prilled sulfur

Does Your Garden Need Prilled Sulfur?

July 10, 2023

True Organic Products

Does Your Garden Need Prilled Sulfur?

prilled sulfurCraving homegrown berries off the vine? Wishing for epic azalea blooms? Planting a backyard apple tree this year?

Prilled Sulfur may be your new best friend.

Single-ingredient granular plant foods are an extraordinary way to boost your unique garden’s abundance and to get more familiar with the nitty gritty of soil and plant health. Ready to level-up your gardening prowess? 

Our organic single-ingredient foods like Bone Meal, Blood Meal, Seabird Guano, and — our focus today — True Organic Prilled Sulfur.

What is Prilled Sulfur?

Prilled Sulfur delivers necessary sulfates to plants. Sulfur “prills” are small, dry pellets of elemental sulfur that can be easily added to garden soil, whether you’re growing in-ground, in beds, or in containers. Once added to your garden, the sulfur will break down into the sulfate form so that the plants can readily take up the nutrient. 

Just like every single True Organic product, our Prilled Sulfur was carefully developed by our team of experts with decades of experience creating and testing fertilizers for large-scale organic agriculture. That means you’re using the very best organic plant food you can get your hands on!

And just like everything else that comes from our food safety-certified plant in Central California, our Prilled Sulfur is totally organic, food safe, and never contains any fillers.

What does Prilled Sulfur do for my garden?

Sulfur is essential for plants, and some need more of it than others (keep reading to find out what plants can most use the support of Prilled Sulfur).

True Organic Prilled Sulfur helps plants in four notable ways:

1) Supplies essential sulfur, in the form of sulfates, to plants

2) Lowers soil pH (makes soil more acidic)

3) Increases micronutrient availability 

4) Protects against some diseases and pests. 

Lowering soil pH

There are all sorts of reasons the soil in your garden might have a high pH (meaning that it’s alkaline or basic, not acidic), typically because of the natural presence of excess sodium, calcium, and/or magnesium in soil. The pH (and everything else about your soil) is influenced by your geographic location, what kind of activity has occurred in your area (like heavy industry), weather, and so many other factors.

Pest & Disease Protection

spider mites

Sulfur keeps on giving! Along with helping your garden take in nutrients and grow abundantly, it can protect your garden against pests and diseases — because sulfur is a natural fungicide! It can also repel certain pests like spider mites.

Curious about other single-ingredient plant foods? Learn about the benefits of Bone Meal and Seabird Guano.

Strong Fruiting & Flowering

Prilled Sulfur helps to increase the availability of nutrients in the soil, making it easier for your plants to absorb the nutrients they need to grow and thrive. That means you can look forward to verdant overall growth and beautiful flowering and fruiting.


What’s the deal with soil pH?

Any substance can be measured for pH. Understanding soil pH is an essential part of upleveling your garden game.

Acidity is measured on a pH scale from 1 to 14. 7 is considered neutral pH. Anything below that is considered acidic, and anything above 7 is alkaline (also called basic). Most garden plants thrive at relatively neutral pH: between 6 and 7.5. 

But some, like berries and many flowering perennials, thrive in more acidic soil. Read on to learn which ones!  

Pro tip: Isn’t there a way to lower soil pH faster? It’s true that sulfuric acid can immediately reduce soil pH, but we highly discourage using sulfuric acid in your garden as it carries some major health hazards.

What kind of plants thrive in low pH soil?

raspberriesThere are a ton of amazing flowering plants, veggies, fruits, and trees that thrive in low pH (acidic) soil! And Prilled Sulfur can help you grow them. You might try: 

  • Vegetables like potatoes, sweet corn, cucumbers, beans, broccoli, turnips, squash, onions
  • Berries like blackberries, blueberries, huckleberries and raspberries
  • Most fruit trees like fig, cherry, peaches, and apple trees.
  • Trees and shrubs like dogwood, beech, holly, oak, dogwood, and evergreens
  • Flowers like gardenias, zinnias, azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, camellias, and daffodils.

Did you know that True Organic makes granular plant food blends specifically for many of the fruiting and flowering crops in your garden? Check out our blends that are tailored to your plants’ needs, like True Organic Berry Food.

How can I tell if my garden needs sulfur?

If you’re growing acid-loving plants, Prilled Sulfur is a sure-fire boost for your garden.

But what about using Prilled Sulfur on soil that just needs a balance due to alkalinity? Besides doing a soil test, you can look for a few signs that your plants are suffering from sulfur deficiency, including yellowing on new leaves (yellowing more mature leaves can mean nitrogen deficiency), stunted growth, poor yield. These symptoms can be the results of other sorts of soil issues, too. So it’s best to test your soil if you suspect sulfur deficiency.

Learn about soil testing for your best garden ever.

How to use Prilled Sulfur in your garden

Woman planting spring flowers in backyard in sunlightJust like any other dry granular plant food, Prilled Sulfur is amazingly easy to apply. Just measure, mix according to the simple guide on your True Organic plant food bag, and water in to activate nutrient breakdown.

It’s best to add Prilled Sulfur to your garden two weeks before you plant.

Will plants get damaged if you plant them less than two weeks after you’ve added Prilled Sulfur to your soil? Probably not. But it takes some time for soil pH to change as microbes work to break down elemental sulfur into sulfate that the plants can use. It’s worth the wait!

What about sprinkling Prilled Sulfur on top of soil with already established plants? It’s not a great idea. Excess sulfur can damage plants stems and leaves, not to mention that digging and mixing where plants have already established themselves is just a little bit rude. 

Be patient and plan well, and your garden dreams can become reality.

Pro tip: Be sure you’re storing your Prilled Sulfur (and any other plant food) properly.

does my garden need prilled sulfur

True Organic Liquids

Plant Food Shelf-life, Storage, & Disposal Dos and Don'ts

May 30, 2023

True Organic Products

Plant Food Shelf-life, Storage, & Disposal Dos and Don’ts

You already know that all True Organic Plant Foods are Certified Food Safe, always made with ingredients from nature, and formulated to be best supplements for your home garden. But how much do you know about the shelf-life and storage of our organic, earth-friendly fertilizers? It never hurts to get a little extra advice from the experts when it comes to keeping your plant foods safe, secure, and effective.

We sat down with Mike Menes, Ph.D., our VP Food Safety & Technology, and Margaret McCoy, Ph.D., our Research & Development Agronomist, to ask the most common questions about storing, handling, and disposing of True Organic plant food in the best way. Here’s what we learned.


How should I store my True Organic plant foods?bone meal

Do store your True Organic plant food in a clean, cool, dry, protected place, away from moisture and direct sunlight.

Don’t leave your plant food bags or bottles outside, exposed to the elements.

Always protect your organic plant foods from rain, direct sun, and wild animals. We recommend storing them in a dark place, in a tightly sealed container.

True Organic plant foods are food! 

