What I learned today; ammonia fertilizes hosta

Jon 6a SE MAMay 23, 2014

In addition to killing slugs, ammonia is broken down by bacteria and fungi into nitrogen and nitrites then into nitrates (the same fertilizer found in fish tank water) which fertilize plants. So when you spray a 10% solution of ammonia you will kill slugs (I don't have many, but I must have some) and the ammonia will be broken down into fertilizer for the hosta and other plants. Interesting.

I will be going out tomorrow and buying some ammonia and kill some slugs and fertilize the garden (dead slugs must be good fertilizer as well). Two birds with one stone. Hard to beat that.


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bragu_DSM 5

well, it is similar to anhydrous ammonia, which is used on corn on corn, but not necessary when you grown corn on soybeans ... just DO NOT mix with bleach ...


dave b

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 10:11PM
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And I thought I was not fertilizing my hosta. Learn something new every day.

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 10:42PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

We see the ammonia tanks in the fields when we drive thru Salinas artichoke/brussel sprout capital) on the way down to Monterey. It is different from household amonia which contains other stuff that may not be good for your plants when used in great quantities.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 11:03PM
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Jon 6a SE MA


Ammonia in stores is NH3 or Ammonia Hydroxide in water. It is less concentrated than commercial 'Ammonia' otherwise it is identical. The only 'other stuff' it contains is more water.

Over 80% of the ammonia sold in the US is used for fertilizer.


    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 11:20PM
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Jon 6a SE MA


Likely Chemical Reactions from Mixing Bleach and Ammonia
The bleach decomposes to form hydrochloric acid, which reacts with ammonia to form toxic chloramine fumes:
First the hydrochloric acid is formed:

NaOCl → NaOH + HOCl

HOCl → HCl + O

And then the ammonia and chlorine gas react to form chloramine, which is released as a vapor:

NaOCl + 2HCl → Cl2 + NaCl + H2O

2NH3 + Cl2 → 2NH2Cl

If ammonia is present in excess (which it may or may not be, depending on your mixture), toxic and potentially explosive liquid hydrazine may be formed. While impure hydrazine tends not to explode, it's still toxic, plus it can boil and spray hot toxic liquid.

2NH3 + NaOCl → N2H4 + NaCl + H2O

Dave, you got that right!

    Bookmark   May 23, 2014 at 11:29PM
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Babka NorCal 9b

First of all YES! NEVER NEVER NEVER mix ammonia and bleach. Housewives have been found dead with their heads in the toilet from the fumes. High School Chemistry. NH4 is in the fields, but NH3OH is in the household form.

Reading the label on my Parson's ammonia all purpose cleaner for Kitchens and bathrooms... It contains other stuff...

Ingredients: Ammonium Hydroxide solution, Anionic Surfactant, non-ionic surfactant, perfume color clarifying agent, salts (inert).That is what is at my store.

What's in YOUR bottle?


And plants need other goodies like potassium and phosphate, not just the nitrogen supplied in ammonia.

This post was edited by Babka on Sat, May 24, 14 at 0:54

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 12:41AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

I suspect you should just saunder on down the aisle and find some cheaper, simple ammonia.

From Wiki

"Ammonia, or azane, is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. It is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent smell. Ammonia contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or indirectly, is also a building-block for the synthesis of many pharmaceuticals and is used in many commercial cleaning products. Although in wide use, ammonia is both caustic and hazardous. The global industrial production of ammonia for 2012 was anticipated to be 198 million tonnes,[7] a 35% increase over the estimated 2006 global output of 146.5 million tonnes.[8]

NH3 boils at −33.34 °C (−28.012 °F) at a pressure of one atmosphere, so the liquid must be stored under high pressure or at low temperature. Household ammonia or ammonium hydroxide is a solution of NH3 in water. The concentration of such solutions is measured in units of the Baumé scale (density), with 26 degrees baumé (about 30% (by weight) ammonia at 15.5 °C) being the typical high-concentration commercial product.[9]"

a little more advanced chemistry (from Yahoo answers-

"NH3 in water is in the form of NH4OH or NH4+ and OH-

For your case use NH3"

Parsons is a proprietary product using surfactants (prevents foaming), coloring agents and inert salts. I was talking about ammonia not some commercial concoction developed to get you to pay more for it as you seem to have.

