8 Best Fertilizers In 2023: Reviews & Top Picks
Plants will often grow without human intervention, but when you’re spending time, money, and energy cultivating your own, it helps to have an edge. This is where fertilizer comes in. Fertilizers today are carefully formulated with your plants’ needs in mind, with numerous varieties available for virtually every situation. In this article, we review the very best fertilizers that may just be the thing you need. Let’s dive in!
A Quick Comparison of Our Favorites
|Best Overall||Jobe’s Organics All-Purpose Fertilizer||
|Best Value||Scott’s Green Max Lawn Food||
|Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food||
|Milorganite Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilizer||
|BioAdvanced Tree and Shrub Control||
The 8 Best Fertilizers
1. Jobe’s Organics All-Purpose Fertilizer – Best Overall
|Effective period:||8 weeks|
The best overall fertilizer today is Jobe’s Organics’ all-purpose fertilizer, which contains all the basic essential nutrients most plants need to thrive. It contains a balanced 4-4-4 blend of nitrogen for leaf and stem growth, phosphorus for fruit-bearing plants, and potassium to aid water retention. As if that’s not enough, it also has organic matter to further enrich your plants. 6 pounds of this fertilizer will cover up to 1,200 square feet, though it needs to be reapplied every growing season for best results.
2. Scott’s Green Max Lawn Food – Best Value
|Effective period:||12 weeks|
Not everyone has the budget to spring for expensive fertilizer, and Scott’s Green Max Lawn Food is the best fertilizer for your money. With a specially formulated non-stain formula that won’t stain concrete, you can fertilize your lawn edge to edge without fear of unsightly stains. It’s fast-acting, and you can start to see results as soon as 3 days after application. Previously brown and yellow spotted leaves will turn a deeper green and appear healthier, and the best part is that it lasts for up to 3 months! However, it is not suitable for fruit-bearing plants and can make the grass grow fast, so you might need to mow more.
3. Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food
|Effective period:||1-2 weeks|
Miracle-Gro is a staple of the fertilizer business, and for good reason. It provides high nitrogen content to plants so they can grow big and bushy in no time, and its water-soluble formula is simple to apply. You can use Miracle-Gro on shrubs, flowers, vegetable plants, trees, houseplants, and nearly every other type of plant. The main downsides are that it can burn your plants if applied too frequently and that it needs reapplication more frequently than most granular fertilizers.
4. Milorganite Slow-Release Nitrogen Fertilizer
|Effective period:||10 weeks|
One of the more eco-friendly fertilizers today is Milorganite’s slow-release nitrogen fertilizer, which is made with environmental concerns in mind. Rather than spreading throughout the ground and runoff, Milorganite stays in the root zone, where its high nitrogen and iron content helps your plants flourish. It helps grass stay greener for longer, and it won’t affect nearby shrubs or vegetable plants, either. However, it doesn’t have any potassium and isn’t organic.
5. BioAdvanced Tree and Shrub Control
|Effective period:||12 months|
For all your trees and shrubs, BioAdvanced Tree and Shrub Control provides slow-release nitrogen to nourish your trees and fend off insects in a single application. It protects against common pests like aphids, caterpillars, ash borers, emerald beetles, and more. This protection extends from the tip of every branch to the roots, lasting up to 12 months. Without pests to worry about, your trees and shrubs can expend their energy growing stronger and more robust.
6. Dr. Earth Life Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer
|Effective period:||2 months|
Herbs and vegetables are tricky to grow even in optimal conditions, so consider using Dr. Earth’s organic all-purpose fertilizer to set your plants up for success. Unlike other slow-release fertilizers that contain synthetic compounds, this fertilizer is all-organic. It’s also easy to apply. You just need to sprinkle it on the soil. If you’re feeling fancy, you can mix it in the topsoil, but that’s not necessary. As a bonus, it has beneficial soil microbes to improve your plants’ soil. However, indoor plants might require you to use more.
7. Jack’s Classic All-Purpose 20-20-20 Water Soluble Plant Food
|Effective period:||4 months|
A ratio of 1-1-1 is generally accepted as one of the most versatile NPK ratios for plants, with all the most basic essential nutrients that the majority of plants require. This ultra-strong fertilizer has a staggering 20-20-20 ratio, which means you can only add a tiny amount for big results. You simply mix half a teaspoon into a gallon of water and apply as directed for 2 weeks. In no time, you’ll see bushier plants, fewer visible defects, and more flowering. But too much can burn your plants, so be careful.
8. Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food
|Effective period:||6 months|
One of the few smart fertilizers on the market, Osmocote’s smart-release plant food pellets are coated with a resin shell that slowly releases nutrients during your plants’ growing seasons. Because of this, it only needs to be applied every 6 months or so. Depending on your plants’ unique needs, some plants may receive more or less nutrients than they need. Because of how strong it is, be careful not to fertilize too much, especially for specific plants.
Buyer’s Guide: Selecting the Best Fertilizer
Everyone wants the best for their lawns and plants, so fertilizers are essential to ensuring they get all the nutrients they need to thrive, blossom, and bear tons of fruit. The main three things you need to consider when choosing the right fertilizer for your plants are NPK ratio, type, and value for your money.
NPK is short for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which are the three essential nutrients that most plants need. Each is useful for different areas of plant growth and health, which is why different fertilizers have varying ratios. Depending on the levels of these in your soil, you may wish to supplement with higher ratios that compensate for it. Let’s check out what each of them does for your plants.
The fertilizer’s type will determine how you apply it and how often you apply it. For example, granules tend to last for a few months, while some concentrates can last up to a year. The type of plant the fertilizer is designed for will also determine this because only trees and shrubs need nutrition year-round.
Granule fertilizers can be sprinkled by hand, a spreader, a wheelbarrow, and some bags are designed to sprinkle granules out of the bottom. Liquid concentrates are typically mixed with water and sprayed onto the plants in lieu of water, while slow-release fertilizers can usually be mixed with soil or sprinkled on top of it.
When choosing a fertilizer, it’s crucial to think about how long it will last. Some formulas only last a week or two, like Miracle-Gro, while others can last months before needing a second application. The longest-lasting fertilizers will typically cost the most up front but provide more applications over time.
If you grow a variety of plants, a fertilizer with a balanced NPK ratio is the smart way to go. You can use it on nearly any plant without the risk of ill effects, though it may not provide specialized nutrition like other formulas.
Fertilizer is one of the best ways to give your plants a healthy boost, but it can be confusing to decide which is best. Jobe’s Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer is the best all-around choice, while Scott’s Green Max Lawn Food will have your yard greener than ever. To find the best fertilizer for your needs, consider the ideal NPK ratio you need and decide from there.
Featured Image Credit: sandie clarke, Unsplash