Mike Menes reminds us that all the ingredients used to formulate these top-of-the-line, food safe fertilizers are from nature, for nature: ingredients like sugar beet extract, kelp extract, bone meal, and more. They’re organic (of course), biodegradable, and activated by water. 

While everything we make is specially processed to be shelf-stable for years (read on for more on your plant foods’ shelf-life), the ingredients in these soil-supporting formulas have a strong propensity for high biological activity.

Premature exposure to water before being applied in your garden will cause that biological activity to happen in the package. Protecting your True Organic plant food from exposure to water ensures that biological breakdown only happens in the ground, where it can contribute to the overall soil health.

Shelf-life & Potency

How long do True Organic plant foods last? Can they go bad? How can I tell if they’ve spoiled? 

Do get familiar with how your plant foods smell and look when you open them — check out the consistency, color, etc. — so that you can tell if something’s gone wrong.

Don’t use a product if it looks or smells questionable. Just like food! 

You may have noticed that the bottle or bag doesn’t have an expiration date. Does that mean our products last forever?

When stored properly and protected from environmental pressures like moisture, our plant foods can stay fresh and potent for years. While we can’t know that True Organic fertilizers would come out of a time capsule just as effective as the day they came out of our production and testing facilities in Helm, California, they’re pretty darn stable.

True Organic Preplant “Exposure to moisture and direct sunlight will cause degradation, since that’s how they’re activated,” Margaret says. 

Our granular plant foods are low-moisture to preserve the integrity of their organic ingredients and liquid plant foods are stabilized for long shelf-life. All our fertilizers are intentionally formulated and packaged without the use of synthetic chemicals or preservatives but instead control other physical properties like low moisture content to increase the longevity of the finished product. 

When you mix them with your soil and water your plants, that’s when these premium biological ingredients start to break down and feed your plants. Just like your own food, if it doesn’t look quite right — or smell right, or just seems off in any way — toss it.

“We’ve tested our product (that we supply in bulk to big organic farms) that’s been stored for multiple years and seen no significant degradation in NPK values and no contamination by pathogens,” Mike says.

“There can be small degradation over time,” Margaret notes, “but if the product is stored properly, it shouldn’t impact overall performance.”

Keeping it fresh

After a long time in storage (say, over winter) what should i do to prepare True Organic plant foods for use? 

Do simply shake the bottle or bag to mix up any ingredients that may have settled. 

Don’t add anything (like water). “That’ll change the [nutrient] analysis,” warns Margaret. “Just shake it up to mix the granular food and bring the liquid back into solution. Even if you have some settling in granular food, it’s still valuable.”

What about germs?

Should I be worried about pathogens in my plant food after it’s been in storage?

Do remember that all True Organic products are certified food safe to the highest standard and rigorously tested to ensure that they don’t contain pathogens when they’re packaged.

Don’t give pathogens a chance to come into contact with your plant food!

herb and leafy greensWe’re incredibly proud of our commitment to food safety. Our unique process is certified by Bureau Veritas at ISO 22000 standards, an internationally recognized protocol for food safety. True Organic products offer a “source to soil” transparency and safety unlike anything else on the market — because we own the process from start to finish.

We use a precisely designed heat-process “kill step” to eliminate any pathogens in the process of making True Organic plant food, and each product is extensively tested to be free of pathogens.

Learn about the ins and outs of our food safety certification standards.

So while you can trust that your unopened True Organic bottles and bags are free of pathogens, be sure to store and use your plant foods in ways that protect against contamination. (Read on to discover some ways that contamination might happen, and how to get rid of your plant food if it does.)

Wash your hands and tools before and after use, keep pets and animals away from True Organic products, and return partially used packages to a tightly sealed, clean container.

Wild animal invasions

What should I do if wild animals have gotten into my plant food? Little raccoon face looking through wooden deck rails.

Don’t use any True Organic products if you can tell that animals (like mice, rats, opossums, racoons, or birds) have gotten into them. 

Do protect against animal intrusions by storing your organic fertilizer in a container, on a shelf, and/or in an enclosed spot where animals can’t reach it.

Is it okay to use True products after wild animals have gotten into them? Mike and Margaret wouldn’t recommend it — in fact, they’d highly encourage you to toss those products. 

“You don’t know what kind of animal got in there, what they’re carrying — so just get rid of it,” says Mike. “It only takes one little bit to contaminate a product (with a pathogen).” 

Why would an animal want to eat our plant food, anyway?

“It’s a high protein material with some minerals,” Mike reminds us. “Some ingredients that aren’t really edible — of course, you don’t want to eat gypsum, sulfur — but the protein component could be attractive to animals.” 

True Organic plant food is made from materials from nature. Crab shell meal, seabird guano, blood meal, and the like all might be attractive to wild scavengers. Protect your animal neighbors by keeping plant food securely stored.

What about the health of a wild animal that might eat some of your plant food?

“If it does happen,” Mike says, “it is likely not harmful to wild animals that are accustomed to unprotected food sources, and also because these plant foods are mostly made from food ingredients and food by-products.” So there’s no need to call animal services or a wildlife protection agency unless you’re aware that there’s a sick or injured animal in your area.

What about pets? While our products have been manufactured to be free of human pathogens, they’re not meant to be eaten! Always contact your veterinarian and provide them with the product SDS sheet if you’re concerned that your pet got into your plant food.

(Please email for the SDS sheet.)

Disposing with the earth in mind

How can I properly dispose of True Organic plant food?

Green bin containerDo put in your municipal green bin, if you have one, where you put your yard and food waste.

Don’t put it in your home compost pile unless you have an extremely high-functioning compost operation.

If your plant food does get exposed to the elements or you see that animals have snacked on it, the best way to dispose of it is in the green bin. 

Fertilizer typically shouldn’t be added to home compost piles, Margaret notes, because the huge influx of nutrients that fertilizer adds can overwhelm the microorganisms in the compost. 

(Fertilizer can certainly be added to compost piles as a food source for microorganisms — but it’s essential that the compost is at tip-top functionality with good carbon-to-nitrogen ratio, adequate turnover, proper temperature, and ideal moisture level.)

“We consider our products to be part of the food chain,” Mike Menes says. “We want to try to keep anything we can from going into a landfill,” Mike says.

Everything we do at True Organic, we do with the earth in mind. Our mission is to help gardeners like you restore the soil we all rely on. That’s why we take such great care in developing the most effective plant foods with the most soil-enriching ingredients — and we want to keep those beneficial ingredients in the ecosystem, not in landfills. 

About our experts

Read more about our entire R&D Team.

Mike Menes, Ph.D. – VP, Food Safety & Technology

mike menes

For over 13 years, Mike has been on a mission to formulate fertilizer that makes a difference in the way we grow, consume and improve our bodies and the planet. With a Ph.D. in chemistry, he focuses on food safety and quality lab work. Mike is driven by his pursuit of technological improvements that help detect human pathogens and organic integrity — one of the reasons True Organic is a worldwide leader in organic, pathogen-free fertilizer for commercial farms and, now, home gardens.

