity to retain nutrients. Burpee Seeds claims that organic fertilizers work with the soil to improve soil fertility and feed plants. They exude micronutrients, nitrogen, potassium, and potash.

They do, however, take a lot longer to decompose, which is a drawback. Before organic fertilizers can start working, they must first decompose, which takes two to six weeks. But despite taking longer, organic fertilizers will feed your soil for three months to ten years.

The Importance of Fertilizing Your Grass

Having a lush green lawn in front of your home is the best way there has ever been to outdo your neighbors. However, a healthy lawn entails much more than just lush grass.


If you imagine your lawn as a young child, you will understand that it requires a healthy diet to grow, become strong, and even fight off infections. This is true whether the grass is brand-new or already established.

So, as the adoptive parent of your lawn, it is up to you to pick the fertilizer that will enable this, whether it be a water-soluble powdered fertilizer, a liquid fertilizer, or any slow-releasing goods.

When to Use Fertilizer for Best Results?

One of those age-old issues where most people can't agree on the answer is when and how often to fertilize your lawn. This has always gone according to my straightforward rule.

Early to late spring or early to late fall are the two seasons when lawn fertilizer is used most frequently.


I would fertilize in the late afternoon if a scorcher was predicted. I choose the morning if it's going to be a cool day.


The amount of sunlight anticipated on the day of fertilization is something else to consider. Your grass can burn in the sun, just like people can. Preferably wait to fertilize until there are clouds in the forecast. Make sure the forecast does not coincide with a severe downpour.

Always mow your lawn before deciding whether or not to fertilize. Mowing helps the fertilizer penetrate the soil and function more effectively because it not only exposes the soil, where you want the fertilizer to end up. It also gets rid of extra lawn waste.

How Long Does Slow Release Fertilizer Last in Soil?

Organic slow-release products need at least two weeks to break down in the soil. How long does it stay in the soil for might be a better question to ask.


Three months to ten years after application, an organic, granular fertilizer may continue to give your lawn nutrients. That's a lot of money for your green. You might want to take into account Scotts and Pennington, two significant vendors in the market for lawn care products.

Sum Up

Both organic slow-releasing and synthetic fast-releasing lawn fertilizers have advantages and drawbacks that are clear.

It's up to you how you fertilize your lawn. Synthetic fertilizer is the best option if speed is crucial and you want to spur on new growth right away. The effects will be visible in one to two days because it dissolves quickly.

I highly recommend choosing an environmentally friendly organic slow-releasing lawn fertilizer if you're in it for the long haul and want to build a lawn that is more self-sufficient and has less of an impact on the environment. The longer decomposition time is worth it, though.


How Long Does It Take Granular Fertilizer to Work

You can expect to see results as soon as just two to five days after application!

How Long Does It Take for Fertilizer to Work on Trees

They take about a week for the improvement to show and last about three to four weeks. Slow-release granular fertilizers decompose and start to benefit plants about two weeks after application, and they last for two to nine months.

How Long Does It Take for Fertilizer to Work on Tomato Plants

When you plant tomatoes in the garden, they need to first be fertilized. When they begin to bear fruit, you can wait to begin fertilizing once more. After the tomato plants start growing fruit, add light fertilizer once every one to two weeks until the first frost kills the plant.

How Long Does It Take for Fertilizer to Work on Grass

You'll start to see results anywhere from 1 to 5 days afterward, depending upon the type of fertilizer you use.