What is the best fertilizer for peppers?
Peppers are one of the most common vegetable plants grown in home gardens. Almost fifty percent of people planning a garden will plant sweet pepper varieties (especially bell peppers); almost one-third of home gardens contain some variety of hot pepper.
With many varieties to choose from it is easy to find one, or a few, that meet your taste preferences. Proper fertilization will help increase the chance of a bountiful harvest. In this post, we will talk about what to look for in a good fertilizer and a few of our favorite options.
What is the best fertilizer for peppers?
Our Top Four Options
- MiracleGro LiquaFeed Tomato, Fruits and Vegetables Plant Food
- Ultragreen Tomato and Vegetable Food 5-10-10
- Lilly Miller Morcrop Tomato & Vegetable Food 5-10-10
- Dr Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer
To learn more about each individual fertilizer keep reading, but first…
What to look for in a good fertilizer for peppers
Extremely easy to grow, it’s no wonder peppers are found in many gardens across the United States. Peppers have a longer growing season than most garden vegetables and their plants are smaller in stature than tomatoes. They grow slower in cooler weather and faster when it is warmer; to encourage seedlings to grow quickly plant outside once the nighttime temperatures are steadily above 60 degrees. After transplanting peppers into the garden, wait to fertilize them until plants begin to blossom to encourage fruit production. Fertilizing the plants prior to blossoming will encourage vegetative growth instead and allocate less of the plant’s resources to producing flowers, and in turn fruit.
Peppers are medium to heavy feeders (depending on the variety planted and size of fruit produced), meaning they require more fertilizer than some plants during the growing season for optimum growth. To promote fruit growth on plants versus vegetative growth a fertilizer ratio of 5-10-10 is best. These numbers are on the fertilizer label and are known as the N-P-K ratio (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium); this ratio tells the percentage, by weight, of the three main nutrients in the bag. In a 5-10-10 formula, a 10 pound bag of fertilizer would contain 0.5 pounds of nitrogen, 1 pound of phosphorus (in the form of P2O5), and 1 pound of potassium (in the form of K2O).
There are certain nutrients that are essential to plant growth. Fertilizers are classified based on the main three – nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium – to make it less confusing for consumers. Nitrogen is listed first on the label since it is considered the most key nutrient needed for plant growth. Its main responsibility in the plant is regulating vegetative growth. Nitrogen is assimilated in the plant into amino acids, the building blocks of protein; it is also a major component of chlorophyll and helps to keep foliage green; and nitrogen is necessary for many of the plant’s enzymatic reactions.
Phosphorus is a structural component in DNA and RNA (the genetic building blocks within plant cells) and is needed for root growth and flowering. Potassium works more indirectly in plants than nitrogen and phosphorus. While it isn’t a component of any plant parts, it functions by activating the enzymatic reactions that occur, making it imperative for the overall health of the plant.
A quick look in any garden center, or an internet search, will provide the home gardener with a plethora of fertilizers to choose from. This may seem overwhelming but can be navigated by thinking about a few main concepts: do you want conventional or organic products, vegetable specific or all-purpose plant food, and granule versus liquid? The consumer can then narrow down the selection based upon these personal preferences. To help you make the best choice and get the most out of your garden, I have narrow my choices of the best fertilizer for peppers to these 4 options
MiracleGro LiquaFeed Tomato, Fruits and Vegetables Plant Food – Miracle Gro products are known to successfully fertilize plants, encouraging fuller, greener growth and bigger blooms/fruit. The brand is a market leader and can be purchases at most retailers. The LiquaFeed products offer growers a simple solution to fertilizing their plants. Attach a bottle of Tomato, Fruits and Vegetables Plant Food to a MiracleGro Advanced Feeder, set the dial to “feed” and water your garden plants as usual. No need to worry about mixing fertilizer in the correct concentration! One bottle of 9-4-9 fertilizer will feed about 400 square feet of space. Apply to plants every 7-14 days to help develop strong roots and grow high-quality peppers.
Ultragreen Tomato and Vegetable Food 5-10-10 – Made in the United State, this 5-10-10 fertilizer is formulated to produce great tasting vegetables. Natural ingredients are blended with traditional plant foods to create a unique product that provides plants with nitrogen from 5 different sources for up to six weeks after application. Additional calcium is available for plants from added bone meal. Ultragreen Tomato and Vegetable Food is ready to use right out of the bag and does not need to be mixed with water before application.
Lilly Miller Morcrop Tomato & Vegetable Food 5-10-10 – A granular tomato and vegetable food, Lilly Miller Morcrop Tomato & Vegetable Food is specially formulated with both slow and quick release nitrogen fertilizer to provide plants with continuous nutrients. Made from a blend of natural ingredients – including fish – and traditional plants foods to give plants 5 sources of nitrogen. This encourages steady plant growth and strong root systems. Morcrop Tomato & Vegetable Food is fortified with essential plant minerals to make sure plants receive all of the nutrition they need, not just nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Works on all types of plants, and can be applied at any time during the growing season as it will not burn plants. One application can provide nutrition for up to six weeks time.
Dr Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer – This 100% organic formula provides optimal levels of the nutrients essential to plants, without the need to add synthetic chemical fertilizers. Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer is a superior blend of fish bone meal, feather meal, kelp meal, alfalfa meal, soft rock phosphate, fish meal, mined potassium sulfate, humic acid, seaweed extract, seven beneficial strains of soil microbes, plus mycorrhizae. Nutrients are released quickly and easily available for plant uptake; plants are fed a continuous amount of high-quality nutrients for several months. The natural, organic 5-7-3 ratio of N-P-K results in more abundant crops, healthier plants, and nutritious vegetables.
Verdict: What is the best fertilizer for peppers?
My choice is the Ultragreen Tomato and Vegetable Food 5-10-10
Peppers are a staple crop in home gardens with about half of gardeners growing sweet pepper varieties and one-third growing hot peppers. A key aspect to growing strong, healthy plants that produce quality yields is proper fertilization. Choosing one of the above fertilizers to feed pepper plants will provide nutrients essential for plant growth and a hearty crop.
There you have it! Our top 4 options. What have you found to be the best fertilizer for peppers? Please share your thoughts in the comments section below.