Dr. Margaret McCoy, Ph.D. – Research & Development Agronomist

margaret mccoy

Based in Eastern Washington, Dr. Margaret McCoy is focused on conducting and collaborating on research trials with growers across the Pacific Northwest’s diverse cropping systems. Before completing her Ph.D. from Washington State University in Horticultural, she learned her love for organic agriculture and science from the family farm. She enjoys working with growers to conduct on-farm trials to support industry understanding of nutrient use efficiency based on data gathered from the region.

plant food shelf life and storage

annuals and perennials blog

Get to Know Annuals & Perennials Food

February 27, 2023

True Organic Products

Meet the newest addition to the True Organic Plant Food lineup: our Organic Annuals & Perennials Food! We’re excited to answer some common questions about this new granular blend.

As usual, whenever we talk about soil science, we get some expert help from our R&D Agronomist and plant doctor, Dr. Margaret McCoy, PhD — the coolest homesteading viticulturist in the PNW! Read more about Margaret and the rest of our rockstar R&D and science team in last month’s blog.

How is the Annuals & Perennials Food different from other True Organic plant foods?

This uniquely crafted blend is higher in phosphorus and potassium (relative to nitrogen). Phosphorus and potassium encourage flower growth (reproductive growth) over vegetative growth. A more generalized food like our All-Purpose Plant Food has more nitrogen to encourage more vegetative growth. But when you plant flowers, you want blooms! Specifically, you want to see more blooms than stems or greenery. Raising a sturdy plant is important for getting prolific, healthy blooms.

Phosphorus ensures that the energy taken in by the plant is moved into roots for development and growth, as well as for flowering.

The increased potassium is good for establishing strong shoots and roots at the cellular level, so that the plants can pull up lots of nutrients. This is especially important for perennials, since they are long-lasting garden additions that hold up lots of beautiful blooms (hopefully)! Potassium in the form of soluble potash can also contribute to increased size of blooms.

Let’s look at the premium ingredients used in this blend. What are they and how does each contribute to plant and soil health? 

Shrimp Shell Meal and Crab Shell Meal: These both contain high proportions of chitin, a nitrogen-rich amino sugar that triggers an immune response in plants — so it helps suppress soil-borne diseases. Shells also contain calcium and magnesium. Calcium increases cell wall strength and helps reduce the likelihood of things like blossom end rot; magnesium is key to a plant’s ability to absorb sunlight because it’s an essential part of chlorophyll.

These two ingredients also tend to break down quicker than bone meal. 

Poultry Manure: While many kinds of manure can make a great base for granular fertilizers, poultry manure is widely used in gardening and agriculture because it tends to be higher than other animal manures in the nutrients that plants most need. Of course, it’s also a good source of organic matter. Our poultry manure comes from organically fed birds and passes through the most rigorous food safety-certified protocol possible, so this organic goodness is ready to nourish plants and soil.

Soybean Meal: Typically high in nitrogen and low in phosphorus and potassium, this plant-based fertilizer component is slow-release. That means it can feed the plant over the growing season in small increments. It’s good to note that microorganisms will break this material down easiest during warm, wet weather (or when you consistently water during warm weather).  

What home garden plants is Annual & Perennial Food best for? 

perennial flowersIt’s a good choice for any long-term planting like herbs, perennials, and flowers that tend to be leggy. It’s also great when you want to give plants a healthy dose of phosphorus and/or potassium during the growing season. These plants may have plenty of nitrogen with good vegetative growth, but adding phosphorus and potassium can improve roots, strength, and flowers.

Any plants that should NOT get any Annual & Perennial Food?

Annual & Perennial Food isn’t aimed at heavy nitrogen feeders (like tomatoes, corn, peppers, etc.). You can use Annual & Perennial Food as a timed application to help boost blooms or fruit in things like peppers and tomatoes, but it shouldn’t be your primary source of fertilizer.

Margaret’s top tips:margaret mccoy

  • Remember to keep the soil moist to help the fertilizer break down for plant uptake by soil microorganisms, but not so wet that roots begin to rot!
  • Over-applying will not always get bigger or better results! 
  • If you grow the same plants in the same place every year, try to change it up so that you can replenish the nutrients removed by those plants. 
  • You can also amend the soil by adding compost or other organic material in the fall when you remove that season’s plants. This gives you a leg up when you plant the following season. 
  • Fertilizing perennials is different from what you might be used to with annuals. Take time to research your plants so you always have the best blooms on the block. Flower show winners! I mean, is it really gardening if you don’t brag about your crops?! (Not that we’re competitive over here or anything…)

Happy gardening!

annuals perennials blog

meet the r&d team

Meet The True Organic R&D Team

Feb 15, 2023

True Organic Products

Meet The True Organic R&D Team

Our Research & Development Team at True Organic truly sets us apart. This crew of dedicated science and agriculture professionals works to find even better ways to deliver powerful, organic, food-safe plant foods to you — and to the large-scale farms we’ve been serving for decades.

So we thought it was due time for them to share the spotlight with the products they help develop.  

From orchards and lettuce fields to chemistry labs and conferences, this team brings passion and positivity to everything they do. Meet our R&D Team!

Meet Mike Menes, PhD: Vice President Food Safety & Technology

mike menes

Hello, Mike! What’s your role with True Organic? 

I’m responsible for providing the systems and resources to manufacture a product at the highest quality standard. I am also a representative of True Organic in relation to the government and the wider organic industry.

Why is your work important to you?

In a few words: I can make a difference. I’m able to affect change and tell the world about it — like protecting the USDA Organic Seal and food/product safety (we’re proud to hold the highest possible standard for food safety), which are aspects that are important to me personally. We do this work with the objective to improve the lives of people in our company, the lives of people who buy our products, and to improve the planet.

A little more about me:

I am an avid woodworker. I learned some carpentry skills from my father and in a cabinet shop in college and in the summers after. I’ll try and make anything…I can’t guarantee that it’ll be very pretty, but it usually turns out okay.


Meet Ramy Colfer, PhD: Vice President, Research & Development / Agronomy

ramy colfer

Hi, Ramy! What’s your role at True Organic?

I work to improve our understanding of the many benefits of True Organic products for

organic farmers: improving soil health and plant nutrient availability, bolstering plant health and resilience, and helping our customers succeed. I really enjoy working with growers (our customers), our sales team, our production team, and my excellent R&D and Agronomy team. 

What do you love about your work? 

