Many indoor plant owners do not realize just how essential it is to ensure your plants are getting the correct nutrients. Plant food manufacturers balance micronutrients and macronutrients to give various types of plants the perfect nutrition to meet their needs.
Top Picks Roundup
Best All-Purpose Fertilizer - Dyna-Gro Concentrated Liquid Fertilizer
Best Organic Plant Food - Neptune’s Harvest
Best Slow-Release Fertilizer - Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed
Best Fertilizer for Flowering Plants - Dr. Earth Flower Girl
Best Fertilizer for Herbs and Edible Plants - UNCO INDUSTRIES,INC Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer
Types of Plant Food
If you are new to being a plant parent, it might be helpful to know some of the ins and outs of plant feeding. Beginners often don’t know that there are multiple types of fertilizer, including:
Food Spikes: A food spike is a solid houseplant food that is about the size of a small pencil. Simply push the spike into the potting soil and it feeds the plant for a certain amount of time, usually about 30 days. Food spikes are ideal for indoor gardeners that struggle with overfertilizing.
Granular Fertilizer: The granulated version of indoor plant fertilizers come in pellets or small pebbles. Apply them according to package directions for slow release food during the growing season.
Liquid Fertilizer: Liquid fertilizers are usually high concentrate that is diluted and mixed in a bucket, watering can, or used with a fertilizer sprayer. There are also pre-mixed liquid fertilizers that can be applied directly to the plant soil via a pre-measured pump dispenser.
Powder Fertilizer: Depending on the brand, some powdered water soluble plant food is dissolved in water, while others are applied to the top of the soil and watered in. Always read the manufacturer’s instructions carefully.
Potting Mix: Always read the label when purchasing potting mix and repotting your houseplants. Many mixes either have fertilizer or organic matter already included, like compost or worm castings that act as beneficial microbes that feed the soil. These will feed your plants for up to six months before you need to use a supplemental houseplant fertilizer.
Important Ingredients in Fertilizers
Did you know that one of the main things to know about plant food is the NPK ratio?
Anytime you choose a fertilizer you will notice three numbers. The three numbers make up the fertilizer's N-P-K ratio, the proportion of three plant nutrients in order: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). When choosing the best indoor plant food for your green friends it is important to know the specific amount of NPK each plant needs.
For example, flowering plants, like African violets, tend to need a lower NPK ratio. Tropical plants, like Monstera, need more nutrients. Overfertilizing can cause nutrient buildup in the soil that can damage the plant, so always research what your particular plant needs.
Many fertilizer manufacturers will also add micronutrients, such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, zinc, copper, and others. Just like the human body, these nutrients affect different parts of the plant, so a balanced fertilizer that has everything your specific plant needs can really help it thrive.
Best All-Purpose Fertilizer
Dyna-Gro is a fantastic option when looking for an all-purpose plant food that will meet the needs of a vast array of plants. It contains all 16 essential minerals necessary for most plants. The 8-ounce bottle will last quite a while as you only need a teaspoon or two (depending on the frequency with which you feed) added to one gallon of water.
Dyna-Grow Liquid Fertilizer
Best Organic Plant Food
If you don’t want a synthetic fertilizer, there are many organic fertilizers to choose from that use natural ingredients to feed indoor houseplants.
Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer is the highest-ranked natural fertilizer on the market. This seaweed fertilizer contains kelp and other natural essential nutrients that plants need. Although the price tag might sound steep, this is for a full gallon of liquid plant food that gets diluted one tablespoon per gallon of water for houseplants.
Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer
Best Slow-Release Fertilizer
Just as the name implies, a slow-release fertilizer releases a smaller but steady amount of the nutrients over a period of time. Most slow-release products release over a period of about two months (as opposed to quick-release fertilizers that release for approximately two weeks).
Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed is an all-purpose, slow-release fertilizer that feeds the soil for up to three months. The 4.5-pound package comes in the granule form and can easily be shaken out onto your houseplants. Available from Home Depot for under $20, Miracle-Gro is a trusted name in plant food.
Miracle-Gro Shake ‘n Feed
Best Fertilizer for Flowering Plants
Dr. Earth Flower Girl for blooms and buds is an option sure to get you through the growing season with healthy growth and beautiful, bright colored flowers.
Keep in mind that some flowers will thrive when fed a plant specific fertilizer. For example, if you are growing African violets, consider EarthPods African Violet Food Sticks. Orchids may be happier with a food made just for them, like the MiracleGro Orchid Food Spike.
Dr. Earth Flower Girl
Best Fertilizer for Herbs and Edible Plants
If you are looking for a fertilizer that is safe to use on your indoor herb garden or other edibles, Pure Worm Castings plant food is safe for your plants that you grow with the intent to consume.
Worm castings can also be used to make a vermicompost tea that can be applied like an organic liquid fertilizer to your indoor hydroponic veggie garden. Worm tea is gentle enough to be used as a foliar spray to stimulate nutrient uptake from the soil and encourage faster plant growth. Most liquid fertilizers are too strong to be used directly on the leaves and can cause fertilizer burn. Always read the instructions carefully.
UNCO INDUSTRIES,INC Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer
If you’re looking for recommendations for plant-specific fertilizers, check out this buying guide.
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