Your tomato plants are looking healthy then they produced flowers, fruit, and became ripe according to the schedule. Finally, you collected the ready to harvest tomato. Feeling good, right?
But you came home, sliced the tomato, and saw the interior has open spaces and not much fruit inside the tomato.
Sad but true, it happens to many gardeners for applying the wrong fertilizer to the tomato and it is called Puffiness.
Moreover, there are a lot of problems you may face if you apply the wrong fertilizer to the tomato. Such as poor fruit set, blossom drop, blossom end rot, and so on.
So if you want the juicy, bigger tomatoes without any problems, you must know ins and outs of the tomato fertilizer.
In this article, I have reviewed the top 10 best fertilizer for tomatoes and discussed some basics of tomato fertilizers. I hope it will help you to pick the right fertilizer for your tomato; based on the growing stages and growing places.
So, let’s get started-
What's On the Page
- 1 Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes- Comparisons
- 2 Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes- Reviews
- 2.1 1.Jobe’s Organics 9026 Fertilizer-Best Organic Fertilizer for Tomatoes
- 2.2 2.Espoma Tomato-Tone Fertilizer-Best Organic fertilizer for Tomatoes and Peppers
- 2.3 3.Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Tomato Plant Food-Best Chemical Fertilizer for Tomatoes
- 2.4 4.Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer-Best Broad-Spectrum Fertilizer For tomatoes
- 2.5 5.Neptune’s Harvest Tomato & Veg Fertilizer-Best Foliar Fertilizer for Tomatoes
- 2.6 6.JR Peter’s 51324 Jack’s Classic Tomato Feed – Best Water Soluble Fertilizer for Tomatoes
- 2.7 7.Teadrops Premium Tomato+Pepper Vegetable Fertilizer-Best Hydroponic Fertilizer for Tomatoes
- 2.8 8.Alaska Fish Emulsion Fertilizer-Best Fish Fertilizer for Tomatoes
- 2.9 9.Urban Farm Fertilizers Texas Tomato Food-Best Liquid Fertilizer for Hydroponic Tomatoes
- 2.10 10. Burpee Organic Granular Plant Food-Best Fertilizer for Tomato and Vegetables
- 3 Different Type of Tomato Fertilizer
- 4 How to Choose the Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes-Buying Guide
- 5 What is The Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes? (My Pick)
- 6 When and How Often to Fertilize the Tomato Plant?
- 7 How to Fertilize Tomatoes?
- 8 How to Add Fertilizer to the Soil?
- 9 Best Homemade Fertilizer for Tomatoes
- 10 Over Fertilized Tomatoes
- 11 Frequently Asked Questions
- 11.1 Do I apply Fertilizer to My Tomato Seeds?
- 11.2 When to Fertilize Tomatoes after Planting?
- 11.3 How To Know If The Soil Has Nitrogen Deficiency?
- 11.4 Is Bone Meal Good For Tomato Plants?
- 11.5 How Much Bone Meal per Tomato Plant?
- 11.6 What Kind of Soil Do Tomatoes Like?
- 11.7 Does Epsom Salt Help Tomato Plants?
- 11.8 How Often Do You Put Epsom Salt on Tomatoes?
- 11.9 Are Coffee Grounds Good for Tomato Plants?
- 11.10 Are Eggshells Good for Tomato Plants?
- 11.11 Are Banana Peels Good for Tomato Plants?
- 12 Conclusion
In a hurry? Here are the overall best tomato fertilizers for both containers and in-ground plants. You can buy right now from the quick list depending on the growth stage.
Best Fertilizer for Growing Tomato Seedlings-
Best Fertilizer for Established Tomatoes-
Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes- Comparisons
|Jobe’s 9026 Fertilizer||2-5-3||Granular||Organic|
|Miracle-Gro Tomato Plant Food||18-18-21||Powdered||Synthetic|
|Miracle-Gro Shake'N Feed Food||10-5-15||Granular||Synthetic|
|Dr. Earth Tomato Fertilizer||4-6-3||Powdered||Organic|
|Neptune's Harvest Fertilizer||2-4-2||Liquid||Organic|
|Jack's Classic Tomato Feed||12-15-30||Powdered||Synthetic|
|TeaDrops Tomato Fertilizer||1.3-1.8-1||Granular Bag||Organic|
|Alaska Fish Emulsion Fertilizer||5-1-1||Liquid||Organic|
|Urban Farm Tomato Food||4.0-2.7-6.5||Liquid||Organic|
|Burpee Organic Tomato Food||3-6-4||Granular||Organic|
Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes- Reviews
1.Jobe’s Organics 9026 Fertilizer-Best Organic Fertilizer for Tomatoes
Let’s see what’s inside the fertilizer bag-
First, the fertilizer comes in granular form and the NPK ratio of the fertilizer is 2-5-3. That means it contains 2% nitrogen, 5 % phosphate, and 3% potash.
