Should you always water soil before fertilizing?

Flabonsai

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As the title states. I've been using liquid fertilizers and have always watered my trees before. I've read that you should always water before or is this just a myth? What's everyone's thoughts on this? Does it help the fertilizer to stick better and keep from burning the roots?
 

coh

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I do water before applying a full strength dose of fertilizer. Do I have to do it...I really don't know. I'm not aware of any studies comparing water/no water before fertilizing.

My thinking is that if I apply full strength fertilizer to a dry soil/root system, the tree may take up too much fertilizer all at once. I'm pretty sure some of the nutrients are taken up directly with the water entering the root (others must be actively transported into the roots).

Maybe Leo or 63pmp can weigh in, they have done a lot of research into fertilizers and their use.
 

sorce

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I just do it cuz it feels good to water twice!

It really don't matter.

Sorce
 

Paradox

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Yes, I do with liquid fertilizer and I think it does matter.

I want to make sure they get enough water first then I pour the liquid fertilizer a couple of minutes later. That way I know whatever water is left in the soil has the fertilizer.

When I apply granular biotone, I apply first then water.
 
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Dav4

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I water first IF I have the time....which means I don't water first very often, and I've been doing it this way for years without issue. Imho, I think watering first helps the liquid fert be more evenly dispersed throughout the root ball. I doubt you'll have any issues one way or the other...and fwiw, I use the labeled strength concentration.
 

music~maker

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I do because if the soil's a bit dry, it might become a bit hydro-phobic. By watering first, you saturate the soil & eliminate those dry pockets, so the roots can then efficiently take up the fertilizer on the second pass.

At least that's my theory ...
 

petegreg

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From the other side of view... If I water first, the soil particles (granules) are saturated by water. Then after watering with fert, how much fertilizer can be held in the soil and be stored for the tree? Just asking, I use organic fert and liquid inorganic only once a month or so...
 

AlainK

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I do because if the soil's a bit dry, it might become a bit hydro-phobic. By watering first, you saturate the soil & eliminate those dry pockets, so the roots can then efficiently take up the fertilizer on the second pass.

At least that's my theory ...
... that seems very logical to me.
 

music~maker

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From the other side of view... If I water first, the soil particles (granules) are saturated by water. Then after watering with fert, how much fertilizer can be held in the soil and be stored for the tree? Just asking, I use organic fert and liquid inorganic only once a month or so...
I typically fertilize every 7-10 days during the growing season, and I water almost every day, so whether the tree holds onto it for very long or not is a non-issue. fwiw, you ought to be using mostly inorganic soil to do it this way.

In fact, I just assume that because I water frequently that the fertilizer will be washed away, which is how I justify fertilizing so often.
 

aml1014

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From the other side of view... If I water first, the soil particles (granules) are saturated by water. Then after watering with fert, how much fertilizer can be held in the soil and be stored for the tree? Just asking, I use organic fert and liquid inorganic only once a month or so...
This is also my theory. I don't water first before fertilizing. I generally fill up a 7 gl cement tub with my fertilizer and let the trees soak, then I remove and put on a drip tray to drain any excess fertilizer back into the tub. I've never had an issue not watering before I fertilize.

Aaron
 

jeanluc83

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I just mix the fertilizer full strength and water normally. I look at like washing your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.

I use a fairly open inorganic mix so when I water I WATER. Everything is thoroughly drenched. I'm sure I'm wasting some fertilizer but the weeds under my benches look great!
 

markyscott

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According to these guys:

KIRKHAM, M.B., 2005, PRINCIPLES OF SOIL AND PLANT WATER RELATIONS, PG. 166

"If you wet a soil before applying fertilizer, nutrient-free water is absorbed in the microporosity. Thus, nutrient-laden fertilizer waters should be applied to dry soil. The applied chemical can be drawn by capillarity into more of the soils microporosity and not be washed out of the soil on subsequent waterings"
 
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I just mix the fertilizer full strength and water normally. I look at like washing your dishes before you put them in the dishwasher.

I use a fairly open inorganic mix so when I water I WATER. Everything is thoroughly drenched. I'm sure I'm wasting some fertilizer but the weeds under my benches look great!
I can grow some prodigious weeds as well, LOL.
 

Flabonsai

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Thank you everyone for your input and great info. When I Fertilize I give my trees a good soaking and make sure the water runs out of the holes in the bottom of the pots. I might just skip watering them first since i saturate them well with the fertilizer.
 

michaelj

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According to these guys:

KIRKHAM, M.B., 2005, PRINCIPLES OF SOIL AND PLANT WATER RELATIONS, PG. 166

"If you wet a soil before applying fertilizer, nutrient-free water is absorbed in the microporosity. Thus, nutrient-laden fertilizer waters should be applied to dry soil. The applied chemical can be drawn by capillarity into more of the soils microporosity and not be washed out of the soil on subsequent waterings"
I'd never even thought to ask about this, and apparently, I've been doing it wrong since forever.
 

markyscott

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I'd never even thought to ask about this, and apparently, I've been doing it wrong since forever.
Nicely written book. Difficult topics addressed in plain language. Well written graduate level horticulture textbook that you don't need a specialty degree to understand. I learned a lot from it.

Expensive, but your library should be able to get it for you.
 

MichaelS

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It is directly related to the electrical conductivity or the osmotic potential of the solution. Put simply, the stronger the concentration of dissolved salts the greater the ability to damage roots. Therefore, the stronger the concentration the more available water there should be in the media before application. If the EC of the solution is very weak (say 1/4 or 1/8 recommended strength), you can apply it to the plant at each watering without problems whether the media is wet or dry. (assuming the occasional flushing!) Increasing EC leads to increasing problems. Very generally, if you use full strength concentrations (according to the manufactures' specs), you should water thoroughly before hand.
 

Paradox

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Yeah Im not going to change my practice of watering beforehand. With the amount of water I need to apply to each pot during watering to make sure they get a good soaking, there is no way I'm going to apply that much mixed fertilizer and water with a cup. I would end up using an entire bottle of fertilizer just to make sure the soil is wet enough so they wont dry out too soon and most of it would end up on the ground in the process which would be a waste.
 

GrimLore

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I have experimented with several liquid fertilizers. Both in Inorganic and Organic substrates. I water either before application but I use less on the Organic substrate. Seems to be working ok for quite some time now. For the record I went to J.R. Peters 20-20-20 with Micro nutrients and will be using only that from now on for almost all the plants. The Only exception is the types that do not require Nitrogen when I am growing them.

Grimmy
 

Paradox

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I am switching to all organic because I heard there were some agricultural studies that indicated that urea based fertilizer (urea is a component in inorganic fertilizer) causes weakened cell walls and increased susceptibility to fungus infections. Apparently there was an increased incidence of fungus issues in orchards.
 
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