Plants cultivated in containers rather than in the ground have different demands from those of plants grown in the ground, hence potting soils were created for them.
Most likely, the green spheres in the soil are slow-release fertilizer prills, which are added to the soil’s nutrients over time. With rising temperatures, rain, and additional watering, these fertilizer balls typically degrade more quickly.
In this post, we’ll help you recognize these green balls and provide removal advice. Although these balls are frequently placed to the soil as a slow-release fertilizer, in some situations they can also be insect eggs.
Why are there Green Balls in Potting Soil?
It can be unsettling to find something strange in potting soil. Most frequently, the strange things appear as little green balls.
Most likely slow-release fertilizer pellets, which are common in most potting mixes and intended to increase soil nutrient levels, are the small, foreign-looking balls in the soil.
This is an unusual occurrence, but those green balls might represent bug eggs. In either case, it’s probable that this raises some red flags.
The potential offenders are discussed in detail below:
Fertilizer Balls (Prills)
The main source of nutrients for plants is fertilizer, which might be an organic amendment rich in nutrients, a synthetic blend, or all-purpose time-release fertilizers.
Fertilizer balls are tiny, biodegradable spheres filled with liquid fertilizer or fertilizer salts that are used to feed plants. They are comprised of polymer resins and vegetable oil.
The term “prills” is more appropriate for these little balls. Although Osmocote is a well-known brand of fertilizer prills, there are other kinds that are available and have various color options.
Nursery plants utilize potting soil supplemented with fertilizer balls. Plants can be provided with all the nutrients they need over time in a progressive manner.
Fortunately, it’s unlikely that these fertilizer balls can harm your plants. Instead, by gradually releasing nitrogen, phosphorous, potassium, and other nutrients, they will actually promote their growth.
However, using too much synthetic fertilizer might hurt your plants, and sadly, there may be no way to tell if the product was made organically.
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Insects or Pests eggs
The balls in potting soil occasionally turn out to be insect or pest eggs, but you can tell them apart from fertilizer balls.
Insect eggs lack a hard outer shell and are frequently just a little bit smaller than fertilizer or perlite pellets. When touched, they are mushy and have a gooey sensation.
They might not be spherical but rather have an expanded shape. In addition, fertilizer balls are evenly disseminated throughout the soil, whereas insect eggs are concentrated in one area.
Worm, slug/snail, ant, weevil, and ladybug eggs are among the most prevalent insect and pest eggs.
For instance, except for some species, such as the gigantic snail and all larger snails, the eggs of slugs and snails are more akin to fertilizer balls.
The size of the eggs may vary depending on where you are in the United States, but generally speaking, slug eggs are paler and frequently more transparent than fertilizer balls.
Similar to how fertilizer balls might be mistaken for worm eggs in terms of size and color. However, careful study reveals that worm eggs are typically somewhat elongated rather than entirely spherical.
Therefore, separating fertilizer balls from insect or pest eggs requires careful inspection.
See our in-depth post for information on why some potting soil contains snails.
Seeds or fruits from the plants
A fully or ripened ovary with typically contain seeds is referred to as a fruit. Many plants rely on their fruits to help spread their seeds.
Since some plant seeds, like mold, have a ball-like shape, the strange balls in potting soil occasionally represent the plant’s fruit seeds.
This may occur when the fruits ripen, fall to the ground, and later decompose, revealing the seeds.
However, it is quite simple to tell a seed apart from a fertilizer ball because seeds, as opposed to fertilizer balls, which are filled with liquid or fertilizer salts, contain an embryo and, in the majority of plant species, a store of food reserves.
How to test these balls to tell what they are?
Since the balls in potting soil may be identified, it is wise to test them to see what type of ball they are.
This is significant because, if the balls are made dangerous, one will search for potential solutions. Squeezing the balls is one of the most popular and effective methods of testing them.
Usually, when fertilizer balls are crushed, the ball breaks open and salt-like liquid or solid material leaks out. Squeezing the balls will probably cause little insects to emerge if they are bug or earthworm eggs.
For instance, if ant eggs are disturbed, numerous ants will emerge since ants have a propensity to multiply very quickly.
When the ball is crushed, all the pieces will be exposed, allowing one to determine if it is a fruit or a seed.
