Yellow or Orange Balls in Soil: The Culprits [Solved]

Orange Balls in Soil

If you don’t know what they are, finding some colorful balls (orange or yellow) in the pots of your indoor garden can be frightening. These yellow/orange balls, however, are typically fertilizer prills.

The yellow or orange balls in the soil are slow-release Osmocote fertilizer balls, which are added to the soil over time to augment its nutrients. These fertilizer pellets can only withstand 60°F or 15°C for five months before they start to dissolve.

These balls are frequently mistaken for bug eggs even though they are given to the soil as a slow-release fertilizer.

I discovered that most nurseries use this to maintain their plants’ health for very extended periods of time after buying my first set of plants a couple of years ago, therefore I have started using it with my own plants as well.

Therefore, if you discover yellow balls in your soil, don’t panic. This post details my personal experience finding and utilizing these yellow balls in soil, which later proved to be Osmocote balls, as well as the advantages associated with doing so.

Possible Reasons For Yellow Balls in Potting Soil:

In order to help plants survive longer in their nursery pots, I’ve discovered through the years that the majority of nurseries utilize yellow Osmocote balls in potting soil.

I seldom ever find golden balls in the soil of potted plants that are insect eggs.

When insects lay eggs, the clutch will be compact so that the host parent can easily guard them.

Over the years, I’ve observed that insects like ants often shelter and build their nests in the base of plant pots to avoid rain and other wet circumstances.

As can be seen in the image below, their eggs are substantially smaller and not even near to being yellow (This was from one of my potted plants that I kept outside).

Small frogs have also been discovered in my potted plants, but not even them will lay eggs like this on the ground.

When the eggs hatch, frogs, snails, and other crawling insects prefer clean surfaces with access to running water as a source of food.

In my opinion, it is more of a myth for insects, slugs, and snails to lay their eggs in soil that can soon become dry under the correct circumstances. In addition, ravenous ants will swiftly consume the eggs.

This is not the case with fertilizer balls, though.

Let’s examine the characteristics of these prills, or yellow fertilizer balls, and how they might help your plant.

Osmocote Fertilizer Balls:

SummaryEach granule is covered with a special resin that regulates the flow of nutrients so that plants receive them when they are needed. The three main nutrients (NPK) that are essential for plant nutrition are all included in all-in-one granules.
SizesAvailable in 1.25 lb. and 3 lb. water-resistant bottles, as well as a resealable 10 lb. bag.
How to ApplyPour equally across the regions to be fed and work into the top 1-3 inches of soil when using it outdoors. Mix into the soil and growing media at the bottom of the hole before planting when moving annuals from flats or for repotting. Water.
When to UseApply to outside plants four times each year while they are growing. can be used on indoor plants year-round, every four months.
How frequently to useApply again every four months.
How to useApply with assurance to indoor or outdoor potted plants.
Service Areafor each 2 x 2 foot area of established annuals and perennials, scatter 3 tablespoons. Work the mulch or top 1-3 inches of soil into the ground.
CautionsAfter you’ve watered the substance in and the area has dried down, reentry may be possible.
Agricultural Analysis15-9-12 (ratio of N:P:K fertilizer)
A Shelf LifeIf the prills stay dry, the product will last for many years (+8).

This website, Scotts Miracle-Gro, is where the information was obtained.

Osmocote fertilizer prills come in several formulas that are more suited for the plants they are being used on. Different NPK fertilizer ratios will be present in these formulations.

Fertilizer prills are mixed with potting soil to provide the nutrients that nursery plants need.

These fertilizer pellets will gradually provide a plant with all it requires for healthy growth.

When exposed to moisture, the fertilizer inside these balls transforms into a liquid and spreads outward. These balls are more appropriately referred to as “oeprills.”

There are various sorts of fertilizer pills on the market right now, but Scotts Miracle-Gro makes the kind that is used most frequently.

The following nutritional components are included in the formulation of Osmocote balls:

  • Amphetamine Nitrate
  • Phosphate of Calcium
  • Phosphates of Ammonium
  • Fluoride of Calcium
  • Sulfate of Potassium

The concentration of these chemical ingredients in slow-release fertilizer balls changes depending on the dietary requirements of plants.

Try this Osmocote fertilizer, which is available on Amazon for a low price, if you’re looking for a fertilizer that will keep your plant healthy for a long time. Clicking here will take you there.

The yellow or orange balls in potting soil aren’t always fertilizer prills, though.

These yellow or orange balls may, in extremely rare circumstances, be the eggs of insects that are eating your plants.

Fertilizer Balls:

What are they Used for?

These colorful fertilizer pellets are only applied to potting soil to encourage plant development. These fertilizer balls steadily release the nutrients that are necessary for plants to grow properly. They contain the following nutrients:

  • Nitrogen (N)
  • Phosphorus (P)
  • Potassium (K)

Prills (fertilizer balls) won’t hurt or negatively impact your plants unless you add more than is necessary.

