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What Is the Best Fertilizer for Tomatoes?

Updated on May 20, 2017
lobobrandon profile image

From his early days, Brandon helped his grandmother in her garden. He was always passionate about tomatoes.

Every gardener who plants tomato seeds or seedlings would want them to grow up quickly and be healthy enough to bear abundant fruit. Even though the task of successfully growing tomatoes isn't hard, it can be challenging at first. Therefore, read through this guide and it will surely help you pick the beset fertilizer for tomato plants grown in your garden.

Tomato plants grow really quickly and usually bear fruit within 4 months more or less (Of course, this is going to depend on the species you've planted as well as your local weather and soil conditions).

They don't just grow in height and girth, but develop a plethora of branches in most cases as well. Therefore, to support this massive growth rate and have sufficient nutrients in the soil during the period of fruit growth you need to make sure that you find the best fertilizer for tomatoes of the particular species that's planted.

Hence, tomato plants are often called heavy feeding plants. Whether you're an organic or inorganic gardener doesn't matter and all you need to do is add some fertilizer - again it doesn't matter what you use as long as the plant is benefited.

Addition of fertilizers isn't something that you do once and then forget about it. Of course you don't need to tend to it; but, you would need to add more fertilizer right? As already stated - they are high feeding plants and this raises the need of adding more and more fertilizers as and when the need arises. You wouldn't be happy if you're tomato plants manage to grow tall and sturdy using all the initial fertilizer and then give you little or no fruit due to the lack of nutrients - will you?

For tomato plants to grow successfully and for their cells to function normally, they would need plenty of macro nutrients such as Phosphates, Nitrogen, Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium and Potassium in addition to a huge list of micro nutrients.

Fertilizer for tomato plants - the right mix

A properly nourished tomato plant - the soil is in good condition as well - both moist and rich in nutrients.
A properly nourished tomato plant - the soil is in good condition as well - both moist and rich in nutrients.

Best fertilizer for tomato plants the debate is still going strong

Fertilizing tomatoes is a part and parcel of growing tomato plants as if at all you want to receive a good healthy crop you would definitely have to use the best fertilizer for tomatoes. So, we do know that we need the best fertilizer when it comes to fertilizing tomatoes; but, which one is the best? How do you know which one to use?

I won’t go into specific fertilizers for tomato plants but will help you determine the best one for your garden. The first step would be to conduct a soil test as it would not just help you determine the amount of nutrients present in the soil but also give you the pH of your soil – you could alter it to make it suitable for your tomato plants as this would result in an even better yield. Let’s consider your garden to have average quantities of nutrients and a stable pH value.

You may be interested in the complete guide I've written titled: How to Plant a tomato plant in your garden or container.

Best ways to fertilize not just tomatoes but any plant!

Watering - Another important step!

Just adding the fertilizers isn't going to do the job. You need to know how to water tomato plants as they need to be watered right. If you over water there could be problems and less watering could result in concentrated fertilizer!

The inorganic tomato fertilizer

Now that you know the results of your soil test you would have to choose the best fertilizer for your tomato plant by determining the exact ration of the three key nutrients needed. Nitrogen, Phosphorus and Potassium are the main nutrients in every fertilizer and tomatoes need them as well and therefore they make the best fertilizer for tomato plants. When you’re off to buy tomato fertilizers there will be a ratio of the nutrients on the packet and you would have to choose accordingly.

The organic tomato fertilizer

Commercial fertilizers usually enrich the soil with just nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. However, the right fertilizer for tomato plants will have to add even the many micro-nutrients that are needed for the proper functioning of tomato plants. Therefore, adding inorganic fertilizers for tomato plants could be an option; but, not entirely the way to go. That’s the reason many gardeners create their very own compost using all sorts of compost material right from dried leaves, to fruit waste and also animal dung. Using compost that comprises of all these materials will surely be more than enough to ensure that your tomato plants get the right fertilization.

Crop Rotation

Another great way to ensure that your soil has all the right ingredients for a successful tomato season would be to use the method of crop rotation. Grow legumes if possible as they help enrich the nitrogen content of the soil. Crop rotation also helps prevent the growth of soil borne diseases.

Deficinecy Problems

You may add fertilizers but if you miss out on certain nutrients you could end up with yellow tomato plants. if you need to know how to prevent the yellowing of tomatoes check out the article I've written as it's got a complete guide regarding the causes and solutions.