And good news;
It has both water-soluble and insoluble nutrients. Do you know how it benefits your tomato plants? If you don’t know, here is the answer-
Water-soluble nutrients are dissolved quickly and feed your plant instantly. But the water-insoluble nutrients release slowly and feed your tomato plants continuously up to 4-6 weeks.
You may know, calcium deficiency is the cause of blossom end rot of tomatoes. But this fertilizer has a sufficient amount of calcium (7%) to feed your tomatoes. Besides these nutrients, It also contains 0.5% magnesium and 1.4% sulfur as the secondary plant nutrients.
And you will be happy to know, all the nutrients are derived from some organic compounds such as feather meal, bone meal, poultry manure, and sulfate of potash.
Do you know what’s the best part of Jobe’s tomato fertilizer?
It has a blend of healthy, beneficial, symbiotic bacteria, mycorrhizal fungi, and archaea that is called Biozome. It improves the soil quality, promotes the growth of your tomato roots, and makes the plant disease resistance.
If you are an organic gardener and need the best tomato fertilizer for both containers and in-ground tomatoes that is completely safe for pets and humans, this odorless, easy to use, biodegradable Jobe’s organic granular fertilizer may be the right choice for you.
Sprinkle 1½ cups fertilizer around the tomato plant per 16 inches pot or a foot of plant spread, Mix with the surface soil, and water the tomato plant. Read the label for more about the dosages.
If you aren’t comfortable with granular type fertilizer, you may pick Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer Spikes.
2.Espoma Tomato-Tone Fertilizer-Best Organic fertilizer for Tomatoes and Peppers
Espoma Tomato Tone Fertilizer is one of my favorite fertilizers on the list. Not just me, it is the first choice to the many gardeners for tomatoes and their choice is reasonable. There are many reasons to call this fertilizer the best.
Espoma is the brand that started the journey in 1829 with an organic fertilizer. They have been producing tone family organic fertilizer for almost 60 years. Espoma Tomato-Tone is one of the best selling fertilizer in this tone family that is specially formulated for tomatoes.
According to the granular analysis, This fertilizer has 3% nitrogen,4% phosphate,6% potash,8% calcium,3% sulfur and a small amount of other essential plant nutrients.
It has 0.9% water-soluble nitrogen that will feed your tomato instantly and for continuous feeding, it has 2.1% water-insoluble slow-release nitrogen. Also, it contains enough calcium to prevent blossom end rot of tomatoes.
You will be happy to know, all the nutrients are derived from organic sources such as feather meal, bone meal, poultry manure, alfalfa meal, greensand, sulfate of potash, and gypsum.
I didn’t tell the most likable features of this fertilizer yet. Want to know? Here are the kickers-
This fertilizer has some colony-forming beneficial bacteria that decompose organic matter, liberate plant nutrients, and increase the effectiveness of fertilizer.
Also, it contains 1% humic acid derived from the soil amendment called leonardite. Humic acid increases the infiltration rate, water, and nutrient holding capacity. But the most important act of humic acid is it helps the tomato plant to relieve environmental stress such as water stress, heat stress, etc.
Though it is named tomato tone fertilizer, it is also the best fertilizer for most nightshade plants and some vegetables including tomato, peppers, and squash.
It can be applied on potted tomatoes, in-ground tomato, and even soil preparation.
For feeding the fertilizer to established plant(10-14 days)-
Sprinkle 3 tablespoons on an in-ground tomato plant and 1.5 teaspoons per 4″ of pot diameter, water the plant. Reapply after 15 days and get the juicy, bigger, and flavored tomatoes.
3.Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Tomato Plant Food-Best Chemical Fertilizer for Tomatoes
Miracle-Gro has been manufacturing some magic gardening products for 150 years. This time they provide the specially formulated fertilizer named Miracle-Gro water-soluble tomato plant food. It is one of the best selling products in the tomato food category.
Let’s analyze the significance of being the best food for tomato plants.
Chlorosis is the most common problem of tomatoes. In the case of chlorosis, leaves become yellow and you may know it is caused by iron or nitrogen deficiency but this fertilizer has a sufficient amount of iron and nitrogen to meet the demand.
According to the granular analysis, this fertilizer contains 18% nitrogen,18% phosphate, 21% potash.0.5% magnesium,0.05% copper,0.10% chelated iron,0.05% manganese and 0.05% zinc.
I think most of the essential nutrients available in this fertilizer except calcium. If your tomato potting soil is good and has enough organic amendments, then you won’t be worried about calcium deficiency.
