All kinds of houseplants need three basic things for survival; water, light, and temperature. But if you want your plant to thrive and grow faster, you have to go the extra mile and find an effective fertilizer.
Generally, plants need 17 essential nutrients for healthy growth. Fourteen of them are received from the soil, and the remaining three are extracted from air and water.
In simple words, fertilizers help supply these extra nutrients to plants.
These nutrients are crucial for regulating water supply, creating enzymes, and strengthening the plant systems against disease and bacteria, among other things.
Even if your soil had all the nutrients at the beginning, the nutrients would soon deplete as the plants grow and consume all the available nutrients.
Therefore, fertilizers are a must to ensure your plants are always fed well.
Never overlook the symptoms of nutritional deficiency because this is the way plant communicate their health problems. Ignoring these signs might end up in a failed garden or crop.
The NPK ratio helps you decide what fertilizer is best for your plant. We have created this detailed guide of the best fertilizers for different types of plants.
Continue reading to explore all the options.
- 1 Best Fertilizer for Houseplants
- 1.1 J R Peters 52024 Jacks Classic All Purpose Fertilizer – Best Overall Fertilizer
- 1.2 Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer – Best Organic Fertilizer
- 1.3 Neptune’s Harvest Rose & Flowering Formula – Best Flowering Fertilizer
- 1.4 Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food Liquid- Best Instant Fertilizer
- 1.5 Espoma Plant-Tone Plant Food – Best All-Purpose Fertilizer
- 1.6 Dyna-Gro (DYFOL008) Foliage Pro – Best Foliage Plants Fertilizer
- 1.7 Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food – Best Water Soluble Fertilizer
- 1.8 Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Plus– Best Slow-Release Granular Fertilizer
- 1.9 Down to Earth Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer Mix – Best for Budget Fertilizer
- 1.10 Jobe’s Organics Vegetable Tomato Fertilizer – Best Vegetable Fertilizer
- 1.11 Espoma (VIPF8) Organic Violet Plant Food – Best African Violet Fertilizer
- 2 Buying Guide for Houseplant Fertilizers
- 3 What is the N-P-K ratio on the Fertilizer?
- 4 Types of Fertilizer
- 5 Conclusion
Best Fertilizer for Houseplants
J R Peters 52024 Jacks Classic All Purpose Fertilizer – Best Overall Fertilizer
This balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer is suitable for indoor and outdoor plants.
In my opinion, this type of fertilizer is suitable for all kinds of vegetables, shrubs, perennials, evergreens, and foliage plants, including succulents and cacti, since all three macronutrients are present in equal proportions.
This fertilizer is soluble plant food; therefore, you can apply it to roots (soil application) or foliage (foliar application).
This is a long-lasting fertilizer because you have to add a pinch of it in 1 gallon of water. The application should be repeated every 7-12 days, and you can add 1 tablespoon in 1 gallon for outdoor plants.
For indoor plants, 1 teaspoon per gallon of water is sufficient.
Most gardeners recommend adding half the amount indicated on the labels. Applying it once a month is enough for most houseplants.
You can buy 1.5, 3, or 4-pound packing depending on your requirements.
The balanced formula for this fertilizer ensures fast green growth and leaf expansion. Therefore, it is great for green foliage plants and vegetables.
This fertilizer is trusted by several gardeners for vegetables growing in different soil-based mediums. But keep in mind that it is not suitable for hydroponic plants because it contains urea. It is also not suitable for plants that need high nitrogen content, such as African Violets.
This product is not organic; therefore, I would not recommend it for gardeners who practice organic gardening.
- Perfect for indoor foliage plants
- Has a balanced ratio of macronutrients
- Can be applied easily using a watering can, hose-end sprayer, or drip system
- No overpowering odor
- Not suitable for hydroponics
- Not organic
- Too strong for some plants
- Not a lawn fertilizer because of high phosphorus and potassium content
Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer – Best Organic Fertilizer
Neptune’s Harvest offers several options for organic gardening; hence it’s a well-known brand among gardeners.
This is an organic fertilizer (OMRI certified) with a low nutrient ratio of 2-3-1. This natural product is gentle on your plants and vegetables. In fact, it’s a must-have product for your vegetable garden.
It helps the flowers and foliage of your houseplants grow more vibrant and strong. If you use it for blooming plants, they will produce more flowers that are fragrant and long-lasting.
This fertilizer can be applied in three ways: by hand, drip line, or sprayer.
This single product is suitable for a wide variety of applications and can be used for flowers, vegetables, houseplants, fruits, lawns, and container or raised beds. It might be the answer to all your indoor and outdoor fertilization needs.
