Foliar Fertilizer: FAQ's

Foliar Fertilizer: FAQ's

Foliar fertilizer is an effective way to supplement your plant’s nutritional needs, particularly if they are suffering from nutrient deficiencies.

What is foliar fertilizer?

Plants absorb the nutrients they need to survive and flourish through their foliage and roots. Foliar fertilizer is a fertilizer designed to be applied directly to plant’s leaves.

Foliar fertilizers can be designed to meet a plant’s specific needs for one or more micro and macro nutrients--especially trace minerals and enables one to correct deficiencies, strengthen weak or damaged crops, speed growth and  grow  better plants.

Foliar applications can also be targeted to a particular stage of crop development to achieve specific objectives and is an excellent way to "fine tune" a high fertility program.

Why do plants require fertilization?

Plants require a variety of nutrients to survive and thrive: 

Plant nutrients

For optimum plant growth, the soil must be capable of storing these nutrients and transferring them to the roots for uptake by plants.

Typically, chemical fertilizers are applied based on NPK values. Since plants require more than copious amounts of NPK to sustain growth, sooner or later a deficiency of trace elements will occur.

Also, soils are derived from weathered parent material and if the parent material was low in a particular element then, so too is the resulting soil.

Healthy productive soil is a combination of minerals, rock, water, air, organic matter (plant and animal residue), microorganisms, including bacteria, fungi and protozoa and a variety of insects and worms. In healthy soil this intricate web carries out a process that continually replenishes the soil and maintains long term soil fertility. 

Why is foliar fertilizer so effective?

There are a number of reasons why foliar fertilizer is so effective.

Plants absorb nutrients more efficiently through the stomata (plant pores) in their leaves than they do through root uptake.


“Nutrients applied to the foliage are generally absorbed more rapidly than when applied to the soil. Foliar application provides a means of quickly correcting plant nutrient deficiencies, when identified on the plant. It often provides a convenient method of applying fertilizer materials, especially those required in very small amounts and the highly soluble materials.” (Source: Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service)

With foliar feeding “the nutrients are absorbed directly through the leaves of the plant. They work their way down the roots, but they also stimulate activity in the leaves, which in turn stimulates root development, because the plant starts to demand more water. Applying foliar fertilizer can increase uptake of nutrients from the soil by encouraging plants to take up more water, in addition to providing immediate benefits for a plant which may be suffering from deficiency.” (Source: Grasshopper Fertilizer)

Foliar fertilization is very efficient.

“When plant nutrients are applied to the foliage of the plant, smaller quantities of the fertilizer material are required than when applying to the soil. The danger of fixation and/or leaching is also reduced when nutrients are applied to the foliage of the plant.” (Source: Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service)

If you use foliar fertilizer, do you still need to use a soil fertilizer?

Foliar fertilizers are designed to improve the health of your plant, not the health of your soil.

“A foliar fertilizer is not designed as an alternative to soil fertilizer and soil conditioning, but rather as a supplement which will increase efficiency and improve plant health. Uptake of nutrients from the soil can be very inefficient, and it can take several days for noticeable effects to occur. Foliar fertilizers act more quickly, and far more efficiently, as most of the fertilizer ends up in the plant, rather than in the soil.” (Source: Grasshopper Fertilizer)

Tips for applying foliar fertilizer:

When applying foliar fertilizer it is important to:

  • Apply foliar fertilizer to upper and lower surfaces of the plant’s foliage.
  • Apply until it just begins to drip.
  • Avoid applying immediately before or after a rainfall or when the plant is under water stress.
  • Read the label to ensure compatibility if applying with other products.
  • Read the label to find a foliar fertilizer best suited for your application /  plant 
  • Read the label carefully. You may need to dilute to avoid fertilizer burn.

When is the best time to apply foliar fertilizer?

The best time of the day to apply foliar fertilizer is when the stoma on the leaves is open and best able to absorb nutrients, which is in the early morning and evening, when it is cooler and the leaves have some dew on them.

Dew on canola leaves

Earth Smart Solution’s Foliar Fertilizers

We offer two foliar fertilizers:

ESFF Foliar Fertilizer 

ESFF is a broad-spectrum natural garden fertilizer formulated for flowers, trees, shrubs, fruit, vegetables, root crops and ornamentals. It contains a mixed cultured solution with high grade macro and micro nutrients, amino-acids, complex carbohydrates, vitamins and minerals and proprietary constituents. 


  • Improves and sustains any fertility program 
  • Contains high grade plant nutrients for sustainable, non-toxic use 
  • Will limit or prevent plant absorption of heavy metals and other impurities 
  • Moves rapidly from leaf surface into the plant 
  • Contains complex constituents that enable rapid movement through the plant 
  • Enables rapid correction of nutrient deficiencies, reduces plant stress, improves plant health and improves yield 
  • Helps the plant's natural defense mechanisms to resist plant disease and insect infestations 
  • Can be used alone or mixed with herbicides

Propel Foliar Fertilizer 

Propel Foliar Fertilizer is a broad-spectrum, super concentrated fertilizer for use in reduced synthetic fertilizer programs on grain crops, pulse crops, rice, etc. It is formulated with high grade macro and micro nutrients, plant extracts, amino acids, enzymes, proteins, vitamins, minerals, and complex carbohydrates. Propel Foliar Fertilizer can be used alone or in conjunction with chemical inputs in any standard crop management program.

Foliar Feeding


  • Moves rapidly from leaf surface into the plant
  • Helps the plant's natural defense mechanisms to resist plant disease and insect infestations
  • Increases available nutrients and improves nitrogen uptake
  • Aids in biological nitrogen fixation
  • Stimulates root development
  • Stimulates and helps sustain indigenous biomass
  • Aids in reducing soil compaction

For more information on our products please contact your local Earth Smart Solutions representative or contact our head office at 1-888-444-7174 or via email at


Grasshopper Specialty Products, What is Foliar Fertilizer

Hawaii Cooperative Extension Service, College of Tropical Agriculture and Human Resources, Foliar Application of Fertilizers

Gardening Know How, What Is Foliar Spray: Learn About Different Types of Foliar Spraying

Planet Natural, Foliar Feeding

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