Top 10 Best Fertilizers for Vegetable Gardens ǀ 2020 Reviews

Adding the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens ensures that your soil remains in optimum shape to feed your plants. However, not all fertilizers are the same. Although they usually offer the same primary nutrients for healthier plant growth, they have varying formulation. There are also different types of the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens, mainly organic and chemical fertilizer. Choosing the ideal plant food for your garden depends on several factors, like your current soil properties, the best NPK ratio that plants need, and other nutrients that aid your plant’s growth.If you’re wondering how to keep house and garden plants healthy, green, and luscious, here’s our top list of fertilizers, both organic and synthetic options.

Top 10 Best Fertilizers for Vegetable Gardens Reviewed

  1. Jack’s Classic All Purpose Fertilizer – Best Overall
  2. Unco Industries Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer – Best Value
  3. Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer – Editor’s Choice
  4. Vigoro Vegetable Garden Plant Food
  5. Dyna-Gro Plant Food
  6. SEA-90 Organic Fertilizer
  7. Humboldts Secret Golden Tree Plant Food
  8. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food
  9. Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food
  10. Fox Farm FX14049 Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula

#1. Jack’s Classic All Purpose Fertilizer – Best Overall

Jack’s Classic All Purpose Fertilizer

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Specifications:

  • Type: synthetic/chemical fertilizer
  • Nutrient ratio: 20-20-20
  • Formulation: water-soluble plant food
  • All-purpose fertilizer

All-purpose fertilizers make it easy for gardeners and plant lovers to choose the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens. It eliminates the guessing game you need to do to figure out the correct nutrients needed for your plants. Our best pick for the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens is the Jack’s Classic Fertilizer, primarily because it’s an all-purpose option. 

It’s a mineral fertilizer that offers a balanced NPK ratio, rated 20-20-20, that provides every essential nutrient for plants from early growth to harvest. This all-purpose fertilizer promotes fast leaf expansion and greener leaves, suitable for indoor and outdoor plants, shrubs, bulbs, perennials, foliage, and more. 

It’s a slow-acting fertilizer that gradually releases essential nutrients, ensuring that your plant has food for a longer time. This all-purpose fertilizer can support vigorous plant growth for up to four months. 

According to the manufacturer’s advice, if you use this fertilizer, there shouldn’t be problems causing the plants to burn.

ProsCons
Suitable for vegetables, plants, turf, and trees
Can damage water quality due to phosphorus content
Works well for indoor and outdoor plants
Quick green-up and rapid leaf expansion
Dissolves fast

#2. Unco Industries Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer – Best Value

Unco Industries Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer

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Specifications:

  • Type: organic fertilizer
  • Primary ingredient: pure earthworm castings
  • Non-toxic formulation
  • Odor-free 

One of the best things about using organic fertilizer is by providing essential foods for your vegetables and plants without any direct negative side effects. And when it comes to greener solutions for your vegetable garden, our best pick is the worm castings pack from Unco Industries. It’s an all-around organic fertilizer that works well for indoor and outdoor gardens with flowers and vegetables. 

What stands out best about this organic fertilizer is it provides both fast and extended feeding benefits, unlike most organic solutions, and all that without altering the soil’s pH level. Another advantage of this package is that it has an odorless formulation that is more palatable to use than those foul smells from manure in other products.

Using worm castings will also improve the overall composition and structure of the soil. It helps promote better airflow for fibrous root systems and continual plant growth. The only downside is that it may attract other worms, although those squiggly things can better your soil. 

ProsCons
Suitable for indoor and outdoor garden use
May attract other worms
Helps improve soil structure
Non-burning fertilizer
Promotes root growth

#3. Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer – Editor’s Choice

Neptune’s Harvest Organic Fish and Seaweed Fertilizer

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Specifications:

  • Type: organic fertilizer
  • Nutrient ratio: 2-3-1
  • Primary ingredient: fish and seaweed
  • OMRI-listed

Another favorite organic fertilizer that works best for gardens is the fish and seaweed-based fertilizer from Neptune’s Harvest. It’s an easy-to-use formula that works best if you want to achieve a more colorful and vibrant garden. The seaweed and fish emulsion combination in this formula helps provide the natural sugars for plant leaves. It keeps them growing stronger and tougher, even against excessive heat and dry conditions. 

