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Inorganic Fertilizer

Inorganic fertilizers are made from synthetic chemicals instead of previously-living organic materials. Specific percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium can be included so gardeners get exactly what they need for their plants. These three primary macronutrients are used in large quantities by plants as they grow and bloom.


Commercial inorganic fertilizers list the concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium as "N-P-K" on the product label. Plants that are in the vegetative phase need a higher percentage of nitrogen, so you should look for a "Grow" formula with an N-P-K like 10-5-5. Once the plants begin flowering, you can switch to a "Bloom" formula that has an N-P-K like 0-5-5.

How to Buy Inorganic Fertilizers

Inorganic fertilizers for hydroponic systems are usually sold in a concentrated form. These nutrients must be diluted in water before being added to the garden's water supply. Fertilizer manufacturers like Advanced Nutrients and General Hydroponics sell liquid nutrient solutions that include a blend of the three macronutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Indoor gardeners can also buy individual nutrients to supplement the macro and micronutrients that may not be present in the hydroponic water reservoir.

Why Use Inorganic Fertilizers?

Plants absorb nutrients from inorganic fertilizers faster than they can break down organic matter, which promotes rapid growth. Inorganic fertilizers are inexpensive and easy to buy from gardening supply stores or websites. Commercial hydroponic fertilizers give the indoor gardener precise control over the balance of nutrients available to the plants.

Problems with Inorganic Fertilizers

There are also some risks involved in using inorganic hydroponic fertilizers, but they can be minimized in a well-maintained indoor garden. These synthetic fertilizers require frequent watering to keep them diluted. Watch the leaves of the plants for signs of fertilizer burn or nutrient deficiencies. If you are growing with soil instead of hydroponics in your indoor garden, inorganic fertilizers can deplete vital trace minerals over time.

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