Is Plant Food The Same As Fertilizer? – Guides & Useful Tips

Beginner gardeners might be used to basic stuff, like watering regularly or fertilizing on a consistent schedule. Yet, what many of you might not know is that food is also essential for healthy plant growth. Plant fertilizer vs plant food both have uses and benefits, being suitable for specific situations. But ‘Is plant food the same as fertilizer?’

The quick answer is no. Plant food and fertilizer are not the same things. While plant food is the crucial chemical element for plant needs, plant fertilizer refers to those elements provided to the air around the plants.

Swipe Garden will get you to know more about their differences!

Plant Food And Plant Fertilizer Overview

Plant food differs from fertilizers in two major aspects - Plant Food Vs Fertilizer

Plant food differs from plant fertilizers in two major aspects.

Just like humans, soil and vegetables need nutritious food and regular fertilizing to thrive. But they are different! Below are their primary differences:

Plant food occurs naturally

It comes from nature, while plant fertilizer doesn’t. Flowers create plant food independently, starting by consuming nutrients from the water, air, and the sun.

This cycle is fully natural and photosynthesis. No chemicals or artificial products are necessary for triggering the process.

Meanwhile, plant fertilizer can’t occur naturally. The farmer will need to fertilize their plants on a consistent schedule. You can follow this video to fertilize your trees.

Fertilizer is available for buying.

You can’t find natural nutrients for flowers in any grocery or gardening store. Products claimed to be plant food are actually just plant fertilizers.

As said, nutritious plant food comes from nature, so you can’t treat your herbs with anything other than nutrients from fertilizers, which provide them with simple sugar for their growth, using photosynthesis.

Macronutrients – Micronutrients

What are essential micro and macronutrients - Plant Food Vs Fertilizer

What are essential micro and macronutrients?

Houseplants rely on both macronutrients and micronutrients to survive. These nutrients help with promoting growth and keeping indoor greeneries strong, healthy, and happy. We can name tons of macro and micronutrients critical to vegetables’ health.


  • Nitrogen

Nitrogen is part of any living cells and enzymes, metabolic processes, and proteins included in the transfer and synthesis of energy.

Apart from that, nitrogen is also an element of chlorophyll-a critical green pigment in charge of photosynthesis. This macronutrient is present in the air, a manure application, and plant fertilizer.

  • Phosphorus

Phosphorus plays a vital role in the photosynthesis process. It contributes to the formation of sugars, starches, and oils.

Phosphorus helps with transforming solar energies into chemical energies, withstanding stress, appropriate plant maturation, encouraging root growth and blooming. It is available in fertilizers, superphosphate, and bone meal.

  • Potassium

Greeneries absorb potassium in more considerable amounts than other mineral elements except for calcium and nitrogen.

Potassium is necessary for lowering the stress level of vegetables caused by temperature extremes, drought, or pest problems.

  • Calcium

Calcium plays an important role in the plant wall structure and provides greeneries with normal retention and transport of other necessary elements and strengths. Calcium comes from gypsum, superphosphate, and dolomitic lime.

  • Magnesium

Magnesium contributes to creating chlorophyll in green herbs and in the photosynthesis process.

It helps activate a lot of enzymes necessary for growth. Sources of magnesium are soil minerals, dolomitic limestone, organic materials, and Epsom salt.

  • Sulfur

Sulfur is responsible for protein production and promoting the development and activity of vitamins and enzymes.

It also assists in forming chlorophyll, improving seed production and root growth, and enhancing resistance to freezing weather and plant growth. The supply of sulfur is rainwater.


