Fertilizer sticks are uncomplicated to use

Fertilizer Sticks: Function, Application And Advantages

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Fertilizer sticks are easy to use and promise sustainable and safe fertilization. We take a close look at which promises they keep.

Gardening life can be so simple: Put your chopsticks in, put water on them, done. One could summarize the manufacturer’s application of fertilizer sticks like this or something like that. You should already know that the little things are of course not superior to every alternative and that there are a few small things to consider. In the following, we explain how fertilizer sticks work and show you the correct use of the right products for you. We present fertilizer sticks for house plants, green plants, tomatoes, and vegetables. And last but not least, you will find some important information about the use of combi chopsticks.


How do fertilizer sticks work?

Fertilizer sticks are available as mineral and organic versions. The mineral variant is the most common. If fertilizer sticks are not explicitly advertised with the addition “organic”, it can be assumed that they contain nutrients in mineral form. There are also organic-mineral products as an effective combination of the good properties of mineral and organic fertilizers. If you want to read more about the raw materials in fertilizers, take a look at our article on complete fertilizers, NPK fertilizers, and universal fertilizers.

Mineral fertilizer sticks

Mineral fertilizer sticks are mineral fertilizers in a solid form that only release nutrients gradually and over a defined period of time. To ensure this slow release, fertilizer sticks always contain some additives that give them these special properties. The release depends on the soil moisture and the plant’s hunger for nutrients, but in general, one can assume a storage effect of about three months.

Organic fertilizer sticks

In contrast to mineral fertilizer sticks, organic fertilizers consist of natural materials that ensure a slow release of nutrients in the most original way: If a plant-sewing element is bound in organic structures, it takes a certain time before it is released and can be taken up again by plants. The “packaging” is softened by the surrounding water and broken down, converted, and recycled by microorganisms. The nutrients themselves can also pass through the metabolism of organisms living in the soil.Sufficient water must be available so that the fertilizer stick can take effect

At the end of a series of events in your flowerpot, there is then the nutrient that the plant can utilize, for example, to use it again to build cell structures. Organic fertilizer sticks are also composed in such a way that they release the nutrients they contain over a period of around three months.

Tip: Nutrients can only ever reach the plant roots and be absorbed with the help of soil water, dissolved in the so-called soil solution. Microorganisms, chemical reactions, and transformations also require an aqueous environment. The effect of a fertilizer stick can only develop if there is sufficient water available.

Comparison of fertilizer sticks: advantages and disadvantages

But how do fertilizer sticks differ in application and effect from other alternatives? We have compiled an overview for you in the following table. If you would also like to find out more about liquid fertilizers, you will find more on the subject here.

Tip: The vegetation phase describes the time of the year in which plants grow at all or at their strongest. Native plants show very clearly when their vegetation phase is due to the fall of leaves and the new budding in spring.
FREQUENCY OF USE IN THE VEGETATION PHASE Once Every two to three months Depending on the plant: two to four times a month
TYPE OF APPLICATION Put in the potting soil when transplanting. Otherwise sprinkle on, if possible work in carefully, cover with soil and moisten Put fertilizer sticks in the soil at a sufficient distance from the plant. Always keep the pot moist Mix liquid fertilizer with water and pour
EXPENDITURE Once high, then low Low medium
SECURITY Depending on the type of fertilizer: Organic fertilizer is very safe.
Mineral fertilizers can easily be dosed too high. Overdosing tends to show up in the long term
Depending on the type of fertilizer:
Organic fertilizer is very safe.
Mineral fertilizers can easily be dosed too high.
Overdosing tends to show up in the long term
Overdosing possible for inexperienced users. In the event of an overdose, severe plant damage can be expected very soon
EFFECT According to the manufacturers, nutrient release is uniform but can fluctuate depending on temperature, humidity, and composition According to the manufacturers, nutrient release is uniform but can fluctuate depending on temperature, humidity, and composition Nutrients are immediately available but do not last long
COSTS Depending on the product, between 5 and 7 euros for one kilogram Depending on the product
between 6 and 20 euros for 100 sticks
Depending on the product
between 4 and 10 euros for a liter
NOTICE The plant roots must not be damaged during the incorporation Keep the potting soil moist at all times, otherwise, the plants can be damaged Very quick effectiveness; can also be used as foliar fertilization

Summary: advantages and disadvantages of fertilizer sticks

  • Using fertilizer sticks is not very time-consuming and only needs to be done two to three times during the growing season
  • It is very important that pots supplied with fertilizer sticks are watered very regularly
  • Overdosing and plant damage is possible but can be avoided with the right application

Use of fertilizer sticks

For which fertilizations are fertilizer sticks suitable? Garden owners can imagine that it would be pointless to feed each perennial in the border with two fertilizer sticks every three months. Fertilizer sticks are particularly suitable for fertilizing small to medium-sized potted plants. These can be cared for in a way that is gentle on plants (compared to the incorporation of classic depot fertilizers) and without much effort (compared to liquid fertilizers).

The application itself is simple: depending on the dosage recommendation, the correct number of sticks is pressed into the potting soil in the root area of the potted plant. Make sure that they are really in the root area so that the nutrients can be absorbed as efficiently as possible. If the penetration resistance is not great but can still be felt, you have found the right place.

The stick is in the right place if it penetrates easily, but not too easily, into the rooted earth

The pot is then watered and should be kept moist from now on. However, fertilizer sticks are only used during the growing season when plants actually need the nutrients they contain. The manufacturers recommend applications from April to September. What is meant is that the effect of the last stick should be used up by the end of September.

Tip: Some users report that their plants were damaged if the soil got a little too dry. Because as a result, the concentration of nutrients in the remaining liquid increased sharply and so-called “salt damage” occurred.

