Calcium Ammonium Nitrate: An Essential Fertilizer for Your Garden

Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

Gardening enthusiasts and professional growers alike understand the importance of providing their plants with optimal nutrition. Among the myriad of fertilizers available on the market, one stands out due to its unique composition and effectiveness: calcium ammonium nitrate (CAN). This inorganic fertilizer is a valuable source of two essential plant nutrients: calcium and nitrogen.

Cheatsheet on Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

Benefits of Calcium Ammonium Nitrate (CAN)

- Provides essential nutrients to plants: CAN is a rich source of nitrogen, phosphorous, and calcium, which are crucial for healthy plant growth.

- Promotes root development: The calcium in CAN helps strengthen plant cell walls, leading to robust root systems.

- Enhances fruit quality: Regular application of CAN can improve the taste, color, and texture of fruits and vegetables.

Application Tips

- Timing: Apply CAN before planting or during the growing season to ensure optimal nutrient availability.

- Dosage: Follow the instructions provided by the manufacturer and consider factors such as soil type and plant requirements.

- Application methods: CAN can be applied as a top dressing, through fertigation systems, or mixed with water for foliar spray.

Interesting Facts

- CAN is a popular choice among farmers due to its high nitrogen content, which can contribute to increased crop yields.

- The nitrogen in CAN is crucial for the formation of amino acids, proteins, and chlorophyll, essential for healthy plant growth.

- Calcium deficiency in plants can result in stunted growth, leaf curling, and blossom-end rot, making CAN a valuable fertilizer.

Environmental Impact

- CAN is considered eco-friendly as it has a low potential for nitrogen leaching, minimizing the risk of water contamination.

- Proper application and dosage management can further reduce the environmental impact of CAN usage.

Health Considerations

- While CAN is primarily used as a fertilizer, it's important to note that direct consumption or contact with CAN can be harmful to humans and animals.

- Always store CAN in a secure place away from children and follow safety guidelines when handling it.

- Remember to wash your hands thoroughly after handling CAN or any other fertilizers.

Self-Sufficiency Benefits

- Utilizing CAN in your garden can help you grow your own nutrient-rich food, reducing reliance on store-bought produce.

- By using CAN, you can control the nutrient composition in your soil, optimizing plant growth and maximizing yield.

- Growing your own food can promote a healthier lifestyle and provide a sense of satisfaction and self-sufficiency.

Calcium ammonium nitrate, also referred to as nitro-limestone or nitrochalk, is an inorganic, water-soluble fertilizer. It is predominantly used in agriculture, contributing to about 4% of all nitrogen fertilizer used globally. The fertilizer comes in different forms, including powders and granules, and it is renowned for its quick-acting and water-soluble properties.

Composition of Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

The term "calcium ammonium nitrate" applies to numerous, closely-related formulations. One form of CAN is produced by adding powdered limestone to ammonium nitrate. Another is a fully water-soluble version, a mixture of calcium nitrate and ammonium nitrate, which crystallizes as a hydrated double salt.

The chemical formula of a typical calcium ammonium nitrate fertilizer is 5Ca(NO3)2•NH4NO3•10H2O. This means it contains 5 molecules of calcium nitrate, one molecule of ammonium nitrate, and ten molecules of water. Fertilizer-grade CAN usually contains roughly 8% calcium and 21-27% nitrogen.

The Role of Nitrogen in Plant Growth

Nitrogen is one of the three primary nutrients required by plants, the other two being phosphorus and potassium. It plays a crucial role in the growth and development of the plant. Nitrogen is an essential constituent of amino acids, proteins, and chlorophyll. It is also needed for the synthesis of enzymes and for photosynthesis, the process by which plants convert sunlight into chemical energy.

A deficiency in nitrogen can lead to stunted growth, yellowing of leaves (chlorosis), and reduced yield. Therefore, providing plants with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer, such as calcium ammonium nitrate, ensures healthy and vigorous growth.

The Role of Calcium in Plant Growth

Calcium, although not one of the primary plant nutrients, is still an essential macro-nutrient for plant growth. It plays a pivotal role in cell division, cell wall development, and nutrient transport within the plant. Calcium also assists in strengthening the plant's cell walls, ensuring the plant's overall structural integrity and resistance to disease.

Calcium deficiency in plants can lead to numerous problems, including distorted leaf growth, stunted root development, and blossom end rot in certain fruits and vegetables. Therefore, providing plants with a calcium-rich fertilizer, such as CAN, can help prevent these issues.

Advantages of Using Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

There are several benefits associated with the use of calcium ammonium nitrate as a fertilizer. Some of these include:

Quick Absorption

As a water-soluble fertilizer, CAN is absorbed quickly by plants. This ensures that they receive the nutrients they need in a timely manner, promoting rapid and healthy growth.

Disease Prevention

Calcium ammonium nitrate can help protect plants from various diseases. It strengthens the plant's cell walls, making it more resilient to infections and diseases. It's also used as a preventative measure to maintain plant health before any signs of disease appear.


CAN is versatile and can be used on a wide range of plants, including flowering plants, vegetables, perennials, annuals, hedge shrubs, herbaceous plants, and even trees, both indoors and outdoors. It can be used in its salt form as a top dressing fertilizer or can be dissolved in water and applied as a foliar spray.

