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The Best Garden Fertilizer

Last updated on October 17, 2019

We looked at the top 10 Garden Fertilizers and dug through the reviews from 27 of the most popular review sites including Outside Modern, The One Sunflower, Garden Consumers, Indoor Garden Nook, Garden Helpful, Zeetreby and more. The result is a ranking of the best Garden Fertilizers.

Best Garden Fertilizer

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Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in a category.

Our Picks For The Top Garden Fertilizers

Show Contents
Our Take
Experts Included
Pros
Cons
  The Best Overall

Unco Industries

Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Organic Fertilizer

Overall Take

Nontoxic and OrganicIf you want a natural fertilizer, the earthworm castings in this Unco Industries Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Organic Fertilizer make it a great choice.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus The Filter Master, Smart Choice Site, Garden Consumers, The One Sunflower, Sumo Gardener, Power Tools Guide and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" They have lots of healthy bacteria that grows from the waste, which helps increase plant growth at a high rate of speed. The product has been sifted through before shipment, so there’s less work for you to do when it..."
Cons
"My first bag did come with some mold on the top layer."
  The Best Value

Jobe's

Tomato Fertilizer Spikes

Overall Take

Easiest to UseSimply insert these Jobe's Tomato Fertilizer Spikes into the ground, and the fertilizer gradually releases to promote tomato growth.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Outside Modern, The Spruce, Grow Green Food and 1 more. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" They are easy to use and don’t require much work making them perfect for those who want something simple and quick."
Cons
"You will need to replace them a few times throughout the tomato growing season."

Miracle-Gro

Garden Feeder + 1-lb All Purpose Fertilizer

Overall Take

Fast-Acting SprayWhen you need quick action, this Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder + 1-lb All Purpose Fertilizer is the one to choose.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Morning Chores, The Spruce. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" The water-soluble granules provide instant nutrition to your plants as you apply it to the base of the plant and you should start to see rapid growth within 10 days."

Osmocote

Plus Smart-Release Plant Food

Overall Take

Tons of NutrientsWith this Osmocote Plus Smart-Release Plant Food, you'll get a solution for both your outdoor and indoor plants, making it extremely versatile.

Experts Included
DWYM Outdoor and Garden Experts plus Ama Top 10, Garden Helpful. Along with user reviews from Amazon and Walmart.
Pros
" Its no burn formula, for instance, is safe for feeding all plant varieties in all weather conditions."
Don't just take for granted what one reviewer says. Along with our own experts, DWYM analyzes the top expert reviews of the leading products and generates a score you can actually trust.
17

Products Considered

We identified the majority of the garden fertilizers available to purchase.
10

Products Analyzed

We then selected the leading and most popular products for our team to review.

View All Product Rankings

27

Expert Reviews Included

In addition to our expert reviews, we also incorporate feedback and analysis of some of the most respected sources including: Outside Modern, The One Sunflower, Garden Consumers, Indoor Garden Nook, Garden Helpful.

18,514

User Opinions Analyzed

We also incorporate user reviews from the leading retailers including Amazon, Walmart and 3 others.

Our experts reviewed the top 10 Garden Fertilizers and also dug through the reviews from 27 of the most popular review sites including Outside Modern, The One Sunflower, Garden Consumers, Indoor Garden Nook, Garden Helpful, Zeetreby and more. The result is a ranking of the best of the best Garden Fertilizers.

DWYM is your trusted roduct review source. Our team reviews thousands of product reviews from the trusted top experts and combines them into one easy-to-understand score. Learn more.

Look for the DWYM seal for products that are the best in their category.

The Best Overall

Unco Industries (WWSB15LB) Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer, 15-Pound

Our Expert Score
9.4
7 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.4
867 user reviews
Our Take

Earthworm castings set the Unco Industries (WWSB15LB) Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer, 15-Pound apart from the competition. This organic fertilizer provides a nontoxic, odorless alternative for gardeners. The healthy bacteria in these castings promote plant growth.

What other experts liked
They have lots of healthy bacteria that grows from the waste, which helps increase plant growth at a high rate of speed. The product has been sifted through before shipment, so there’s less work for you to do when it...
- The Filter Master
The nutrients in our earthworm castings are plentiful. Most importantly, these nutrients are perfectly balanced in two forms. One form can be immediately absorbed by the plant as if it were directly injected and the other is able to provide...
- Smart Choice Site
Earthworm castings (i.e. their dung) contain water-soluble nutrients that come out of the worm in a richer format than they had before going into the worm, and the result is plant food gold.
- Garden Consumers
The pure earthworm eastings offer great fortification and support for the soil base, and I found it useful for growing not only my vegetable crops, but also flowers on the side.
- The One Sunflower
The worms from Unco are fed with organic materials that are rich in organic material, which usually contains traces of elements and different types of minerals.
- Sumo Gardener
Their Wiggle Worm soil builder ingredients come from straight nature with no alteration. It contains varieties of minerals and trace elements will nourish your garden to the fullest.
- Power Tools Guide
The wiggle worm soil builder has the ability to improve soil structure which allows the roots of your garden plant to grow fast. It also increases soil water retention capacity because it contains absorbent organic matter which holds only the...
- Toodle Hub
What other experts didn't like
Growth may start slowly in the early stages.
- The Filter Master
My first bag did come with some mold on the top layer.
- The One Sunflower
Mystery seedlings might pop up.
- Sumo Gardener

