Nutricote vs Osmocote – What’s the Difference?

Even though fertilizer isn’t always an absolutely necessary part of caring for your plants, its proper use can go a long way in providing faster growth.

Delivering some extra boost for your greenery is not the only benefit of fertilizer use, as it can also promote healthier growth, help plants fend off pests, fight against infections, and handle relocation stress more easily.

Plus, fertilizing can work toward faster recovery of any damages plants may have on their roots or upper portion.

However, with so many types and brands on the market and different kinds of soil and plants, they’re intended for, figuring out what fertilizer to use can be a bit overwhelming.

Especially for inexperienced gardeners who are just starting.

To help out and make things a little easier, I’ll take a closer look at two of the most popular fertilizer types on the market and compare Nutricote vs Osmocote.

So, let’s dive in!

Release MechanismTime-release mechanism that is temperature-sensitiveTime-release mechanism that is activated by moisture
Nutrient CompositionContains a balanced blend of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (N-P-K) with trace elementsContains a wide range of N-P-K ratios and can also include micronutrients depending on the specific product
LongevityTypically lasts for 3 to 12 months depending on the product and environmental conditionsCan last for up to 18 months depending on the product and environmental conditions
Application MethodTypically applied as a surface dressing or incorporated into the growing media before plantingCan be applied as a surface dressing or incorporated into the growing media before planting
CostGenerally more expensive than Osmocote Generally less expensive than Nutricote

Nutricote Description

Nutricote is a multi-element slow-release fertilizer, commonly available in granular form.

It was of the first controlled-release products to appear on the market and has been in use since the 60s.

Thanks to the different slow-release organic compounds it contains, including resin-coated urea, sulfur-coated urea, and urea-formaldehyde, Nutricote can deliver the nutrients at an even rate over a longer period of time.

It features all three of the most important plant nutrients: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, as well as traces of several other elements.

Depending on its use, the release time of Nutricote is 3-12 months.

This allows for slower feeding and provides plants with an opportunity to gradually absorb the nutrients they currently need during the entire growing season.

One of Nutricote’s main applications is in container gardening.

Also, it’s particularly suitable for plants growing in sandy and dry soil, where the nutrients can easily be washed away.

Osmocote Description

Another popular fertilizer that’s been around for decades, Osmocote is also a controlled-release product that also contains relatively balanced amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, with a slightly higher percentage of phosphorus, compared to other fertilizers.

It can be bought both as a granular and liquid fertilizer and has been very popular due to the high degree of control when feeding individual plants.

The release time of Osmocote is up to 18 months and is specifically designed for greenery that benefits from the highly controlled release.

This mainly includes greenhouse-grown and container plants.

The high phosphorus concentration will promote flower and fruit production at some plant species, while it may be damaging to others.

Therefore, Osmocote should be avoided as a nutrient source for plants growing in a soil already rich in phosphorus or those that don’t tolerate the high amounts of this nutrient, as it can cause root burning.

Nutricote vs Osmocote – What’s The Difference?

Osmocote Fertilizer.

Both Nutricote and Osmocote have a lot to offer to gardeners.

Each of these two fertilizers is a slow-release option and can provide a long-term nutrition resource for a variety of different plants, including container plants, shrubs, and trees.

More than likely, Nutricote and Osmocote will both be very useful in encouraging healthy growth and helping your plants produce flowers and fruits at a satisfactory rate.

However, there are a couple of differences between these two fertilizers, and those distinctions can be rather significant when deciding which one is right for you and your plants.

Learning these differences is important as they determine how each of these fertilizers is used and for what types of plants and soil.


Nutricote and Osmocote have slightly different methods of application.

As I already mentioned, Nutricote is granulated fertilizer and those granules come coated with a chemical release agent that is within a thermoplastic resin shell.

The pellets of Nutricote commonly look like small grey spheres.

This fertilizer is administered by simply sprinkling a certain amount of pellets onto the soil and mixing it in.

For example, for a plant potted in a 6-inch pot, you’ll need 2-3 teaspoons of Nutricote.

Osmocote comes in both granular and liquid forms. When in granules, it’s coated with an alkyd resin and has an appearance of tiny yellowish-brown spheres.

The administration is similar to Nutricote, meaning you spread the prills on top of the soil and gently mix it into the top layer.

The amount will depend on the plant, but the general recommendation is to use one scoop per four square feet of soil.


Both of these fertilizers belong to the group of slow-release products, but Osmocote will provide nutrients for almost double the period than Nutricote.

The release time of Osmocote is up to 18 months, depending on the type of soil, while Nutricote will provide feeding for the plants between 3 and 12 months.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that Osmocote is a necessarily better product, as that will depend on the particular circumstances regarding the type of plant and soil.

There’s also a difference in how they release their nutrients.

Nutricote pellets will release nutrients as soon as they come in contact with the water, either through watering or rain.

On the other hand, Osmocote’s release will depend on the outside temperatures.

At below 80 degrees Fahrenheit, it will release nutrients not the soil relatively slowly, while the pellets will degrade more quickly when the outside temperature is over 85 degrees.


Nutricote and Osmocote are both excellent products with plenty of benefits to deliver to gardeners.

However, which one you’ll use will depend on the individual needs and the conditions in your garden.

If you’re looking for a slower release of nutrients, then Osmocote certainly has the advantage, as its release time is almost double compared to its competitor.

Plus, it provides better coverage.

However, Nutricote is easier to apply, is suitable for a greater variety of plants, and you won’t have to depend on the outside weather for proper releases.

Also, Nutricote offers a better range of different formulas, meaning you’re more likely to find the one that suits your needs.

Whichever you choose, make sure to do some research and learn about the advantages and disadvantages of both Nutricote and Osmocote, so you can make an informed decision.

Melissa Johnson
Melissa Johnson

Hello, I'm Melissa, owner and author of this website. I hope my article was able to help answer your questions. If you want to learn more about me, click the home icon above.

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