Keep in mind that anything in excess eventually turns harmful. If the fertilizer balls are not consumed in significant quantities, neither people nor animals are harmed.

Characteristics of Fertilizer Balls:

  • Fertilizer balls are easily recognized by their size and distinctive hard outer coating.
  • Fertilizer balls are evenly dispersed across the top of potting soil and have spherical shapes.
  • The balls of fertilizer are dry and hard.

Will They Go Away?

The image above makes it quite evident why some people could have a tendency to believe that the yellow balls of soil are actually the eggs of insects and snails.

The Osmocote balls are solid and yellow when first inserted into the soil, but as they soak up water, the fertilizer dissolves and permeates through the porous membrane into the soil. After that, the balls become clear and resemble eggshells.

How long will it take for them to entirely disappear from the soil? What environmental factors will affect how these fertilizer balls age?

based on the information presented on the data label below. The fertilizer prills will often deteriorate more quickly as the temperature rises.

60oF (15oC)70oF (15oC)80oF (15oC)90oF (15oC)
5 to 4 months4 to 6 months3 to 2 months2 to 4 months

The yellow balls do actually live longer in the plant pots that I keep indoors than the ones that are exposed to rain and the elements, based on my experience with having them in potted plants both in protected and unsheltered regions.

Fertilizer balls’ hard exterior will require longer time to totally disappear.

These slow-release fertilizer balls have liquid inside their shells, which must pass through the outer shell. However, it will go faster than the outer shell.

The temperature of your plants and the state of the soil have an impact on the inner liquid’s release.

The interior portion of the fertilizer ball will discharge more quickly at higher temperatures.

Because the process of releasing the nutrients from the fertilizer balls is delayed, they are referred to as slow-release fertilizers.

The lifetime of the prills in the soil is also affected by greater rainfall and irrigation, as I have observed over the years of employing these yellow balls.

Some Possible Culprits: (Maybe not)

Although I’ve had houseplants in pots for years and have occasionally attributed the yellow balls I noticed in my soil to egg-laying insects, I personally have never seen insects lay eggs in houseplants.


Ants in and around my potted plants and the occasional frog are what I do see frequently.

Ants typically build their nests underneath plant pots, where they may escape the rain and the sun outside. Compared to the larger yellow Osmocoate prills, their eggs are white and considerably smaller.

Under one of my numerous plant pots, I discovered a nesting colony of ants, which prompted me to check them more frequently than usual.

But based on my observations, I can say that ants don’t affect soil or potted plants in any way.

The occasional frog

Like many other animal species, frogs find comfort and protection in potted plants. And the one I discovered, as seen in the image below, has settled down a little bit with this fiddle leaf fig plant.

He has been there for two months and seems to be quite friendly. He probably also enjoys the occasional ant he discovers scurrying around in the ground.

But frogs won’t lay their eggs in potting soil. Since frog eggs lack a shell, they require some type of liquid to prevent drying up before hatching.

In addition to placing their eggs directly in water, some frogs have discovered unique techniques to keep them moist.

In addition to frogs, dogs and cats also seek safety in potted plants; we’ve written in-depth articles about these animals and how to safely manage this peculiar behavior.

I also spotted some white fuzzy balls in my soil, which were some sort of fungus. I was not frightened because I knew that occasionally these white balls could potentially be perlite.

Insect Eggs

Despite the numerous reports of yellow balls in soil that plant owners have shared on online forums.

I have had potted plants for many years, but I have never had slugs, snails, or worms lay eggs in them.

In contrast to potted plants where they can be contained, insect eggs are more frequently discovered in garden soil where these creatures are free to roam.

The Takeaway

To sum up, yellow or orange balls are ScotsMiracle Gro slow-release fertilizer prills.

In contrast to the more elongated, softer, and concentrated cluster of insects eggs, fertilizer balls are firm, spherical, and evenly spread.

This disproves the theory that insect eggs could exist in potting soil.


What are the little yellow eggs in compost?

The eggs of moths, beetles, aphids, and stink bugs can all be identified among the yellow ones seen on plant leaves.

What are the little clear balls in my potting soil?

While you were potting, did you notice a lot of these partially transparent balls in the bag? NO NEED TO FREAK OUT! It is often slow-release fertilizer.

What are these little balls in my plant soil?

These yellow balls, however, are typically fertilizer prills. The yellow or orange balls in the soil are slow-release Osmocote fertilizer balls, which are added to the soil over time to augment its nutrients.

What insect lays small yellow eggs?

Ladybugs, which are helpful insects, lay tiny, yellow eggs.

What are little yellow balls in soil?

These yellow balls, however, are typically fertilizer prills. The yellow or orange balls in the soil are slow-release Osmocote fertilizer balls, which are added to the soil over time to augment its nutrients.