The Best Bang For Your Buck

Jobe’s Tomato Fertilizer Spikes, 18 Spikes

Expert Summarized Score
10.0
4 expert reviews
User Summarized Score
9.2
914 user reviews
Our Take

You can't beat the ease of use of Jobe's Tomato Fertilizer Spikes, 18 Spikes, which simply require you to insert spikes into the ground. Once in place, the fertilizer in the spikes releases slowly, gradually feeding tomato plants to promote growth. You'll need to be patient with this option, though, as it takes a little time to start acting.

What other experts liked
They are easy to use and don’t require much work making them perfect for those who want something simple and quick.
- Outside Modern
These spikes feed the roots with their time released technology which ensures they are always getting the right amount of healthy nutrients. These spikes feed for about eight weeks.
- The Spruce
July 17, 2019 | Full review
Feeds the root directly. As fertilizer spikes, this product feeds nutrients directly to the growing roots where it’s needed most.
- Modern Home Pulse
June 14, 2019 | Full review
This one makes our list because it’s just so easy to use. Very convenient, especially for first time growers.
- Grow Green Food
December 22, 2017 | Full review
What other experts didn't like
Do require a little bit of time in order to work.
- Outside Modern
You will need to replace them a few times throughout the tomato growing season.
- The Spruce
July 17, 2019 | Full review
Stakes get compromised when wet. Although the bag is completely sealable, unused stakes can sometimes get wet and compromised, causing them to lose their effectiveness as a fertilizer product.
- Modern Home Pulse
June 14, 2019 | Full review

Our Findings

Unco Industries (WWSB15LB) Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer, 15-Pound

Best for Organic Gardens

What We Liked: Earthworm castings set the Unco Industries (WWSB15LB) Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Earthworm Castings Organic Fertilizer, 15-Pound apart from the competition. This organic fertilizer provides a nontoxic, odorless alternative for gardeners. The healthy bacteria in these castings promote plant growth.

Jobe’s Tomato Fertilizer Spikes, 18 Spikes

Best For Tomatoes

Jobe's Tomato Fertilizer Spikes, 18 Spikes (Lawn & Patio)


List Price: $4.19 USD
New From: $3.28 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: You can’t beat the ease of use of Jobe’s Tomato Fertilizer Spikes, 18 Spikes, which simply require you to insert spikes into the ground. Once in place, the fertilizer in the spikes releases slowly, gradually feeding tomato plants to promote growth. You’ll need to be patient with this option, though, as it takes a little time to start acting.

Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder with 1-Pound Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food (Plant Fertilizer)

Best for Easy Use

What We Liked: The sprayer on the Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder with 1-Pound Miracle-Gro All Purpose Plant Food (Plant Fertilizer) makes it easy to apply, providing three different pattern options. The immediate action of this sprayer makes it a great choice for those in a hurry to start their garden. However, this also means you’ll have to reapply every week or two to see ongoing results.

Osmocote 274850 Plus Outdoor and Indoor Smart-Release Food (Plant Fertilizer), 8 LB, Brown/A

Best for Versatility

Osmocote 274850 Smart-Release Plant Food Plus Outdoor and Indoor, 8 lbs, Brown/A (Lawn & Patio)


List Price: $25.12 USD
New From: $21.72 USD In Stock
Used from: Out of Stock

What We Liked: With 11 different nutrients packed in, Osmocote 274850 Plus Outdoor and Indoor Smart-Release Food (Plant Fertilizer), 8 LB, Brown/A is a great way to get nutrients to your plants. This fertilizer works for both indoor and outdoor plants, making it a solution you can use for all your gardening projects. Its no-burn formula also means you can use it in the hottest summer months without issue.

Our Expert Consultant

Vicki Liston 
Home Improvement Expert

Vicki Liston writes, produces, and narrates “On The Fly…DIY,” an award-winning home improvement and DIY show of unique project tutorials for the casual DIY’er.

Home improvement and all things DIY have been Liston’s passion since she bought her first house in 2007 and she started making video blogs in 2014. She’s performed hundreds of DIY projects, from small ones to major, wall-smashing renovations and can teach you how to make a trendy DIY barn door for less than $40. The proceeds earned from “On The Fly…DIY” are donated to no-kill animal shelters and rescue organizations. You can find her show on YouTube and Prime Video.

 

 

Our Garden Fertilizer Buying Guide

Building a healthy garden means giving Mother Nature a little extra help. Planting the right items for the amount of sunlight a specific area gets is an important first step, but you’ll also have to occasionally water your plants to make up for dry spells.

Another way to give your garden a little boost is through the use of fertilizer. The right kind of fertilizer will provide your plants with a hefty dosage of nutrients that promote healthy growth. But not all plants need the same nutrients, so it’s important to match the fertilizer you use to the type of garden you’re trying to grow.