We help grow amazing organic crops and make soil better too while giving a home to waste products. True Organic is a great company to work for and has very strong integrity: in our commitment to customer service, organic integrity, and food safety, and in giving strong, scientifically-based guidance to our customers. True is a world-changing company in the way we take agricultural byproducts, process them for premium quality and safety, then quickly deliver them on a massive scale to growers all over the country. When I see how much organic food we help grow, and how much carbon material is added to the soil every year because of True Organic products, it brings me pride and satisfaction.

We have a very tight family culture here. We work hard together and try to improve the company every day. True is an exciting company, growing incredibly over the last two decades, with great potential to grow even more. Our goals are lofty and our only limits are our imaginations.

A little more about me: 

I love my family, I love my home and the place I live, and I love working in organic agriculture. I have a wonderful wife and three daughters that are all doing incredible things in the world. I really enjoy regular activities in our local mountains and ocean here on the Central Coast. There is rarely a week that goes by when I am not hiking in the mountains or surfing in the ocean. I am a person with great gratitude. I hope to help the world a little before I leave.


Meet Ehsan Toosi, PhD: Director of Research & Development

ehsan toosi

Hello, Ehsan! What’s your role with True Organic? 

Apart from particular research directions that I lead, I work with the rest of the R&D team at our Helm, California facilities on projects as well as research facilities (research lab and greenhouse), but also with the Operations team and external partners, especially technical and research units.

Why is your work important to you?

Our team at True is dedicated to turning upcycled waste/by-products into premium inputs for use in intensive organic cropping systems. I am fortunate to be a part of this effort and work in the industry, given a number of environmental and agronomic benefits of organic cropping, and nutritional value of organic crops.

A little more about me:

Indulging myself anywhere outdoor in the Sierras is my primary interest when I get a chance.


Meet Andrew Pedersen: Central Valley Senior Agronomist

andrew pedersen

Hey, Andrew! What’s your role at True Organic?

I support our sales team, customers, and growers in understanding and using True Organic products. I also create crop fertility programs to help guide organic growers on how best to apply our products (like determining application rates and timings).

During the production season (February through October), I oversee trials on organic farms, mostly to compare fertility using True Organic products to another program the grower might be using. Many times, I’m comparing a new True product or program to other True products the grower is already using — that’s how we continuously improve the productivity of organic systems. We use soil and leaf tissue tests to determine nutrient availability, capture aerial imagery with drones using specialized sensors that can help compare plant health, and evaluate yield and quality (critical points, as they’re the bottom line for the grower). In the late fall and winter, I interpret, summarize, and present data from our trials to the sales team, customers, and growers. 

What matters to you about your work?

I live in Tulare County, the heart of the San Joaquin Valley. This valley is one of the most productive agricultural regions in the world, specializing in nuts, grapes, fresh fruit, and a variety of vegetables. Growers in this region are facing tremendous challenges, the biggest of which is water availability for irrigation. I believe organic production has the potential to provide growers the opportunity to improve long-term economic profitability, while improving soil health and farming in a more sustainable way. Farming organically can be difficult, and resources about how to do it successfully are limited. True Organic has been and will continue to be an important resource for these growers as they transition to organic farming.

A little more about me:

My family and I are lucky to live on 4 acres. My wife, who is a veterinarian, has plenty of room for animals (horses, goats, and chickens) and I have a lot of space to grow my own fruits and vegetables. I have about 20 different fruit trees and grow a variety of vegetables year-round, thanks to California’s climate. It’s so satisfying to watch my 2 kids enjoying tomatoes, peaches, or mandarins that I grew and harvested myself. And since I started at True, I’ve got lots of free organic fertilizer to play with!

Meet Justin Russak, PhD: Senior Chemist

justin russak

Hi, Justin! What’s your role at True Organic? 

I have the privilege of taking ideas and turning them into useful products. The research begins in the R&D lab, which is equipped with all the instruments and tools we need to ensure our products are stable, compatible, and meet specifications. Working with production and engineering, products that are ready for primetime need to be translated from their small lab-scale tests to large-scale production. A good portion of my time is dedicated to supporting these efforts as well as many others at our facility in Helm, CA. 

What do you love about your work at True? 

It is extremely satisfying to work in an environment with like-minded people who inspire greatness. The work we put in as a team has a direct impact on the products we sell to organic growers. The final reward is seeing a grower’s product in the grocery store and putting it in my basket, knowing that in some small way I contributed to that process.

A little more about me:

I tackle the New York Times crossword daily — it’s been a thing for maybe 5 years or so now, along with the Spelling Bee and Wordle. If you know…you know.

Meet Margaret McCoy, PhD: PNW R&D Agronomist

margaret mccoy

Hey, Margaret! What do you do at True Organic? 

During the summer, I do data collection and analysis including soil and tissue samples for trials and grower collaborators. We meet with growers to go over trial data and progress to help inform their organic production.

What do you love about your work at True?

I find happiness in helping growers and hopefully making a difference to the industries we work with. Organic farming is in my blood, and I want to honor those who have taught me or helped me along this path in life. 

A little more about me:

I love to snowboard and I make wine from my own vineyard. 

meet the team

ccof foundation    ccof foundation

plant food ingredients

Liquid Plant Food Ingredients For Your Houseplants

November 11, 2022

True Organic Products

The Plant Doctor Is In: Liquid Plant Food Ingredients That Support Your Houseplants

Despite growing up on a farm and being a real-life plant and soil scientist (with a Masters in Soil Science and PhD in Horticulture from Washington State University), Margaret McCoy admits that she never had any indoor plants until grad school.

“I needed a plant for a grad school project, and my advisor gave me a pothos. And I still have it!”

It was the first indoor plant Margaret kept alive, and it inspired her to start reconsidering her ability to care for houseplants. Before that inspirational pothos, she was never able to keep a houseplant from perishing.

“People were always giving me plants but I didn’t want them! I murdered them.”

So what changed for Margaret and her houseplants? Besides settling into a more permanent home (her homestead in South-Central Washington State), she says she learned more about taking care of them and forgiving herself when things didn’t work out.

“I have a rubber tree, I have a fiddle-leaf fig, I have a monstera…and they all need different things and sometimes I don’t know why a certain plant isn’t happy. I just try different things.”

And one of the major things that really makes a difference in your houseplants’ health is plant food ingredients! We sat down with Margaret to chat about how True Organic Liquid Plant Foods are your secret weapon when it comes to caring for your houseplants and potted garden.


What’s In The Bottle?

When you look at the nutrient analysis of any fertilizer, you’re seeing the available nutrients that will “feed” your plants.

But look closer and you’ll notice a “derived from” section on the label. These are the ingredients used to make the listed nutrients available for plants. It’s very similar to a nutrition label on packaged food: the ingredients are what deliver the listed nutrients (carbohydrates, vitamins, sugars, protein, etc.) to your body.

Let’s look at some of the common ingredients in our liquid plant foods and learn about what they deliver to your green friends.


Reduced Molasses Sugar & Sugar Beet Extract

Let’s start simple: with simple sugar, that is.

