Does Fertilizer Expire or Go Bad?

Do you ever wonder “Does fertilizer expire?”. This question may come to your mind when you store the not empty pack of fertilizer that is left after passing the peak growing season and you don’t want to lose it.

Would you really want to buy a new bag fertilizer each spring even when the last year’s stored pack is enough to suffice? At this point, you can be one of them who wonders if fertilizer goes bad. 

The fertilizer stays viable if stored in a proper way – by following some techniques, that are discussed in the guide.

Unlike other products that have an expiry date, fertilizers do not have any typical expiry date. It means that Fertilizer does not expire as long as it is stored properly.

If you can save the fertilizer for next season then why need to waste it. Just follow the storing techniques and keep it viable for years. The viability times of different forms of fertilizer varies as solid/granular fertilizers remain viable for more time than liquid forms. 

In this guide, you will get to know the answer to a great confusion regarding fertilizers expiration date. Additionally, the fertilizer techniques are also discussed.

Let’s get started.

Does fertilizer expire?

No, fertilizer does not expire or go bad, if it is stored properly. Fertilizers are made of any type of minerals that have a shelf life of many years if stored in a sealed pack or container. 

Fertilizers of various forms have different shelf lives. Solid or granular fertilizers have more shelf life than liquid forms. Fertilizers having AI’s (active ingredients) for weed control have a low shelf life and they lose potency over time.

The Shelf Life of Different Kinds of Fertilizers

Fertilizers are of various types, dry or liquid ones. Both forms have different viability life period. They can be organic or inorganic and may contain herbicides or pesticides. The overall composition of fertilizer determines if its viability remains the same overtime or not.

Let’s discuss the shelf life of various kinds of fertilizers.

1. Dry Fertilizer

Dry fertilizers can be organic or inorganic and made up of a set of nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) in various proportions. These nutrients have the stability to keep them viable, they won’t degrade with time even if stored for years. 

Dry fertilizers have a shelf life of many years if stored in a proper manner and don’t expire over time. You can count the dry fertilizers as the indefinite shelf life product without losing the potency.

2. Weedicide And Herbicide Fertilizer

These fertilizers are dry in form and contain weedicide or herbicide material along with fertilizer nutrients. Due to the presence of the weed and herb killing agents, these fertilizers have less time of use. 

The shelf life of weed and feed fertilizers is up to just four years. The reason behind less shelf life is the herbicide that loses its efficacy over time but the fertilizer remains effective.

Granular fertilizers having weed and insect control along with nutrients, also lose their viability over time and expires in four years.

Note: Weed and Feed fertilizers have synthetic herbicides that are used in the US but ban in other countries like Australia, Canada, and Europe.

3. Liquid Fertilizer

Liquid fertilizers have quickly available nutrients to plants. The wide use of liquid fertilizers is to save the dying plants with immediate nutrients. But there are still many gardeners who prefer dry over liquid fertilizers as dry/granular fertilizers keep nutrients near the root zone for more time.

The shelf life of liquid fertilizer depends on the material present in it.

  • Liquid mineral fertilizer – The fertilizers having diluted minerals in liquid. Such fertilizers have a long shelf life of around 8 to 10 years. You just need to shake the bottle every time before using it. Make sure to seal the bottle completely for storing it.
  • Liquid organic fertilizer – Such fertilizers have dissolved organic nutrients in liquid and have a specific expiry date. You need to check the expiry from the brand label.

Liquid fertilizers have less shelf life than dry fertilizers but it benefits the plants earlier than dry ones.

4. Compost

Compost is an organic matter and fertilizer and has improved viability on storing. The compost pile can even decompose into tiny particles but its viability remains the same as it is a basic natural material. But you don’t need to worry about storing a compost pile.

The shelf life of compost depends on the way of storing and the less primarily on the climate of your region. The decomposition rate increases in the hot and humid regions so are prepared accordingly.

If the environment is humid and wet, the compost pile will release a stinky smell that is an indicator of anaerobic decomposition in compost. To prevent such issues, you can use a compost tumbler and compost is ready to go for a long time.

