The perfect, juicy, garden-fresh tomato just can’t be beat! If you want to grow the perfect tomato, you need to make sure that your plants are receiving the right nutrition. Tomatoes are heavy feeders, which means that they are hungry and use a lot of nutrients. Your soil will quickly become depleted of these nutrients unless they are replenished. Most gardeners use fertilizers in order to give tomatoes the optimal nutrients. If you are trying to decide on the best tomato fertilizer, you have come to the right place.
Tomato Nutrient Requirements
Finding the best fertilizer starts with knowing what your plants need. Tomatoes require three important macronutrients in order to thrive, nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). These three macronutrients tend to be present in the highest quantities in fertilizers. The ratio of these is referred to as N-P-K and represents the percentage that the product contains based on volume.
- Nitrogen is necessary for the synthesis of proteins and promotes healthy leaves and stems.
- Phosphorus is important for cellular division and is critical during the fruiting stage to improve yields and quantity.
- Potassium aids in the transportation of sugars, is necessary for a strong root system, and helps the plant resist diseases.
Aside from the above mentioned macronutrients, tomatoes also require other micronutrients and trace minerals like calcium, magnesium, sulfur, manganese, copper, iron, zinc, boron, and molybdenum. The best fertilizers will contain these nutrients in quantities that are optimal for tomatoes.
Natural vs Synthetic Fertilizers
There are two main categories of fertilizers, natural and synthetic. While both have their pros and cons, our list tends to lean more toward natural fertilizers because they are better for the environment and build healthy soil, while also supplying nutrition to the plants.
As the name suggests, natural fertilizers use natural materials to supply the nutrients to the plants. Things like fish meal, alfalfa meal, rock phosphate, epsom salt, seaweed, manures, and more can be combined to make excellent fertilizers. A huge benefit of natural fertilizers is that they also feed the microbes in the soil. Microbes break down organic matter over time, which in turn releases more nutrients.
Synthetic fertilizers supply chemical forms of the needed nutrients. They tend to have higher N-P-K ratios than natural fertilizers. Synthetic fertilizers are popular because they are easy to use and are fast-acting. The nutrients that they supply are almost immediately available to the plants, whereas natural fertilizers often require time before the plants can access the nutrients. Because they are so fast-acting and tend to leach out of the soil quicker, synthetics usually need to be applied more often and can pollute rivers and waterways. While they have many benefits, they should be used carefully.
Both natural and synthetic fertilizers come in several different forms, from granules and powders to liquids. With so many different types of fertilizers on the market, it can be daunting to try to sort through them. Luckily, you can find success with many different types of fertilizers. It mostly just comes down to your preference.
Our job in this Top 10 list is to make it easy for you by identifying some of the best fertilizers on the market and giving you ample information so you can decide what would be best for your situation.
Our Top Tomato Fertilizers for 2020
1. Tomato Secret by Dr. JimZ
The top spot on our list goes to Dr. JimZ Tomato Secret. You can’t beat the quality and affordability of this product. Tomato Secret boasts 12 natural ingredients, along with their exclusive Concentrated Compost Factor and Magic Mineral. If you have ever wanted to grow monster tomatoes, this is the right product for you. It is designed to not only give direct nutrition to the plants, but will also feed the important microbes to create healthy, rich soil.
Alfalfa meal, soybean meal, rock phosphate, calcium carbonate (to prevent blossom end rot), and sugarcane molasses are only some of the natural ingredients included. Using Tomato Secret will produce disease resistant tomatoes that are larger, juicier, and more delicious. Tomato Secret is well balanced (NPK of 2-1-1) and perfect for your entire garden including: peppers, zucchini, squash, cucumbers, and all your other vegetables. One 4 lb. bag of Tomato Secret will feed 6 tomato plants for the entire season, which provides great value. For 2020’s best tomato fertilizer, we highly recommend Tomato Secret.
2. Jobe’s Organics 9026 Vegetable and Tomato Fertilizer
Jobe’s is an excellent tomato fertilizer that is certified organic by the USDA and is OMRI (Organic Material Review Institute) registered. It is a granular fertilizer that has a 2-5-3 NPK value. The higher phosphate levels are valuable for fruiting vegetables like tomatoes. It’s exclusive Biozome is an aggressive microorganism that breaks down material for faster results and improved soil. Another benefit is that it comes in several sizes (1.5, 4, and 16 lb bags) so that you can find the right amount for whatever size garden you have.
3. Espoma Tomato-Tone Organic Fertilizer
The number three spot on our list is an all-natural, organic fertilizer called Tomato-Tone. With a nice balance of macro and micronutrients and its unique Biotone formula, Tomato-Tone is one of the premium fertilizers for your tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and peppers. The only thing holding it back from a higher spot on the list is an intense smell that may be unbearable for some. You do not want to use Tomato-Tone indoors, and pets like dogs and cats may be attracted by the odor.
4. Burpee Organic Tomato and Vegetable Granular Plant Food
This organic tomato fertilizer is OMRI listed and will be good for the overall health of your soil. It is formulated to give quick nutrition to the plants and continue to feed them for up to three months. Its 3-6-4 NPK ratio gives ample phosphorus to strengthen roots and encourage fruiting. While it works great on tomatoes, it is also useful for all types of vegetables and herbs.
Knocking it down to number 4 on the list is the fact that it comes at a higher price point than some of the other options. This may make it somewhat unaffordable for large gardens.
5. Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable, and Herb Fertilizer
We love Dr. Earth’s Organic tomato fertilizer because it is 100% organic with no synthetic chemicals. It is OMRI listed and safe around people and pets. It comes in a dry powder that can be sprinkled around plants, made into a compost tea, or dissolved and used as a foliar spray. Dr. Earth Organic 5 has an NPK ratio of 4-6-3. With its higher levels of phosphorus, you can expect strong roots and abundant blossoms. It will also help your plants resist drought and is great for summer and winter crops, potted plants, shrubs, trees, and more. Since it is an organic fertilizer, smell can be an issue with this one. It can also attract gnats and grow mold on occasion, so it is not ideal for indoor plants.
6. Miracle Gro Tomato Plant Food
Miracle Gro is a big name in the plant world, and they have not disappointed with their tomato plant food. This special formulation for tomatoes and other fruiting vegetables has an NPK of 18-18-21. It also contains some micronutrients like 5% magnesium, .1% iron, .05% copper, .05% manganese, and .05% zinc. As a synthetic fertilizer, it will produce fast results if your plants are suffering from an urgent deficiency, but it gets dinged on our list because synthetics usually need to be applied more often (1-2 weeks for optimal results) and may contribute to run-off that contaminates streams and other waterways. Another negative is that Miracle Gro Tomato food contains some micronutrients, but it is not as complete as the tomato fertilizers ahead of it on the list. It also lacks calcium, which is important in preventing blossom end rot in tomatoes.
7. Urban Farms Texas Tomato Food
This liquid fertilizer is hand-crafted and specifically designed to grow large vegetables. With a 4-2.9-6.7 NPK ratio, Urban Farms Texas Tomato Food is great for helping tomatoes fight off disease. It is also rich in calcium to prevent blossom end rot. You can apply this fertilizer through a hand sprayer, drip system, or hose-end sprayer. It is great for gardens, containers, and hydroponics. It is also super concentrated, and 1 gallon of concentrate will create 256 gallons. Some negatives against the product would include an awkward container that can lead to spills and product waste and an expensive price tag.
8. JR Peters 51324 Jack’s Classic Fertilizer
This powdered synthetic fertilizer is great on a variety of vegetables including: peppers, cucumbers, eggplant, squash, zucchini, and more. It is easy to mix with water and comes with a spoon to help with accurate measurements. Jack’s Classic has extra high potassium (12-15-30), so you can expect plants with strong roots and stems. This fertilizer should be used every 7-10 days throughout the growing season. The major negative with this fertilizer is the price point. With only small 1.5 lb containers available, you will likely be buying this often and at a pretty penny.
9. Earthworm Technologies Tea Drops Premium Tomato and Pepper Organic Vegetable Fertilizer
This balanced (2-2-2) fertilizer is great for all of your garden’s needs. It is all natural and contains beneficial macro and micro nutrients, along with minerals, fungi, bacteria, natural plant growth hormones, and more. It is unique in its application because you never have to handle the product. It comes with 16 packets similar to tea bags. Simply drop one packet into 1-2 gallons of water, let it steep for a few hours, and then use it on your plants. This benefit, however, comes at a high price. This fertilizer is expensive and not super convenient because you must plan ahead and let it steep before using.
10. Neptune’s Harvest Tomato and Vegetable Fertilizer
This natural liquid fertilizer is great for established tomatoes that are blooming because of its 2-4-2 NPK ratio. It also includes ingredients like fish, molasses, yucca, seaweed, and other natural materials that help to increase plant vigor and help them tolerate drought. It’s slow release formula is good for potted plants and gardens. Unfortunately, Neptune’s Harvest does have quite a strong smell that can be a major turn off. It may also be too concentrated for seedlings and works better for more established plants.
Other Things to Consider When Choosing a Tomato Fertilizer
Get Your Soil Tested
One of the best things that you can do before the growing season even starts is to have your soil tested. Spending just a little money on testing can give you a much clearer picture of what types of nutrients your plants will need. If your soil is deficient in some of the key nutrients, you may want to look for a fertilizer that supplies more of those particular things.
If you do not have a soil test, your best bet is to go with a fairly balanced fertilizer that supplies as many different nutrients as possible. Several fertilizers, including our top pick, Tomato Secret, achieve this.
Understand Growing Stages
Tomatoes need different nutrients throughout the growing season. Seedling tomatoes need nitrogen so that they can establish strong stems and leaves. High levels of any fertilizer, however, can burn the tender young plants, so be careful with synthetics at this stage.
As tomatoes grow and begin setting fruit, phosphorus becomes more important and will help the plants produce more blossoms, thus increasing your yield. At this stage, too much nitrogen may produce thick, green plants with very few fruit. This is why you do not want a fertilizer that is too high in nitrogen. It might work well for your lawn, but it will not benefit your fruiting crops.
As the season progresses, potassium also begins to play a larger role. A potassium-rich fertilizer will help plants resist some of the diseases like blight that may threaten them. A fertilizer that contains calcium is also important because blossom end rot is one of the most common problems that tomatoes face. Calcium helps prevent this.
You can try to mix and match fertilizers to meet all of these specific needs, or you can stick with a well-balanced one. Now that you have seen our top picks for tomato fertilizers, you can choose one that meets your needs. As you can see, we really enjoyed Dr Jimz Tomato Fertilizer, but you may see results with any number of tactics and products. With a little help from some of these great fertilizers, you can enjoy a bountiful tomato harvest this year. Happy gardening!