Yep, reduced molasses sugar and sugar beet extract are just what they sound like!

These plant food ingredients are sugar-water solutions that dose plants with a quick shot of nutrients for energy. This type of ingredient helps reduce transplant shock — a condition that can strike plants when they are moved to a new location or environment, or undergo physical harm.

Molasses is derived from sugarcane and you know it as a sweetener for gingerbread, cookies, and cinnamon buns. Sugar beet extract is, of course, derived from sugar beets. Both give plants a quick, easily “digestible” source of nutrients and stress-suppressing compounds.

They’re a source of easily digestible carbon and minerals for soil microbes, which enhances microbial activity and can improve nutrient uptake.

While they don’t provide a lot of ongoing nutrient support, these ingredients act like a sugary drink or “goo” that a long-distance athlete might use to boost their energy during an endurance race. That’s why this family of ingredients is contained in many of our plant foods!


Kelp extract

The ocean gives us this plant food ingredient. “Kelp makes plants really happy. It’s really good for plants that have a stress response or injury,” says Margaret McCoy.

Here’s how: Kelp contains growth hormones that can help regulate the growth of plants. The cytokine hormone mobilizes nutrients in plant leaves to improve the chlorophyll content and increase the growth rate and fullness of plants. It can also improve resilience in response to a variety of stressors and even support pest and disease resistance.



Potash, as a plant food ingredient, contributes potassium to plant food. While potash (pronounce “pot ash,” as in “potassium ash”) was originally produced from wood ashes and charcoal, it’s now typically mined from the underground deposits of evaporated sea beds.

The term “potash” usually refers to the overarching group of potassium-rich minerals as a whole; most of the potash delivers potassium in the form of Potassium Chloride (KCl). Like many other nutrients, potassium needs to be in the right form for soil microbes to break it down and plant roots to take it in.

Potassium is a huge helper to the overall quality and yield of crops. It protects plants from extreme temperatures, helps plants to fight stress, strengthens roots and stems, and helps enzymes support plants’ efficient use of water.


Soy Protein Hydrolysates

“Protein hydrolysates are essential amino acids that serve as a simple superfood,” says Margaret McCoy. They’re building blocks for plants, stimulating root growth and function, supporting cell structure, and promoting vegetative growth.

Plants use amino acids differently, and protein hydrolysates give them a needed boost of different types of amino acids.

Our exclusive soy protein hydrolysate blend is derived from organic soy beans and supplies a wide range of amino acids for both plants and soil microbes. (Plants can use the amino acids directly or use components like nitrogen and carbon for other critical parts of plant development.)

Soy protein hydrolysates are a super-star plant food ingredient that enhances nutrient availability and reduces the overall impacts of environmental stress (over-watering, heat, etc). That’s why this ingredient is in all of our Liquid Plant Foods!


Humic Acid

Humic Acid is a signature plant food ingredient in our Organic Liquid Preplant Starter. It stimulates root development — specifically fine roots used to scavenge nutrients and help improve water and nutrient uptake. And with improved root systems, plants can protect better against environmental stressors!


Grow Your Home Jungle!

Now that you’re briefed on how different plant food ingredients support plants, you may be eager to get going with fertilization. But be mindful: plants don’t need supplements during non-growth seasons (like in Fall and Winter), and it’s important to get to know your plants and what they need.

Research the varieties of houseplants you’re raising to learn more about what kind of plant foods they need. Get familiar with your plants’ appearances so you know when something is up, and they need a boost, a repotting, less water, or a new spot in the house.

And you can rest assured that every single True Organic product is certified food safe with the absolute highest standards. Learn more about our commitment to food safety and how we ensure the safest, highest-quality organic fertilizers on the market.


- True Organic -

4 Things You Didn't Know: Bone Meal in Your Garden

October 11, 2022

True Organic Products

Single-ingredient plant foods can make a huge impact in your garden. Why? Because they contain high concentrations of specific nutrients that plants need. Let’s take a look at one of our most powerful single-ingredient plant foods: True Organic Bone Meal.


What Is Bone Meal?

Bone Meal is a nutrient-rich soil amendment made from ground animal bones, processed into a fine powder that can be easily applied to soil like any other granular plant food. It has a complex, potent makeup of nutrients that go a long way for soil and crops.

So what’s it good for? Bone Meal, which only needs to be applied to soil once in Spring and once in Fall, is celebrated for helping flowering and fruiting plants.




1: Bone Meal is a powerhouse provider of phosphorus and nitrogen.

Single-ingredient plant foods like True Organic Bone Meal are powerful supplements for plants and soil that can resolve problems in your garden caused by specific soil nutrient deficiencies.

Bone Meal doesn’t have a balanced nutrient profile — meaning that it’s not evenly distributing the “big three” nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium) to soil like many of our multi-ingredient granular blends.

What is does deliver is a big boost of phosphorus and nitrogen! That means Bone Meal (like our organic Blood Meal and Seabird Guano) is best used in situations where you know exactly what the soil needs — in other words, what it’s lacking.

Bone Meal delivers a strong supply of these two big nutrients: 

Nitrogen, which is essential to many factors of a healthy plant — and all of life on the planet! For one, nitrogen is a major component of chlorophyll, the compound that allows plants to photosynthesize.

Phosphorus is an all-around plant supporter! It’s essential to support photosynthesis, rooting, flowering, seed production, and other vital functions. When soil is deficient in phosphorus, plants will have trouble flowering, fruiting, and seeding.

This makes Bone Meal an excellent choice for gardens with low-nitrogen soil, for flower gardens, and for gardeners hoping to produce lots of vegetables like zucchini and tomatoes, and root crops like beets, carrots, and potatoes.

(Macronutrients are the elements that plants need in large quantities to build cells, grow, fruit, root, and survive. Micronutrients are needed in smaller quantities.)

Pro tip: It’s a great idea to do a soil test to assess if you need Bone Meal for your garden. Learn about soil testing in our interview with Margaret McCoy, PhD, our resident soil doctor.


2: It gives plants a needed boost of other macronutrients.

While you might immediately look at the N-P-K ratios of fertilizers as “headliner” macronutrients, plants also require smaller doses of other minerals to thrive. And Bone Meal contains a bunch of ‘em!

Calcium! As you can imagine, calcium is one of those nutrients supplied by Bone Meal. Calcium is a secondary macronutrient that helps plants build strong cell walls and grow robust roots. Therefore, Bone Meal is great for your root veggies — beets, carrots, potatoes, etc.

Calcium also helps prevent blossom end rot — which makes Bone Meal an excellent food for tomatoes.

Zinc and magnesium, two small-but-mighty nutrients, support overall plant health and are essential for photosynthesis. Zinc helps with chlorophyll production and magnesium supports photosynthesis.

Altogether, the nutrients in Bone Meal support fruit and flower production, strong roots, and all-season vitality.


