Best tomato fertilizer?


My plants need a boost.


For quick uptake and plant response choose a water-soluble such as Miracle-Gro or Grow More 18-18-21. The dosage is small so a 1 or 1.25 lb bag or jar should be sufficient.


Richard this is interesting. My fav. Nursery said not to use Miracle grow any longer. They still sell it, but they were saying it kills plants. Do you know anything about this? Or why?


Miracle-Gro is a marketing firm and brand name with over 400 fertilizer formulas.

  1. Maybe there is a formula that does kill plants, but not the 18-18-21 Tomato Food.
  2. Maybe the nursery would prefer to sell organic products because there is a higher profit margin.
  3. Maybe the person in question killed plants by overdosing. This would be easy to do if you are accustom to plant-based fertilizers and don’t follow the directions.


I use organic fertilizer just because with the chemical formulations, if you accidentally use too much, you can kill the plant. (I’d hate to read teaspoons as tablespoons and kill my plants).

Jobe’s Organics make a powdered fertilizer for tomatoes you can mix into the water for a quick pick me up, and then I use Tomato Tone or Garden Tone for a slower release fertilizer. They seem to do the trick, but as Richard says, you can really use almost anything as long as you read and follow the label. I’d stay away from things with too much nitrogen, as you don’t want them to put on too much foliage at the expense of flowers.


A tablespoon instead of a tsp mixed in a gallon of water for a one-time application isn’t going to kill an established rose bush. It’s the zeolots who think they don’t need directions and use a cup instead of a tablespoon that kill plants.

I think you mean high proportion of Nitrogen. For example 20-20-20 is not proportionally high in nitrogen but 20-7-7 is.


Yes, you’re right, I meant something with not a high proportion of nitrogen.


I usually use the Tomato-Tone dry stuff, but if I do need to dose them a li’l in between I’ll use something like this, it’s like $5 at Menard’s 41XNM5kRXyL

Then I’ve been seeing a lot of folks touting this stuff, so I got some just because… I can’t tell that it does all the amazing things people say but I can attest to the fact that it really does stink!!!


It’ll work but the phosphate is too high in relation to nitrogen and phosphate. Over-use will tie up minerals in your soil.

This is ok for plants that don’t flower or fruit – or as a nitrogen supplement for say, Citrus.


Good to know on the TT, I don’t use a whole lot of it - it’s kinda spendy… I got a bag that was like $10 and it looks like it’ll last a couple years or more.

Yeah I can’t tell you how many YouTube vids I saw with people raving about results with Alaska Fish Food on tomatoes and peppers. I happened to be at Walmart and picked up a bottle, I can’t tell if it’s had any impact but I knew I wouldn’t be out much to try it. It was also around $5.


Let’s compare the consumer-grade organic vs. chemical tomato fertilizer. If you shop around, you can buy a 1.25 lb box of the former or a 1.25 lb jar of the latter for the same price (or for that matter – 5, 10, 25, and 50 lb bags).

The water soluble tomato food concentrates are typically 18-18-21 with a full array of micronutrients and approx density of 0.45 lbs per cup.

The organic plant-based tomato foods are typically 5-5-5 with no micronutrients (if they’re not in the guaranteed analysis then no significant levels were detected by the independent lab). Their density is about 0.35 lbs per cup.

Doing a little calculation, it turns out that the jar of 18-18-21 has 4.6 times as many feedings as the organic for the same volume and price, plus the organic is missing micronutrients.


How in the world can there be one ‘best’ tomato fertilizer?

My container soil tested low on Phosphorus, Iron, Znc, and marginal on Copper and Boron.

Is there an all purpose tomato fertilizer that specializes in these ingredients to the exclusion of others?

I’d say if you are going for all purpose fertilizer go for something cheap, broad spectrum and water soluble.


The Alaska fish fertilizer is great for your lawn. I also use it as part of a rotation with other fertilizers when I am trying to get a tree to put on some size. I dunno if I’d get it at its original price, but, like you, I found some at Walmart on clearance for $5/gal.


The key is to apply no more than your plant will use in the coming month.

Note that every nutrient your tomatoes need is present in the Grow More and Miracle-Gro formulation:

MG 18-18-21 Tomato


It is funny to me the idea of using a fertilizer low in available N because it you misuse it it can kill. My wife’s mother used to be terrified of sharp knives for the same reason. To me the better the tool, when used properly, the better the tool (as long as instructions are clear enough for an idiot like me to follow).

I only use synthetic fertilizer when I’m starting tomatoes in potting mix - Miracle Gro (the same formula as Richard) because it’s widely available and contains micros and macros (and it comes with a measuring spoon). I don’t want slow release for my tomatoes when I put them in the soil because the idea is to establish them and then have them fruit- not to be excessively vegetative. Anyway, I give them compost I make and mulch them with something somewhat nutritious like spoiled hay so the only addition needed is some N. In spring to very early summer I boost their growth with my own urine (also high in K, which they don’t really need more of than what’s already there). Fish fertilizer would be a good (and often as foul smelling) of an organic alternative because it is relatively quick. So is dried blood (which can burn plants when mixed with the soil).

For those that want precision and have pretty weak soil, I’d recommend an Osmocote 3-4 month formula of time release fertilizer that contains micros- hard to burn roots with that and it releases N in all temps.

However, in the NE, usually when tomatoes need a boost it is because the soil is too cool for them and no fertilizer will pick them up. Take the temp of the soil before planting. Black plastic on top of the soil can speed to process towards suitably warm soil.


Yes! This stuff brings out my back yard racist neighbor out of his house even though he is using a walker, just so he can cuss me out. :joy: :joy:


M-G does have a “tomato” formula


Hi Mrs. G. I like Schultz Tomato Food. It’s going to be similar to Miracle Grow types but Potassium is higher. I get it locally for 6-7 bucks but here is what I’m talking about:

Maybe @Richard has a comment. For me the NPK makes sense plus the micro/macro’s.



I use plant-tone. Its put in the soil when I prepare it and feeds the plants all summer. I probably should use something to boost my seedlings, this year I bought one pepper plant at Home Depot and its a monster compared to the wimpy plants I grew myself. It wasn’t just bigger, it was much greener and healthier looking and it has stayed that way all summer.


For a quick boost for veggies, I always use water soluble fertilizer, and dissolve the fertilizer according to manufacturer’s instructions. That way, no matter how much you apply, you can’t burn the plants. The trick is in the fertilizer concentration of the solution. I only apply solid fertilizers directly into the ground for established trees and would spread it around the plant and I don’t apply the solid fertilizers during the growing season. I usually wait for the last rains of late winter and then I apply fertilizers so that the rains will dissolve it and bring it down to the root zone.

For veggies during the growing season, fertilizers dissolved in water is the way to go. I also turn on my EZ-Flo fertigation system where fertilizers are applied during irrigation.

Be wary of your plant requirements, some require acidifying fertilizers and others don’t like nitrate forms of N. I usually go by ratios. For citruses, the best fertilizer ratio would be 5-1-3 or something close to it. For tomatoes, usually Miracle Gro isn’t well suited because of its very high N that can drive the tomatoes into vegetative mode. The special tomato fertilizer formulation while excellent are too pricey. You pay a lot more per unit element with these special blends. I would do my own formulations using bulk fertilizers such as from K-Mag and some of the lawn fertilizers with micros.