With limp, lackluster, or poor producing plants in your garden, you may reach for whatever you have on hand to fertilize your crops. Tomato feed helps tomatoes to produce more fruit. However, can you use this specially branded feed on other plants?
You can use tomato feed on plants that grow fruits and vegetables. But you may not get the best results using it on other plants and could even harm them. You should use the right fertilizer for the plants you’re growing.
I’ll explain more about why tomato feed works for tomatoes and other fruiting crops and some rules of thumb about what to feed your other plants.
Tomato Feed Helps Tomato Plants Yield More Fruit
Even though tomato feed is labeled for tomatoes, it works well for all types of fruiting plants to encourage fruit growth.
To promote buds, growth, and fruiting of tomato plants, tomato feed blends important nutrients into a special formula, designed for tomato plants. For plants that grow in containers, the plants consume the nutrients quickly, which means gardeners need to continue feeding their plants throughout their life.
Tomato feed can be purchased in a variety of forms, including dry powders, liquids, or rods that you insert into the ground.
Make sure that you mix the fertilizer or apply it according to the manufacturer’s instructions. If you apply too much, the fertilizer can burn the plant. Too little won’t hurt the plant, but you won’t see as dramatic results.
It is very easy to burn the roots of plants in containers with high concentrations of fertilizers. Make sure you dilute the fertilizer even more than the manufacturer says, but apply more often, with container gardens.
Tomato Feed Ingredients
Tomato feed contains high concentrations of potassium compared to other fertilizers.
Fertilizers are commonly blended with three primary ingredients, phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen. Blends are typically labeled with the concentration of each in the order N-P-K for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. A tomato feed might have the numbers 10-10-30, where the concentrations are 10%, 10%, and 30% of each.
When the numbers are all equal, the fertilizer is called “balanced.” Some gardeners say to use a balanced fertilizer to equally promote leaves, roots, as well as fruit. Interestingly, the all-purpose fertilizer from Miracle-Gro is closer to 24-8-16, with a high concentration of nitrogen and lower in phosphorus.
Some tomato feeds may also include calcium. Calcium prevents the tomato plants from producing fruit with defects called “blossom end rot.” Blossom end rot causes the blossoms to rot at the tips as they form fruit, causing black spots or rot at the bottom of the tomato. Other trace elements and minerals are included that are important to plant growth and the development of fruit. If your soil is depleted, the fruits and vegetables you grow will be too!
Using Tomato Feed on Fruit and Vegetable Crops
Tomato feed fertilizer is typically just a marketing tool. Tomato feed is safe to use as directed on a plethora of other plants. The fertilizer will be the most effective on plants that produce fruit and vegetables, such as peppers, beans, eggplant, etc.
When picking a tomato food or other fruit or vegetable fertilizer, make sure that your choice does not have higher concentrations of nitrogen. Nitrogen will promote large, leafy plants, but doesn’t prioritize the blossoms that eventually produce fruit.
Many tomato feeds will include instructions for fertilizing other crops besides tomatoes. Sometimes, the instructions will be the same as for tomatoes, while other brands may recommend high or lower concentrations while applying.
However, tomato feed might not be the best choice for vegetables such as cucumbers, squashes, and pumpkins. While tomato feed may give these plants a small boost, these types of plants need higher nitrogen concentrations, similar to leafy plants.
Fertilizers for Foliage and Ornamental Plants
Leafy vegetables prefer balanced fertilizers. If your tomato feed has a high concentration of potassium, it may not help your leafy plants as much as you’d like. However, if you have a balanced tomato feed, then the fertilizer might be well suited for your plants just by adapting the concentration. You can also mix different types of fertilizers.
For example, if you have one that is high in potassium, one that is high in nitrogen, but needs a more balanced mix, you can use half of each to dilute the concentration of each. Be careful mixing different types of fertilizer, though, as this trick works best when you have two dry, or two liquid, fertilizers that you want to mix.
Flowers like roses need high amounts of potassium to make a lot of big, colorful blooms. You can feed your roses and other flowers a similar concentration to what you might feed your tomato plants.
For more ornamental plants, try to avoid using tomato feed. You can instead use a more balanced fertilizer. Some plants are also considered acid-loving, needing more acidity in their soil to be happy and healthy. The calcium in the tomato feed could accidentally neutralize some of the acidity in the soil, hurting these plants more than helping them.
Different fertilizers can be formulated for each individual plant’s needs. You can purchase fertilizers for orchids, roses, palms, cactuses, citrus trees, fruit trees, and more. It can get complicated trying to understand what the differences between the fertilizers are and remembering which plant likes what type.
Can I Use All Purpose Fertilizers on Tomatoes?
Even though tomato feed may have more potassium or calcium in it than all-purpose fertilizers, tomatoes can benefit from all-purposes fertilizers. If your soil is depleted and you only have an all-purpose fertilizer, you can apply it to your tomato plants.
All-purpose fertilizers are designed to provide adequate nutrients for plants, no matter what type. The concentrations of nutrients are generally lower so as not to harm the plants. These fertilizers work well for container gardens where your plants may quickly use up nutrients.
Conducting a soil test can help you determine if an all-purpose fertilizer would help your plants or if you should consider a fertilizer with a high concentration of a particular nutrient.
Soil test kits can measure the acidity level, or pH, of the soil. Separate kits can measure each of the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. If your soil is low in all three, pick an all-purpose fertilizer. However, if you find that your soil is lacking in nitrogen, you may look for a fertilizer labeled as 10-5-5, for example, with a higher concentration in the first number.
The best way to boost the nutritional value of your soil is to amend the soil with compost. Be sure to use high quality, organic soil before planting, then feed your plants lightly through the growing season for best results. By the end of the season, the soil will be low on nutrients again, needing another amendment before the next growing season.
Using Tomato Feed on More Than Just Tomatoes
Tomato feed can be used on a wide range of fruiting plants. Even balanced versions can be applied to non-fruiting crops. For the best results in your garden, look to using fertilizers that are blended specifically for your plants. However, when in doubt, reach for an all-purpose fertilizer to give your plants an overall boost.