3: Bone Meal only needs to be applied twice a year for sustained support.

The major nutrients in True Organic Bone Meal are released gradually over time, so this supplement feeds your garden (soil and plants) long-term.

We recommend applying Bone Meal to your soil once in Spring (before planting) and once in Fall (at the end of your season). This powerful plant food will feed your plants all season long!

Remember, this isn’t a supplement intended for “quick fixes.” When you use True Organic Bone Meal, you’re forming a long-term relationship with your soil. The nutrients in Bone Meal can take a few months to break down and be available for your crops.

Ehsan Toosi, PhD, our Director of Research & Development, calls Bone Meal a “sustained release” supplement. “It supports plants for the growing season and the next season.”

While this plant food is definitely not fast-release, the supply of certain nutrients (particularly calcium and phosphorus) depends on how finely ground the “meal” is and what type of bone is used, says Toosi. So keep in mind that using various brands of Bone Meal may yield different results!


4: True Organic Bone Meal is sustainable and certified food safe.

Just like every other True Organic plant food, our Bone Meal is certified food safe by Bureau Veritas, the highest standard in testing, inspection, and certification services. Read more about our food safety practices and what that means for you.

Of course, we know you’d never intentionally consume plant food! But think of it this way: what you apply to your edible garden will eventually end up on your dinner plate.

Along with being food safe, True Organic Bone Meal diverts animal waste from slaughterhouses, turning it into an organic, chemical-free addition to healthy soil which means a healthier ecosystem.

By utilizing a natural by-product that might otherwise become waste and feeding your crops with organic plant food, you’re working double-duty to develop a more sustainable lifestyle. Way to go!



- True Organic -

6 Reasons to Use Blood Meal in Your Garden

July 1, 2022

True Organic Products

6 Reasons to Use Blood Meal in Your Garden

Looking for a new plant food that supports luscious foliage, gives plants a quick boost for healthy growth, and builds the long-term wellness of your soil? Blood Meal is a perfect choice.

If you’ve never used Blood Meal before, it may sound intimidating. Rest assured, just like every other True Organic product, our Blood Meal is easy to use, food safe, and supportive of both plants and soil.


1: Blood Meal is an easy-to-apply, dry amendment.

As True Organic’s Director of Research & Development, Ehsan Toosi, PhD, puts it, “The Blood Meal you get in a True Organic bag doesn’t resemble blood in any way.”

So what exactly is Blood Meal? The name really does explain it all. Blood Meal is a dry amendment made from animal blood — in our case, cows. Blood is dried, processed, and packaged into a granular fertilizer that’s simple to apply, just like any other.




2. Blood meal is an amazing source of nitrogen.

This natural resource is very rich in nitrogen and gives plants a quick-release supply of this vital nutrient. Nitrogen is an essential macronutrient for plants’ photosynthesis process and supports luscious foliage. It helps plants grow fast, strong, and green!

Good nitrogen content in soil will result in lush, green leaves and healthy plant growth and fruiting. Yellow, withered leaves are often a sign of too little nitrogen in soil.

Nitrogen also helps lower the pH of soil, so acid-loving plants benefit from blood meal applications.

That makes it perfect for heavy feeders like corn, broccoli, spinach, and other leafy greens.

Just be mindful of how much you apply! Because blood meal has such a concentration of nitrogen, over-applying is detrimental to plants. Too much nitrogen in your soil can damage or even kill your plants! Follow the application instructions on the back of the bag carefully.


3: True Organic Blood Meal is sustainably sourced.

The cow blood we use for True Organic Blood Meal comes from slaughterhouses that are using other parts of the animal for other finished products. By utilizing a natural by-product of the cattle industry, we’re doing our part to ensure that nothing is wasted.

“When you think about it from the big-picture perspective, we’re upcycling undesirable waste,” Ehsan Toosi says.

True Organic has always been committed to a sustainable approach — it’s why we do what we do. We know the planet’s resources aren’t infinite, especially when it comes to agricultural resources. But with thoughtful production and good research, our industry could be the most influential link to a sustainable future on Earth.




4: True Organic Blood Meal is food safe.

Just like every other True Organic product, our Blood Meal goes through rigorous safety processes to ensure we bring you the safest and highest-quality plant foods on the market.

Of course, we know you’d never intentionally consume plant food! But think of it this way: what you apply to your edible garden will eventually end up on your dinner plate.

We’re proud to be a worldwide leader in food safety, with diligent safety measures certified by Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection, and certification services. Read more about our food safety practices and what that means for your garden (and your kitchen table).


5: Blood Meal helps rebuild challenged soil.

Sure, Blood Meal gives your home garden a quick shot of much-needed nitrogen — but one of the best things about Blood Meal is how much it bolsters long-term soil health.

“In a soil that’s sandy and doesn’t have a lot of natural fertility to it, Blood Meal is a good choice because it has a low carbon-to-nitrogen ratio,” our Vice President of Research & Development, Ramy Colfer, PhD, says.

Thanks to its high nitrogen content, Blood Meal infuses soil with helpful nitrogen over a long time (although our Blood Meal is not a slow-release source of nitrogen because of how it’s processed). As Blood Meal decomposes in soil, it gradually supplies nitrogen to microbes and plants for a period of several weeks to a few months, depending on conditions.

And for gardeners who use compost with a lot of brown/carbon-heavy material (leaves, grass clippings, paper, etc.), Blood Meal is a great addition. It will help balance the soil’s carbon-to-nitrogen ratio so plants can thrive.


6: Blood Meal might keep pests away.

Yes, might.

While it’s not a proven method, many gardeners over the ages claim that using blood meal helps deter pest animals like squirrels, deer, and rabbits (Rodale’s Ultimate Encyclopedia of Organic Gardening, 2017). It’s said that these animals dislike the smell of blood. It’s worth a shot!




Liquid or Granular Plant Food? elderly woman watering flowers

Should I Use Liquid or Granular Plant Food?

July 5, 2022

True Organic Products

Should I Use Liquid or Granular Plant Food?


When it comes to choosing which plant food is perfect for your at-home gardening project, it’s best to start with the most basic choice: liquid or granular?

While it may come down to personal preference or past experience, there are a few deciding factors that distinguish granular plant foods from liquids.

Start by considering the basics:

  • Where are you using it? Indoor or outdoors?
  • Are you growing in containers, raised beds, in-ground, or another method?
  • What kind of types of nutrients are you looking for (Nitrogen, Phosphorus, Potassium, and more)?
  • How fast do you need to get nutrients to your plants?
  • Are you treating a specific problem? Or aiming for general nutritional support throughout the growing season?
  • What’s your watering method?



When it comes down to it, our liquid and granular or dry plant foods are more similar than they are different. All True Organic™ plant foods contain specific macro- and micro-nutrients that plants and soil need.

