Why Does Holly-Tone Smell So Bad And Is It Any Good?

Holy-tone is a natural and organic fertilizer that many gardeners use for Hollies and acid-loving plants, such as evergreens, rhododendrons, camellias, hydrangeas, blueberries, etc. However, some gardeners complained about the foul odor of this fertilizer.

They are wondering — why does holly-tone smell so bad? This can happen for several reasons. Your maintenance approach, storage technique, and fertilizing style may make the fertilizer smell terrible.

Let’s check out the primary causes of an unwanted odor of Holly-tone.

Reasons for Bad Smell Of Holly-Tone

Holly-tone has a naturally unappealing smell. But if it is too intense to bear, there might be something wrong. Here are the possible causes of the foul smell of holly-tone. 

  • Natural Ingredients

Since Holly-tone is made from various natural ingredients, including digested fish parts and molasses. They often have a chicken or horse manure smell when you apply them on the farm.

Generally, applying a higher amount of fertilizer will cause intense. Sometimes, it might be challenging to bear the odor from

  • Inadequate Oxygen
Holly-Tone Fertilizer

Like other fertilizers, holly-tone has nitrogen. Its main job is helping Hollies and many acid-loving plants to grow fast.

Ammonia in nitrogen plays a crucial role in performing the microbial activity.

However, it can’t do its job appropriately if there is a lack of oxygen.

After all, the organic compounds of holly-tone will fail to compost perfectly if there is a reduced amount of oxygen.

Hence, before applying any fertilizers to your garden soil, make sure it has the ideal of oxygen.

You can test the soil from an agricultural testing institution. 

  • Microbial Breakdown

Methane (CH₄) and Ammonia (NH₃) are the two main ingredients that play a significant role in emissions to break down microbial compounds. When this happens, it will instinctually appear unlikeable to humans.

After all, it includes a lot of animal waste.

A few experts suggest using some inorganic materials to neutralize the smell. But you need to be cautious when doing this type of thing. Make sure it doesn’t affect the fertilizer quality.

Otherwise, you won’t get reliable results, and your plants won’t have healthy growth.

  • Inappropriate Storing Method
Holly-Tone Plant Food

What storage approach have you followed to store the holly-tone fertilizer?

Generally, most expert gardeners recommend storing fertilizers in their original containers or bags.

This ensures the ingredients are precisely mixed as you don’t alter them.

Another important thing is keeping the fertilizer dry. Exposing the fertilizer to open air fully will lead to moisture extraction. This will make the compost looks like wet cement.

If it continues for a long time, the plant food will start to degrade its quality and develop a bad smell.

  • Inaccurate Temperature Level

Like other products, fertilizing products need to be stored at a particular temperature level.

Keeping them in a too high or too low-temperature level will lead to quality deterioration.

This may eventually result in a lousy odor.

According to most garden experts, it is a good rule of thumb to store holly-tone fertilizer at less than 85 degrees temperature. You should also avoid storing it in any place that than less than zero degrees temperature.

Also, the temperature should be stable —not changing too frequently.

  • It Lingers in the Air and Soil

Another reason Holly-Tone seems so smelly is that its odor persist in the area where it’s applied. As granules break down slowly in the soil, they continue releasing smelly sulfur compounds and ammonia into the environment.

Spilled pellets also give off gaseous fumes. So the fertilizer keeps emitting its stench long after initial application around your landscape plants and gardens. This means you, your family, and pets may be exposed to the unpleasant smell for days or weeks!

  • Applying Too Much Overwhelms the Senses

Using excessive amounts of Holly-Tone fertilizer can really make the smell unbearable. This product has a very high nutrient analysis of 12-8-8. It’s easy to overload plants with nutrients they can’t absorb.

The excess left in the soil increases odor-causing chemical reactions. Basically, the more you use, the worse it’s going to smell! Carefully following label rates can help minimize the stench.

