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If you’ve ever wondered how bloggers grow such luscious houseplants or how your neighbor keeps their grass so green, chances are their secret is fertilizer. Plants require a variety of nutrients to grow and thrive—including the three “macronutrients” nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, as well as small amounts of micronutrients like calcium—and if they’re not getting these key nutrients from their environment, they may not be able to develop roots, stems, leaves, or flowers.
There are two main types of plant fertilizer you’ll find today: mineral and organic. Mineral fertilizers are chemically processed to supply plants with exact quantities of essential nutrients, while organic fertilizers are made from plant residue, livestock manure, or other natural sources but generally provide less precise amounts of nutrients. Fertilizer also comes in many forms, including granular, liquid, slow-release capsules, and more.
Here, the best fertilizers for your garden's needs.
Best Overall Fertilizer: Miracle-Gro Water-Soluble All Purpose Plant Food
Miracle-Gro is a well-known and trusted brand among gardeners, and its All Purpose Plant Food is a versatile and wallet-friendly mineral fertilizer that you can use on vegetables, trees, houseplants, and more. All you have to do is dissolve the water-soluble formula as directed and use it to feed your plants every one to two weeks. It instantly provides them with the nutrients they need, resulting in bigger, healthier plants!
Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food is safe for all plants, including vegetables, and it’s guaranteed not to burn them when used according to the directions. It can be applied at any time of day using any kind of watering can, and its NPK ratio (which stands for nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) is 24-8-16.
Best for Lawns: Scotts Turf Builder 12.6 lb. 5,000 sq. ft. Lawn Fertilizer
It’s hard not to envy your neighbor whose lawn is always thick and luscious, but you can get the same healthy grass with the help of Scotts Turf Builder. Scotts is one of the top brands for lawn fertilizers, and this particular product helps to thicken grass and provide even greening, all while crowding out weeds.
A 12.6-pound bag of Turf Builder can cover up to 5,000 square feet of lawn, and it can be used on all grass types. It provides nutrients to your grass, helping it to grow deep strong roots, which in turn helps to strengthen your lawn against heat and drought. This fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 32-0-4, and it can be applied in any season and lasts for up to six weeks. Just be sure to follow the instructions, as applying too much can burn your grass.
Best for Tomatoes: Vigoro 3.5 lb. Tomato and Vegetable Garden Plant Food Plus Calcium
You can increase the yield of your tomato plants with the help of Vigoro Tomato and Vegetable Garden Plant Food. This mineral fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 12-10-5, which is ideal for fruits and vegetables, and it promotes vigorous growth and high yields. It can even help prevent blossom-end rot and splitting!
This slow-release fertilizer needs to be watered after application, and it’s safe to use around other plants, as well. It comes with a money-back guarantee, but chances are you'll find no need for that, since you'll be harvesting plenty of tomatoes all summer long!
Best for Gardens: Jack's Classic All Purpose Water Soluble Plant Food
Go ahead and give your flower beds a boost with Jack’s Classic All Purpose Fertilizer. This top-rated mineral fertilizer can be used on all sorts of indoor and outdoor plants, including foliage plants, evergreens, perennials, bulbs, shrubs, and roses, making it a great all-purpose plant food to keep around the house.
This fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 20-20-20, and it releases nutrients gradually for up to four months to support vigorous plant growth. When applied according to the instructions, it won’t burn your plants, and it comes with a measuring spoon for precise application.
Best for Roses: Jobe's Organics Flower & Rose Granular Fertilizer with Biozome
To ensure your rose bushes are flush with flowers, you need to feed the plant proper nutrients—that’s where Jobe’s Organics Flower & Rose Granular Fertilizer comes in. This organic granular fertilizer has a guaranteed analysis of 3-5-3, and it will deliver more abundant flowers when applied to rose bushes at planting and every six weeks thereafter.
This rose fertilizer helps to improve soil conditions and increases root mass, and it also helps your plants resist disease, insects, and drought. Plus, this product delivers visible results, including larger, healthier plants and numerous long-lasting blooms.
Best for Indoor Plants: Dyna-Grow Plant Food, 32 oz.
Dyna-Gro Plant Food contains all 16 essential nutrients that plants need, which makes it an ideal option for container-grown indoor plants, as well as hydroponics or plants in rocky soil. This liquid fertilizer is easy to use—simply dilute the concentrate according to the instructions, then pour it over your plants. Its NPK ratio is 7-9-5, but it also contains important micronutrients like calcium and magnesium to promote healthier foliage and blooms.
Best for Vegetables: Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food, Flower & Vegetable, 8 lb
For the best vegetable garden ever, you need the help of Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food, which is formulated with vegetable plants in mind. It will promote vigorous top-growth and strong root development, helping you to grow more flavorful vegetables all season long.
This plant food has a high total nutrient content of 14-14-14, but its pellets are coated in a unique resin that releases nutrients slowly at first then more quickly during the height of growing season. The fertilizer can feed plants for up to four months, and you only have to use a small amount to achieve visible results.
Best Organic: Espoma 8 lb. Organic All Purpose Plant Tone Fertilizer
If you prefer organic fertilizer, Espoma Organic All-Purpose Plant Tone Fertilizer can be used for a variety of applications, including on flowers, vegetables, trees, and shrubs. This all-purpose plant food is made from a mixture of alfalfa meal, poultry manure, feather meal, and bone meal, and it’s enhanced with beneficial microbes to promote healthy plant growth.
This popular organic fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 5-3-3, and its slow-release formula activates throughout the growing season. You can mix it directly into the soil as you plant, but keep in mind that it may attract flies or other pests because of its natural ingredients.
Best for Trees: Bayer Advanced 1-Gallon Tree Food
Keep the trees and shrubs in your yard happy and healthy with Bayer Advanced Tree Food. This product not only feeds the roots of your trees, but it also provides a full year of protection against insects like Japanese beetles, leaf miners, and web worms. The liquid formula can simply be mixed with water and poured at the base of your plants, and it has systemic rainproof protection so you don’t need to reapply. This tree food is especially great for young trees, and it also works well on plants that have insect problems that are inhibiting their growth.
If you're looking for the best overall fertilizer for your plants, Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food (available on Home Depot) is a great pick for a wide variety of indoor and outdoor plants. However, if you're specifically looking to improve your vegetable harvest, Osmocote Smart Release Plant Food, Flower and Vegetable (available on Amazon) is formulated to give the most nutrients during harvest season for more growth.
Why Trust The Spruce?
This article was written by Camryn Rabideau, whose mother is a lifelong gardener and former florist. As such, she’s developed a green thumb herself, which she exercises through a jungle of well-fertilized houseplants. She uses Miracle-Gro Water-Soluble All Purpose Plant Food (available on Home Depot) on her houseplants during their growing season.