Liquid and granular plant food varieties are both:

  • Full of specific macro- and micro-nutrients that plants need
  • Supportive of soil health by nourishing the microbes that live in soil
  • Great for indoor and outdoor use
  • Rigorously tested for food safety and certified ISO 22000

What’s The Difference Between Liquid or Granular Plant Food?

What sets them apart (besides the fact that one is liquid and one is solid) has more to do with how each is applied and how their material differences fit with certain types of gardens and planting methods.

Liquid and granular plant food differ in their:

  • Immediate nutrient availability
  • Nutrient availability over time
  • Best application methods
  • Single-ingredient options


elderly woman watering flowers

Safe for Indoor & Outdoor

Both liquid and granular plant foods can be successfully and safely used for your indoor and outdoor plants, but many people prefer to use liquid for houseplants and seed starts. Yep, our plant foods are safe to use in your houseplants, even around kids and pets!

A commitment to food safety is one of our core values. We’re proud of the fact that we’re the first plant food manufacturer to be ISO 22000 certified by Bureau Veritas (a world-class food safety management seal of approval). Every single True Organic product is tested and certified safe — liquid and granular, single-ingredient, and blends.




Liquid for Houseplants

Houseplants love liquid plant food! And so do we, because it’s just so easy to measure and apply.

Giving plants a precisely measured dose of liquid plant food is as simple as measuring, mixing, and watering. For houseplants, we recommend our Liquid All Purpose Plant Food.

Because liquid is easy to use, though, it can be tempting to add too much. Remember that it’s essential to measure your fertilizer and apply it on a schedule.


Starting Raised Beds & New Containers

Starting a new container garden or raised beds? Granular plant food is your best friend. In fact, we made a plant food just for your raised bed crops to support vegetative growth with a healthy boost of nitrogen.

Work dry plant food into the first few inches of your raised beds and big boxes in early spring, and over the next weeks and months, it’ll become available for plants as they grow.

“I put a little dry food into the potting mixture so that nutrients are being released over time,” says Margaret McCoy, our R&D Agronomist.

A good, thorough mixing as you start new beds and containers will ensure that your granular plant food is well-distributed throughout your growing medium.


Drip Irrigation

Do you have a drip irrigation system in your outdoor plant habitat? Liquid plant food is perfect for that! Simply add liquid food in at the starting point of your system and let the system do the rest.

“The great thing about liquids,” says Margaret, “is that you can water them into the pot or soil profile or they can be incorporated directly into watering solutions.”


Nutrient Availability

Do you have plants that need a boost right away? Liquid can help.

Liquid plant foods tend to be more readily available, meaning that plants can more quickly “absorb” the nutrients with each dose of liquid plant food than they can with dry supplements. Dry products generally take more time and energy to be broken down and become chemically available for plants to pick up.

Margaret says, “I use liquids outdoors when I want the plant to get nutrients quickly or I see that there’s an issue — or I want to boost something like blooms or general production.”

You may not see results right away, but that doesn’t mean your plants aren’t feeling the boost of nutrients. (Just another remind to not overdo it with the plant food.)

Ready To Choose?

True Organic plant food is available at more local retailers than ever! Find yours with our convenient store locator or explore our online store.


- True Organic -

What’s So Great About Seabird Guano?

November 29, 2021

True Organic Products

What’s So Great About Seabird Guano?

With a balanced nutrient profile, time-tested ability to stimulate growth, and TRUE’s food-safe guarantee, Seabird Guano might just become your new favorite plant supplement.

We know what you’re wondering… and, yes: “guano” means droppings. Think of it as manure, but from birds and other flying animals (you may have heard about bat guano, too). Just like when we use the word “manure” to designate something more than bovine excrement, guano is a complex, nutrient-dense substance that is much more than “droppings.”


What Makes Seabird Guano Different? That Fish Diet!

Plants love guano. But don’t assume that every bird dropping is created equal.

Seabird guano is unique from other birds’ guano—and other types of animal manure—because it contains a specific mix of macro- and micronutrients that is incredibly supportive for both plants and soil.

Thanks to the birds’ fresh ocean buffet and the guano’s drying process, seabird guano is packed with Phosphorus, Potassium, Carbon, and Nitrogen. 

Plus, decomposed organic matter from the birds’ prey contributes even more helpful ingredients that soil microbes need to multiply and thrive.

‍Nutrient Makeup

Phosphorus (P) is especially important for root and bloom development, which results in more robust fruit and flower growth. On a microscopic level, strong root development means plants can absorb more water and nutrients from the soil—resulting not only in bountiful yields and big blossoms, but also long-lasting, happy plants.

Potassium (K) supports root systems and photosynthesis. In other words, K is all about growth!

Carbon (C) and Nitrogen (N) are essential foods for all plants, as well as soil microorganisms. If you’re a home compost-maker, you’ll know that a balance of carbon-based and nitrogen-based ingredients are what make a healthy compost mix (along with some other important ingredients). Nitrogen is also responsible for supporting foliage growth.

An Amazing Soil Biostimulant

If you know TRUEⓇ, you know we’re obsessed with soil health.

Supplying soil with macronutrients (carbon and nitrogen, specifically) and micronutrients (thanks to all those decomposed and decomposing fish parts) stimulates microbial activity. That ensures that the microscopic inhabitants within soil, like bacteria and fungi—and slightly bigger-than-micro lifeforms like earthworms—thrive.

Soil is amazingly alive! Read more about what makes up healthy soil, and how you can support it.

Nutrients For Now And Later

One of the uniquely wonderful aspects of seabird guano is its combination of readily available and slow-release nutrients.

What does that mean for farms and gardens? Plants get nutrition they need right away and they’re supported with other nutritional support throughout their whole crop cycle.

What’s It Good For?

Seabird guano can be used on both indoor and outdoor plants, in-ground and in containers (but keep reading for a gentle word of advice regarding seabird guano and your houseplants). It’s pretty darn versatile!

The overall nutrient makeup of seabird guano encourages plants to grow rapidly and to develop robust flowers and foliage. Its high humus properties (high quantity of decomposed organic matter, a keystone of soil fertility) helps increase nutrient availability for your plants.

Anything you’re growing with lots of leaves would benefit from some seabird guano. It’s a perfect plant food to help support for:

  • Leafy green vegetables
  • Fruit trees
  • Berries
  • Landscaping foliage
  • Any flowering plant!

It’s known to improve yields, enhance flavor (especially of fruits and berries), and support the long-lasting health of perennials (thanks to the nutrients that support root systems).
Get to know more about our seabird guano, why we added it to the True OrganicⓇ plant food family, and how we ensure sustainability from our Founder and Chief Agronomist.

When To Apply

We recommend two applications per year, one in Spring and one in Fall for outdoor plants. Seabird guano helps fulfill plant nutrient cycle demands during seasons when flowering and root development could use some support.

Houseplants benefit from a Spring application, when they begin a new growing season, making lots of leaves and buds.