Moreover, all the nutrients are available in a water-soluble form that has both advantages and disadvantages. It offers better solubility, reaches faster to roots, and feeds your most hunger tomato plants instantly.
In contrast, the nutrients are not coated for quick release. As a result, the frequent application is required in the case of water-soluble fertilizer.
Do you want to know the experts’ opinions?
Miracle-Gro water-soluble fertilizer is the best fertilizer for the seedling of tomatoes, peppers, cucumber, and some other vegetables. Because it has high nitrogen and more nitrogen only required for thriving the seedlings.
If you don’t have any problem with synthetic fertilizer, then you should go for it. Moreover, it is odorless and completely safe for the plant.
Mix 1 tablespoon per gallon of water for an outdoor tomato plant and mix 1/2 teaspoon per gallon water for potted tomato. Soak the base of the plants with the solution. Reapply after 1 or 2 weeks and get the healthy tomato plants with bigger fruits.
If you want Miracle-Gro slow-release granular fertilizer, you may pick Miracle-Gro 3002510 Shake ‘N Feed Tomato, Fruits and Vegetables Continuous Release Plant Food Plus Calcium
4.Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer-Best Broad-Spectrum Fertilizer For tomatoes
Dr.Earth organic 5 is a natural fertilizer that has no GMOs, chicken manure, or sewage sludge. It is a handcrafted blend of some natural and organic ingredients and that is certified by OMRI, OIM, CCOF, and NOP.
The NPK number of this fertilizer 4-6-3.From the NPK numbers, we know it has 4% nitrogen,6% phosphate, and 3% potash.
The total amount of nitrogen is coated for slow release. Other nutrients are coated for quick release that helps to prevent your tomato plant from becoming bushy without forming flowers and fruits. Also, It contains 7.5% calcium to meet the demand and control blossom end rot of the tomatoes.
Another good news;
This fertilizer is rich in fish bone meal, feather meal, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, fish meal, mined potassium sulfate & seaweed extract and you must know,all-natural fertilizer that can take care of your tomato plant individually.
But the interesting thing is-
It has a trubiotic and broad-spectrum formula. That means it contains colony-forming beneficial soil microbes and mycorrhizae. All are non-plant food ingredients but they can create a symbiotic environment in the soil that increases the nutrients absorbing capacity and improves soil fertility by decomposing organic matter.
Like the Espoma tomato tone fertilizer, it also contains 6% humic acid and you know humic acid can relieve the tomato plant from environmental stress.
This fertilizer is formulated for tomato, vegetables, and herbs. It can be applied on container and backyard soil as top dressing or compost tea.
To feed the established tomato plant-
Sprinkle 1 cup per 10 sq.feet in the ground growing area and ¼ cup for 5-gallon potting media. Work gently on the top soil and water the plant. Read the label for dosages of new plantings and compost tea.
Also, Dr.Earth has been providing the tomato, vegetable, and Herb liquid Fertilizer that has 4-6-3 NPK numbers. But the most important parts of this liquid fertilizer are it contains 2% aloe vera concentration,1% yucca extract, 2% molasses,2% fructooligosaccharides,1% rice flour, wheat flour, and inulin.
So, if you are comfortable with liquid fertilizer, you should pick Dr.Earth liquid fertilizer(view on Amazon) and it is one of the best organic liquid fertilizer for tomatoes.
5.Neptune’s Harvest Tomato & Veg Fertilizer-Best Foliar Fertilizer for Tomatoes
This liquid fertilizer has 2-4-2 NPK numbers that help to create a deeper root zone and produce bigger and juicy tomatoes. Besides NPK, it contains some other nutrients including 1% calcium for preventing nutrient deficiency.
And this fertilizer is rich in the fresh fish blend, seaweed, molasses, yucca extract, and humic acids that make it a real high-energy combo.
You may know-
How do these ingredients take care of your tomato plant? Thereafter, I want to tell you some of the beneficial features of these ingredients.
Let’s start with the fish blend-
It is very rich in calcium and phosphorus and some other minerals such as iron, zinc, iodine, magnesium, and potassium. That means only the fish emulsion can fulfill the nutritional demand of your tomato plant. But because of the fish blend, this fertilizer is not odorless.
Molasses is not a plant food but it supplies food to the microbes. As a result, microbes increase their activity and make the soil fertile.
Lastly, yacca and the humic acid act as the wetting agent and stress reliever of the foliar spray that helps nutrients penetrate deeper and protect the tomato plants from the hot sun in the day.
All the ingredients are natural and safe for the tomato plants as well as the environment. That’s why it is another best liquid tomato fertilizer for organic gardeners that is certified by OMRI.
To feed indoor and outdoor tomato plant-
Mix 1 oz liquid solution into a gallon of water and spray in the morning on the foliage of the tomato plant until the leaves are wet completely and the soil is saturated.