For flowers, vegetables, raised beds, and fruits, you should dilute 1/8 cup in one gallon of water. Make sure you repeat the application every 1-2 weeks based on the growth cycle.
For houseplants, use 1 tablespoon of fertilizer in one gallon of water. This product works best when applied through leaves. If you want to apply it to the soil, make sure you wet the soil before application.
Some gardeners avoid using it for indoor plants because of the unpleasant odor, but you can leave the plant outdoors for a few days to let the scent fade away.
Remember, you might hate the scent, but your beloved plants will love this organic fertilizer.
- Good for both indoor and outdoor application
- Can be used for edible plants such as fruits and vegetables
- Easy to mix or dilute
- Has a fishy smell which is disliked by some plant owners
- Can attract fruit flies or other pests
Neptune’s Harvest Rose & Flowering Formula – Best Flowering Fertilizer
This is another marvelous product by Neptune’s Harvest, but it’s designed specifically for roses and flowering plants to produce vibrant, healthy blooms.
The N-P-K ratio for this fertilizer is 2-6-4. It is an all-natural product made from sea-derived ingredients with an ocean-like smell. The scent is not awful and fades quickly after application, so it can be used for indoor plants.
This formula enhances the vigor of flowering plants, especially roses, as well as increases the number of blooms on your plant.
This multipurpose product is not limited to flowering plants because it is also suitable for vegetables, shrubs, trees, and lawns.
It has additional ingredients such as yucca extract, specifically good for flowering shrubs. This also serves as a compost enhancer and also facilitates the seed germination stage.
The special formula of this flowering fertilizer helps your plant tolerate drought. This fertilizer should be applied once every 1-2 weeks once flower buds appear.
But make sure you only mix the quantity required for the application because the additional quantity cannot be stored. With a regular application in the growing season, you will soon have prolific houseplants.
- Best for flowering plant such as roses
- Organic and safe for houseplants
- Multipurpose fertilizer
- Boosts the growth and health of vegetables
- Eliminates the risk of overuse
- Some customers have complained about the broken lid
- Has a fishy smell
Miracle-Gro Indoor Plant Food Liquid- Best Instant Fertilizer
This is the most convenient liquid fertilizer offered by the well-known Miracle-Gro.
The fertilizer is already diluted in a spray bottle and is ready for instant use. The NPK ratio of this plant food is 1-1-1, which makes it a perfect option for plants that do not require strong fertilizers.
It is perfect for indoor plants that need an instant boost of fertilizer. You can buy a single pack for $7.83 or a double pack for $13.29.
The bottle also has a stopper to make sure you never spill the fertilizer. Based on your preference or plant need, it can be applied directly to the soil or diluted in water.
A single pump is enough for small potted plants but for larger plants (greater than 6-inch diameter), it is better to apply two pumps. A single bottle has a decent amount of product, which equals about 59 pumps.
According to the manufacturer, it should be applied once a week, but you can alter the application according to the growth stage of your plant or season.
- Easy to apply
- Suitable for all types of indoor plants
- Good for edible plants such as herbs
- Long-lasting for small indoor plants with about 59 pumps
- Can be used in hydroponic gardening
- Only for indoor container or houseplants
- Not suitable for vegetable seedlings or new sprouts
- Not organic
- Some customers have complained about the pump
Espoma Plant-Tone Plant Food – Best All-Purpose Fertilizer
This all-purpose organic fertilizer can be used for all types of vegetables, flowers, shrubs, and trees.
This is one of the most effective natural and organic products available in the market with no sludges or fillers. This is not a liquid fertilizer instead, it’s a blend of granules and powder fertilizer.
This all-purpose fertilizer will not just help your plant pop more flowers but also give a lush green and vibrant look to the foliage.
This is a slow-release fertilizer that has a magic ingredient known as Bio-tone Microbes, which makes this formula last longer.
This fertilizer also qualifies as a starter plant food for the majority of houseplants. So I would say it’s an all-in-one product suitable for all stages of growth.
It is available at a reasonable price.
This fertilizer is recommended by several gardeners for organic gardening because of the special ingredient that has thousands of living microorganisms.
These microbes are dormant, but once you add water, they become alive and help the soil in absorbing the fertilizer.
Apply it once in spring and late fall to the trees and shrubs in your garden and forget about feeding them.
However, vegetables and flowers should be fed once every month in growing seasons. In terms of quantity, use 1 cup of fertilizer for established plants (vegetables and flowers).
For trees, use 1 cup per foot of diameter of the branch.