This organic fertilizer is mostly to provide vibrancy to flowers, but it also works excellently for vegetables and fruits, giving them a better shelf life. Overall, it’s a fantastic solution to feed your vegetable garden without using toxic chemicals that may damage the environment. It comes with an OMRI certification, too, a guarantee that you’re getting a 100% all-natural fertilizer. 

ProsCons
Suitable for vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and trees
Hit and miss depending on plants
Works excellently for flowers
Easy-to-apply liquid solution
Sprayer-friendly

#4. Vigoro Vegetable Garden Plant Food

Vigoro Vegetable Garden Plant Food

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Specifications:

  • Type: organic fertilizer
  • Nutrient ratio: 12-10-5
  • Formulation: solid/granular
  • Slow-release fertilizer

It can be tricky growing tomatoes, especially if you’re aiming for the best yield for the next harvest season. You need a specific fertilizer that promotes healthy growth for your tomatoes, like the Vigoro Vegetable Garden Plant Food. It’s a mineral fertilizer that offers a 12-10-5 NPK ratio, the ideal nutrient combination for vegetables and fruits.

When used according to the manufacturer’s advice, this synthetic fertilizer will help your plant blossom and grow vigorously and achieve high yields. It’s also an effective solution to avoid roots from splitting. 

It’s a slow-release fertilizer, making it ideal for somewhat long-term maintenance for your plants. However, you do need to water it after application. Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about this fertilizer affecting nearby plants as this solution is safe to use in most of them. If you want a plentiful harvest for your tomato garden, this fertilizer is a godsend. 

ProsCons
Ideal NPK rating for strong vegetable growth
Requires watering after application
Works from the first application
Promotes high yields
Includes calcium

#5. Dyna-Gro Plant Food

Dyna-Gro Plant Food

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Specifications:

  • Type: synthetic/chemical herbicide
  • Nutrient ratio: 7-9-5
  • Formulation: concentrate
  • Contains micronutrients (magnesium, calcium)

Indoor gardens are fantastic, especially if you don’t have enough space for a conventional garden in the backyard. However, growing your vegetables in the container indoors will not give them access to every nutrient or growth essential they need. Fortunately, you can find the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens for indoor settings, the Dyna-Gro Plant Food. 

The 7-9-5 NPK rating may not be much compared to other chemical fertilizers, but this solution provides vegetables and plants 16 different essential nutrients. It includes magnesium and calcium that helps give your plants healthier and stronger blooms and foliage. You can also use this if you have vegetables planted on rocky soil or in hydroponic settings. 

This fertilizer is a potent concentrate that you need to dilute in water before using it. Other than that, applying this liquid fertilizer should be a breeze. 

ProsCons
Ideal fertilizer for container-grown indoor plants
Tricky mixing requirements
Works well for hydroponic gardens
Promote blooms and foliage
Easy-to-use concentrate

#6. SEA-90 Organic Fertilizer

SEA-90 Organic Fertilizer

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Specifications:

  • Type: organic fertilizer
  • Primary ingredient: marine mineral solids
  • Formulation: water-soluble 
  • OMRI-certified

Hydroponics are incredible gardening option and many have tried the method for planting different vegetable varieties. But because plants grow in a completely different habitat than they conventionally do, extra care is necessary to ensure their healthy and continuous growth. A fertilizer specially designed for hydroponic gardens, like the SEA-90 Organic Fertilizer, is a godsend. 

This water-soluble plant food comes from mineral deposits directly harvested from the ocean. And since it’s an organic formula, it’s 100% all-natural and non-toxic. It even comes with a rating as an ideal mineral additive for livestock. And unlike most organic fertilizers that come with a strong foul smell, this solution boasts an odor-free formula. It comes with an OMRI certification for your ease of mind too. 

This fertilizer is best for hydroponic gardens, although you can still use it for conventional garden settings. The only downside is it can be a little harmful depending on your plants. This fertilizer does tend to raise the soil’s acidity levels. It wouldn’t be a problem if you generally have alkaline soil, but if it’s already high in acid, this product can make it worse unless you’re growing acid-loving plants. 

ProsCons
Works well for vegetables, flowers, and citrus treesCan raise soil acidity
100% all-natural ingredients
Odor-free formulation
Multipurpose use

#7. Humboldts Secret Golden Tree Plant Food

Humboldts Secret Golden Tree Plant Food

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Specifications:

  • Type: organic fertilizer
  • Nutrient ratio: 0-0-3
  • Formulation: concentrate
  • Contains amino acids, minerals, kelp, and carbs

If you are looking for a professional-grade fertilizer for plants and trees, Humboldts Secret Golden Tree Plant Food is an incredible option. It works well for many plant and tree varieties, providing enough nutrition for flowers and vegetables. 