6.JR Peter’s 51324 Jack’s Classic Tomato Feed – Best Water Soluble Fertilizer for Tomatoes
JR Peter’s Jack’s Classic Tomato Feed fertilizer is a fast-acting water-soluble fertilizer that has high-quality nutrients.It contains 12% nitrogen,15% phosphate and 30% potash.All the primary nutrients dissolve quickly and feed the tomato plant instantly.
According to the NPK ratio, it has a high amount of phosphate and potash. You will be happy to know that both are required for root development and bud formation. So feeding with this fertilizer you will get the stronger plant with more fruits.
Moreover, it also contains some essential nutrients including calcium for preventing BER(Blossom End Rot).
This fertilizer is specially formulated for all fruiting vine vegetables like tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, eggplant and squash, and the other nightshade plants.
The best parts of this fertilizer are-
It can be used on a container and grounded tomato plants as both soil drench and foliar spray. You will get a free measuring spoon with this fertilizer.
But if you are an organic gardener, you may be sad to know that it is not organic fertilizer. In my opinion, if you like the other features, then you can pick this fertilizer without any hesitation. Because it is completely safe for your children and pets.
To feed your tomato plant-
Mix 1 tablespoon per gallon water. Pour the solution on the base of your tomato plant or spray on the leaves until they become wet completely. Repeat the process after 7-14 days.
7.Teadrops Premium Tomato+Pepper Vegetable Fertilizer-Best Hydroponic Fertilizer for Tomatoes
Are you finding an easy-to-use best tomato fertilizer for indoor, outdoor, raised bed as well as hydroponic? Then Teadrops Premium Tomato+Pepper Organic Vegetable Fertilizer is only for you. It can be used as a soil drench or foliar spray and no need to pre-measure.
According to the fertilizer analysis, It has 1.3% nitrogen,1.8% phosphate, and 1% potash that grow tomato plants faster and produce vibrant tomatoes.
Besides three primary nutrients, it also has other macronutrients such as 1.4% magnesium and 3.3% calcium All the micronutrients help to produce juicy tomatoes, make the plant resistant and prevent diseases such as blossom drop and BER.
And the great news;
This fertilizer also contains worm castings, plant growth hormones, humic acids, fulvic acids, and beneficial soil microbes.
Worm castings are the organic source of essential plant nutrients. And soil microbes increase the water and nutrient holding capacity of soil that improve soil quality. Moreover, growth hormones, humic, and fulvic acid promote the growth of fruits and protect the plant from heat and moisture stress respectively.
Now let’s talk about the special features that make this fertilizer different from others-
This fertilizer comes with 16 teadrops or EarthPods packet that has no extra hassle to use. Because you don’t need pre-measure and make your finger dirty.
Simply drop the 1 packet into 1-2 gallons of water, wait at least 4 hours for mixing the nutrients with water. Pour the solution on the base of the tomato plant or spray on the foliage until the leaves become wet.
So, Feed this fertilizer to your indoor and outdoor tomato plants that are fully organic, biodegradable, completely safe for humans, and have no harsh smell.
8.Alaska Fish Emulsion Fertilizer-Best Fish Fertilizer for Tomatoes
But the question;
Is fish fertilizer good for tomatoes? The quick answer: Yes. You know fish emulsion is very rich in macro and micronutrients including nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and so on.
But what is the best part of fish emulsion?
It is the natural source of burn-free nitrogen that doesn’t harm your soft tomato seedlings.
As a fertilizer, it contains 5% nitrogen,1% phosphate and 1% potash.As you see it has more nitrogen. That makes this fertilizer best for soil poor in nitrogen and tomatoes seedlings.
But I don’t recommend this fertilizer for established tomato plants. Established tomato plants don’t need too much nitrogen. Too much nitrogen makes your tomato plant bushy without any fruits.
Moreover, it also contains calcium, sodium, magnesium, and sulfur in small quantities for preventing the nutrient deficiency of tomato plants.
It is a concentrated organic fertilizer but not odorless like other fish fertilizers. This fertilizer is formulated for using all purposes and both indoor and outdoor plants.
To feed the tomato and vegetable seedling-
Mix 2 Tablespoons of the concentrated fertilizer into 1 gallon of water for every 5×5 feets soil.
9.Urban Farm Fertilizers Texas Tomato Food-Best Liquid Fertilizer for Hydroponic Tomatoes
This handcrafted fertilizer riches in calcium that can help you to get juicy tomatoes without BER.
The liquid concentration contains 4% nitrogen,2.7% phosphate, and 6.7% potash(NPK ratio may change depending on the region or vol.).All three primary nutrients mixed in the correct ratio for tomato plants.
