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Guide to 20-20-20 Fertilizer: Why, When & How To Use It

Guide to 20-20-20 Fertilizer: Why, When & How To Use It

If you are uncertain of which fertilizer is best for your garden, you may have encountered a type called 20-20-20 fertilizer. However, what does this fertilizer entail?

What is 20-20-20 fertilizer used for? 20-20-20 fertilizer is a general-purpose mix that contains equal proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It works well for almost all types of plants and can be used with most plants during all their various growth stages, including blooming and setting fruit.

In the following, you’ll discover why, when, and how to use 20-20-20 fertilizer.

Understanding 20-20-20 Fertilizer

In order to know whether or not 20-20-20 fertilizer is right for your garden and if so which one is the best choice, you need to understand what 20-20-20 fertilizer is to begin with.

That’s why we’ve broken down everything you need to know about these types of fertilizer and fertilizer products in the following sections.

What Is 20-20-20 Fertilizer?

The 20-20-20 fertilizer is an all-purpose mix that works well for nearly everything that has green leaves and grows in the dirt.

The number signifies that the fertilizer product contains 20% of all three major nutrients needed by plants (nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium). 

Are All 20-20-20 Fertilizers the Same?

Not all 20-20-20- fertilizers are the same, though they all contain equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium.

The secondary ingredients in the fertilizer mix are what makes each blend unique.

There are generic general purpose fertilizers, premium fertilizers, indoor fertilizers, outdoor fertilizers, and more, that all contain the special 20-20-20 NPK ratio.

Is 20-20-20 Fertilizer the Same as 10-10-10?

The fertilizer NPKs 20-20-20 and 10-10-10 are extremely similar but are not the same.

20-20-20 blends include 20% nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium, while 10-10-10 mixes include half that (just 10% nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium).

Additionally, whatever secondary ingredients the product contains also make a difference.

What Plants Like 20-20-20 Fertilizer?

Nearly all plants react well to 20-20-20- fertilizers, though it is especially effective on plants that bloom (including but not limited to flowers).

Because it is a well-balanced fertilizer, 20-20-20 can be used on just about all plants.

Benefits of 20-20-20 Fertilizer

The benefits of using a 20-20-20 type fertilizer are fairly straightforward:

  • 20-20-20 blends are well balanced and provide universal nutrients to plants.
  • They help your plants thrive and may increase yield size as well.
  • They aren’t species-specific, so you can use them on almost everything.
  • Plants uptake more water and nutrients because they are healthier in general.
  • They are natural and organic (if you buy certain types of 20-20-20 products).

20-20-20 Fertilizer Precautions

The precautions that come with using 20-20-20 fertilizer products are the same that come with just about all serious fertilizer-type products in this day and age:

  • Cover your eyes and mouth when applying.
  • Wear protective equipment over clothing.
  • Avoid getting it on your skin.
  • Avoid breathing it in.
  • Avoid prolonged exposure, period.

When Should I Use 20-20-20 Fertilizer?

Using 20-20-20 fertilizer every week or using it every month or two (depending on the product) is a safe way to make sure that your plants are healthy and thriving (even when you haven’t done such a great job with keeping your soil maintained).

It provides a base level of much-needed nutrients that all plants need to thrive and helps them absorb more water, fight off pests, and more.

When Is the Best Time To Apply 20-20-20 Fertilizer?

The very best time to apply 20-20-20 fertilizer varies depending on the type of plants you’re fertilizing and their environment (namely the soil health and climate).

That said, generally speaking, early spring, mid to late summer, and autumn are all great times to add healthy doses of all-purpose 20-20-20 fertilizer to your garden.

Watering young cucumber plants with a yellow watering can.

How Often Should 20-20-20 Fertilizer Be Applied?

Depending on the product and the crop you’re fertilizing, the frequency in which you should use 20-20-20 fertilizers in your garden differs.

However, if it is a water-soluble product, it may be added as much as twice each week.

Commercial strength fertilizers, on the other hand, may only require application every month or two.

20-20-20 Fertilizer: How To Use

To use 20-20-20 fertilizer, simply:

  1. Read the manufactures instructions (find out how many teaspoons per measurement of water is needed).
  2. Carefully mix the proper number of teaspoons into the correct amount of water.
  3. Mix the ingredients together thoroughly.
  4. Pour the water into your water can.
  5. Apply the mixture straight to the soil/root zone of your plants.

If you are using a granular-type product to feed a large area, a broadcast spreader, like this handheld model, is ideal. Just follow the product’s instructions for settings. 

20-20-20 Fertilizer for Indoor Plants

These types of fertilizer products are extremely ideal for indoor plants that don’t have access to the extra nutrients, sunlight, and moisture that outdoor plants do.

Adding a bit to the water once or twice a week will have your indoor plants looking like they’re on steroids after a month or two.

Is Triple 20 Fertilizer Better Than Triple 14 Fertilizer?

Triple 20 fertilizer isn’t necessarily better than triple 14 fertilizer; it is simply more concentrated.

Triple 14 includes 14% NPK, and Triple 20 includes 20% NPK. There is no other difference (except for secondary ingredients and other manufacturer touches).

Best 20-20-20 Fertilizer

Now that you know why, when, and how to use it, here are our picks for the best 20-20-20 fertilizer for your garden:

Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 

This 1-pound bucket of Jack’s Classic 20-20-20 is a great choice for those who want to get a year’s supply of 20-20-20 fertilizer at one time.

The product has been around for decades, and it is tried and true.

Because it works for outdoor and indoor plants, it’s great for practically all of your gardening needs, including flowers and ornamentals in addition to fruits and vegetables.

Southern Ag PowerPak 20-20-20

The PowerPak from Southern Ag is also a wonderful solution to your fertilization issue. The pack contains chelated minor elements and, of course, an NPK of 20-20-20.

The fertilizer is designed for and works well on roses, flowers, shrubs, vegetables, houseplants, and grass.

Peter’s Professional 20-20-20

Another superb option for your garden is Peter’s Professional Micronutrients 20-20-20 blend. It works well on almost all plants and needs to be applied just once per week.

The product is available in quarter-ounce packs all the way up to 2-pound bags. Plus, the package looks really cool (… just sayin’!).

Grow More 20-20-20

Grow More’s 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer is one of the very best choices, especially if you are running a commercial garden, large family garden, or a small farm.

It contains all the same potent levels of nutrients other 20-20-20 NPK products do, and the fertilizer is available in a 25-pound package to boot.

Schultz 20-20-20

Last but far from least is the Schultz 20-20-20 All Purpose Plant Food.

This stuff is supposed to rock the socks of plants of all types, helping them to thrive, uptake more water, and absorb more essential nutrients.

It’s also available in a convenient 5-pound bag so you don’t need to run out to the store every month and purchase more.

Final Thoughts

Hopefully with all of the information above, you now understand perfectly what exactly 20-20-20 fertilizer is, how to use it, when to use it, and why you should use it.

Furthermore, thanks to our picks for the best 20-20-20 fertilizer (included above), you should have no problem selecting the best product for you and your garden’s fertilization needs!