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The 8 Best Fertilizers of 2020

Feed your garden right

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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.

A good fertilizer provides food and nutrients for your yard and garden. We researched the best fertilizers so you can pick the right one for your plants.

Fall Fertilizing: Essential Tips to Make Your Yard Grow

Read this guide to learn why autumn is the best time of year to fertilize your yard.

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Fall is here and it’s time to fertilize. Why fertilize your lawn in the fall? Taking the time to fertilize in the fall will strengthen your plants’ and lawn’s roots, giving them a strong base on which to thrive next spring.

The first thing to understand about fertilizer is the formula, which is represented by three numbers, such as the common 5-10-5. The first number represents nitrogen, which promotes lawn blade and foliage growth; the second number stands for phosphorus, which helps root growth; and the third for potassium, which promotes cell function and absorption of trace elements. But what do you fertilize? When? And with what? Let’s start with your lawn.

When To Apply Fertilizer in the Fall?

During fall, September is the best time to fertilize your lawn. Grass is recovering from a long hot summer and may be coming out of a drought-induced dormancy, so you’ll want to give your lawn a shot of nitrogen to push blade growth.

Best Fall Lawn Fertilizer

A fertilizer with a formula of 20-8-8 will get it growing again. Always follow the manufacturer’s recommended rate of application. Some people treat weeds and insects at this time, but I think that unless there are signs of trouble or a history of problems, don’t apply anything but fertilizer.

While this fall lawn fertilizer dose is important, an application at the end of October or early November is essential. At that time, apply a fertilizer with a formula of 13-25-12. The push of phosphorus will stimulate root growth through November and even into early December. By helping roots grow before winter sets in, you are insuring that the lawn will green-up quicker in the spring and become more resistant to disease and draught.

Plant Fertilizer

With the lawn taken care of, it’s time to consider plants. By now, perennials are starting to fade but they will benefit from 0-20-0 super phosphate fertilizer scattered around the plants at recommended doses and lightly cultivated into the soil. Next spring you’ll have stronger plants with more flowers.

Tree and Shrub Fertilizer

Fall is also a great time to fertilize shrubs and trees. In my opinion, all trees and shrubs need fertilizer, because most of them are located in mulch beds that use up nitrogen as they decompose. In addition, every fall we rake leaves off these beds, depriving plants of the nutrients that decomposing leaves would traditionally release.

To compensate, I recommend applying one to three pounds of slow-release nitrogen per 1,000 square feet of bed and cultivating lightly. (To figure out the exact amount of fertilizer you’ll need, calculate the square footage of your beds and consult with your local garden center.) I prefer fertilizing trees in late September and early October to promote root growth.

These nutrients will still be in the soil come spring when plants start to grow. If you have a tree or shrub that does not flower well, a dose of super phosphate will help promote flower growth. However, if the plant is not located in the right spot, all the super phosphate in the world won’t make it flower.

Bulb Fertilizer

Fall is also the time to plant bulbs. I prefer to use super phosphate to promote root growth, insuring strong flowering in the spring. Some people recommend using bone meal when planting bulbs, but I find that it attracts rodents who eat both the bone meal and the bulbs.

As you can tell, the basic goal of fall fertilizing is to promote root growth. When you have strong roots, you have healthy plants with numerous flowers. So push those roots!

Read this guide to learn why autumn is the best time of year to fertilize your yard.