We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is an Ammonium Nitrate Fertilizer?

By Gregory Hanson
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At HomeQuestionsAnswered, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

Ammonium nitrate fertilizer is an industrially-produced chemical fertilizer. It has the chemical formula NH4NO3 and is used primarily to increase the nitrogen content of soil. This type of fertilizer is typically sold in a granular form, although other preparations and combinations are possible. It is usually inexpensive but may be difficult to obtain because it can be used as an ingredient in the creation of improvised explosives and is thus subject to regulation in some areas.

A standard fertilizer is rated with a series of three numbers, which indicate the concentration of the three most vital plant nutrients in the fertilizer. The first number indicates the percentage of the mixture that is nitrogen, the second number, the percentage of phosphorus, and the third number, the percentage of potassium. Ammonium nitrate fertilizer contains a very high percentage of nitrogen and has a rating of 34-0-0, indicating that if a fertilizer contains only ammonium nitrate, it will consist of 34% nitrogen.

The production of ammonium nitrate fertilizer is a complicated process. Ammonia, one of the key building blocks, is a gas at room temperature, and this gas must be combined with nitric acid in order to produce fertilizer. The end product of this reaction is a solid whitish substance, ammonium nitrate, which is quite stable, safe, and easy to work with. This chemical engineering process, although difficult, can be readily and inexpensively adapted to very large-scale production, meaning that this fertilizer is actually quite inexpensive.

Proper application of ammonium nitrate fertilizer requires an assessment of the qualities of the plants and soil to which it will be applied. Ammonium nitrate can then be applied in sufficient quantities to maintain the nitrogen levels of plants, often grasses or fruit trees, to which it is applied. This fertilizer is inexpensive and safe enough that it can be used in large quantities and over large areas. Typically, plants that have been successfully fertilized with ammonium nitrate will grow more vigorously and show a healthier and greener color, as nitrogen is critical in enabling photosynthesis.

The most significant drawback to ammonium nitrate fertilizer, apart from the relatively complicated process of production, is its occasional use as an improvised explosive. It is one component of a very popular type of home-made explosive, the variety used in the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. This potential for abuse has led to the regulation of the fertilizer in some regions, despite its widespread use in ranching and agriculture.

HomeQuestionsAnswered is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
By cloudel — On Nov 10, 2011

My uncle has a fruit orchard, and he used to use ammonium nitrate fertilizer. He had the greenest trees with the biggest, juiciest fruit around.

That was before the government banned the use of the fertilizer in our state. He was devastated, because that was his secret to an awesome crop.

He still grows the fruit trees, but his fruit is just like the kind you get anywhere else now. Sales have suffered since the ban. He still uses a fertilizer with nitrogen in it, but it is such a lower level than before that it doesn't do much to help the size of the fruit.

By seag47 — On Nov 09, 2011

I grow hydrangeas for a local florist, and I use ammonium nitrate fertilizer. This fertilizer will make the soil more acidic, and I can control how acidic certain areas become by changing the level of fertilizer that I add.

The unique thing about hydrangeas is that you can determine their bloom color by adjusting the soil's pH. Acidic soil yields blue hydrangeas, and soil with low acidity yields pink ones. Soil that is mid-range will yield purple blooms.

Since the florist has a higher demand for blue hydrangeas than other colors, I use a lot of ammonium nitrate. I have a soil test kit that helps me manage the levels, and I re-test the dirt every two weeks so that I know whether or not to add more fertilizer.

By kylee07drg — On Nov 08, 2011

@StarJo - Roses are more delicate than you would think. Ammonium nitrate is way too powerful to use on them.

The large amount of nitrogen can't be fully absorbed by the roses. Also, it destroys other healthy nutrients in the soil that the roses need.

While some plants benefit from this kind of fertilizer, others just can't handle its power. You know from experience that roses can be finicky, since you are having trouble getting them to flourish.

You should try a fertilizer made especially for use on roses. That way, you know it's safe and effective.

By StarJo — On Nov 07, 2011

Is it safe to use ammonium nitrate fertilizer on roses? I can't ever get mine to prosper, and I know I need to add something to the soil. I'm just not sure what it is.

On a vacation to New York recently, I stopped at a rest area with the greenest, healthiest rosebushes I have ever seen. The blooms were huge and plentiful.

Since this type of fertilizer can make things grow faster and look healthier, it sounds like it would be the ideal thing to put on my roses. I just wonder if anyone knows of any reason why I shouldn't do this.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

HomeQuestionsAnswered, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.