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Why Does Holly-tone Smell So Bad – 5 Absolute Reasons!

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Fertilization is a necessary part of any farm or garden. Without it, plants are hard to survive as very little soil contains just enough nutrients to fulfill the nutritional needs of the plants.

That is why farmers must fertilize the soil every fifteen to twenty days. The whole fertilization process supports the constant growth of the seeds, plants, and trees.

But if you feed Holly-tone fertilizer to your greeneries, you would probably wonder why does Holly-tone smell so bad?

So, knowing soil fertilization is a necessity. Many farmers prefer organic fertilizers. As demand for organic fertilizers multiplied, markets introduced multitudes of organic products for fertilization. One of them is the Holly-tone fertilizer.

Small seedlings in soil—why does Holly tone smell so bad
Why does Holly-tone smell so bad? — Image via Pixabay.

Why Does Holly-tone Smell So Bad?

The most self-evident cause for something that smells is hidden in its composition.

Composition of Holly-tone Fertilizer

Holly-tone is made up of 3 percent calcium (Ca), 1 percent magnesium (Mg), and 5 percent sulfur (S), as well as an N-P-K ratio of 4-3-4.

Because most organic fertilizers are made from vegetable or animal waste, leftovers, and corpses, they have an unpleasant stench.

Holly-tone, on the other hand, has a considerably strong odor than the others. There are several explanations for its foul odor, and addressing them below may assist you in dealing with it!

I’ve mentioned 5 fundamental reasons why does Holly-tone smell so bad.

1.      Microbial Degradation

In fertilizers, microbial degradation is a process in which the small micro compounds degrade or break down into more minor compounds for nurturing plants, causing a disturbing smell.

“Holly-tone fertilizer goes through the same process because of the two compounds, namely Ammonia (NH3) and Methane (CH4).”

Both of these gases are present in the animal waste and their carcasses. When smelled by a human nose, it can be severely toxic to the lungs and can cause suffocation in a packed environment.

Some people try to reduce the smell using chemical products or alkaline solutions, which immensely affect fertilization.

Therefore, it’s not advisable to add chemicals to an organic fertilizer; otherwise, there won’t be any difference between using organic fertilizer and chemical ones.

2.     Ingredients

Why does Holly-tone smell so bad, you say? Well… to be honest, Holly-tone smells strange because it is made up of feces and corpses of digested fish and animals.

The odor amplifies when numerous gases and solid substances, such as sulfur, methane, ammonia, potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, and calcium, are localized in the same place.

It implies that the more Holly-tone fertilizer you put in the soil, the more reactions will sprout, and the smell will get stronger.

3.     Compost Mixture

Compost feeds the soil, and the soil feeds the plants.

Many people prefer using compost and fertilizers together because they give perfect results.

A certain amount of suffocating smell comes with a slight surprise when Holly-tone fertilizer is used with compost. But why does Holly-tone smell so bad while the compost doesn’t?

“The compounds abiding in Holly-tone fertilizer, when reacted with water and compost, release gases causing a regretful odor.”

The stench is unbreathable, but it has no negative impact on the plant or the soil. It strengthens and grows the roots, stem, and veins.

Garden fork and spade in ground—why does Holly tone smell so bad?
Why does Holly-tone smell so bad? Mixing up your Holly-tone with compost will produce an unpleasant smell—Image via Annie Spratt.

4.     Inadequate Storage

If you are purchasing any fertilizer, it should be stored adequately and effectively.

  • Any negligence can expose your Holly-tone to rainwater, pests, or moisture extraction.
  • When unhealthy storage of the fertilizer is carried out, there are always higher chances of it smelling bad.
  • Specifically, when the fertilizer is exposed to tap water or rainwater, it is more likely to become highly unbearable in terms of its smell.

Since Holly-tone is made up of the remains and waste of animals, it’s always better to store it in a drum or bucket with a lid in a garage covered with proper shade.

5.      Acidic Properties

The primary reason behind the sharp pungent odor is that the Holly-tone fertilizer is acidic.

As Holly-tone fertilizer is only used for the plants which favor acidic fertilizers, it tends to produce acidic compounds, which then break down timely and consistently to feed the plants.

  • Usually, when two or more acidic or potent compounds having lower pH levels react, they intensify the smell and release caustic fumes.
  • Lowering this acidity is easy, but it would kill the fertilization effect.
  • You can wear a mask to protect yourself from inhaling fumes or stench. It might not reduce the smell, but it will help you stay safe from breathing harmful compounds.

That was all about why does Holly-tone smell so bad. Now, let’s see how you can keep yourself safe from the smell of this nasty fertilizer.

How To Prevent Holly-tone’s Bad Odor?

There is no natural way to extinguish the smell coming out of the fertilizer, but you can follow some simple steps to keep yourself safe from its devastating smell.

Cover it with a Generous Amount of Soil

  • Covering the Holly-tone fertilizer with a thick layer of soil will help lessen the odor to a level everyone can tolerate.

Perhaps you’re curious about how the soil works.

  • Soil prevents the fertilizer from releasing smells into the atmosphere, resulting in an odorless environment.

Use Non-Synthetic Absorbent Material

  • Using non-synthetic absorbent material, like zeolite, helps to absorb the pungent smell from the air and doesn’t allow it to spread in the environment.
  • It mainly deals with the NH3 stench and does not affect the soil quality in any way.

Employ Mulch to Cover Holly-tone

  • Covering the soil with mulch or sugar cane will help speed up the process of microbial degradation.
  • Once you employ 2 to 3 inches of mulch onto the topsoil, mulch will automatically hold the smell inside it.

Related Article: Why Does Mulch Smell? The Best & Easiest Way to Fix It!

Use Bamboo Charcoal

  • Using bamboo charcoal granules allows the plant owners to suppress the stench by absorbing excess moisture from the soil.
  • The moisture in the soil makes the fertilizer stinky as the fresh moisture in it keeps the smell alive.

However, the charcoal granules absorb the excess water, and the soil gets dried up.

Kettle grill with burning charcoal
Why does Holly-tone smell so bad? Using Bamboo charcoal in your soil can absorb excess moisture and lessens the smell coming out—Image via Sara Kurfeß.


With all that said, let’s conclude the talk here!

Why does Holly-tone smell so bad? Hope you got the answer to this query.

Fertilizers are a vital requirement of any plant’s development. It is indeed hard to find a perfect solution to eliminate the Holly-tone’s stinking smell. However, by using the remedies, you may be able to keep the stench out of your home!

If you have any questions regarding the topic, feel free to let us know in the comments below.

Happy Planting,