Nature is and will always be a big part of our lives. It can help heal our minds and relax our bodies, and the easiest way to have a little piece of heaven near us is to start a garden and help it flourish.
Unfortunately, different plants require different kinds of soil, as well as various amounts of nutrients. Choosing the best fertilizer for growing garden plants is invaluable for ensuring that your flowers and vegetables will grow healthy.
Using a product that is specifically designed for the types of plants that you want to grow can make a huge difference.
There are several categories of fertilizers on the market, as well as dozens of different brands. We’re here to help you not only find the best fertilizer for garden plants but also understand what different types can work better in different situations.
Things To Consider When Buying Best Garden Fertilizers
Whether you’re looking for the best fertilizer for vegetable gardens, or want one that’s universally effective, keep in mind that all plants require six important nutrients in order to thrive and generate a maximum amount of produce or flowers.Three of them are fairly basic and can be found in ample supply almost anywhere in the world. These are:
- Carbon – This naturally comes from the air that we breathe;
- Hydrogen – Plants get this nutrient from regular water;
- Oxygen – Is obtained from both air and water;
However, others can vary from one region to another, making the type of soil in which the plants are grown extremely important. Alternatively, the levels found in the soil can be supplemented by using fertilizers. Here they are:
- Nitrogen – Nitrogen is used by plants in order to grow new tissues. This nutrient is usually scarce in nature, which has led to plants adapting to absorb as much as possible. Supplemental nitrogen can help plants grow faster in foliage, but too much will make them unable to absorb other substances, making them unable to produce fruit and flowers;
- Phosphorus – Plants use phosphorus in order to grow larger and stronger roots. Additionally, an increase in phosphorus can help plants produce larger seeds. Phosphorus is usually produced by organisms and insects that live in the soil and requires a pH of 6.5 to 6.8;
- Potassium – This affects the entire plant by helping it create carbohydrates. An ample supply of this nutrient can help plants defend against disease and make them more resilient to environmental changes;
Apart from these 6, which are absolutely invaluable to the development of any plant, there are 3 additional substances that are found and required in much smaller amounts. These, too, help plants grow and remain healthy, and their absence can starve them.
- Calcium – Calcium has a double purpose when it comes to plants. First of all, it helps them process toxins, and secondly, it helps improve the structure of the soil;
- Magnesium – This is a very important component of chlorophyll, which helps the plant absorb sunlight;
- Sulfur – It is generally used in proteins that are required by plants;
Finding the best fertilizer for garden plants requires a bit of research. Every type of plant requires different quantities of the nutrients presented above.
Find out what kind of nourishment and soil is required for the species that you want to grow and look for appropriate fertilizers.
Not all types of fertilizer work for all types of soil and plants
There are several types of fertilizers and every manufacturer creates formulas that are effective in specific situations. Pay attention to how your yard looks and the type of soil that can be found in the area that you live in.
Plants need a balanced soil pH in order to be healthy and thrive.
If you live in wet areas, there is a big chance that the soil in your yard is acidic, which means that you will have to find a product that nitrogen to compensate.
The best fertilizer for vegetables, trees, and flowers, for acidic soils, will usually contain urea, monoammonium phosphate, and others. These are designed to balance out the pH while also feeding the plants.
It is also important to keep in mind that not all types of fertilizers are healthy for all types of plants. Products that focus on helping plants develop stronger roots will not be useful when growing tomatoes or peppers.
Also, herbs will only benefit from compounds that help increase foliage.
You can find soil pH test kits online. These will help you determine what kind of fertilizer you need, as well as tell you what plants you can or cannot grow in your garden.
When it comes to understanding the nutritional needs of plants, you will have to do research beforehand and make a plan regarding what fertilizers you will have to use for each one. It is usually better to place plants that have similar nutritional requirements in groups.
This makes it possible for you may use oddly shaped fertilizers such as spikes and feed all of them at once. Furthermore, grouping plants will enable them to share nutrients, though you will have to leave them enough space so that they don’t starve each other.