For some plants, seabird guano can be used throughout the flowering season to support robust blooms. This is especially great for plants with lots of foliage, like trees and berries. Always check with your local garden center, nursery, or farm and feed store to see what frequency is right for your plants.

Just like any plant food, it can be tempting to over-apply seabird guano in hopes that more is better. Always follow our mixing and application instructions on your TRUEⓇ product package! Adding too much or fertilizing too often can damage your plants.

When To Be Careful

Seabird guano can be used for outdoor or indoor plants, but because of its potent smell, you might want to go light on application to indoor plants.

Outdoors, some wildlife may be attracted to the odor of seabird guano. Be careful if you live in a place with lots of wildlife, or protect your garden plot with a fence.

Sustainably Harvested

The best seabird guano comes from Peru—that’s where we ethically harvest our product for True OrganicⓇ Seabird Guano.

While seabird guano exists in other places in the world, the deposits off Peru’s coast contain the absolutely highest quality guano for agriculture. Why? This part of Peru’s coast doesn’t get much rain at all, so the guano is well preserved, high in nitrates and other macro- and micro-nutrients, and “cured” (dried) on the rocks for ideal consistency.

These thick, dried guano deposits make it possible to harvest and make it very important to preserve the ecosystem that allows them to form—from the birds’ nests to the dry climate.

Seabird guano has been used by humans as an agricultural supplement for hundreds of years. In the 19th Century, before commercial fertilizer was widely produced and used, seabird guano (and other natural ingredients like bone, manure, and ash) rose in popularity. In the 1830s, when Americans first sailed to the Chincha Islands off the coast of Peru to mine guano, the islands were coated with a 200-foot deep layer of seabird guano. In less than 50 years, the supply was nearly completely gone.

Thanks to environmental and economic efforts to preserve these “guano islands” and the birds that produce this incredible fertilizer, the deposits have begun to replenish and are now protected by law.

Sustainably acquiring our ingredients for True OrganicⓇ products is non-negotiable.

We collaborate with the laborers who harvest our guano, the Peruvian government, and environmental advisors who help protect the seabirds to ensure this valuable resource is available for many years to come.

You can start to see why it’s so essential to ethically harvest and maintain sustainable commercial production of seabird guano products. Appreciating the reciprocal relationships between humans, wildlife, and ecosystems is what drives everything we do at TRUEⓇ.

Food Safe

As if all that wasn’t enough to illustrate just how wonderful seabird guano is for gardens, row crops, houseplants, orchards, and all manner of other green friends, our True OrganicⓇ Seabird Guano (just like every single TRUEⓇ product) is guaranteed food safe. True OrganicⓇ is the only plant food available that is made *ISO 22000 certified from Bureau Veritas* (a rigorous, world-class food safety management seal of approval).

Ready to give it a try? Find a bag of True OrganicⓇ Seabird Guano at your local gardening store with our convenient store locator.

- True Organic -

Growing Azaleas & Rhododendrons

November 4, 2021

True Organic Products

Growing Azaleas & Rhododendrons

‍If you’ve ever gazed upon a rhododendron’s many bright, clustered blooms, you can tell why it has earned the deserving title of “Royalty of the Garden.”

Rhododendrons and azaleas both belong to the Rhododendron genus, and their gorgeous flowers, cold-resistant leaves, and ease of care makes them incredibly popular for landscaping.

If you’re newer to caring for shrubs, these flowery friends are the perfect addition to your landscaping.

There are over a thousand varieties of rhododendrons! Evergreen and deciduous, low to the ground and taller tree-like varieties, with flowers of pink or white or even yellow. That means there’s definitely a perfect choice for your garden or landscaping. In fact, These flowering shrubs can be found in almost every part of North America, although they are native to Asia.


Soil & Fertilizing

Whilst one of the reasons azaleas and rhododendrons are so universally loved is how low-maintenance they are, they do have a few special characteristics that need attention, and for that reason, they do better and are easier to care for when planted in groups.

Azaleas and rhododendrons have shallow root systems, so a well-draining, moist soil is essential. They thrive in a lower pH soil, between 4.5 and 5.5, so a plant food with sulfur is very important, too. Most rhododendrons only need to be fertilized moderately, with a supplement that isn’t too harsh—which is why we developed a True Organic plant food blend just for them.

As buds begin to grow in early Spring, use the recommended application, being careful to avoid the plant food settling  against  the stem. We recommend a Fall feeding too, to prepare your shrub with plenty of nutrients stored in its bark come Spring.

True Organic™ Azalea, Camellia & Rhododendron Food contains 5% sulfur to help lower soil pH and improve availability of micronutrients. We also use other natural, organic farm-grade ingredients like ethically sourced poultry manure and ‍seabird guano (a great source of phosphorus and slow release nitrogen), and shrimp and crab shell meal for calcium and nitrogen.
Like most shrubs, rhododendrons benefit from a decent mulching in the Spring to protect their shallow roots and help the soil retain moisture in this important season.

Choosing Your Varietal

When shopping for rhododendrons or azaleas, pay attention to:

  1. When the plant flowers.
  2. What Climate Zone is right for them.

These two major differences will help you narrow down your choices. Of course, your local garden store won’t likely sell plants that can’t grow in your Climate Zone!  Check out your Climate Zone on the USDA website if you’re not sure what it is.

Early varieties blossom in early Spring; later bloomers will flower in July and later. A few varieties even flower in Fall. Many types keep their large, green leaves into Winter, making them very popular for colder climates.

Where to Plant

With so many different varieties of rhododendron and azalea, be sure to study the specific needs of your plant of choice.

While they can grow in so many diverse environments, they like it best in places with plenty of rain and moist summers. The amount of sun a rhododendron needs will depend on your climate zone.

  • In cooler and mild climates, choose a location in full or mostly full sun, where they’ll get at least 6 hours of full sun.
  • In warmer climates, plant in a site that receives afternoon shade, especially in hot areas.
  • In tropical zones, azaleas will bloom in full shade!

Remember that they have shallow root systems, so choose a location that either already has a moist, humus-rich soil to plant in, or a spot where you have enough room to create that environment.



These easy-care landscaping gems don’t need much pruning. Deadheading is always a good idea for Spring-flowering plants if you want to promote vegetative growth over seed production.

If you need to reduce height or really want to encourage more flowers, here are some pruning tips for your azaleas and rhododendrons:

  • Prune after flowering in the Spring.
  • Remove dead or diseased branches at any time of year, of course!
  • Always use a clean, sharp tool to take off spent flower stalks.
  • Remove dead flowers from rhododendrons carefully, making sure to not disturb next year’s buds, which are growing just under the old ones.

One of the delights of tending to rhododendrons and azaleas is enjoying their luscious blooms inside! When flowers are blooming, carefully trim your favorite blooms from mature stems to bring the beauty of these beloved flowering shrubs into your home.