- The slow-release formula requires only one application per month
- 100% organic fertilizer
- Supports root ball development for fruit trees
- A complete formula that needs no additional products
- Gives a deeper green hue to the foliage
- Starter plant food for houseplants
- Approved for organic gardening practices
- Long-lasting value for money
- Adds microbes to your potting or garden soil making it more organic and rich
- Does not affect the soil pH balance
- As a slow-release fertilizer, it is not suitable for gardeners who need instant results
- Some customers have complained about the smell
- Not a great choice for acid-loving plants
Dyna-Gro (DYFOL008) Foliage Pro – Best Foliage Plants Fertilizer
This liquid plant food is designed specifically for green plants. It has high nitrogen content with a blend of minerals, making it a perfect plant food for tropical foliage plants.
This complete formula has an N-P-K ratio of 9-3-6. You need to apply only ¼ tbsp. of this fertilizer mixed in a gallon of water.
Dyna-Gro products are a complete nutrient solution because they have 16 extra nutrients essential for the health and vigorous growth of plants. The extra boost of nutrients will eliminate all the deficiencies, but at the same time, it prevents salt buildup in the soil.
This fertilizer is created to make sure your plants do not miss a single nutrient; otherwise, they might suffer from abnormal growth.
It is also rich in magnesium and calcium, so you do not need to use supplementary products.
You can add it directly to the soil after dilution or spray it to the foliage.
Foliage-Pro is a top choice for greenhouse gardening because it performs better in low-light environments compared to other plant food or fertilizers. The good news is that you can even use it in hydroponic gardening.
- Easy to use and dilute
- A perfect combination of high nitrogen and low phosphorous content
- One of the best products for the container, greenhouse, and hydroponic gardening
- Has 16 essential micro and macronutrients
- Does not contain urea
- It can be used for common landscape plants
- Not completely organic
- According to some gardeners, this is an expensive fertilizer for hydroponic gardening
- It has no boron, which is essential for certain gardening practices
Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food – Best Water Soluble Fertilizer
This is a water-soluble instant plant food solution for bigger and beautiful plants. The ratio for this fertilizer is 24-8-16; therefore, it is higher in nitrogen.
Feed your flowers, houseplants, trees, shrubs, and vegetables once after 1 or 2 weeks, and it will be more than enough.
But make sure you dilute about 1 tablespoon of the Miracle-Gro fertilizer in 1 gallon of water for outdoor plants. And for indoor plants, reduce the quantity to ½ teaspoon in 1 gallon of water.
It is best to water your plants with this fertilizer solution using a watering can or spray hose.
If you follow the manufacturer’s directions, you can apply the solution directly to the foliage for leafy plants. Don’t you worry; it will not burn the foliage with direct contact.
But avoid sprinkling it directly on the soil because, according to Miracle-Gro, this product should be used after dilution.
One of the drawbacks of this product is that it is not suitable for hydroponics since it lacks some micro-nutrients, which are essential for hydroponic gardening.
- Prevents fertilizer burns if used as directed
- It can be used for both indoor and outdoor plants
- Safe for all types of houseplants
- Not suitable for plants that need low nitrogen
- It lowers the soil pH because of sulfur which might be disadvantageous for some gardeners
Osmocote Smart-Release Plant Food Plus– Best Slow-Release Granular Fertilizer
This plant food by Osmocote is one of the best smart release granular fertilizers, thanks to its 11 essential nutrients for houseplants. It also has the three macronutrients in the ratio 15-9-12.
It can be used for any indoor or outdoor plant provided you follow the instructions on the label. It supports the growth of any plant variety in any growing conditions.
One application can last for up to 6 months for most potted plants, which makes it an economical choice for both new and avid gardeners.
This smart-release formula is easy to apply. Simply sprinkle the granules on the soil and work them into the soil.
Since the granules are coated with a resin that controls the release of nutrients, you should water after fertilizing. The nutrients will dissolve in water and spread in the soil.
The release of nutrients is also impacted by temperature; generally, more nutrients are released in warmer temperatures.
- Good for feeding both container and in-ground houseplants
- Can be used for herb and vegetable plants
- A single application can last for months depending on the plant you are growing
- It comes with a no-burn pledge if used properly
- An all-purpose formula suitable for new and existing plantings
- The empty shells of the granules will remain in the soil
- Inorganic because of synthetic products in the formula
Down to Earth Organic All-Purpose Fertilizer Mix – Best for Budget Fertilizer
This all-natural fertilizer with a 4-6-2 ratio is great for recently transplanted plants.
This OMRI-certified fertilizer is great for organic, vegetable, and container gardening. You can also use it for your crops, trees, or shrubs.