The parts of a fruit or seed are readily visible. To protect oneself from any potentially toxic substances that may be present in the potting soil, it is however vital to put on hand protective equipment, such as gloves.
Can the Green Balls be Harmful to the Plant?
The green balls that are frequently observed in potting soil rarely hurt plants.
One will be able to identify the balls after testing them. If these are fertilizer balls, your plant shouldn’t be harmed by them.
Instead, they will provide the plant with the nutrients it needs to grow.
Fertilizer balls increase plant development and satisfy their nutrient needs. Depending on the fertilizer’s makeup, the degradation of the fertilizer balls can take up to two years.
If the plant(s) you grew in the potting medium, however, had any pests or diseases, the potting medium might be dangerous.
If the balls are actually insect or pest eggs, whether or not they pose a risk to your plants will depend on the preventive measures you take.
If you removed the eggs from your soil before they hatched, it is not a problem.
The insects will surely harm your food plants if the eggs hatch and a new army of them arises.
How to Get Rid of Green Balls
Get rid of everything that can impede your plant’s growth in order to protect it.
If the green balls are fertilizer balls, there is no need to remove them because they won’t hurt the plant and will ultimately decompose, improving the environment for your plants.
By getting rid of them, you deprive the plant of the resources it needs for development and growth, which may prevent you from reaping the full rewards of the plant.
As opposed to hurting the plant, leaving the balls in the potting soil will actually help it.
In contrast, if the balls are pest or insect eggs, it’s critical to take precautions when removing them to avoid doing more harm than good.
Two techniques can be used to get rid of the eggs:
When you believe insects are present in your potting soil, get rid of them or get rid of their eggs. It is crucial to put on gloves as a precaution.
To make sure that the insects don’t leave any eggs behind or lay any more, one must constantly inspect.
Remove the potting soil entirely – This strategy is useful when the soil is entirely covered in eggs and it is not worthwhile to expend the effort to remove them.
When one gets rid of the insects or their eggs, there is a good chance that they will lay more or that there are still some in the soil.
As a result, one needs to concentrate much more on their plant. The second technique would be more practical and there would be very little possibility that the insects would lay eggs again if the insects and eggs become more persistent.
Make sure the potting soil is totally dry before using it if you want to stop insects from laying eggs after receiving new potting soil or potting mix.
Taking natural precautions include repotting an infected plant, adding a clove of garlic to the soil to deter insects, and applying insecticides or pesticides to get rid of the insect that lays the eggs.
Over time, one will have robust plants with all the advantages they have to offer. Therefore, it’s crucial to check your plant to make sure no insects or eggs are present.
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Other Considerations when repotting
Regarding the health and wellbeing of your plants, this soil is crucial. Different potting media have different uses.
Similar to how they behave in nature, plants like succulents require a different type of soil than ferns.
To satisfy such needs, various potting mixtures were developed. These mixtures are made to avoid over-compaction of the soil, which can suffocate roots and impede the circulation of water and nutrients.
A quality potting mix should be airy, lighter in weight, and able to hold onto moisture.
Are fertilizer balls toxic?
Thankfully, most of these substances are non-toxic. Insecticides used in fertilizers to kill grubs, snails, and other pests may also cause moderate gastrointestinal symptoms (such as drooling, vomiting, and diarrhea) when consumed directly from the bag.
How do you use fertilizer balls?
You need to disperse one teaspoon of the product for every gallon of soil when using slow-release beads or pellets. However, relying solely on slow-release fertilizer won’t produce healthy plant development. Every two to three weeks, liquid or granular fertilizer should still be used.
What is the green slow-release fertilizer?
GreenEdge is a slow-release fertilizer with 100 percent organic nitrogen that is friendly to the environment. GreenEdge is a sustainable fertilizer that aids in nutrient recycling and improves environmental quality because it is made from a source of renewable nutrients.
What are the numbers on slow-release fertilizer?
It is 4-5-4 fertilizer. In order, nitrogen comes first, followed by phosphorus and potassium. This indicates that the fertilizer has 4% nitrogen, 5% phosphorus, and 4% potassium.
What fertilizer is green balls?
– Balls of Slow Release Fertilizer Most likely, the tiny green pills in the soil are slow-release fertilizer pills. Slow-release fertilizer pellets with a granular appearance are used to augment the soil’s nutrients. They do not dissolve in water like liquid fertilizers do.