This fertilizer’s standout feature is how it works, activating the root system enzymes to promote growth and production. It also helps improve photosynthesis in plants and veggies. Although it’s mostly potassium with a 0-0-3 NPK rating, this fertilizer is highly potent and contains minerals, carbs, kelp, and amino acids to help your plants grow and blossom. 

It’s also one of the more affordable fertilizer options for vegetable gardens, and it helps that you can use it on all kinds of plants. There’s no need to purchase a different pack if you have this all-in-one fertilizer on hand.

ProsCons
Helps increase yield quality and quantity
Doesn’t promote stem and leaf development
Works well with other additives
Helps rescue dying plants
Grow method compatible

#8. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food

Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food

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Specifications:

  • Type: synthetic/chemical fertilizer
  • Nutrient ratio: 24-8-16
  • Formulation: water-soluble granules
  • Guaranteed not to burn plants

Keep your vegetable garden healthy with the Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Plant Food. It can give your precious vegetables the necessary nutrients for their growth for weeks. Although you might need to re-apply after a couple of weeks, using this fertilizer is quite simple. All you need is to dissolve it in water, and you can start using it for your vegetables, houseplants, and even trees using a watering can.

What we like best about this all-purpose plant food is it provides essential nutrients to plants instantly. It’s the perfect solution if you want to revive ailing plants and vegetables. The 24-8-16 NPK ratio is also quite impressive, especially useful for boosting your plant’s growth. 

Like other synthetic fertilizers, you have to be careful with over-dosing your plants with this product. However, as long as you use it according to the directions, there shouldn’t be an issue about burning the plants.

ProsCons
Works instantly after application
Not the best for root development
Affordable fertilizer option
Safe to use for all plants
No burning side effects

#9. Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food

Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food

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Specifications:

  • Type: synthetic/chemical fertilizer
  • Nutrient ratio: 14-14-14
  • Formulation: granule
  • No burn formula

If you are looking for a slow-release fertilizer, our best pick for that is the Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food. It’s a must-have for your vegetables and perennials, a special formulation that can provide necessary nutrients to your plants for four full months. 

The balanced nutrient ratio in this synthetic fertilizer offers complete benefits for your plant’s full growth stage. Plus, it helps them develop stronger roots for healthier and more robust plants. And because it’s a slow-release formula, it ensures that your vegetables get the necessary nutrients at a steady rate for continuous growth. 

Applying this product is also hassle-free. You only need to sprinkle it onto the soil and get back to your regular watering cycle. The only downside of this fertilizer is that it leaves its resin coating in the soil long after the fertilizer dissolved. 

ProsCons
Formulated for colorful blooms and flavorful vegetables
Adds to microplastics
Feed plants up to four months
Promotes strong root growth
Ideal for perennials

#10. Fox Farm FX14049 Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula

Fox Farm FX14049 Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula

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Specifications:

  • Type: synthetic/chemical fertilizer
  • Nutrient ratio: 2-8-4; 6-4-4; 0.01-0.3-0.7
  • Formulation: liquid
  • 3-pack fertilizer

Get the most out of your money from this 3-pack fertilizer. The Fox Farm FX14049 Liquid Nutrient Trio Formula may be expensive upfront, but it gives your plants ultimate nutrient amounts to flourish. Each fertilizer in this pack is for each stage of plant growth, giving them a steady and specific boost depending on what they need. 

The first bottle in the pack is the Grow Big Hydro that promotes abundant leaf growth. The second one is the Tiger Bloom, ideal for use as soon as plants start to flower. The last one, the Big Bloom, is suitable for the entire growth cycle, formulated to encourage growth and nutrient recycling. 

If you’re unsure how to use these fertilizers, the feeding schedule and guide that comes with the pack should make things easier even for first-time gardeners.

ProsCons
Ideal for late-season and mature fruits and flowers
Expensive initial price
Solution for all growing cycles
Helps heal root systems
Fast-acting fertilizer

Best Fertilizer for Vegetable Gardens – JR Peters Jacks Classic All Purpose Fertilizer

All-purpose fertilizers offer ease of use, and that’s one of the primary reasons why Jack’s Classic All-Purpose Fertilizer is our top favorite. It provides a balanced ratio of the primary nutrients for plants to grow strong and bountiful. It’s a top-rated synthetic fertilizer that serves both indoor and outdoor plants, from your roses to your evergreens and foliage plants. If you want vigorous plant and vegetable growth, this all-purpose fertilizer is a must-have for your garden. 

