The difference between a biostimulant, feed and fertiliser

July 22, 2021 2 min read

The difference between a biostimulant, feed and fertiliser

The topic of today’s blog post is focusing on explaining the difference between some gardening terms that are often used interchangeably but aren’t technically the same thing.

Nevertheless, the ambiguous language highlights how connected the ideas are, including just how important getting the right balance of products can be once we have the right understanding.


A biostimulant is a substance which, when applied to plants or soils, may enhance nutrient uptake, nutrient efficiency, plant growth and tolerance to abiotic stress and plant quality. We think it’s useful to think of biostimulants as a supplement, like we take vitamins to boost the processes which keep our bodies working properly, which is the same as the action a biostimulant has on plants. You can read more about this analogy here.


We often refer to plant food, or feeding our plants, but this is not an accurate description. Plants make their own food through photosynthesis, a process using sunlight, CO2 and water to create soluble sugars. However, this term has become synonymous with the application of things that are more accurately described as soil additives. These products correct any nutrient deficiencies in the soil, making them available for plants to use in their growth and development.

See our blog on why feeding your plants is necessary, even when using biostimulants.


Fertilisers are designed to add nutrients and minerals to the soil. Over time plants will use up what’s available in the process of making their food, meaning essential nutrients need replacing. There are a variety of fertilisers, but the main categories often describe whether or not the nutrients they’re providing come from synthetic or natural sources. Compost is another natural alternative to synthetic fertilisers, and avoids the detrimental environmental consequences associated with those that have been artificially produced. For more information, see our blog here.

A biostimulant cannot help utilise the nutrients if they’re not present in the first place, meaning that the soil needs to be nutrient rich. When used with a good quality, all-natural fertiliser the combination of the two will keep your garden thriving. Understanding the difference between these terms ensures we can make sure that as gardeners we are fulfilling our plant’s nutritional needs.

View our biostimulant range