Use different types of fertilizers during each stage of a plant’s life for maximum effectiveness
The nutritional requirements of most plants change over the course of their lives. This means that you will have to understand what kind of fertilizer to use in each stage, in order to ensure that your trees, flowers, and vegetables are healthy.
When researching each of the plants that you want to grow in your yard, keep in mind that there is no all-round best fertilizer for garden plants. It is likely that you will have to use different types of compounds over the course of the plants’ lives.
However, there are a few things that you need to keep in mind when taking care of your garden:
First of all, it is usually better to spread organic fertilizer that is not water-soluble prior to planting.
This will help enrich the soil and also lead to the development of microorganisms that break down organic materials and turn them into nutrients that your plants can absorb. The best part about this step is that you only have to do it once every year;
Use fertilizers that are rich in phosphorus and nitrogen while the plant is in its growing stages to help it grow stronger roots and more foliage. The former is usually best used for trees and plants that have edible roots, while the latter is more suited for herbs that are grown especially for their leaves. For flowers, balanced fertilizers are the most useful;
Mix and match different types of fertilizers, but do not overfeed your plants. This usually works best with organic fertilizers or by alternating one that is water soluble with one that is not. Also, do this only during the stages of rapid growth, so that the development of the plants will not be stunted.
Furthermore, alternate delivery methods, such as foliar feeding using a diluted liquid compound and a fertilizer spike;
The Forms Of Garden Fertilizers and How They Should Be Used
Fertilizers can come in several forms and each of them has a particular use. In most cases, it is best to use only one of them at a time, but larger plants may require two artificial sources of nutrients.
- Liquid fertilizer – These usually come in concentrated form and must be diluted with water before being used. Once you’ve done this, the solution can be poured into the soil of a plant, or even be sprayed directly on its leaves. Spraying it typically works best in the case of plants with large foliage, as they have a greater surface area that can absorb the nutrients;
- Powder fertilizer – Powder fertilizers must be spread by hand, however, they also require water in order to feed the plants. Follow the instructions on the package and water the plants as you normally would. The water will quickly dissolve the powder and the nutrients will enrich the soil;
- Granular fertilizer – Used on larger areas due to how easy it is to distribute the small pellets evenly, this type of fertilizer must also be spread by hand before watering the plants, but dissolve slower than the powder. Granular fertilizser can feed plants for a longer period of time;
Granular fertilizer is usually only suited for feeding lawns due to how easy it is to spread over a large surface area. Using it for other types of plants is possible, but it will not cover all their nutritional requirements, and may even stunt their growth in some cases.
Powder and liquid compounds are designed for smaller gardens and potted plants. Most liquid fertilizers can also be used for foliar feeding and regularly contain all the ingredients needed by flowers and decorative plants.
As a word of warning, when looking for the best vegetable fertilizer, it is important to keep in mind that foliar feeding is nor really an option. There is always the risk of accidentally spraying liquid fertilizers directly on the fruit or vegetable, and this can attract insects or damage the produce.
Benefits Of Different Types Of Fertilizers
One of the most important distinctions that must be made when talking about fertilizers is whether they are organic or inorganic. This difference can greatly influence how a plant grows due to the fact that the two types of fertilizers provide nutrients in different ways.
- Organic Fertilizers
These are made only from organic compounds such as minerals, bones or compost and do not dissolve in water. This means that once the fertilizer is spread, it will slowly release nutrients into the soil.
Over time, they will not only feed the plants but also help microorganisms develop in the soil.
Organic fertilizers should be used during autumn, in order to feed the plants over the course of winter, and can take over a year to completely disappear.
- Inorganic Or Synthetic Fertilizers
Made from processed raw materials, these substances are water-soluble, which means that plants can start absorbing them almost instantly. They are more dangerous to use than organic ones due to the fact that using too much or not diluting them enough can overload the plant’s feeding mechanisms.
Furthermore, spraying the foliage with inorganic fertilizers that have not been diluted enough can lead to “burns” that will greatly damage the plant. These are great if you want to give your plants a boost or help them regenerate faster if they’ve been starved but must be regularly applied in order to have a long-lasting effect.
