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16-16-16 Fertilizer: Benefits and When & How To Use It

16-16-16 Fertilizer: Benefits and When & How To Use It

16-16-16 fertilizer is a perfectly balanced blend containing 16% nitrogen, 16% phosphorus, and 16% potassium.

The remaining 52% is made up of fillers to help stabilize the nutrients. You may also see this product advertised as NPK 16:16:16, which represents the elemental symbols for each nutrient.

What is 16-16-16 fertilizer used for? 16-16-16 fertilizer is a balanced blend of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium used to increase the nutrient levels in the soil. It can be used for almost any plant, including lawns, flower beds, ornamentals, trees, and vegetable gardens, though it is more beneficial on flowering plants. 

By understanding what 16-16-16 fertilizer is and how it works, you will be able to use this product as a tool for growing beautiful and healthy plants. 

Understanding 16-16-16- Fertilizer

Balanced fertilizers, like 16-16-16, support the growth and health of all portions of a plant. 

What is 16-16-16 Fertilizer?

16-16-16 fertilizer is a balanced fertilizer containing 16% each of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These are the three major nutrients responsible for plant growth.

This product is typically sold as granules, although you can occasionally find 16-16-16 liquid fertilizer. This fertilizer can either be produced as a slow-release or fast-release product.

Slow-release fertilizer is coated in sulfur to slow down the release of nutrients.

It will take longer for your plants to begin absorbing the nutrients, but the nutrients will last for a longer period.

Fast-release fertilizer dissolves in water and can be absorbed by plants within a couple of days.

Is Slow-Release Fertilizer Better?

Slow-release fertilizer is a better option if you do not want to re-apply the fertilizer as frequently.

It is also better for areas that receive a lot of rainfall because the granules will not dissolve and be washed away by the excess water.

Benefits of 16-16-16 Fertilizer

  • Nitrogen: Nitrogen helps with leaf development and chlorophyll production.
  • Phosphorus: Phosphorus promotes the growth of beautiful flowers.
  • Potassium: Potassium helps root growth and also strengthens the plant.

16-16-16 Fertilizer Precautions

This fertilizer is made of salts, so over-application can lead to fertilizer burn and ultimately kill the plants. To prevent damaging the plants, always apply the product per the directions.

Some additional precautions include:

  • Do not apply fertilizer when it is hot and sunny because the granules can be damaged.
  • Never allow the granules to sit on the plant leaves because they can burn and kill the plant.
  • Always apply water after the fertilizer to settle the granules into the soil.
  • Do not fertilize more frequently than the product suggests.

How Do You Apply 16-16-16 Fertilizer?

Use a fertilizer spreader (like this hand-held spreader with an arm support for ease of use) or toss out the granules by hand (wearing gloves).

You want to disperse the 16-16-16 throughout the soil while avoiding the plant leaves.

Water immediately after application to help the granules begin to dissolve and to help secure them in the soil.

A woman using a hand-held spreader to apply fertilizer to the lawn.

When Is The Best Time To Apply 16-16-16 Fertilizer? 

A slow-release 16-16-16 fertilizer can be applied before adding plants or sowing seeds. 

The best time of day to apply 16-16-16 fertilizer is in the early morning or late evening.

You should always avoid applying the granules during the heat of the day because they can be damaged by the sun and high temperatures. You should also apply fertilizer before watering. 

How Often Should 16-16-16 Fertilizer Be Applied?

Check the directions on your specific 16-16-16 fertilizer for recommended application frequencies. 

In general, slow-release granules should be re-applied every 1-2 months during the growing season. Fast-release fertilizers should be applied every 3-4 weeks. 

How Often Can You Put 16-16-16 On Your Lawn?

16-16-16 fertilizer can be applied to your lawn as frequently as recommended by the directions on the package.

It is good to apply a slow-release fertilizer to the soil before putting down new sod or sowing grass seeds. 

Lawns need nitrogen to promote green leaves and potassium to strengthen the roots. However, they do not need large amounts of phosphorus because grass does not bloom.

While a 16-16-16 fertilizer can be used, a 30-0-16 fertilizer has a better ratio of nutrients for optimizing lawn growth. 

What Plants Benefit From Triple 16 Fertilizer?

Since 16-16-16 fertilizer contains all three major nutrients, it is considered a general-purpose fertilizer.

This can be applied to all plants, including lawns, ornamental gardens, flower beds, and vegetable patches.

Some plants do not need large amounts of all three nutrients, but they will not be harmed by using a balanced fertilizer.

Can I Use 16-16-16 Fertilizer in My Vegetable Garden?

Neat rows of various vegetables in a backyard garden.

Yes, triple 16 fertilizer can be used in vegetable gardens. Be mindful not to over-fertilize the garden because vegetable plants tend to be sensitive to high concentrations of fertilizer salts.

Depending on what you are growing, 16-16-16 fertilizer may not be the best choice for your garden.

Root vegetables need more potassium than nitrogen or phosphorus since the vegetables are part of the root system. Leafy greens, like kale and arugula, need mostly nitrogen to promote leaf production. 

Is Triple 16 Fertilizer Good for Corn?

Triple 16 fertilizer can be used for corn but it is not the optimal ratio. An NPK 16-16-8 fertilizer would be a better option for corn production. 

How Much Does 16-16-16 Fertilizer Cost?

16-16-16 fertilizer costs between $1.50-$5 per pound of fertilizer. The price varies based on the size of the bag and the quality of the product.

How Much Does a 50-Pound Bag of Fertilizer Cover?

A 50-pound bag of fertilizer will cover up to 15,000 square feet.

Best 16-16-16 Fertilizer To Use

Howard Johnson All-Purpose 16-16-16 Fertilizer

The Howard Johnson All-Purpose 16-16-16 Fertilizer is the best triple 16 fertilizer on the market.

The granules are fast releasing and dissolve quickly, allowing your plants to get the nutrients they need almost immediately. You can see great results within a couple of days.

This product is made of organic components. This all-purpose fertilizer is perfect for all your plants, including lawns, gardens, and vegetables.


16-16-16 fertilizer is a great general-purpose fertilizer to keep on hand for your garden. The balance of nutrients allows this product to be used for any and all plants without harming them.