Over Fertilization and Seed Germination

Zone Jacksonville, Fl | Jvillegators added on November 21, 2013 | Answered

My son planted radish seeds for a science experiment. The purpose of the experiment was to compare the size of the plants in manure treated soil versus commercial fertilized soil. He used a 6-6-6 fertilizer. Of the 45 seeds planted (in containers), not a single one germinated in the fertilized pots. Can you provide an article that would explain what happened?

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Certified GKH Gardening Expert
Answered on November 24, 2013

The reason that the seeds did not grow is due to fertilizer burn. Baby plants are like baby people. You can't give them too much of the wrong kind of food too early or it can cause damage.

Seeds contain all the nutrients a plant needs to get started. Extra fertilizer can quickly overwhelm a delicate newly sprouted seedling. Likely the seeds did germinate, but never got big enough to break the soil surface before they died.

I could not find a specific article on it, but here is one on when you should start fertilizing seedlings:

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