What have you decided?

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Thanks for being a part of this hub

Thanks to khawkins04 for the picture of the potted plant.

Adding the fertilizer for tomato plants

The best way to fertilizing tomatoes is by following the method below:

First you would need to get your fertilizer for tomato plants ready be it chemical or organic. Once the fertilizer is ready go out into the garden and loosen up the soil around the tomato plant/s by using a fork. If you’ve got mulch around the tomato plants push it aside for some time so that it gives you some place to work. Now, add a bit of the fertilizer around the stem and water the plant. Fertilizers for tomato plants need to be added in the right quantity and ensure you don’t add excess as it would burn up the roots (Chemical tomato fertilizers especially).

Once the tomato plant fertilizer has been applied cover it up with mulch if you wish and the process will have to be repeated every two weeks or as and when you notice the fertilizer is over. Organic fertilizer may take longer to be used up as it would first have to decay and disintegrate.

Caring for tomato plants

Now that you've added the fertilizer and completed all the initial steps - How do you care for tomato plants? You need to maintain them throughout the growing season in order to get a bountiful crop. Negligence could lead to a poor crop after all your initial hard work!

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    • cyoung35 profile image

      Chad Young 5 years ago from Corona, CA

      I prefer organic fertilizer but I'm not sure it's better for you than inorganic.

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      It surely is better as it doesn't harm all the flora and fauna vital for the well being of the soil. Take for instance earthworms - they're important for the growth of plants as they provide natural aeration to the soil. Chemicals will kill them or make them move away.

    • Naima Manal profile image

      Naima Manal 5 years ago from NY

      I agree that it is better for the tomato plants, and other fruits and vegetables, to use organic fertilizers. It is better for the environment and for the food that you will consume.

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      Yup that's exactly what I tried to convey. But a bit of chemical fertilizers wouldn't be harmful. Just a tiny bit and not too much.

    • profile image

      Anwar Riaz 5 years ago

      Compost, composted cow manure, Bone Meal and Tomato Tone is the best combination to grow Tomato Plants

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      Hi Anwar thanks for adding amazing information to this hub. I've never given tomato tone a try

    • WD Curry 111 profile image

      WD Curry 111 5 years ago from Space Coast

      Hey! I did the right thing by accident. I planted my tomatoes where I had cow peas last year. No wonder they are doing well.

      Keep up the good work lobobrandon, your enthusiasm, charisma and work ethic give me hope for the future!

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      Haha ;) I'm not quite sure about Cow peas but if they're growing well you could do it every year. Plant Cow peas in another spot this time and grow tomatoes there next year once again :)

    • profile image

      minicoop2199 5 years ago

      LOVE THIS WEBSITE!!! This site is so helpful. I found all the answers to my tomato questions on this site.

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      Hi Minicoop, I'm really glad I managed to answer all your tomato questions and thanks for the comments and letting me know :) I do hope your daughters project turns out to be something truly amazing!

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      This is great lobobrandon. Thanks for answering my question with so much great information. My tomato plants grow spindly and very small tomatoes so will feed fertilizer more often. I din't know you could fertilize so often in the summer when you plant in pots. I thought it would burn the plants up.

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      Suzzycue, adding chemical fertilizer often would surely burn the plants up. That's why I mentioned adding compost or vegetable waste directly as it would decay slowly and release nutrients at a controlled pace. If you have any more questions feel free to leave a comment :)

    • suzzycue profile image

      Susan Britton 5 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      Thank you lobobrandon.

    • profile image

      Tony Trenton 5 years ago

      I have a small balcony tray of 15 tomato plants grown from tomatoes I bought from the supermarket. I don't know the varieties , but some are plumb and some regular shaped. I made a drip feed watering system. I bought some liquid fertilizer. I add 5 drops per liter of water every two days. I use 8 liters of water per day. the excess drains away.

      The plants seem OK and are fruiting well.

      Should I continue to add the 5 drops of fertilizer / liter of water or is there a cut off point. ?

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      Hi Tony, it's great that the plants are growing well and fruiting too. I don't know what fertilizer your using (I mean the composition). But, since your plants are growing and fruiting well with it continue using it until its time to harvest the crop.

    • profile image

      Tony Trenton 5 years ago

      Thank you Lobrandon

      I am stating to 'harvest' the crop. So far one plumb type and 3 regular have turned red. A couple more are turning orange.