  • Boron: aids in using and regulating other nutrients. Also, it helps with the production of carbohydrates and sugar, being crucial for fruit and seed development. Boron comes from borax and organic matter.
  • Copper is part of reproductive growth, employment of proteins, and root metabolism.
  • Chlorine contributes to the photosynthesis process and plant metabolism.
  • Iron helps with forming chlorophyll and comes from iron chelate and iron sulfate.
  • Manganese combines with some enzyme systems to contribute to the breakdown of nitrogen metabolism and carbohydrates.
  • Molybdenum aids in using nitrogen.
  • Zinc regulates sugar consumption and encourages carbohydrate transformation. It has a certain role in enzyme systems, regulating plant growth. Zinc comes from zinc sulfate, zinc chelate, and zinc oxide.
  • Cobalt: new flowers need cobalt to fix nitrogen.

Which Is Better: Plant Food vs Fertilizer?

Plants can’t thrive without fertilizers - Plant Food Vs Fertilizer

Plants can’t thrive without fertilizers.

Essentially, plants will feed themselves with nutrients taken up from the soil. Nevertheless, they need regular fertilizing when lacking nutrients.

As a supply of potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen, fertilizers are indispensable for healthy and thriving plants.

Your vegetables use up the above elements very quickly, especially nitrogen. Thus, fertilizers are meant to replenish those minerals.

Without an abundance of necessary elements, your flowers can grow, yet they won’t be as fresh and healthy as when they receive everything they demand.

Plants thrive strong and vigorously only when they receive a high volume of nutrients, minerals, water, and sunlight they need to grow.

However, the soil sometimes lacks some of those requirements, while fertilizers will do the job of providing plenty of them much better.

How Do I Know If My Plants Need Fertilizer?

Unlike when houseplants need water (they wilt and turn crispy) and sunlight (their leaves turn lanky and pale), it’s somewhat tricky to identify when your plants need fertilizing.

There is no obvious sign that they lack nutrients other than stagnant or slowed growth, which many houseplants growers can merely notice.

Therefore, you need always to keep an eye on your flowers’ any changes and be well aware of common health problems that they usually have instead of waiting for clear signals. Also, apply fertilizers on a consistent basis based on your plants’ growing cycle.

Organic Fertilizer vs. Chemical Fertilizer: Which One Should You Choose?

Organic and chemical products apply to specific types of vegetables - Plant Food Vs Fertilizer

Organic fertilizer and chemical fertilizer products apply to specific types of vegetables.

As long as you provide your herbs with adequate nutrients, it doesn’t matter if you use chemical or organic fertilizers.

However, while it depends upon your preference, it’s still important to pick the correct fertilizers as per your type of plant.

Organic fertilizers offer living things, such as animal manure, leaf molds, fish emulsions, and non-living things, like rock phosphate. Also, they provide flowers with essential nutrients and enhance soil tilth.

If you want to buy organic fertilizer products, remember to look for the OMRI on their labels. If you’re a severe vegan, you can avoid blood, bone meal, and fish products.

Commercial fertilizers, also known as synthetic or chemical products, have undergone an inspected manufacturing process, though they originate from natural mineral deposits.

Do you wish to encourage blooming? Go for products with a larger content of phosphorus compared to that potassium and nitrogen. A balanced food source like 10-10-10 is a perfect option for green vegetables and high-nutrient plants.

More importantly, avoid using lawn fertilizers as they contain an overly high percentage of nitrogen and chemicals for controlling lawn weeds, which could damage your greeneries.

Houseplants Will Make Plant Food More Often Than Fertilize

Do you know how often houseplants produce their own range of plant food? The average frequency is every two weeks or even more.

Indeed, you shouldn’t fertilize your vegetables that frequently. Ideally, you’ll need to feed them on a three or four-month schedule, though it varies depending on your types of plants.

One critical thing to keep in mind is never to over-fertilize your flowers.


While we’re so familiar with watering and fertilizing, we tend to forget about an important factor: plant food.

Is plant food the same as fertilizer? It’s vital to know that they’re two different terms and to learn about their differences.

This way, you’ll precisely know what your greeneries need, and you’re feeding them the right supplements and nutrients.

So, you get a suitable answer. Ensure to invest in the proper products for your flowers’ better growth!

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