Benefits and Best Practices of Using 10-20-10 Fertilizer

10-20-10 fertilizers offer a healthy mixture of nitrogen, potassium, and phosphorus. When selecting the best fertilizer for your lawn, it’s crucial to understand how it works first. So, what are the benefits and best practices of the 10 20 10 fertilizer?

The benefits of 10-20-10 fertilizers are aiding primary plant functions like protein synthesis and photosynthesis and helping plants fight diseases. They also facilitate energy transfer through the plant. For the most effective application, ensure you understand your plants’ needs.

Keep reading as we break down the benefits of all nutrients in 10-20-10 fertilizers. We also discuss tips on how to get the most using these fertilizers.

What Are 10-20-10 Fertilizers?

10-20-10 fertilizers are phosphorus-rich. A bag of 10-20-10 fertilizer contains 10% nitrogen, 20% phosphorous, and 10% potassium. The numbers on the package indicate the concentrations of the three macronutrients, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, required by plants.

The ingredients’ balance in fertilizer 10 20 10 allows plants to absorb the nutrients efficiently. But do you know where to buy 10 20 10 fertilizer? 

You can buy 10 20 10 fertilizers from most online retailers like Walmart. Home Depot, Amazon, and Tractor Supply Co. We recommend this 10-20-10 Bloom Fertilizer from Pennington.

There are various types of 10-20-10 fertilizers, liquid, granular, water-soluble, organic, and hydroponics. Below are detailed descriptions of each.

Liquid 10-20-10 Fertilizers

Liquid fertilizers are sprayed directly on the plants. Due to their easy absorption, they start working immediately, meaning plants show improvements sooner. These fertilizers last seven to fourteen days, depending on the brand. However, these fertilizers are quite pricey than their counterparts.

Granular 10-20-10 Fertilizers

Granular fertilizers are dry and come in small granules that resemble tiny rocks. There are several granular fertilizers. Some are applied as a liquid, meaning you must mix them with water before use. Others are spread around the plants, incorporated into the top three inches of the soil, and watered afterward.

Although some granular fertilizers are quick-release, most are slow-release, meaning they release nutrients into the ground and plants over a long time.

Water-soluble Fertilizers

A water-soluble 10 20 10 fertilizer dissolves in water easily. These fertilizers come as either granules or powders. Their effectiveness is comparable to liquid fertilizers. They are absorbed faster into the ground and plants, resulting in quick improvement.

Using water-soluble fertilizers is cost-effective. Fertilizers cover a wider area when in a liquid form than when they are in dry or powder form. Apply water-soluble fertilizers directly to the plants using the foliar application or drip irrigation.

The foliar application allows the fertilizers to reach the target plant areas instead of getting wasted on the ground.

Water soluble fertilizers are environmentally friendly compared to their counterparts. Applying these fertilizers using drip irrigation reduces the amount of nitrous oxide emitted to the environment.

It’s advisable to make some calculations when dissolving the fertilizers, so the nutrients are evenly distributed through the field during drip irrigation.

Organic Fertilizers

Organic fertilizers are made purely from natural components or materials. These may be plant or animal materials ranging from food compost and decaying leaves to cow manure. For a brand to be purely organic, it must submit all its ingredients to the United States Department of Agriculture for certification.

Organic fertilizer brands must also prove that all their ingredients are allowed and are safe for organic gardening.

Hydroponics Fertilizers

A hydroponic 10 20 10 fertilizer is used in hydroponic systems. Plants in these systems grow without soils. They get all their necessary nutrients via a water solution. Water-soluble and liquid fertilizers are the most used in these systems.

10 20 10 Fertilizer Composition

10-20-10 fertilizers’ macronutrients include nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Ammonium nitrate or urea is used in these fertilizers to add nitrogen. Some brands may opt for chicken meals or feather meals.

Sulfate of potash magnesia or sulfate of potash adds potassium, while greensand is included for phosphorus. Inorganic 10-20-10 fertilizers incorporate sewage sludge for nitrogen.

The rest of the ingredients include inactive ingredients known as fillers. Fillers reduce the nutrients’ concentrations, preventing plants from burning. Although these nutrients are necessary for growth, high concentrations cause more damage than good.

Fillers prevent the nutrients from drying and clumping, allowing them to spread evenly through the garden. These ingredients also enable the fertilizer to meet the right NPK specification. Filler materials are coarse and may resemble the other fertilizer granules, making it hard to notice them.

Slow-release fertilizers consist of a coating that may be organic or inorganic. Organic coatings are made of ingredients like polymer resins or polymers. Inorganic coatings may consist of dolomite, gypsum, sulfur, or zeolite.

What Is 10 20 10 Fertilizer Good For?

10-20-10 fertilizers are good for facilitating primary plant functions and fighting crop diseases. Below are the benefits of these fertilizers’ primary macronutrients.


10-20-10 fertilizers have nitrogen concentrations of 10%. This compound makes up a large part of chlorophyll, essential for plants’ food production. Chlorophyll utilizes sunlight energy to produce sugars from carbon dioxide and water.