How to Store Fertilizer properly for more time?

As discussed earlier in the guide that all fertilizers have a different shelf life that depends on the makeup material. Natural fertilizers are made of natural mineral elements and unused can be stored for years to years. While the fertilizer containing herbicides and pesticides have a shelf life of a maximum of four years.

The main point to note is that fertilizers remain viable for that shelf life, only if stored properly. So, the whole game circulates around the proper method of storing the unused fertilizer for the next year.

Here are some tips on storing the fertilizers for the next years.

Choose a suitable location

  • Choose a dry, cool spot for storing the unused fertilizer to keep it for next season’s use.
  • The temperature of the place shouldn’t exceed 30 degrees.
  • The place should be enclosed, like a garage, and protected from the direct impact of sunlight, rain, and high moisture.
  • It should be a safe place and away from the reach of kids and pets. 
  • Keep the surroundings free of dust to maintain viability. 
  • Make sure that place has no traces of chemicals or pesticides, that could have an adverse effect on fertilizer.
  • Use an indoor compost bin for storing compost and it will be prepared for the next season.

Freezing protection

  • For storing liquid fertilizer, there is a high possibility of freezing liquid fertilizer during the colder nights of winter. 
  • Make sure to protect the liquid fertilizer from direct temperature effect by putting it in your garage or another place.
  • Place it somewhere warmer or above than freezing point of liquid fertilizer.

Storing container

  • The best fertilizer storing container is the one that comes in. It has all the printed information like product name, using practices, and ingredients of fertilizer.
  • In case the original container is damaged, transfer it to any air-sealed container and copy all the data from the original packing on a page, and put it inside the container to keep yourself hassle-free in the future.
  • Store the container upright over a shelf so it remains away from any damage.
  • If the fertilizer comes in package form, open it using scissors or a knife to prevent damage to the packaging.
  • Seal the package again properly to protect it from dust or moisture. After closely packing the package, place it in any large container or plastic bag.

Away from kids and pets

  • Most of the fertilizers are toxic to kids and pets that’s why store them away from the kids’ and pets’ reach.
  • Placing the fertilizer inside any container is the best method to keep it out of reach of kids.

By following all of these methods, you will get your fertilizer viable and original form again by next year.

Possible Issues with Stored Fertilizer

Granular clumping 

The best way to store fertilizer for next season’s use is by storing it in a container and in a cold, dry place. But if you would not follow the directions, given above, during storing fertilizer, you will get your fertilizer destroyed.

If you store the granular or dry fertilizer in the open air and without any sealant, it will absorb moisture and form clumps.

On forming clumps, the fertilizer does not lose its effectiveness but changes the shape from granular to clump form. Clump-forming means that the fertilizer particles have bonded by absorbing humidity.

How to deal with clumpy fertilizer?

The fertilizer clumps formed by moisture absorbance can be restored by breaking up the clumps. It is all good to go after breaking in small particles again.

Make sure to store the manure or dry fertilizers in plastic containers especially during the winter and rainy seasons.

Sediments in liquid fertilizer 

Liquid fertilizers have active agents dissolved in the solvent and these particles settle down to the bottom of the bottle when you don’t use it for a long time. This settling down does not affect the quality and effectiveness of fertilizer.

How to deal with sediments in liquid fertilizer?

You can correct the sediments formed in liquid fertilizer by just shaking the bottle for a little time. Agitate the plastic bucket and the fertilizer is ready for use.

Final words

No, fertilizers do not expire and go bad with time. The fertilizers are made of minerals that remain effective and viable for longer times if stored properly. Of course, the shelf life of all forms of fertilizers is different due to not similar compositions.

I hope that now you have are aware of the proper storage of fertilizer after reading the guide. Take into account all the directions and tips discussed above and don’t throw the old package.

The only limitation in fertilizers storage is the types of fertilizers having herbicides or pesticides as they have a limited time of use. Their shelf life is just up to four years.

If you love to read this guide on “Does fertilizer expire?” and find it informative, share it with your gardening fellows.

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