Plus, the brand has been in the business for decades, one you can trust to provide only the best products.

Best Fertilizer Brands

If you’re looking for fertilizers online or at a garden store, it can get confusing with the many brands to choose from. Here are our best-pick brands today to make it easier for you to choose the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens.

Jack’s Classic

Jack’s Classic is a trusted brand, especially in terms of garden care and maintenance. The business has been around in the industry since 1947. However, besides the rich history that the brand offers, it also delivers top-quality products, especially all-purpose fertilizers. Jack’s Classic produces innovative fertilizers using traditional and new blending methods for best results. The brand offers balanced nutrition to help vegetables, flowers, and plants grow and flourish. 

Unco Industries

If you are looking for the best worm castings, Unco Industries is among the most trusted brands. Although their products are slightly more expensive than competitive products, we like that they provide more palatable organic formulations. Unlike some organic fertilizers, Unco Industries ensure that their worm castings are odor-free. What’s even better is that they are not only vegetable fertilizers as the castings work as an organic pesticide and pest control solution.

Neptune’s Harvest

Another favorite organic brand for your plants and vegetables is Neptune’s Harvest. It has been in the business since 1965, providing a guaranteed experience in producing 100% all-natural fertilizers for all your plant needs. It pioneers in producing non-toxic fertilizers made from freshly caught fish. 

Vigoro


What to Consider When Buying Fertilizers for Vegetable Gardens

Finding the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens is essential to ensure your plants and vegetables’ complete well-being. However, choosing the ideal one to use can be confusing, especially with many choices present. Fertilizers come in many types, packed in varying packages and bags that promises the best plant food for your garden.

You have to be especially smart to choose the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens according to your plant’s needs. Check out these essential factors that should be on your buying checklist to find the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens.

Organic vs. Chemical Fertilizer

Fertilizers come in many forms, and one of the primary choices you have to make is whether to get an organic or chemical fertilizer. It’s necessary to understand their difference so you can choose the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens appropriate for your needs.

Organic fertilizers are eco-friendly, made of non-toxic ingredients that won’t harm you, your pets, the soil, and your plants. They were once living organisms or their bi-products, a completely natural solution to feed your plants. They usually break down essential slowly, ideal for long-term purposes. Organic fertilizers, besides feeding your vegetables, also help improve soil texture and density in your garden. The only downside is you don’t get any immediate results, and some products come with a foul smell because of their manure component.

On the other hand, synthetic or chemical fertilizers come chemically manufactured with specific nutrient ratios for different plant needs. This type is specially crafted to offer immediate nutrient release by penetrating the soil easily. And because they are fast-acting, synthetic fertilizers are not suitable for the long term. They will often need re-application, and if you’re not careful with the dosage, you can easily burn your plant using synthetic fertilizers.

Granular vs. Liquid Fertilizer

When choosing the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens, you have to keep in mind the different formulation types. You can find liquid fertilizers, which can be concentrates or ready-to-use pre-mixed solutions. There are also granular fertilizers, which can either be fast or slow-release.

Granular types are the easiest to use and provides longevity, usually packed in a bagged form. Slow-release formulas offer different working periods, although most of them provide plant food and nutrients from two to six months. On the other hand, fast release formulas provide instant effects, both good and bad for plants. They are usually cheaper and works well when fertilizer during the cold season. The downside is there’s always a risk of burning your vegetables when using too much of it.

Liquid types can come in either a concentrated form or a pre-mixed variety. Concentrated liquids need to get diluted in water first before you can use it, while pre-mixed formulas offer spray-and-go convenience. Either option, liquid fertilizers act the fastest as nutrients easily get absorbed by the roots. However, they don’t last very long and not ideal for the long term. If you use liquid fertilizers, you might need to re-apply as often as you would when using granular types. Plus, the fast-acting property of liquid formulas makes them the more expensive option. 

NPK Ratio

Most of the fertilizer you can buy from a garden center, nursery, or online will contain three primary ingredients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. However, they don’t offer the same amounts of these three major elements, giving you different plant benefits and effects.

