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Carl's The Sims 3 Gardening Guide: Learn about Fertilizer

Path to the Perfect Garden

How to GardenFind SeedsFertilizer
Plant QualityPlant ListOmni Plant, Steaks, and more

This Sims 3 Guide was originally written for the PC and Mac versions of the game, but also will help owners of the console versions - PS3, Xbox 360 and Wii. Please remember some info or numbers may have changed.

How to Use/Get Fertilizer in The Sims 3

How Plants and Fertilizer Work
In order to understand Fertilizer, you need to understand how plants evolve in the Sims 3. When your Sim plants a seed and it grows to maturity to begin producing fruit, the fruit can be replanted. Fruit that is higher quality being planted in the ground results in a better starting plant. Using fertilizer can boost the quality of vegetables and fruit that come from your Sims' garden.

All items like fruit and fish have quality ratings in the Sims 3. They go from bad to Perfect. Higher quality items are worth more, plain and simple. Higher rated items also deliver better fertilizing effects, resulting in stronger fertilizing effects for your plants.

Fertilize your garden, and weed it regularly to keep plants healthy and producing great crops.Plants Do Not Have Favorite Fertilizers
The next factor for how effective a fertilizer will be is the item type itself. Plants don't have a favorie fertilizer in the Sims 3. Instead, certain types of fish, fruits and vegetables simply add more quality to the soil.

How to Fertilize Your Sim's Garden:
To use Fertilizer on a plant, you must have an item that can be used as fertilizer in your inventory. With this requirement satisfied, when a plant is ready for fertilizer, the option to 'fertilize with...' will appear as an action when you click a plant. You can sort your fertilizers by quality to choose the best fish or crop to boost your garden.

The patch released with The Sims 3 World Adventures, which also affects the game with no expansion installed introduces a new feature: the ability to fertilize all the plants in your garden with just a couple clicks. Your Sim will automatically go about using the best fertilizers on hand to take care of the garden. Try to get rid of high-value items that can be used as fertilizer like vampire fish before you do this.

How does fertilizer work in the Sims 3? Does it affect how fast plants grow, or produce quality?

I decided to try to definitively answer how Fertilizer works in the Sims 3 after a recent comment on the Carl's Sims 3 Guide thread: here Although this section of my fertilizer guide is long, if you want to learn a few things, bear with me. I've highlighted facts I learned from my tests for those of you who want to skip a big read.

Since I will be talking a bit about quality in this article, I will post a scale of (relevent) quality: Nice, Very Nice, Great, Excellent, Outstanding, Perfect

Fertilizing Plants in the Sims 3 can boost their growth rate and the quality of produce they create

MeestorMark made an interesting point about growth rate. I hadn't done truly extensive testing, and he had proven me wrong. I decided to fix this by doing several experiments. As a control, I made myself a level 10 gardener with no green thumb. He grew a patch of perfect life fruit to use for testing, and raised fishing to get plenty of perfect vampire fish. I wanted to see if life fruit and vampire fish are truly identical (aside from duration).

I planted four patches of plants. Each patch contained the same plants: Grapes, Garlic, Lime Tree, Tomato, Life Fruit. A representative sample of the types of plants in the game. I know from previous testing that garlic can receive a boost to growth rate from perfect vampire fish, so I'm curious why Lobster didn't cause Lime trees to grow faster. Lobster does cause grape vines to grow faster. Thus the following setup: I will have twenty plants in the garden. One row will be unfertilized, the next will be fertilized with store-bought lobster, then a row with Perfect Vampire Fish and finally Perfect Life fruit.

The first day brings new information: Tomatoes and other 4 day plants always grow at the same rate, whether they are fertilized or not. Check the plant list to see what plants are grown in four days. The reasoning is simple. There are five stages of plant development: seed, sprout, growing, mature, harvest. Since the 4 day plants all start at seed, the next four steps brings them to harvest in 4 days. There are no stages to crunch.

The grapes that are unfertilized are the only ones not sprouted. The two top-quality fertilizers are managing to sprout the lime tree, while lobster does not. Garlic is still in seed form for all the plants. This produces our second gardening fact: Plants must have a certain minimum strength fertilizer to achieve an improved growth rate. Based on the plant, of course. Thus why the grapes do so well, while lime trees are harder to hurry. This means that higher quality plants require a bigger kick to get benefit from fertilizer. Fertilizers rated as Excellent or Outstanding should do the trick.

The next fact arrives after the plants are done growing: Fertilizer can have a huge effect on growth rate on some plants, while offering a smaller benefit on others. Lime trees seemed to benefit heavily, at three or four days sooner, while garlic was only two days shaved off.