Choosing the best fertilizer for garden plants such as vegetables is a matter of personal taste as both organic and inorganic compounds will work just as well. Most farmers explain that the nutrients of both are easily absorbed by the plants and vegetables taste the same.
However, there are products that have certain nutrient formulas designed to enhance taste and flavor. These are usually inorganic and must be used sparingly due to their potency.
Fertilizers are also divided into categories, depending on their content and when they should be ideally used.
- Nitrogen fertilizers – Found as both organic and inorganic products, these are great to help plants grow. Usually used during the middle stages of a plant’s lifespan, it can not only help increase its foliage but also encourage it to continue growing, sometimes past the size it would normally stop at;
- Phosphate fertilizers – Plants require phosphorus during all stages of their life. These fertilizers help strengthen the roots and the stems of the plants and also help them flower, seed, and fruit. Phosphate fertilizers should be added to the soil prior to planting as they take longer to disperse and last longer than others;
- Potassium fertilizers – Potassium helps plants grow deeper roots and protects them from disease when they are starved. Also, the substance is vital for photosynthesis, making it easier for plants to process other nutrients that they absorb from the ground. How much and when to use these fertilizers depends on the type of plant, but should always be placed as close to the roots as possible;
When it comes to which of these is the best fertilizer for gardens, there is no simple answer. Each of the types presented above is useful in certain stages of the plant’s life. Some should be used before planting, others immediately after, and some are more useful right before the seasons change.
An important rule that you must keep in mind is the fact that is usually impossible to overfeed a plant using organic fertilizers that are not water-soluble. These gradually break down and transfer the nutrients into the soil, from which the plan then draws the nourishment that it needs.
That being said, inorganic fertilizers are usually water-soluble and can be absorbed by plants in very little time. This can actually affect trees, vegetables, herbs and flowers in a negative way.
Always follow the instructions on the package and never use more fertilizer than required. Also, never spray liquid fertilizer on a plant’s foliage unless it is specified that you can do so safely.
Best Fertilizers For Garden Plants 2020
1. Miracle-Gro Water-Soluble All-Purpose Plant Food
This water-soluble, inorganic fertilizer is one of the best fertilizer for garden plants, regardless of species of the type of soil. The mix is instantly absorbed by plants, feeds them extremely fast and can also be used for foliar feeding.
Both garden plants, as well as trees, will gain nourishment from the Miracle-Gro Water-soluble All-purpose Plant Food. The compound must be used every 1-2 weeks for maximum effect and is guaranteed to not burn the plants, provided that the safety instructions are followed.
It is also important to note that the fertilizer is 24-8-16, and 1.5lbs can be used in order to cover an area of 600 sq. feet.
2. Jobe’s Tree & Shrub Fertilizer Spikes
Somewhat different than regular fertilizer that comes in the form of liquid, powder, or granules, this one comes in the shape of spikes that must be inserted into the ground, near the root of the plant. Over time, the nutrients from the fertilizer are released into the soil.
The fertilizer is 16-4-4 and can feed the trees for the entire season. The slow-release formula of the compound ensures that nutrients are released little by little, over a long time, without overwhelming other plants that may be near it.
3. Jobe’s Organics All-purpose Granular Plant Food
The compound is designed to be easy to spread over a larger area and contains Jobe’s Biozome. This microorganism is mixed with the fertilizer and will accelerate the process of breaking down materials into nutrients to feed the plants faster.
The Biozome also helps enrich the soil and enhances the plant’s ability to resist disease and damaging insects. The guaranteed analysis is 4-4-4, making it ideal for any type of plant, including indoor potted flowers and trees.
4. Earth Pods Premium Herb & Vegetable Plant Food
These are small fertilizer spikes in the shape of capsules that can be placed near the watering line of any sort of plant. They are primarily designed for potted plants, however, they will work wonderfully in the garden, as well.