The specialty of this fertilizer is that it contains high-quality organic ingredients such as Fish Bone Meal, Kelp Meal, etc. It is a gentle fertilizer that promises no fertilizer burns for container plants such as vegetables, herbs, or flowers.
Many growers have experienced vigorous growth in their vegetable gardens after applying this product, especially for tomatoes.
Not only it gives a proper supply of nutrients, but it also enhances the activity of microorganisms in the soil to improve overall fertility.
The ingredients are balanced in such a way that this fertilizer is gentle for new seedlings or delicate houseplants, but at the same time, it is a complete solution for established plants.
But keep in mind that this is not a water-soluble fertilizer. Therefore, do not dissolve it in water.
Apply it by sprinkling on the soil surface according to application rates recommended by the manufacturer.
- Great and economical alternative for synthetic fertilizer
- Stimulates plant growth and increases soil fertility
- Apply it to all types of plants-edible, flowering, or foliage
- It can be used for seedlings or established plants
- It cannot be used as a liquid fertilizer
- Not suitable for hydroponics
- Some customers have reported an unpleasant odor
Jobe’s Organics Vegetable Tomato Fertilizer – Best Vegetable Fertilizer
The N-P-K ratio for this water-soluble fertilizer is 3-1-2, which is perfect for a vegetable garden. It is not only organic but also long-lasting because a 10-oz package can make 30 gallons of fertilizer.
It is a certified organic product by OMRI and USDA. Therefore, without a doubt, it’s the most reliable product in the market for your edible plants.
This organic fertilizer also contains Jobe’s special ingredient known as Biozome, which helps in breaking down the nutrients for faster results.
This secret ingredient will also strengthen your plant to fight harmful bacteria and diseases by strengthening the root mass.
It enhances the overall soil condition and helps the plant withstand drought in the growing seasons.
For application, dissolve one scoop of fertilizer in one gallon of water. Regularly feed your favorite edibles with a watering can or hose sprayer to have a healthy yield in the coming season.
Avoid applying it via the drip system; the fertilizer might clog the system.
- Easy to apply liquid fertilizer
- Organic product certified by two bodies (OMRI and USDA)
- Safe to use for all types of edible plants such as tomatoes, onions, pumpkins, peppers, etc.
- Environment-friendly and biodegradable
- Resists insects
- Some growers discourage applying it to new seedlings
- Customers have complained about receiving fertilizer that is hard as rock instead of powder form
Espoma (VIPF8) Organic Violet Plant Food – Best African Violet Fertilizer
Some of us are looking for plant-specific fertilizers. This one is designed specifically for African Violets, Bromeliads, and Orchids.
Just like other products by Espoma, this one is formulated using organic ingredients to supply all major plant nutrients.
This liquid fertilizer is even effective for flowering plants like Begonias.
- You can mix the fertilizer in a spray bottle and reuse it when needed after shaking it well – no wastage
- The self-measuring cup makes it easier to apply
- It can be used for other blooming plants
- It cannot be applied directly to the plant
- It has a certain smell that might be uncomfortable for indoor African Violets plant owners
Buying Guide for Houseplant Fertilizers
Organic products are becoming the new norm in gardening. Therefore, many gardeners are focusing on organic fertilizers for their plants.
These fertilizers are usually developed from animal or plant waste and often have low nutrient levels.
Most organic fertilizers are not water-soluble and release nutrients slowly. But these fertilizers have several benefits over chemical fertilizers. I have listed a few of them below:
- The organic matter enhances the soil structure, nutrient and water retention
- The carbon in organic fertilizers helps the soil microbes thrive
- Unlike chemical fertilizers, they never damage the roots or leaves of the plants
- They are nutritional and easy to digest for plants and vegetables
Winner: Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer
Growing your own vegetables is so much fun but choosing the right fertilizer is extremely important. Most leafy vegetables (such as lettuce or herbs) appreciate a fertilizer rich in nitrogen.
You can also opt for an all-natural organic fertilizer if you are practicing environment-friendly organic gardening.
For fruit-bearing plants such as tomatoes and peppers, you should use a fertilizer high in Potassium. You will also find fertilizers developed, especially for vegetables that not only support growth but are also safe to use on edible plants.
Most vegetables should be fed on a monthly or weekly basis. Make sure you follow the instructions given on the label for application and dosage.
Read our article about the best fertilizers for vegetables here.
What is the N-P-K ratio on the Fertilizer?
Each fertilizer package has an N-P-K number printed on it. This represents the ratio of the three main macronutrients that plants need: nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, namely.