I will have to wait to see what just plain ammonia will list for ingredients. I suspect it might just be listed as 'ammonia' as concentrations of NH3 in water should be standard for household sale I would think. To me it would be unsafe to sell unexpectedly concentrated ammonia 'over the counter'. I know higher concentrations (and different chemical compositions) are used in agriculture, but I was certainly not suggesting that these should be used and doubt it is possible to buy them without some sort of license or verification of its intended use.

So, I stand by my statement that ammonia is simply NH3 combined with water and they do break down in the 'nitrogen cycle' into nitrogen and nitrates which are fertilizers. If you feel you need additional fertilizers then knock yourself out, my hosta do very well on what is available naturally.

One thing I learned long before high school was that before you try to make someone look less intelligent than yourself, you should be very certain of your facts or you will prove just the opposite.


This post was edited by jonnyb023 on Sat, May 24, 14 at 10:06

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 7:55AM
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I knew there was a reason I took chemistry in high school and college!

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 9:34AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Education is never wasted.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 10:49AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

I just bought a bottle of Wal-Mart Great Value Ammonia and the ingredients are ammonia and surfactants; anti-foaming wetting agents generally detergents which will do no harm. People have been spraying their hosta for decades with 10% ammonia. I think any adverse side effects would be known by now.

So I will kill the slugs and perk up my hosta with diluted ammonia as soon as the threat of rain goes away.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 1:30PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

April 2007
� In the Spring 2004 I noted one slug on one of the leaf of Sun Power in Garden 5. It was the first time ever that I became aware that there were slugs in my gardens.
� After a day of heavy rain on July 16, 2004, I noted dozen of slugs all over the Sun Power and quit after removing and killing about 10 slugs. The Sun Power is infested with slugs.
� Following hints by BigGuy and Gayle, I found hundred of slugs on the lawn after a rainfall. The rain has forced the slugs to come out of the ground, and they travel over the grass.
� To destroy slugs, you can hand pick them and put them in a glass bottle containing about 2 inches of vinegar (acetic acid). The slugs die instantly. Liquid ammonia also is effective and even better because it creates nitrogen which plants love.
� You create "slugs baits" where slugs will be attracted to. Examples: 1) a carpet left on the ground near your compost pile; 2) a thick layer of wet newspaper again left on the ground in the vicinity of the compost pile (which is away from your hosta beds); 3) use Sluggo around each hosta and slugs that make it into the garden will be attracted to the Sluggo and when they eat it they die; 4) you sink a container filled with beer level with the ground. Slugs will enter the container and will drown. This beer setup can be also near the compost pile.
� After a rainfall, slugs are forced out of the ground and you can see them all over the lawn; they travel over the grass at whatever attracts them first�or the most. Eliminate these loose slugs by spot spraying the lawn with diluted ammonia. Attach a container filled with ammonia to the end of the hose and adjust the outlet so that water will mix with the ammonia in a 1 to 10 ratio approximately. This method is fast and efficient and provides nutrient to the lawn.
� After a rainfall is the best time to cut the grass. Keep it short. The new lawnmower picks up the grass clippings and may also suck in the slugs that were travelling on the grass.
Irene, here is part of an article by Bob Olsen of the American Hosta society. This was in the Hosta Journal a few years back.
Larry Clemmons, an accomplished hosta grower from Dubuque, had an almost slug-free gorgeous garden last year while many of his friends from nearby towns were being overrun. Unlike the beer and lightweight chemicals they were using, Larry was spraying the hosta once a week or so with a dilute solution of plain old ammonia. The slugs hate the ammonia and the plants love the nitrogen. He uses a regular inexpensive tank and nozzle sprayer and went over and down into each plant-and he has a lot of them. He sprays the hostas with a dilute (4:1 or even weaker) solution of water and household ammonia in the evening once a week-more often in the spring or with a lot of rain. It would take him no more than two hours a week and there were almost no slug holes. The folks visiting from Iowa City which was being inundated by mollusks were astounded by his lush foliage just a few miles away and many have adopted his system. Don'