The compound is entirely organic and contains a proprietary formula that helps with root growth and foliage development. In terms of usage, package contains 100 capsules which are enough to keep a plant fed over the course of an entire year or to help multiple edible herbs and vegetables grow.
5. Dr. Earth Home Grown Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer
Made entirely from organic ingredients, the fertilizer can be used to enrich the soil before planting the vegetables and herbs, when transplanting, or periodically, ensuring that the plant will thrive.
The fertilizer contains fish bone meal, feather meal, kelp meal, mined potassium sulfate, and others, ensuring that the dry compound will be able to feed any type of garden vegetables.
Created especially to feed both summer and winter crops, this compound is considered to be one of the best garden fertilizers, due to its effectiveness and flexibility.
6. Seed and Plant Urea Fertilizer
Designed to feed anything from trees and shrubs to vegetables and flowers, the Urea Fertilizer contains a very large amount of Nitrogen (46%) and is water-soluble, making it easy to spread over very large areas.
The package contains 5lb of fertilizer, and the manufacturer recommends that 2lb be used in order to cover a 1,000 square feet area, which is more than enough for most gardens.
The guaranteed analysis of the fertilizer is 46-0-0, which makes it useful when it comes to increasing the foliage of any type of plant. However, it does not contain other nutrients that are required to produce flowers and fruit.
As an added bonus, the compound can also be used in order to rot tree stumps and to recover gold from various objects.
7. Lilly Miller Morcrop Tomato & Vegetable Food
The Lilly Miller Morcrop compound is considered by both farmers and homeowners who like to grow their own food to be one of the best vegetable garden fertilizers on the market. It is specifically designed to help vegetables grown and to enhance their taste.
The guaranteed analysis of the product is 5-10-10, and only organic ingredients go into making it. You can use it in your garden, in order to help vegetables grow faster and larger, but will also work for potted plants.
8. Beat Your Neighbor Fertilizer
Highly concentrated, the fertilizer from Beat Your Neighbor is designed for professional use, and, as a result, is more potent than other products that are available commercially.
The guaranteed analysis of the compound is 20-21-19, making it useful for any type of plant, including vegetables and flowers.
The product is water-soluble and 2 8oz jars are enough to make 180lb of fertilizer, which is enough to feed medium and large gardens. Furthermore, it usually takes up to 4 weeks to see the effects, however, it can be used during any season.
9. Jonathan Green MAG-I-CAL Natural Soil Food Fertilizer
The Jonathan Green MAG-I-Cal fertilizer is designed specifically for lawns that grow in acidic soils. The compound can also raise the pH of the soil, besides feeding the plants that grow in it.
However, the product is not useful for vegetables or delicate flowers. Furthermore, it may damage plants that grow in regular soil.
A package of fertilizer is enough to cover an area of 1,000 sq. ft. and comes in the form of granules that are easy to spread by hand. In addition, the formula of the compound will help boost the color of the lawn.
10. Ocean Solution Liquid Organic Fertilizer
When it comes to the best fertilizer for garden plants, the liquid compound from Ocean Solution is in the Top 5 products. The 2-0-3 solution can feed a wide variety of plants, and is also useful in hydroponic installations.
Made entirely from organic ingredients, the fertilizer is non-toxic and also contains micro-trace mineral nutrients that are usually found in very small quantities in the soil.
The compound can be used in order to enrich the soil that the plants grown in, but may also be poured in a spray bottle and used directly on the foliage.
Best Fertilizer – What’s your pick?
Choosing the best fertilizer for garden plants is vital to ensuring that they will grow healthy and beautiful. The products presented above are extremely popular among farmers, landscapers, and regular homeowners who want to have the perfect yard.
Consider what plants you want to grow in your garden, research what kind of nutrients they require and in what quantities, and then choose the fertilizers that work best for them. All manufacturers specify the exact substances that they contain, making it easy to decide which you should use.
Lastly, try to alternate between organic compounds and inorganic ones. The ones that are not soluble in water will help enrich the soil over time and feed the plants over the course of the year, while synthetic products can give them a much-needed boost before harsh seasons such as winter.