The fertilizer is made from some organic ingredients such as organic teas, mycorrhizae, worm casts, humic acid, kelp, enzymes, and minerals. These ingredients are marked as safe by FDA But this fertilizer is not OMRI listed.
And you know, all the organic ingredients are essential for improving microbial activity, soil fertility, and strength of the tomato plants.
Do you know why I recommend this fertilizer mostly for hydroponic tomatoes?
Firstly, it is easy to use. It can be used by a garden hose, watering can or hand sprayer and most importantly, it contains hydroponic-grade minerals that easily come in the available form in hydroponic systems. Moreover, it is also good fertilizer for containers and in-ground tomato plants.
Mix 1 tablespoon liquid fertilizer per gallon of water and spray thoroughly on the foliage until the leaves wet. You can also apply it as a soil drench.
10. Burpee Organic Granular Plant Food-Best Fertilizer for Tomato and Vegetables
It has a 3-6-4 NPK ratio and the nutrients are coated to quick release for instant feeding to the most hungry tomato plants and slow release for feeding the tomato plant continuously up to 3 months.
And the best parts of this fertilizer is-
It has beneficial microbes and some organic soil amendments and the fertilizer is OMRI listed. As you know, this fertilizer has no toxic substances that’s why you can apply this fertilizer on the day of harvest.
Besides tomatoes, this fertilizer is also perfect for all vegetables and herbs.
This fertilizer comes in granular form. To feed your tomato plant simply sprinkle 2-3 tablespoons on a ground tomato plant or 1-1½ on a potted tomato plant and water the plant.
Burpee also provides water-soluble tomato and vegetable fertilizer (View on Amazon) that has 6% nitrogen,2% phosphate and 3% potash. You can pick it for your quick-growing seedlings. But it is not recommended for established tomato plants.
Different Type of Tomato Fertilizer
To choose the best fertilizer for tomato plants, you must know the classification of tomato fertilizer. For your better understanding, I have classified the tomato fertilizer based on the forms and solubility.
2 Types of Tomato Fertilizer on the Basis of Solubility
1.Water-soluble/Quick Releases Fertilizer
You may know plants only uptake nutrients if the nutrients remain in the soil in available form. Water-soluble fertilizer dissolves to water instantly and comes in available form quickly.
As a result, the plants can fulfill their nutrients demand without any delay and the rest of the nutrients leach out by runoff water. That’s you should apply water-soluble fertilizer to the tomato once after 1 or 2 weeks
For example- Miracle-Gro water-soluble fertilizer and most of the liquid fertilizer.
2.Water Insoluble /Slow Release Fertilizer
Water Insoluble fertilizer is coated for slow release. The nutrients of water-insoluble fertilizer release slowly and feed the tomato plants continuously up to 2-6 months depending on the fertilizer brand.
For example- Most of the organic Granular and spikes or pod type fertilizer.
3 Type of Tomato fertilizer On the Basis of Forms
1. Granular Fertilizer
Granular type fertilizer is mostly used for growing tomatoes. It is easy to use fertilizer. It also comes in powdered form and most of the organic granular type fertilizer is slow-release fertilizer but it also has a small amount of water-soluble or quick-release nutrients for instant feeding.
For example- Espoman Tomato Tone, Dr.Earth Tomato fertilizer, and Jobe’s Organic’s Tomato Fertilizer.
2. Liquid Fertilizer
Liquid fertilizer comes in the concentrated form. You have to dilute the conc. solution according to the label direction and apply by the spray bottle or watering can. Liquid fertilizer is instant working fertilizer. Don’t forget to dilute the solution before applying, high concentration can burn the plants.
I personally like liquid fertilizer for feeding hydroponic tomatoes. It is very easy to use. Simply mix the fertilizer into the water and apply the solution to the plant.
For example-Alaska Fish Fertilizer and Neptune’s Harvest Fertilizer.
3.Spikes or Pods Fertilizer
This the newest form of fertilizer which is best for potted tomato plants. It is also slow-release fertilizer. Simply push a spike in an inch of soil and water the plants. The spikes will take care of your plant 3-8 months depending on the brand.
For Example-Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer Spikes.
Tomato fertilizer further classified into 2 types on the basis of the nutrient sources –Organic and Chemical. Want to know the details about it? Keep on reading. I have discussed it below.
How to Choose the Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes-Buying Guide
Tons of tomato fertilizer available in the market today. But all are not good for all the growing stages and growing places. So, choosing the best tomato fertilizer is a little bit tricky. Don’t worry, here I have discussed 4 Simple steps that will help you to choose the perfect fertilizer for your tomato plants.
But you should know some tomato fertilizer basics before the buying guide.
Which Nutrients Do Tomato Plants Need To Grow?
