What's The Difference: Synthetic vs. Natural Fertilizer

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What's The Difference: Synthetic vs. Natural Fertilizer

Synthetic vs organic fertiliser is a heavily debated topic when it comes to growing cannabis. So let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of each.

When it comes to choosing between organic and synthetic fertilisers, your cannabis isn’t really going to care. To them, nutrients are nutrients. However, these two fundamentally different types of fertiliser have some very significant differences.


Straight away it is important to understand that the word “organic” doesn’t mean the same for fertilisers as it does food. Organic fertilisers are products that have their nutrients bound up in their natural forms, such as plant and animal waste, having gone through minimal processing. This often means they are a lot more natural, and more akin to what your cannabis would naturally find in soil when compared to the heavily process and refined synthetic fertilisers – which are often made from petroleum.


1. A potentially better end product

The first major advantage of using organics when it comes to cannabis is the end product. Anything you feed your cannabis is ultimately going to end up in the bud in one residual form or another, and whilst this isn’t going to be a concern for the cannabis plant itself, it may be for you. It is widely thought that synthetic fertilisers can make the end smoke much harsher. For this reason, synthetically fed cannabis is often flushed before harvest, though it is impossible to remove all ‘contamination’. This is much less of a concern with organic fertilisers, as they don’t leave chemical residue – resulting in what many believe is a smoother smoke.

2. Improved soil Quality

Not only do organic fertilisers feed your cannabis, they also feed the multitude of beneficial organisms within the soil, improving its structure and interaction with cannabis roots.

3. Less risk of overfeeding

Organic fertilisers tend to release their nutrients very slowly, making it hard to overfeed your cannabis.

4. Low risk of toxic build up

As organic fertilisers are much more natural, they do not often leave residual salts and acidity within the soil, helping prevent toxic build-up and maintaining its health.

5. It’s Green

Organic fertilisers are more ecologically friendly than other options, and are often seen as a renewable source.


1. They are slow, sometimes too slow

The nutritional release of an organic fertiliser plays by nature’s rules, and doesn’t always provide as soon as you need it. It is more of a long-term game plan, and will give a constant but slow release.

2. They are weaker

The nutritional ratio of organic fertilisers often goes unknown, and the overall percentage of nutrients tends to be much lower than found in synthetic based fertilisers.

3. They can be expensive

Shop bought organic fertiliser can often be more expensive in the long run, as more of it is needed to get the same job as a lesser amount of synthetic fertiliser.

4. It can be hard

Although potentially resulting in a smoother smoking experience, growing with organics can be challenging due to the lack of specific control.


Synthetic based fertilisers are manmade, heavily process products that have been created to have a very specific and controlled content. They are often made from extracted petroleum and natural gas by-products. Being so specific in nature offers them lots of advantages, but comes with various drawbacks as well.


1. Strong and specific

Unlike organic fertilisers, synthetic based ones have a strong and specific content, allowing you to know exactly what you are giving your cannabis plants in term of nutritional content and ratio – a big advantage to veteran grows trying to control a grow right down to the last detail.

2. Nutrients are available immediately

Because of their composition, the nutrients within synthetic fertilisers are available for immediate absorption, allowing you to ensure your cannabis is getting what it needs, when it needs it.

3. Inexpensive

Synthetic based fertilisers are generally inexpensive when compared to other options, providing good value for money.

4. Easier to achieve a higher quality

Thanks to the greater levels of control offered by synthetic fertilisers, it is often easier for beginners to produce an overall better quality grow.


1. Potentially produces harsher bud

As touched upon in the organics section, it is believed that chemically based synthetic fertilisers leave a residue within cannabis plants. When smoked, this results in a much harsher experience – taking away from some of its quality.

2. They do not sustain soil

Although they have everything your cannabis needs, synthetic fertilisers are very rarely made to also promote soil heath, undermining the foundation of the grow.

3. Easy to overfeed

As nutrients are instantly available, it is much easier to cause nute burn, and even kill your cannabis with overfeeding.

4. It leaves toxins in the soil

Synthetic fertilisers are often very acidic, and leave salt residue in the soil. This effects pH drastically, and often requires active maintenance to keep soil safe, healthy and salt free. If left with a salt build up, nutritional absorption can be affected, resulting in malnourishment.

5. Definitely not green

The production of synthetic fertiliser is seen as unsustainable and harmful to the environment.


When it comes to making a decision between the two, there is no right or wrong answer. Which type of fertiliser is best is a heavily debated topic, and it will basically come down to what suits your needs the best. Do you want a natural grow that is kinder to the environment and soil? Or do you want complete and utter control of what your cannabis is being fed? At the end of the day, you need to pick what suits your situation.