Does Fertilizer Go Bad? – An In-depth Look

Last Updated on August 22, 2022 by Griselda M.

Does fertilizer go bad or does it last forever without losing any of its nutrients all this time?  This is a question we seek to answer in this article.

Fertilizer is the most important part of the soil.  It helps to improve the quality and quantity of crop output.  It is the most expensive component of a farm.

Without fertilizer, it would be impossible to produce enough food for everyone.  So, if fertilizer goes bad, how can you know that the fertilizer you are using is good?  How long does it last?  Will it lose its nutrients over time?

We will answer some of these questions in this article. In the process of answering these questions, we will also learn more about fertilizers.

The purpose of this article is to educate people about how to use fertilizers, so that they may make better decisions about their use.  Also, we want to provide farmers with information on the benefits of proper fertilization.

Does Fertilizer Go Bad?

In most cases, dry fertilizer doesn’t go bad but it can lose its effectiveness over time depending on the type of fertilizer. 

Fertilizer comes in dry and liquid forms. If properly stored, most dry crystallized fertilizer and dry granular fertilizer can last indefinitely.

Liquid organic fertilizer can last for 5-8 years and liquid mineral fertilizer can last for up to 10 years. Fertilizers that contain AI’s (active ingredients) found in weed and pest control products generally last for 1-4 years. This is because pFertilizersesticides and herbicides will lose their potency over time.

If you have a container with your fertilizer you should keep it closed and stored away from heat or sunlight.  The best way to store your fertilizer is in the shade. Be sure that the area you are storing it in is also dry as well.

Fertilizer that has nitrogen-rich ingredients may leach some of that nitrogen if they get too wet or too hot. Just be extra careful when storing nitrogen-rich fertilizers to prevent this from happening.

If you are unsure about the fertilizer you purchased, ask the store where you bought it. They may be able to tell you the amount of time until you need to use the fertilizer.

What is a Good Fertilizer For Plants?

You should use a fertilizer that is formulated for your specific plant.  Most fertilizer products are labeled with their nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) content.

Fertilizers typically contain these nutrients in the form of chemical compounds, which may be inorganic or organic.  The chemical composition of fertilizers varies widely and is often proprietary to the manufacturer.

As a general rule, many plants prefer fertilizers that are rich in nitrogen. Nitrogen-rich fertilizers can include nitrate, ammonia, ammonium, or urea, plus micro-nutrients. 

Phosphorus-rich fertilizers include rock phosphate, ammonium phosphates, ammonium polyphosphate, phosphoric acid, calcium orthophosphate, and nitric phosphates. Plants do need magnesium, as magnesium helps improve crop yield. 

Magnesium-rich fertilizers include dolomitic limestone and seaweed meal.  If you have a fertilizer that is labeled with the nutrients you want to add, then it will be better for your plants. 

If you have no idea what nutrient you want to add to your soil, then a general balanced fertilizer may be best.  There are many different types of general fertilizers, so you should choose one that includes the nutrients you want to add.

The Most Common General Fertilizers Are:

Organic fertilizers, such as compost, peat moss, and fish emulsion.

Inorganic fertilizers, such as ammonium nitrate, ammonium sulfate, triple superphosphate, diammonium phosphate, and monoammonium phosphate.

General fertilizers are usually labeled with their N, P, and K content.  You can use a general fertilizer with any nutrient content, but if you are adding a specific nutrient to your soil, then you should use a fertilizer that is labeled with that nutrient.

Home Jungle – Organic Indoor Houseplant Superfood Fertilizer

Does Fertilizer Lose Its Nutrients?

Does fertilizer go bad?  If you have bought liquid fertilizer that has overstayed at the store, it is possible that it will not be as effective as it should but dry fertilizer should not go bad in the right conditions. If you fertilize your lawn or garden every month, you might want to consider how long your fertilizer is available to your plants.

Some fertilizer products are formulated to be used for a specific period, and if the product is overstayed, the plant’s nutrient value will be affected.

How long does dry fertilizer last

Take-Home – Does Fertilizer Go Bad?

So does fertilizer go bad?  Most dry crystallized fertilizer and dry granular fertilizer can last indefinitely when properly stored.

Liquid organic fertilizer stays good for 5-8 years and liquid mineral fertilizer can stay good for up to 10 years. Fertilizers that contain active ingredients generally last for 1-4 years.

Organic fertilizers are very similar to natural ones in terms of going bad.  Though it’s organic, you can’t keep it for far too long, it will not be potent or helpful to your plants as all the nutrients will be too weak to make an impact.

Read more about What Is The Best Fertilizer For Green Beans? Find Out Here.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long does dry fertilizer last?

If properly stored, most dry crystallized fertilizer and dry granular fertilizer can last indefinitely. Fertilizers that contain active ingredients found in weed and pest control products generally last for 1-4 years.

How long can fertilizer be stored?

If properly stored, most dry crystallized fertilizer and dry granular fertilizer can last indefinitely. Liquid organic fertilizer can last for 5-8 years and liquid mineral fertilizer can last for up to 10 years. Fertilizers that contain active ingredients found in weed and pest control products generally last for 1-4 years.

Does fertilizer lose its potency over time?

Some types of fertilizer will lose potency over time.  However, if the fertilizer is kept properly stored and used correctly, it will last longer than most other commodities.

Is old fertilizer useful?

Yes, old fertilizer is still good.  The only thing to consider is that the fertilizer may not be as potent as the new fertilizer.  Old dry fertilizer should be used to replenish nutrients in the soil.