      Should I continue to add the 5 drops / Ltr. Until the end of the crop ?

      I don't know the PH. of the soil or the composition of the fertilizer, but it seems OK so far.

    • profile image

      Tony Trenton 5 years ago

      The fertilizer contains 7% Nitrogen, 3% Phosphorus, & 7% Potassium.

      How long should I continue adding the fertilizer to the water ?

      Thank you.

      Tony

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 5 years ago

      If you're already harvesting the crop, I guess you could stop adding fertilizer. There will be enough nutrients in the soil for the plants to continue growing while the rest of the fruit is ready for picking.

    • profile image

      Tony Trenton 4 years ago

      Many thank's for the clarification

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 4 years ago

      No problem, your welcome :)

    • dialogue profile image

      dialogue 4 years ago

      You write always good hubs, keep it up! I like this hub on Tomato fertilizing.

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 4 years ago

      Thanks dialogue :)

    • Insane Mundane profile image

      Insane Mundane 4 years ago from Earth

      I usually add vegetable waste along with used tea bags to the soil periodically for a couple months - before planting - then I give 'em a boost with Miracle-Gro a few times during the growing season while the other organic stuff breaks down and decomposes into the soil, and have great success. Well, that is, unless it gets invaded with Tomato Hornworms, then I have to take further action, etc.

      Nice Hub!

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 4 years ago

      That's exactly what I do with vegetable waste. However I don't add tea bags and throw them in the garbage instead. Because I noticed, the tea bags have milk too once used if you mix hot water and milk together then use the bag (if it's not black tea) which causes worms :)

      Thanks for the comment and I'm glad you liked it.

    • Insane Mundane profile image

      Insane Mundane 4 years ago from Earth

      Oh, I didn't think to mention, but I take the tea leaves out of the used tea bags and half of the tea I brew is green tea. Milk? You use milk with tea? Anyway, good luck with your crop this year; cheers!

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 4 years ago

      Yup, here check out some images on google images - http://goo.gl/p6awJ

    • alexadry profile image

      Adrienne Janet Farricelli 4 years ago from USA

      I purchased a cheap tomato plant food by pennington expert 9-12-12 and my tomato plants went from standing up to dying within hours! I made pictures and complained with the company, plant food is not supposed to kill your plants! I googled and found another guy went through the same exact ordeal. And these were full-grown plants with flowers almost as tall as me! All the other plants are doing fine, so I know it was the plant food. I wished I listened to my mom who told me to use plain egg shells and compost!

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 4 years ago

      Yes, you should have stuck with compost. I guess egg shells take time to break down and what you use this time may be ready by next season. If you used a pot or any sort of container for those plants, I guess you'd have to discard all the soil as well - because, the fertilizer will still be there and could harm future crops.

      If you're going in for fertilizers there are plenty out there, don't blame yourself for trying out something. This will only lead to a better crop the next time around as you'll know what to avoid and what to use. If you don't make mistakes you'll never learn. And if you stick to just a single way of growing them and don't try anything, there's no fun in gardening!

      Hope you do get amazing fruit from the remaining plants, do let me know how it turns out.

    • jackinabox profile image

      jackinabox 3 years ago

      Interesting hub. Lots of details that I like. Thank you.

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 3 years ago

      Glad you liked this :) hope it helps you when it comes to fertilizing your tomatoes if at all you do grow them.

    • sgbrown profile image

      Sheila Brown 3 years ago from Southern Oklahoma

      Great information. Consistent watering and fertilization are two of the most important keys to growing tomatoes successfully. Putting about 2 inches of mulch around my tomato plants was one of the best things I ever learned about growing tomatoes. It made such a huge difference in how well they grew. We used mulched leaves from our spring clean-up and then at the end of the year, we turn them into the soil and they create great compost. We also till in the chicken manure and hay from our chicken house before we plant, it seems to really help. I enjoyed your hub, voting up, useful, interesting, sharing and pinning. :)

    • Shyron E Shenko profile image

      Shyron E Shenko 3 years ago from Texas

      Very useful information especially for people who don't have much success at growing anything (me). It is to hot, here and not enough rain and to much sun.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 2 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      Good information. Nicely written. Voted up, I,U, Pin,tweet

    • lobobrandon profile image
      Author

      Brandon Lobo 2 years ago

      Thanks a lot for the compliments and shares patsybell

    • profile image

      Ram sharma 10 months ago

      Thanks a lot for good information.

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