  • Warm, Wet Conditions Magnify the Stink
holly tone fertilizer

Smelly sulfur compounds and gaseous ammonia dissipate more quickly in cool, dry environments.

But when it’s hot and humid outdoors, Holly-Tone seems to reek even more than usual.

Moisture kickstarts the chemical reactions that break fertilizer into usable plant nutrients.

This process also releases those eggish sulfur smells and poopy ammonia vapors into the air.

For this reason, the odor may catch you most off-guard after watering or rain.

Masking The Smell Takes Some Work

When using Holly-Tone fertilizer there’s no way around the unpleasant smell. But taking a few simple steps can help mask the odor so it’s less overwhelming:

  • Water thoroughly after applying to wash particles into the soil
  • Allow fertilizer to fully dry before watering again
  • Cover area with several inches of mulch to contain odors
  • Plant fragrant flowers and herbs nearby to overpower the stench
  • Consider using an odor neutralizer like lime or vinegar
  • Apply during times you’ll be less bothered by smell (before vacations or rain)

Even with these tricks, however, Holly-Tone will likely still have a noticeable smell for anyone entering the garden. It fades over time, but the duration may not be quick enough for some noses!

Is Holly-Tone Fertilizer Good?

Holly-Tone Fertilizers

Yes, Holly-tone is good-quality fertilizer that breaks down slowly to provide long-term nutrition by staying on the garden soil.

Plus, it doesn’t include any sludges or toxic ingredients. Hence, plant food is environmentally safe.

Its exclusive Bio-tone formula contains a rich blend of the finest natural & organic ingredients to ensure healthy growth for flowering & evergreen shrubs.

You can immediately use the product right out of the container since it has a readymade formula. No mixing is required.

What’s more, this fertilizer has the certifications for organic gardening. After all, all the materials used for this product are properly tested to meet the standard of organic production.

Therefore, using this product means you are keeping the plant and environment safe.

Even if you mistakenly apply an excessive amount of fertilizer, it won’t cause any burning issues for the plants. After all, the manufacturing company added an ideal amount of nitrogen for this plant’s food.

Other than these, this high-quality fertilizer contains sulfur. It can lower the pH level of your garden soil slightly if it has a reduced amount of pH.

However, following the correct application method is essential to avoid overdoing it. Otherwise, it may harm the plants.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is Holly-tone toxic?

Holly-tone fertilizer doesn’t contain any toxic ingredients, the standard set by the US EPA. Though you can use this product near where kids and pets play, keep them in your control to avoid any allergic reactions.

Can you use too much Holly-tone?

Using an excessive amount of Holly-tone won’t kill plants. However, a ridiculous amount may have a harmful effect to plant health gradually. It may cause a change in color of the plant, or bugs may more frequently come to the plant.

Is Holly-tone bad for any plants?

Since Holly-tone is made of natural and organic ingredients, it is safe for all types of holly and acid-loving plants. You can use this fertilizer on azaleas, hydrangeas, rhododendrons, blueberries, evergreens, strawberries, camellias, and many other plants.

Can you put Holly-tone on top of mulch?

Holly-tone is an excellent nutritious type of food for plants. Using this fertilizer on top of mulch will prevent the ingredients reach on the plant’s root level quickly. That’s why it is better to remove the mulch first, apply the fertilizer, and then put the mulch on top of the compost.


Are you still wondering why does holly-tone smell so bad?

We have already mentioned the primary reasons for such an issue. Generally, a slightly terrible smell is typical and natural from this organic-based fertilizer —After all, it has a good proportion of animal wastes.

But when the odor is too intense to bear, rapidly addressing the problem is necessary. One of the key points is to store the plant food as per the manufacturer’s instructions.

Apart from getting reliable results, it will ensure no heavy odor coming from the fertilizer.

Ralph Wade

Hey...Ralph is here! So, did you find this article useful? If so, please leave a comment and let me know. If not, please tell me how I can improve this article. Your feedback is always appreciated. Take love :)

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