Do you have some hydroponic nutrients left over from your last hydroponic growing operation and are wondering if you could use them outside in the garden to fertilize your soil-based plants?
The question is perfectly natural, and valid, so let’s have a look!
Can you use hydroponic nutrients in soil?
Hydroponic nutrients provide all the same macronutrients and micronutrients that plants receive from nature, and even though they are designed to work with hydroponic systems (because they are water soluble) hydroponic nutrients can indeed be used in the soil.
However, hydroponic nutrients do pose certain risks to soil-based plants that you should also be aware of.
Read on below and discover more about using hydroponic nutrients in soil, including when to do so and when not to, the main benefits and problems involved, and more!
Difference Between Hydroponic Nutrients and Soil Nutrients
The most significant difference between hydroponic nutrients and soil nutrients is that hydroponic nutrients include nitrate in their solution (which is in liquid form). Soil nutrients are not made with nitrate, because bacteria are utilized to transform ammonia in the ground into nitrate naturally.
Besides one having nitrate, and one creating nitrate, the second major difference is that hydroponic nutrients are delivered to their plants via the water in your hydroponic system. Soil nutrients may be water soluble, powdered, crystallized, or some sort of organic matter (like compost or manure).
Another significant difference between hydroponic nutrients and soil nutrients is in the time it takes for each one to work. Hydroponic nutrients work nearly instantly, as they are liquid and move through your hydroponic systems waterways straight to your plant’s root systems.
Soil nutrients often require days, even weeks or months, to break down properly and feed the root zones of your plants. This is because soil nutrients are usually a powder or some sort of organic fertilizer (which needs to further decay to provide your plants with food).
What Could Cause Problems When Applying Hydroponic Nutrients in Soil?
The single main issue with applying hydroponic nutrients to soil-based plants is the risk of a severe increase of the nitrate levels found in the plant’s root zone. It doesn’t take long to notice the negative affects, when this does unfortunately happen.
If your plant’s leaves begin turning yellow, but the veins remain green, after watering with hydroponic nutrient solution, you’re seeing the worst case scenario: your plant is suffering from an iron defficieny caused by extreme amounts of nitrogen in the soil.
Even more, you also pose the risk of raising the basic NPK too much, or even disbalancing the pH and EC levels of the soil your plant’s call home. When pH and EC levels are disturbed, your plant’s slowly begin to starve (as the roots stop absorbing adequate amounts of food, water, and air).
How to Use Hydroponic Nutrients in Soil for Best Result?
Using hydroponic nutrients in the soil doesn’t always guarantee a great result. If you want to use hydroponic nutrients in your soil, and get the best results possible, consider the following pointers:
- Read the labels properly, and avoid using plant-specific nutrients on the wrong species of plants
- Follow the mixing instructions for your nutrients, and avoid over-feeding your soil-based plants
- Apply the liquid nutrients to the soil, around the base of the plant
- Deliver enough water and nutrients to the root zone of your plants to leave them thoroughly soaked
- Avoid using hydroponic nutrients that are high in nitrates in the soil
How to Water Soil?
Watering the soil that your plants are growing in, whether in the ground, or in containers, is super easy.
Just follow these 5 simple steps:
- Water plants in the morning before the sun is hot, or in the evening after the sun fades
- Apply the water and nutrients to the base of your plants, in a circular pattern
- Make sure that you soak the ground and penetrate several inches down with water and nutrients
- Make every drop of nutrients and water count (avoid wasteful splashing and overwatering)
- Know what sort of species you’re watering, and avoid over watering
Common Hydroponic Nutrients in Soil
In the following sections, we break down exactly which types of hydroponic nutrients work in soil, which ones don’t, and why.
Can You Use Flora Series (Floraflex) Nutrients in Soil?
FloraFlex and other Flora Series hydroponic nutrients are fine to use in both soil and hydroponics. The most important factor is that you don’t overfeed your soil-based plants or keep their root zones too wet.
Can You Use Masterblend Nutrients in Soil?
Even though it was formulated for hydroponics, masterblend nutrients are quite preferred for soil-based gardening by many gardeners. The solution offers a healthy dose of NPK for nearly any type of plant you may be growing.
Can You Use Fox Farm Grow Big Nutrients in Soil?
As with all the great hydroponic nutrient products, Fox Farm Grow Big nutrients work just as well in soil as they do in hydroponic systems. Just remember to mix them properly, and deliver as close to the root zone as possible.
Can You Use Advanced Nutrients Grow Micro Bloom in Soil?
Advanced Nutrients Grow Micro Bloom works well in hydroponic growing systems, soil, and other mediums like coco coir. Again, the main concern here is not to overwater/overfeed your soil-based plants.
Can You Use Coco Nutrients in Soil?
Coco nutrients work just fine in the soil, but they often require a calcium and magnesium supplement. That’s because the coco fibers are rich in calcium and magnesium, so coco nutrients lack enough of these two crucial ingredients.
Can You Use Athena Nutrients in Soil?
Athena Nutrients may be applied to the soil just as well as the other items on our list. However, their organic formula is the most preferred for non-hydroponic applications (as it offers the least nitrogen and the most calcium and magnesium).
Can You Use Lotus Nutrients in Soil?
Lotus nutrients are an ok choice for soil-based gardening as well as for hydroponic growing systems. That said, you may need to check the soil with an EC and pH meter regularly and adjust as necessary.
Can You Use Cyco Nutrients in Soil?
Cyco nutrients work just fine in the soil, though they are not 100-percent organic like many of the products on our list. Rather, Cyco nutrients include pharmaceutical ingredients aimed at prodiving all nutrients your plants need.
Can You Use General Hydroponics pH down Nutrients in Soil?
General Hydroponics pH down Nutrients does indeed work in the soil, though it may take a bit more than your hydroponic system requires. Likewise, it will take a bit more time for the difference in pH and EC levels to register on your meter.
What Vegetables/ Plants in Soil Could Benefit/ Be Damaged from Hydroponic Nutrients?
Some plants benefit from hydroponic nutrient solutions more than others.
Here’s a list of the veggies and other plants that benefit the most from liquid nutrients:
- Root veggies (beets, carrots, radishes, potatoes)
- Flowers of all sorts
- Herbs of all sorts
- Blooming trees and shrubs
Not all that glitters is gold, and such it is with using hydroponic nutrients for soil-based gardening.
Here is a list of the main vegetables and other plants that could be damaged from hydroponic nutrients:
- Aloe vera
- Chinese money plant
- Peace lily
- Bee Balm
- Rock roses
- Pitcher plants
- False indigo
- Sea holly