From these experiences, I also arrive at the conclusion that fertilizer does not improve the base quality of the parent plant. That great tomato plant will still be a great tomato plant the day it dies. The only exception seems to be the money tree, which evolves this way as they are nearly immortal.

Why is this highly significant? If you don't care about the growth-rate boost, or your plants are all four day plants, don't worry about fertilizing until you're ready to start harvesting. The plant, when fertilized, will begin producing higher quality produce just as well as the one fertilized since it was planted.

At the first harvest, I learned another fact: Even high-grade fertilizer will only reliably boost harvested produce by one quality level. Whether the lobster or life fruit, I only saw improvements of one level most of the time when harvesting. Since lower quality plants can get that 'kick' from being fertilized with something lower price like store-bought lobster, you can get by early on using store ingredients. There is a small chance that the produce can go up by more than one level, however, it is the exception. Still, the chance for this to happen does correlate to the quality of the fertilizer. For it to trigger, it seems to need perfect life fruit (or equivalent).

Another harvesting fact: High Grade fertilizer will reduce the time it takes for a plant to grow harvestables. All the plants that usually take three days fall to two, and plants which used to produce every two days now produce every day.

Green Thumb is a must if you want to take gardening in the Sims 3 seriously. It does not affect the plant quality after planted. I gave my farmer a mid-life crisis by cheating and gave him green thumb. It does however bestow one more quality level increase to the harvestables. This can allow you to skip an entire extra generation of plants on the way to perfect. Additionally, they can Talk to Plants which can boost the quality of harvestables by one level.

Super Green Thumb will give your plant quality a boost when you plant a seed. If a level 10 gardener usually gets 'Great' plants out of Nice tomatoes, they would instead get Excellent plants. With perfect life fruit and the green thumb trait to boost even further, that Nice tomato plant will be growing perfect tomatoes.

The last fertilizer info I'd like to provide is that Life Fruit and Garlic are by far the best fertilizers in the Sims 3. Why? They are both outstanding level fertilizer (at perfect quality), and last a full three days longer than vampire fish (also highly potent). At 6 days, with the quality bonus of 2 days bestowed by Perfect (great, excellent and outstanding receive 1), the fertilizer will last 8 days. Add to that master farmer's bonus of 1 day (the challenge to harvest 650 produce), and we arrive at 9 days fertilized. Long enough to grow almost any plant from seed to maturity.

So, vampire fish does the same thing, but lasts a shorter amount of time. Unfortunately, vampire fish can be worth 6 or more times a life fruit. Angel fish are also highly potent, but should be used for fishing death fish. That's throwing away more money than using vampire fish, by far.

Bad Fertilizer!

Death Fish: Don't use this to fertilize a plant unless you want to kill it. Sell them, have them mounted, collect them in aquariums, or use them in the ambrosia recipe instead!

How to GardenFind SeedsFertilizer
Plant QualityPlant ListOmni Plant, Steaks, and more
The Sims 3 Skills
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Comments (5)

Simone23 says...
I was wondering if the info on length that a fertilizer lasts is still accurate. My favorite fertilizer these days is store-bought lobster. When it goes on sale, I buy it in bulk for $14 apiece (less than $8 each if a celebrity discount kicks in). At that rate, it's 1/4 the price of the garlic and 1/7 the price of the life fruit, and even if it has to be applied more frequently, it still takes less time to apply the fertilizer than it does to fish or raise the extra plants.
5th October 2012 7:01pm
Lucy Maria says...
What about horse manure, how does that compare to plants and fish?
5th October 2012 9:28pm
iBarb says...
By far the best way to garden now is to use the new composting station the official Sims store sells. You put up the framework and any plants under or near it will get watered automagically at 7am and 7pm. You can add 3 fertilizer to it and it rains fertilizer down on all your plants! I love to use the bits of sun that spawn from the sunflower (I think this came with the package too, or maybe it came from Plants vs Zombies bonus). You see immediate results fertilizing with this thing. I almost can't keep up with it. You can also use the composted to identify unknown seeds! It is so worth the money!
5th December 2012 2:42pm
GinaSims says...
I planted some seeds on grass, and before they sprouted I changed the terrain paint beneath them to dark dirt. The next day they were full grown plants! Is that a coincidence? Do plants usually grow that fast or does the paint unlock a cheat?
17th April 2013 11:56pm
liz says...
I'm not sure if it was a glitch at all, maybe it was a hidden trick in the game or something? Time to do a little Google search I think!
This sounds like a glitch. Are you sure there weren't other factors like a unicorn, fairy or using the SwiftGro Gardening Station?
11th July 2013 11:28am
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