When to Use Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

The use of CAN should be based on the specific needs of your plants and the nutrient content of your soil. It is particularly beneficial in the following scenarios:

Nitrogen-Deficient Plants

If your plants show signs of nitrogen deficiency, such as slow growth, pale leaves, and weak root systems, applying CAN can help replenish the nitrogen content and stimulate healthy growth.

Calcium-Deficient Plants

If your soil is lacking in calcium, or if your plants exhibit signs of calcium deficiency, such as distorted leaf growth or blossom end rot, applying CAN can help to rectify the calcium imbalance.

Disease Prevention

If your plants are susceptible to diseases, regular application of CAN can help strengthen the plants and make them more resilient to infections and diseases.

How to Apply Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

The application of CAN depends on the specific needs of your plants and the nature of the soil. Here are some general guidelines:

As a Soil Fertilizer

To use CAN as a soil fertilizer, you can mix it with the topsoil without letting it come into contact with the roots or the stem of the plant. This is known as top dressing.

As a Foliar Spray

If your plants are showing signs of nutrient deficiency, you can mix CAN with water and apply it as a foliar spray. The leaves of the plant absorb the nutrients in the spray quickly, providing immediate relief to the plant.

Precautions While Using Calcium Ammonium Nitrate

While CAN is beneficial for plants, it's essential to follow certain precautions while using it to prevent harm to your plants and the environment:

Avoid Excess Application

Excessive use of CAN can lead to an over-supply of nitrogen, which can harm your plants and the surrounding environment. Therefore, it's crucial to apply CAN in moderation, based on the specific needs of your plants and the nutrient content of your soil.

Store Properly

CAN should be stored in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight and heat sources. It should be kept out of reach of children and pets.


How does Calcium Ammonium Nitrate benefit my garden?

Using Calcium Ammonium Nitrate fertilizer in your garden can have several benefits. Firstly, the nitrogen in CAN stimulates rapid plant growth and promotes the development of lush, green foliage. It enhances the overall nutrient uptake by plants, resulting in improved vigor and productivity. Additionally, the calcium present in CAN strengthens cell walls, making plants more resistant to diseases and pests. This helps in maintaining the overall health and quality of your garden plants. Using Calcium Ammonium Nitrate can also contribute to the improvement of soil fertility, especially in soils deficient in nitrogen and calcium.

How should I apply Calcium Ammonium Nitrate in my garden?

When applying Calcium Ammonium Nitrate to your garden, it is essential to follow the recommended application rates. The fertilizer can be spread evenly across the garden bed or incorporated into the soil before planting. It is advisable to water the area after application to ensure proper dissolution and absorption of the nutrients by the plants. For established plants, CAN can be side-dressed around the base of the plants and gently worked into the soil. Remember to avoid applying excessive amounts, as it can lead to nutrient imbalances or environmental pollution.

Are there any precautions when using Calcium Ammonium Nitrate?

While Calcium Ammonium Nitrate is a safe and effective fertilizer, it is essential to exercise some precautions during handling and application. It is recommended to wear protective gloves and goggles to prevent skin and eye contact with the fertilizer. Also, store it in a cool, dry place away from children and pets. Avoid inhaling the dust particles during application, as it can irritate the respiratory system. As with any fertilizer, it is crucial to read and follow the manufacturer's instructions for proper usage and dosage.

Can Calcium Ammonium Nitrate be used on all plants?

Calcium Ammonium Nitrate is a versatile fertilizer suitable for a wide range of plants. It can be used on vegetables, fruits, flowers, ornamentals, and even on lawns. However, it is always recommended to check the specific plant requirements and preferences for fertilizer application. Some plants may have different nutrient requirements or may be sensitive to high nitrogen levels. Consulting a gardening guide, plant specialist, or your local agricultural extension office can provide you with valuable information regarding the ideal fertilizer choice and application rate for your specific plants.

How often should I apply Calcium Ammonium Nitrate?

The frequency of Calcium Ammonium Nitrate application will depend on several factors, such as the specific plant's nutrient needs, soil conditions, and climate. In general, it is advisable to apply the fertilizer once every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. However, it is crucial to monitor the plant's response and adjust the frequency accordingly. Over-fertilizing can lead to nutrient imbalances, while under-fertilizing may result in poor growth. Regular soil testing can also provide valuable insights into the nutrient content of the soil, helping you make informed decisions about fertilizer application.

So, if you are looking to provide your garden plants with an essential dose of Calcium Ammonium Nitrate, consider its benefits, proper application, and precautions. By using this versatile fertilizer, you can promote healthy growth, improve plant vigor, and enhance the overall productivity and beauty of your garden.

In conclusion, Calcium Ammonium Nitrate improves soil quality and enhance nutrient uptake, and it also promotes healthy root development and overall plant vigor.

This versatile fertilizer is highly compatible with various soil types and is easy to apply, ensuring convenience for both novice and seasoned gardeners alike. By incorporating Calcium Ammonium Nitrate into your gardening routine, you can witness your plants thrive, with luscious foliage, vibrant blooms, and abundant yields.

Remember to follow the recommended usage instructions and tailor the application rates based on your specific plant requirements. With this valuable addition to your gardening arsenal, you can nurture a flourishing garden that will impress and delight!

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