Nitrogen is a major amino acid component in plants. Amino acids are proteins’ building blocks. All vegetation withers and dries out when deprived of proteins. Some proteins make up the plant cells’ structural units, while others form enzymes, which regulate significant life-based biochemical reactions.

Nitrogen is an element of energy-transfer compounds like adenosine triphosphate (ATP). ATP allows plant cells to conserve and utilize the energy produced during metabolism.

Finally, nitrogen makes up a significant part of Nucleic acids like DNA. DNA is a genetic material that allows cells and whole plants to flourish and reproduce.


10-20-10 fertilizers contain 20% phosphorus. Aside from being a central DNA and ATP component, this compound promotes root growth and strengthens stalks and stems. Phosphorus enhances seed production and flower formation.

Other phosphorus plant benefits include:

  • Promoting crop uniformity
  • Contributing to early maturity
  • Enhancing disease resistance
  • Facilitating nitrogen fixation or absorption in legumes


Potassium constitutes 10% of a bag of 10-20-10 fertilizer. Potassium is responsible for crucial plant functions like photosynthesis and protein synthesis.

This compound is also essential for carbohydrates, nutrients, and water movement through the plant tissues.

Potassium modulates the opening and closing of the stomata. Stomata are responsible for carbon dioxide, oxygen, and water exchange, which are crucial for plant survival.

Other Potassium roles in plants are:

  • Increasing root growth
  • Reducing water loss and wilting
  • Aiding in photosynthesis
  • Retarding crop diseases
  • Enhancing sugar and starch translocation
  • Building cellulose
  • Reducing lodging

Applying 10 20 10 Fertilizers

Applying 10-20-10 fertilizers varies from one use to another. Below are descriptions of how to apply this plant food to different plant types.


Apply seven to ten pounds of fertilizer on every thousand square feet of your lawn. Ensure you do it at the start of the growing season to promote root growth.

During the rest of the season, switch to a fertilizer with less phosphorus concentrations to boost grass growth and development.

Newly Seeded Lawns

Before laying down the seeds on your lawn, apply ten pounds of the 10-20-10 fertilizer every a thousand square feet. This helps the seedlings develop robust root systems.

Shrubs and Trees

For robust tree and shrub growth, apply about half a pound of the surface fertilizer for every inch of the tree’s trunk diameter. Apply surface fertilizers on your lawn during early spring or summer for the best results.


Flower 10 20 10 fertilizer application requires more attention than all the other vegetation. Flowers have fragile root systems, which may get damaged when mishandled.

Before planting flowers, apply one pound of fertilizer per hundred square feet of your lawn. Mix the fertilizer properly into the top layer of the soil.

Thanks to their high phosphorus concentration, these fertilizers offer the best results if you apply them to your flowers after establishment.

During this period, it’s advisable to use a pound of fertilizer per hundred square feet. Do this every three to four months and ensure it blends into the two to three inches of the topsoil.


House plants flourish with high phosphorus fertilizers, making 10-20-10 fertilizers perfect for them. Apply these plant foods during the entire growing season to promote flowering.

Avoid using 10-20-10 fertilizers on your flowers during the winter. The nutrient absorption rate is slow during the winter, meaning you may easily burn the plants. You should also always check all the fertilizer’s ingredients to ensure it has nothing that may harm your plants.

Vegetable Gardens

Apply fifteen pounds of fertilizer per a thousand square feet for flowering vegetables like squash, tomatoes, and pumpkins. It’s advisable to do this before placing the seeds on the ground. Mix the fertilizer thoroughly in the top few inches of the soil.

After four to five weeks of growth, apply five to seven pounds of fertilizer per a thousand square feet. Use a broadcaster when applying 10-20-10 fertilizers on high-protein vegetables like potatoes, onions, and corn.

Broadcasters offer a uniform, systematic and precise application, ensuring all the crops get the nutrient concentrations they need.

When dealing with vegetables like tomatoes, beans, and squash, apply the fertilizer directly to the ground and mix it into the soil for slow but effective absorption.

Tips for the Best 10-20-10 Fertilizer Results

Below are tips to ensure you get the most out of 10-20-10 fertilizers.

  • Always conduct a soil test before purchasing a fertilizer. Soil tests let you identify how much of the macronutrients are already in the soil. This allows you to know what’s ideal for the lawn.
  • Keep your 10-20-10 fertilizers in a cool and dry place, away from the UV rays. Temperatures between five and thirty degrees are the safest for these fertilizers. Anything that exceeds this range affects the fertilizers’ effectiveness.
  • Know your lawn’s major problems before settling on a fertilizer. Some fertilizers are made to cater to specific lawn issues.
  • Always ensure the fertilizer package is well sealed before storing it. This keeps the pungent smell at bay and prevents heat from getting into the bag.
  • Keep your fertilizer away from flammable materials. These fertilizers have ammonium nitrate, which explodes when exposed to fire.

So, Are 10-20-10 Fertilizers Beneficial

10 20 10 fertilizer has a perfect macronutrient ratio, guaranteeing your plants the best results. This fertilizer has 10% nitrogen, 20% phosphorus, and 10% potassium and is ideal for lawns, houseplants, flowers, trees, shrubs, and vegetable gardens. Ensure you follow all the tips discussed in this post for enhanced effectiveness.