You know there are 17 essential plant nutrients and three are most vital for growing plants those are called primary nutrients i.e. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and potassium.
Tomato plant needs these three nutrients in different stages. To understand when should feed which nutrients, you must know the best nutrients for tomatoes and the role of these nutrients on tomato plants-
Nitrogen is required for dark green foliage of tomato plants. It is the major component of chlorophyll and chlorophyll is essential for photosynthesis that promotes stems and leaves of the tomatoes. So, to get a green healthy tomato plant you must feed nitrogen in the growing stage.
But remember tomato plants need a very small amount of nitrogen. Too much nitrogen makes the tomato plant bushy with no flowers and fruits.
Phosphorus (P) and Potassium (K)
Phosphorus and Potassium required for root development and produce more flowers and fruits. And tomato plant needs more phosphorus and potassium in the flowering stage.
Besides NPK, the tomato plant needs a very little amount of micronutrients such as calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and iron.
Calcium makes your tomato plants more disease resistant, balance soil pH, and prevents blossom end rot diseases of tomato.
Magnesium is another major component of chlorophyll that promotes photosynthesis and makes the tomato leaves green.
It promotes the protein synthesis of plants and overall plant developments.
Iron needs to gain the signature color of tomatoes. The deficiency of iron may cause chlorosis.
Boron and Zinc
Boron and Zinc aid in flowering and ripening the tomato fruits.
Remember, if the potting soil of the tomato is good enough, you don’t need to worry about the micronutrients. Now let’s dive into the buying guide.
Step 1. Test the Soil
Only soil conditions can tell you which nutrients you should add to the soil. Use the soil test kit(Our pick-Luster Leaf 1605 Digital Soil Test Kit for pH, N, P, and K) and determine the soil nutrients and pH level of the soil. That will help you understand which fertilizer you should pick.
Are you unable to do the soil test? Don’t worry. Here are the quick tips-
Pick a fertilizer that is lower in nitrogen and higher in phosphorus and potassium. Tomato plant doesn’t need too much nitrogen. But if you feed more nitrogen, the plant produces no fruits.
Step 2. Growing Stages of Tomato
Remember, tomato needs different nutrients in the different growing stage and there is no single fertilizer that is best for all growing season.
For the seeding stage, the tomato plant needs more nitrogen and phosphorus. Both need for foliage growth and root development. And the plant has no strong roots in this growing stage. So water-soluble fertilizer works best on seedling stages.
That’s why Miracle-Gro water-soluble tomato food is the best fertilizer for tomato seedling that has 18-18-21 NPK number.
On the other hand, Established tomato plants don’t need too much nitrogen. It is time to feed more potassium and phosphorus. Because both are required for bud formation and juicy tomatoes. Espoma tomato tone, Jobe’s organic and Dr.earth are the best organic fertilizer for established tomato.
Check tomato plant required nutrient schedule that will help you understand better what fertilizer to use for tomatoes and when-
|Starting Stage||No need to apply fertilizer|
|Root Developing Stage||Phosphorus|
|Seedling Stage||Nitrogen, Phosphorus|
|Established Plant||Phosphorus and Potassium, less Nitrogen|
Step 3. Growing Condition of Tomato
Though all fertilizer is formulated for both container and in-ground tomato plants. But I personally recommend considering a few things before choosing-
Water-soluble fertilizer releases quickly. That’s why if you apply fertilizer in-ground tomatoes, there is lots of chance to leach out the nutrients by rains or water.
Moreover, when the tomato plants grow in the containers, they develop their root in a certain area. So, in my opinion, water-soluble liquid tomato fertilizer and spikes type of fertilizer is the best fertilizer for tomatoes in containers.
On the other hand, slow-release granular fertilizer is best both for tomatoes in-ground and containers.
Step 4. Organic vs. Chemical
Tomato plants only care that they are getting the required nutrients or not. They don’t care about the sources. But the modern study claims that the chemical remains in the harvested fruits in the case of chemical fertilizer.
Though the chemical fertilizer from the reputable brand doesn’t hurt your plant like Miracle-Gro but experts don’t recommend applying fertilizer on harvestable tomatoes.
But in the case of organic fertilizer, you can feed your tomato plants until the day of harvest. On the other hand, organic fertilizer is a good source of micronutrients as well as macronutrients.
But there is another benefit of organic fertilizer-
Organic fertilizer has a lower NPK number than chemical fertilizer and coat to be slow-release that cannot leach out by water runoff. That’s why organic fertilizer is safe for the environment and most of the gardeners like it to feed their tomato plants.
Note: You feed tomato tone or tomato fertilizer to peppers, cucumber, eggplants, lettuce, etc. All the plants belong to nightshade plants. They need almost the same nutrients to grow. That’s why you can follow this buying guide to choose the best fertilizer for tomato, peppers, and other nightshade plants.