Well, that should settle it. No one in their right mind would try to argue with the late hosta legend Papou.


    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 1:43PM
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santamiller(8b TX)

As you mentioned aquarium water….I have a 150 gallon planted tank that I change 80 gallons of water on bi-weekly. I dose the tank with potassium nitrate and potassium phosphate along with a trace element mixture. I have never been sure what kind of fertilizer that makes for plant life outside of the aquarium but combined with injected CO2 it's essential for healthy aquarium plants. I use the water for my hostas and other assorted plants each time I do a water change.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 1:47PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

santamiller, is your aquarium plants only? CO2 is obviously great for plants but would be bad for fish (if any) that need oxygen and produce CO2 for the plants if fish are present. Fish would produce nitrites that would transform into nitrates in a healthy fish / plant aquarium.

Do I have it right that you have plants only or am I missing something?


    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 8:01PM
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santamiller(8b TX)

Jon……you are mostly correct. I have about 40 fish in my tank. Too much CO2 will cause the fish to gasp at the surface and can quickly kill them but not enough CO2 combined with using ferts and a higher intensity lighting will cause the plants not to grow well and/or cause nuisance algae. There is a device used in keeping planted tanks called a drop checker, which is a glass piece with a special solution inside that is mounted on the inside glass, measures CO2 concentrations and changes colors accordingly to give you and idea of where your level is.

    Bookmark   May 24, 2014 at 10:06PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Thanks santamiller, it seems that I have learned something new again today. Your explanation also explains why I was never very successful with live plants in my fish tanks. 40 fish! I think we are talking a BIG tank?

I looked up drop meters and found..

.......they are inverted glass funnels that capture the air in the aquarium and a 'drop' or glass mini globe filled with a solution of PH liquid that, by changing color, indicates the level of CO2 in the water. I was wondering how gases from the tank could get through glass to be measured. OK, that's it for today, my brain is full.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 8:17AM
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santamiller(8b TX)

lol on brain overload, Jon. Yep, that's very close to what mine looks like. My tank is a 150 with sump. There are many people who keep successful planted tanks without CO2, but to really do it right it is best to use CO2 and ferts. I kept a reef tank for years but am gone too much now and changed to a planted tank. Not nearly as beautiful to look at but still a challenge. Looks like I got this thread way off subject, but I can never resist showing off my reef tank. :) I attached a link below.

Here is a link that might be useful: Captured Sea

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 10:29AM
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Ammonia does not need to be converted to nitrate before being useful as a fertilizer - plants can uptake it and incorporate it into proteins. That being said, excess ammonia is more toxic to plants than excess nitrate, which is why common fertilizer recommendations are to apply N in the form of both ammonia/ammonium and nitrate.

    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 10:43AM
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Jon 6a SE MA

That is spectacular santamiller. I had a 35 gallon saltwater tank once and very quickly gave up on keeping it up. I used to travel a lot and that didn't help at all. Super.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 3:05PM
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Jon 6a SE MA

Slimy, I have just looked quickly at ammonia fertilizers and first there is ammonia sulfate which requires far more tonnage than ammonia nitrate which is a far more efficient (per pound) fertilizer. Everything I find says that the plants use the nitrogen in the ammonia. Does this mean they utilize the ammonia directly, I don't know. All I know is that it works as a fertilizer and as a slug killer.


    Bookmark   May 25, 2014 at 3:14PM
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