It is also important to choose the right fertilizer stick: Plants cultivated in pots can have completely different demands on their nutrient supply. Not only the amount but also the weighting of the individual nutrients can differ. In the next section, we will introduce you to the common variants.

Summary: Use of fertilizer sticks

  • Use between April and September
  • Choosing the right fertilizer stick
  • Use the appropriate number of sticks according to the dosage recommendation
  • Press the sticks into the potting soil, then water
  • Water the pot regularly so that the potting soil is constantly moist

Fertilizer sticks for various plants

In the following, we have summarized the most important information for different plant types with a view to the suitability and use of fertilizer sticks.

Fertilizer sticks for house plants

In this case, flowering indoor plants are meant. Because of the huge range of this category, fertilizer sticks for indoor plants are usually balanced and not too high a dose. This also applies to orchid fertilizer sticks. If you are keeping a sensitive exotic plant as a houseplant, you should always find out about its special needs in advance. Ultimately, what matters is not what is written on the packaging of the fertilizer stick, but what nutrients it contains.Even the indoor begonia can only show its best side with a regular supply of nutrients


Summary: fertilizer sticks for house plants

  • Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are usually balanced
  • Similar to the sticks for orchids
  • A distinction must be made between green indoor plants and flowering plants

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Fertilizer sticks for green plants

Fertilizer sticks for green plants often have an increased nitrogen content, which ensures green foliage and lively leaf formation. Magnesium and iron are also often included. Magnesium is an important component of the green plant pigment chlorophyll, so it is also important for green foliage. Iron is supposed to counteract the yellowing of the leaves in the case of iron deficiency, which manifests itself in the form of the “Christmas tree effect”. Iron deficiency often occurs in tropical green plants which, due to their origin, are used in soils that make it easy for them to develop iron.

Summary: fertilizer sticks for green plants

  • Nitrogen, magnesium, and iron are strongly represented ingredients
  • Nitrogen is said to increase growth and, together with magnesium and iron, ensures healthy, green foliage

Fertilizer sticks for tomatoes

Fertilizer sticks for tomatoes and vegetables are usually quite balanced or have a high potassium content. An increased potassium content can help improve the water balance, stability, and frost resistance (in winter vegetables). Since the fertilized vegetables are consumed later, the fertilizer sticks are often organic. This should give you, the user, a good feeling. However, the nutrients do not differ chemically from those in mineral fertilizer sticks for vegetables. Of course, an organic fertilizer will still benefit your plants and the soil, because it has soil-improving properties. This supports the activity of important soil organisms and improves root ability.Supply your tomato plants more sustainably with organic slow-release fertilizers


Summary: fertilizer sticks for tomatoes

  • Fertilizer sticks for tomatoes and vegetables are balanced or contain potassium
  • Potassium ensures that the plant is tolerant of drought stress and frost, and it also stabilizes the cell walls and thus the whole plant
  • The use of organic fertilizers does not have a strong effect on the parts of the plant that are later consumed, but it does benefit the soil and the health of the plant

Fertilizer sticks with pest control: Combi sticks against lice

Combi sticks are designed to combine the effect of a practical fertilizer with the simple application of pesticides. The sticks are used as described above. However, you should avoid skin contact, which can often be solved by the application aids provided. It is essential that you follow the manufacturer’s recommendations for use when using combi sticks.

In addition to nutrients and additives, the sticks also contain insecticides. These are pesticides that can be used to control insects. Chopsticks containing fungicides – i.e. pesticides that work against fungal diseases – or acaricides – pesticides that work against mites – are not yet available. The insecticides are continuously absorbed by the plant via the roots and distributed throughout the plant body. This mode of action is called “systemic”. It has the advantage that newly grown parts of the plant are also immediately protected because the agent is transported everywhere via the lines of the plant.

Some combi-sticks contain the insecticide dimethoate. This substance is already effective when insects touch it: it is a so-called contact insecticide. Dimethoate inhibits an enzyme that ensures the functioning of the nervous system, so it is a neurotoxin. It is not only poisonous for insects and aquatic life, but also for all mammals – consequently also for humans. Accordingly, the safety data sheet of such combi sticks contains a lot of information on safe handling. For example, it should be noted that the chopsticks must never get into the hands of children or into bodies of water or the sewer system.Combi chopsticks can be a great danger for bees


Dimethoate is dangerous for bees. If you use the chopsticks as directed, however, it is classified as “not dangerous for bees” (B3). Of course, it should also be noted that a plant treated with the insecticide must not be consumed without further ado.

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Another common active ingredient in insecticidal fertilizer sticks is acetamiprid, which is a neonicotinoid. It must be taken orally to work. Even small doses are toxic to humans. Plants that have been treated with these sticks should also not be consumed under any circumstances. In order not to endanger yourself and the environment, you should follow the instructions in the safety data sheet for the sticks. Acetamiprid is classified as B3 in bee protection, which means that it does not endanger bees. However, this only applies as long as it is used correctly.

Please note: Even if combi sticks are very easy to use and the manufacturers advertise that you can reliably protect your plants from pests: They are dangerous preparations, the improper handling of which can endanger both humans and nature. So only use the chopsticks when absolutely necessary.

Too frequent use of agents that contain the same active ingredient will in any case lead to the formation of resistance on the part of the harmful insects. The effect of the agent would soon wear off with constant use. If you are open to effective alternatives to controlling insect pests, you may also be interested in this compilation of effective home remedies for aphids.In order not to endanger yourself and nature, you can simply use organic slow-release fertilizers in the garden


Summary: Combi chopsticks

  • Combi sticks contain the nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in combination with insecticides
  • Before using these preparations, you should inform yourself carefully so as not to harm living beings or the environment
  • Repeated use of preparations with the same active ingredient leads to a decrease in effectiveness

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