Home improvement expert Vicki Liston recommends conducting a soil test before purchasing your fertilizer. “Simply dumping nutrients onto a patch of land and crossing your fingers is like playing darts drunk and blindfolded — there’s a high likelihood the pointy end won’t be close to the bullseye,” says Liston, host of “On The Fly…DIY,” an award-winning show with fun project tutorials. “Most county extension centers will conduct low to no-cost soil tests that tell you the pH and nutrient levels. You can also purchase a test kit for yourself.”

Many pet owners have concerns about their furry friends ingesting fertilizer in the days following application. Although the nutrients in fertilizers are generally safe for animal consumption, your pet could get sick if your chosen fertilizer has insecticide as part of the formula. The most dangerous types of insecticides have been reduced by EPA regulations, but it’s always a good idea to keep your pets away from fertilized areas.

One major factor differentiating various fertilizers is their application. Some fertilizers come in traditional bagged form, which means you scoop the contents out and settle them into the desired area. There are also spray fertilizers, giving you a bottle you use to spray every week or two. There are also fertilizer stakes, filled with the desired nutrients that autorelease intermittently.

Buying fertilizer to help save dying plants may not be a good idea. Fertilizers will work only if the reason your plants aren’t growing is that they aren’t getting enough nutrients. Your plants may also be exposed to the wrong amount of sunlight or water, or it could simply be that your garden is too close to tree roots that are competing for growth in the same space.

Organic fertilizers have become a popular option in recent years. These fertilizers eliminate chemicals and odors for a safer way to promote plant growth. You’ll find organic fertilizers are made from natural ingredients like insect excrement, while inorganic fertilizers are manmade.

DWYM Fun Fact

In addition to fertilizer and water, you may want to supplement your garden with a little conversation. Multiple studies have shown the benefits of the human voice for plant growth, with plants being monitored side by side to show the effects of sound versus silence. But female voices may have an advantage in this area. One study found that plants grew an average of one inch taller when subjected to female voices than those exposed to male voices. Interestingly, the best results were seen in a plant that was exposed to the voice of British botanist Dr. Sarah Darwin, who is the great-great-granddaughter of legendary biologist Charles Darwin.

The Garden Fertilizer Tips and Advice

  • Nutrients are probably the first thing to look at when choosing a fertilizer. Some options use earthworm castings that are absorbed in two different forms: one immediate and one in a time-release method that continues to provide nutrition. The water-soluble nutrients in this fertilizer are richer than they were when the earthworms ingested them, putting it among the best plant food you’ll find.
  • After you’ve completed the soil test mentioned in our Buying Guide, look for a fertilizer that replenishes the nutrients your soil is lacking. “Garden fertilizers will show you the percentage of a nutrient on the bag, always in the same order,” says gardening pro Liston. “First nitrogen, then phosphorus, then potassium. For example, a 100-pound bag with the numbers 10-20-10 is telling you that it has 10% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus and 10% potassium.” Shop accordingly for a fertilizer that has your garden in mind.
  • Some companies make fertilizer spikes for specific plants or veggies.
  • Osmocote Plus Smart-Release Plant Food brings 11 different essential nutrients to your plants. The coating on the granules allows water to make its way in, dissolving the nutrients to allow them to seep into the soil.
  • The castings in Unco Industries Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Organic Fertilizer are filled with plenty of healthy bacteria, which boosts plant growth.
  • In addition to the nutrients they provide, the castings from earthworms improve soil structure, which helps the roots of your plants will grow faster. The material in the castings has the ability to absorb just the amount of water the plant roots need.
  • As convenient as it would be for all fertilizer to promote every type of garden or plant, it simply doesn’t work that way. Unco Industries Wiggle Worm Soil Builder Organic Fertilizer works for both vegetable crops and plants, including flowers. Miracle-Gro Garden Feeder + 1-lb All Purpose and Osmocote Plus Smart-Release Plant Food are similarly versatile, working for both indoor and outdoor plants.
  • Even if you enjoy gardening, chances are you want a fertilizer that makes your job easier. Fertilizer spikes are one of the simplest methods. Traditional soil-based fertilizer require you to scoop them into place. Other come with sprayers, providing your garden with nutrients in just a few spritzes.
  • Some spikes don’t do as well once they’ve been dampened above ground. That means you’ll need to keep them in the sealed bag and store them in a dry place until you’re ready to use them.
  • If you’re in a hurry, you may want to steer toward fertilizers that go to work immediately. Time-release fertilizer means they take a little longer to start working. They continue feeding for eight weeks, though.
  • The no-burn formulation of Osmocote Plus Smart-Release Plant Food means it’s safe to use on your plants even during those blazing hot summer months.
  • Your own safety is also important. Nontoxic and odor-free fertilizers will give you a worry-free gardening experience.

About The Author

Avatar
Stephanie Faris 

Stephanie Faris is a novelist and professional writer. She lives in a beautiful one-acre home in the suburbs on the outskirts of Nashville. Her home and garden work has appeared on sites like GoodHousekeeping.com and Hunker. She's a true homebody and loves looking at new houses for sale for inspiration on her own home remodeling projects.