What is The Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes? (My Pick)
As you know, there is no single perfect fertilizer for tomatoes. That’s why I feed Miracle-Gro Water Soluble Tomato Plant Fertilizer to my tomato and other nightshade plant seedlings. But after successfully thriving the plant, I start feeding Espoma Tomato-Tone to established plants by maintaining the label instructions and schedule.
If you want one fertilizer to feed, then pick a balanced fertilizer that has equal NPK number e.g 10-10-10 tomato fertilizer or lower nitrogen-containing fertilizer like Espoma tomato tone or Jobe’s organics tomato fertilizer. It won’t be a wise idea to feed more nitrogen throughout the whole season.
When and How Often to Fertilize the Tomato Plant?
You should add fertilizer when you prepare the planting or potting soil. Then wait for sprouting the seed and some true leaves to emerge. After emerging some true leaves, start feeding fertilizer.
Tomato plants need nutrients in this stage for the developing root zone. Apply more nitrogen and phosphorus-containing fertilizer in this stage and continue feeding once every 7-10 days before the plant becomes bushy and mature.
After established the plant, stop feeding more nitrogen, add low nitrogen fertilizer and more phosphate and potash containing fertilizer once per one or two weeks depending on the fertilizer brand.
If you plant seedlings, wait a few days and let the seedlings cope with the environment then start feeding fertilizer.
Remember, no need to apply fertilizer on tomato seed and always read the label of the fertilizer and follow the instruction and fertilizing schedule.
How to Fertilize Tomatoes?
To Apply Granular Fertilizer-
- Measure the fertilizer according to the label instructions.
- Sprinkle the pre-measured fertilizer on the base around the tomato plant.
- Mix the fertilizer into 2-3 inches surface soil and water the plant.
To Apply Foliar Fertilizer-
- Measure the fertilizer according to the label instructions.
- Prepare a solution by mixing water.
- Pour the solution into a sprayer.
- Spray the solution on the foliage until the upper and lower surfaces of leaves wet and soil become saturated.
How to Add Fertilizer to the Soil?
The fertilizer application procedure to the soil varies on the forms and NPK ratio of the fertilizer and the quality of potting soil. Thereafter, I will give you a basic outline that may also help you to understand the procedure of soil preparation for tomatoes.
To prepare the soil for tomato beds-
Sprinkle 2-3 inches garden soil, then apply 4-5 cups of granular fertilizer per 5×5 sq. ft. and mix the fertilizer and garden soil into the top 4 to 6 inches of native soil.
To prepare the soil for a single tomato plant-
Dig a hole. Fill the hole 1/3 with potting mix. Place the plant and add 1 inch of garden soil on the top and press lightly. Add 2-3 tablespoons of fertilizer in the top soil.
To prepare the soil for the potted tomato Plant-
Add a small layer of stone to prevents soil from escaping. Fill the container 1/3 with a potting mix. Add 1 ½ tablespoon of fertilizer per quart of soil. Place the plant and add 1 inch of garden soil on the top of the pot and press slightly.
Best Homemade Fertilizer for Tomatoes
Recipe 1: DIY Potassium-Rich Compost Fertilizer
- Collect some banana peels and chop them into pieces.
- Burry them into 1 inches soil. Nutrients release slowly and feed your tomato plant throughout the season.
- Chop the banana peels.
- Pour the peels into water.
- Wait min 24 hours or more and let the peels decomposed.
- Filter the solution and feed the liquid phosphorous-rich fertilizer.
Note: Banana peels are a source of phosphorus but it also contains some other nutrients. To learn more; banana peels as fertilizer.
Recipe 2- Nitrogen Rich Compost Fertilizer
- Sprinkle 1 cup coffee ground or 2 cups alfalfa pellets around the base of the tomato plant.
- Work on the top soil and water the plant.
You can also apply 1 ½ cups of blood meal(our pick: Jobe’s Organics Blood Meal Soil-12% N) to your tomato plants to provide nitrogen.
Recipe 3- Potassium and Phosphorus Rich Compost Fertilizer
- Sprinkle a cup of wood ashes and eggshell around the plant.
- Mix with the surface soil and water the plant
Recipe 4- Magnesium Rich Fertilizer
- Add 1 tablespoon of Epsom salt in the digging hole when before planting the tomato seedling.
Over Fertilized Tomatoes
If the soil has a deficiency of nutrients, the tomato plants grow slow, produce fewer fruits, and increase the likelihood of disease. even the tomato plants in infertile soil can produce some fruits. Though the fruits may not be juicy or bigger.