Besides checking if your fertilizer has these three ingredients, you also need to check its NPK ratio to know how much of which nutrient your plants are getting. The NPK ratio for fertilizers comes in a three-digit rating, representing the percentage of individual elements included in the mix. For instance, a 12-6-8 fertilizer contains 12% nitrogen, 6% phosphorus, and 8% potassium. 

So, what is the ideal NPK ratio for your vegetables? The best fertilizers for vegetable gardens should contain the needed nutrients based on your plant’s needs at its current growth stage. For instance, if you want your vegetables to develop thicker and denser leaves with sturdier stems, high nitrogen fertilizer is best. Meanwhile, if your plant needs to develop healthier roots, get a high phosphorus fertilizer. Lastly, fertilizers high in potassium is are best if you want stronger foliage and overall sturdiness against diseases, drought, and cold weather.

Additional Nutrients

Besides nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, you can further ensure your plant’s healthy growth by looking for the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens with several additional nutrients on offer. Look out for fertilizers that contain calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, and these three nutrients offer many benefits to plants.

Calcium helps in improving soil structure, which ultimately helps in plant growth. It’s also an essential component used by plants, especially at their growing stages. Magnesium is a component of chlorophyll, which helps the plant absorb and process sunlight. Lastly, sulfur is part of many proteins that also helps plants grow healthier and stronger.

Soil Type and Properties

Checking your soil before buying the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens can be more useful than you know. Even if your fertilizer offers many essential nutrients, your vegetables won’t absorb them if the soil condition isn’t ideal. For instance, too high or too low soil pH level will only waste the fertilizer you’re applying for your plants. The ideal pH level for most plants is between 6.0 and 7.0.


Conclusion

If you want the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens, our best pick for the job is the one from Jack’s Classic. For one, it’s an all-purpose fertilizer that delivers a balanced PNPK nutrition ideal for all plant growth stages. It’s a fantastic pick for a wide variety of plants, whether you have your garden indoors or outdoors.

Still, there are a few things that you need to consider when choosing the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens. You have to select whether to use organic or synthetic fertilizer for your garden. You also have to choose whether to get one in liquid or granulated form. Luckily, this review and buying guide should give you enough information before buying the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens.


FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions)

When is the best time to apply fertilizer to my vegetable garden?

The ideal time to start fertilizing your vegetable garden is during the spring season, and that works whether you’re starting a garden or already getting ready for replanting. Starting earlier will give the fertilizer enough time to sip into the soil. Still, it will also depend on what vegetables you’re planting. For example, lettuce is a rapid grower, so it will benefit more if you fertilize early in spring. Meanwhile, potatoes, corn, and squash grow rapidly during the summer, so a boost from the best fertilizers for vegetable gardens during their peak growth is essential.

How often should I fertilize my vegetable garden?

A: It depends on the fertilizer type you are using. Organic fertilizers provide long-term nutrients to plants, so you won’t likely need to re-apply your fertilizer often. When using a slow-release synthetic fertilizer, they usually provide food for your plants for several months. You won’t have to re-apply before than period ends. However, when using fast-release synthetic formulas, frequent re-application may be necessary. Do be sure to check the manufacturer’s requirements to avoid over-fertilizing your vegetables as it can burn them, especially when using chemical fertilizers.

Which is better, synthetic or organic fertilizer?

It depends on your plant needs and your preferences. Each fertilizer type has its advantages and drawbacks.

Organic fertilizers are slow-acting but provide steady nutrients for plants. They are non-toxic to you, the soil, and your plants. Organic fertilizers also help improve the overall quality of the soil, further aiding in plant growth. However, they tend to take too long to release, making it unsuitable for use in dire situations. They also have lower nutrient content than chemical fertilizers. 

Synthetic formulas, on the other hand, includes a specific amount of nutrients essential for plant growth. They are usually inexpensive and quick-acting. However, they often need re-application, and some chemicals can kill soil microorganisms, which can be detrimental to plant growth in the long run.

What are the essential nutrients for a complete fertilizer?

If you want to get a complete fertilizer for your vegetable garden, you should look for the three primary elements to provide enough nutrients for your plants. A complete fertilizer or plant food should contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Nitrogen in fertilizers helps promote stem and leaf growth, while phosphorus is necessary for stronger stems and promotes blooms. Meanwhile, potassium or potash helps root growth. You need all of these nutrients for healthier and growing plants.

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