I’m Not A Fan Of Fertiliser Sticks – Here’s Why

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I’m just gonna be honest from the start and admit that I haven’t tried house plant fertiliser sticks, which may seem odd, because I’m pretty lazy and they seem easy to use.

They just seem a bit pricey, plus I doubt they’d work in LECA. I also don’t see that the fertiliser would be evenly distributed throughout the soil.

However, I am gonna do a tonne of research and watch a tonne of articles on Youtube and we’ll try to ascertain whether they’re worth trying.

I don’t have any photos of them, because when I was looking for stick images of fertiliser sticks for plants, it just came up with a load of images of eggs and sperm. Not really what I was after.

How to use house plant fertiliser sticks

I’ve seen a LOT of people not using fertiliser sticks as the label directs. And people saying their spike is broken.

Just to clarify: you use the provided plastic spike thing to make the hole, remove it, and then push the stick into hole that the spike made. The whole spike needs to buried, otherwise it won’t work properly.

The directions will tell you how many spikes you need – the average seems to be one spike per 15cm/6inches of pot. If you have a 3 inch pot, maybe you can snap them in half?? The directions never seem to mention it.

Advantages of using fertiliser sticks

They’re convenient

This was cited as one of the main reasons that people use fertiliser sticks. Each sticks lasts two months, and during that time you don’t need to worry about fertilising your plants.

Ok, I kind of get the theory, but also, is it really that much more convenient?? I mean, if the sticks lasted for like, a year, FINE. But two months? Plenty of people grow huge house plants and only fertilise every two months.

Easier to store

Ok, this I do understand. Put your fertiliser sticks in tupperware and they’re good. You don’t need to worry about them falling over and leaking and staining your floor. Is it enough to convince me to try fertiliser sticks?? Probably not.

Easy to use

On the surface, irrefutable. Yet plenty of people seem to struggle with them, so whilst they’re easy to use, they’re perhaps not intuitive to use.

Also, whilst they are definitely easy to use, it’s not like regular house plant fertiliser is difficult to use. I use the GH Flora series, which is slightly more complicated than the others, but adding a bit of, say, Dynagro to your watering water every two months is no more difficult than using a plant spike.

Top tip: the easiest way to measure out fertiliser is to use a syringe. Attach the syringe to your fertiliser with a hair tie. Weirdly game-changing.

Disadvantages of using fertiliser sticks


It’s a company I try to avoid because they do some frankly dubious things. Someone left a comment about it in this article.

Now, CLEARLY there are other brands available, but Miracle-gro is the main one that pops up when you Google it.

They can be brittle

Ok, I read this as being a disadvantage in a couple of places, and it may well be true, BUT it…doesn’t matter. Fertiliser sticks are (usually) designed to be buried. Who cares if they snap?

They don’t distribute evenly throughout the soil

This is the main reason I don’t use them. When I water in fertiliser, I’m pretty sure that the fertiliser is as evenly distributed as it can be. With fertiliser sticks, it migrates over time, especially as you water, but it will still stay in pretty much one place – that’s why you need to place them close to the roots of the plant.

Honestly, I don’t know if it makes a difference. Perhaps the roots closest to the fertiliser stick will be able to distribute the fertiliser perfectly efficiently, leaving the other roots to do other stuff, like absorb water.

I’m not privy to how roots divide up their workload. It’s none of my business.

But it does rather seem like the roots closest to the fertiliser stick could be at risk from root burn. Just saying.

They also need moisture to distribute properly. This automatically makes them a bit of a no go for succulents and other plants that like to dry out a lot. I also won’t recommend using them for Calathea, not because I don’t think they’d work, but because Calathea hate making our lives easier for us, and fertiliser spikes probably fall under that category.

They’re pricier than liquid fertiliser

Obvs there are a tonne of different options and price points, but they were generally about £7 for 30. They wouldn’t do all my plants, because I have, like 100. But a £7 bottle of liquid plant fertiliser would EASILY last me a year (probs more) and do all my plants.

Final thoughts

I think they definitely have a place, just not in my home. If you like the convenience of just shoving a stick in the soil rather than measuring out fertiliser then go for it.

If anyone has tried them and loves them, let us know brands you like, how you use them, that kind of thing.

Caroline Cocker

Caroline is the founder and writer (and plant keeper) of Planet Houseplant

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