But too much fertilizer can burn or kill your tomato plant. Don’t worry, Overfertilization can fix easily. But you should first know what are the signs of tomato over-fertilization.
Symptoms of Over Fertilized Tomatoes
- Yellowing and wilting lower or older leaves(Excess nitrogen, potash)
- Bushy plants and delay of flowering. ( Excess nitrogen)
- Purpling of the leaves. (Excess phosphorus)
- Sudden leaves drop.
- Browning of leaves margin and tip.
- The crust of fertilizer on top soil.
How to Save an Over-fertilized Tomato Plant?
- If you see the excess fertilizer powder or white crust on the top soil, scrap and remove it.
- Soak the soil with water to leach nutrients to the soil.
If the tomato plant is in your garden, flood the around the base of the plant for 30 minutes. Or if the tomato plant is in the container, fill the container with clean water and let the water drain away. Repeat the procedure minimum 4 times.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do I apply Fertilizer to My Tomato Seeds?
It is one of the most asked questions today in this matter. Actually, tomato seeds do not need any fertilizer to germinate. The seed stores sufficient nutrients for sprouting and emerging leaves. But seedlings and established tomato plants need fertilizer.
When to Fertilize Tomatoes after Planting?
You should start feeding your fertilizer after some green leaves appear. If you plant the seedling, wait a few days to settle the plants then feed the fertilizer.
How To Know If The Soil Has Nitrogen Deficiency?
You have to do a soil test to know the level of nitrogen and some other nutrients. But if you use organic potting soil or added compost to the soil, then you need not be worried about nitrogen deficiency.
On the other hand, you can also understand that soil is poor in nitrogen if the tomato plants appear any sign such as yellow leaves. But remember only soil tests can give you the actual result.
Is Bone Meal Good For Tomato Plants?
Yes! Bone meal is good for the tomato plant. It is an organic source of phosphorus and you must know phosphorus is a primary nutrient that promotes the root growth and production of fruits. It also provides calcium to the tomato plant that can prevent tomato blossom end rot and other tomato diseases.
Bone meal fertilizer is also available in the market today. Here is the best bone meal fertilizer for tomatoes- Jobe’s Organic bone meal fertilizer that contains 2% nitrogen and 14% phosphorus,15% calcium, and no potassium.
How Much Bone Meal per Tomato Plant?
One cup bone meal enough for a tomato plant. Simply add 1 cup bone meal to the planting hole or sprinkle around the tomato plant, work in top soil, and water the plant.
What Kind of Soil Do Tomatoes Like?
The best potting soil is the first and foremost element to make tomato plants grow faster and increases production. Tomato plants like loamy or sandy loamy soil that has good drainage, water, and nutrients holding capacity and contains some soil microbes and organic amendments.
And most importantly, the soil should remain at optimum pH. The tomato grows well in neutral or slightly acidic soil and the pH range is around 6.1 to 7.3. You should strictly maintain that range of pH. Otherwise, tomato plants can’t absorb essential plant nutrients. Here is the recommended potting soil mix for your tomatoes–Espoma AP8 8-Quart Organic Potting Mix.
Does Epsom Salt Help Tomato Plants?
Yes, Epsom salt helps tomato plants to produce bigger and tastier tomatoes. Because Epsom contains magnesium and sulfur. And you know both are essential plant nutrients that help the plant to get healthy plants with lots of fruits.
How Often Do You Put Epsom Salt on Tomatoes?
You can feed 1-2 tablespoons of Epsom salt by mixing with a gallon of water once or twice per month.
Are Coffee Grounds Good for Tomato Plants?
You know; tomatoes like slightly acidic soil and coffee grounds help the soil to decrease soil pH and provide nitrogen. Too much coffee grounds increase soil acidity and level of the nitrogen in the soil that is harmful to higher yield. That’s why you should feed a little amount of coffee grounds.
Are Eggshells Good for Tomato Plants?
Eggshells contain an adequate amount of calcium. And you will be happy to know, calcium can prevent some diseases like blossom end rot. So, feeding eggshells are good enough for tomatoes.
Are Banana Peels Good for Tomato Plants?
Yes, banana peels are good for tomato plants. Banana peels provide phosphorus and potassium to the plant that can help the plant to promote flowering and fruiting.
Lastly, I want to tell you just one thing- Feeding the best tomato food definitely increases the yield but the wrong application of fertilizer can mess up your whole growing project. If everything seems complicated, don’t forget the list of my tomato fertilizer recommendations-
Best Fertilizer for Tomato Seedlings-
Best Fertilizer for Growing Tomatoes (Established plant)-
I hope I didn’t miss anything about tomato fertilizer and you got all the answers to your questions. NOW feed the good fertilizer, water regularly, pruning timely, and get bigger, juicy, and vibrant tomatoes.