Although houseplants need other nutrients as well for healthy growth, these three are required in large quantities.
A balanced or complete fertilizer has an equal amount of these three macronutrients. If the fertilizer is labeled as 20-20-20, it is a balanced and complete fertilizer.
It plays a special role in vigorous leaf growth and developing the green color for the houseplants. Lack of nitrogen will result in a pale plant with slow growth.
But too much nitrogen is also not beneficial for fruit-bearing or flowering plants because it will impact their growth negatively and result in a lower yield of flowers or fruits.
Most green plants require a nitrogen-based fertilizer because it plays an important part in chlorophyll and leaf coloring. It helps the plants in processing food via photosynthesis.
It is responsible for the overall growth structure of your plants.
It also plays complex roles in plants, such as holding the genetic code in the nucleus or transferring crop traits. It is also necessary for developing plant tissues, cells and proteins.
A fun fact about nitrogen is that the quantity required for plants in soil and hydroponics is the same. Often times yellowing of leaves indicates nitrogen deficiency.
This component of the energy unit of houseplants is needed for the strong development of fruit, flower, root, and seeds.
It enhances the flower, and seed production, aka your plant, will produce more flowers and seeds. It will assist in cell division and new tissue growth.
It also helps your plant in using other essential nutrients. Lack of phosphorus will result in a weak root system for your plant. Other symptoms of phosphorus deficiency are stunted plants with little or no blooms.
If your plant or crop is taking too long for maturity, you should definitely check it for phosphorus deficiency.
A steady supply of phosphorus is needed for reproduction as well as optimum growth of plants. Phosphorus will also increase the resistance of your plants against diseases.
Just like phosphorus, potassium is also important for root or stem development. It also improves the drought tolerance of your plants.
It is a must-have element for food processing because it supports photosynthesis and activates enzymes. Adequate potassium in the soil can help you avoid wilting because it reduces water loss in plants.
Additional benefits of potassium include increased protein content and reducing the spread of certain crop diseases.
Potassium deficiency is mostly visible in lower leaves as yellowing of leaf margins. The leaves will start falling, and the overall growth of the plant will slow down.
Plants have varying nutrient requirements. Therefore, it is important to know about the individual needs of your plants for better results. You cannot feed a flowering plant with nitrogen fertilizer.
Similarly, foliage plants will not appreciate a fertilizer high in phosphorus.
Types of Fertilizer
Liquid fertilizers are the most common type of fertilizers used by most gardeners, including myself. These are easy to use. All you have to do is dilute them in water and feed your plant using a hose sprayer or watering can.
These fertilizers reduce the risk of over-fertilizing because you have better control over the quantity of product.
Granular or pellet fertilizers are mixed in potting or garden soil. These are a popular choice for outdoor plants, but I like using them for my indoor potted plants as well.
In my opinion, these fertilizers do not provide much product control because you are never sure how much fertilizer is actually added.
You leave these granules in the soil and add water. Soon all the nutrients will be dissolved in the water.
Granular fertilizers are also cheaper compared to other types of fertilizers.
This type of fertilizer is suitable for any plant variety indoor or outdoor because there is a minimum risk of fertilizer burns. The nutrients are locked in a shell that slowly releases them over a period of 3 or 6 months.
Some gardeners consider them expensive, but in my opinion, they are long-lasting, so the high cost is balanced out.
The frequency of application will vary depending on the brand you are using and the variety of plants you are growing. For example, blooming plants might require fertilizer before or throughout the blooming season. While some plants demand fertilizers only during their growing stage.
It is best to research your plant and learn everything about its nutritional needs to have a better understanding of what type of fertilizer will be best.
Fertilizers can help you replenish lost nutrients and make sure your plants have a steady supply of food for optimum growth throughout the year. I would suggest testing your soil to know the exact nutrient content to avoid over-fertilizing.
We have covered the best fertilizers for houseplants of almost all types to help you decide what is the best option for your plant.
A good fertilizer will not only supply nutrients but also increase bacterial and fungal activity in the potting or garden soil.
The frequency of fertilization will vary depending on the season and growth cycle, but most plants do not need fertilizer in winter.
You have plenty of options to choose from since we have listed both organic and chemical fertilizers. If you are impressed by any of the fertilizers in this guide, click on the links and buy your favorite fertilizer.
Marcel runs the place around here. He has a deep passion for houseplants & gardening and is constantly on the lookout for yet another special plant to add to his arsenal of houseplants, succulents & cacti.
Marcel is also the founder of Iseli International Commerce, a sole proprietorship company that publishes a variety of websites and online magazines.