What is 20-20-20 Fertilizer Good For? Complete Guide (With Best Products)

As a gardener, these numbers on the fertilizer bag are pretty significant, right?

If you want a thriving garden, your soil must have the right balance of nutrients.

That’s where the 20-20-20 fertilizer comes into action. But what exactly does this number show?

This number indicates the NPK ratio. So, the fertilizer contains:

  • Nitrogen (N): 20%
  • Phosphorus (P): 20%
  • Potassium (K): 20%

Now you might be wondering, what makes up the rest of the bag?

It depends.

Some fertilizers may contain other nutrients, such as calcium or magnesium. Other additional ingredients include fillers.

Now that you understand this fertilizer label, it is time to talk about NPK.

What Does 20-20-20 Mean?

To understand what 20-20-20 fertilizer is good for, you must understand what it provides.

Nitrogen (20%):

Nitrogen is the go-to nutrient for powering any stem, leaf, and foliage growth.

This is why we say nitrogen is involved in forming healthy and robust foliage, the growth of flowers, and essential functions like photosynthesis.

You must understand that 20% nitrogen in fertilizer is pretty high.

This can be great for dealing with nitrogen deficiency that can slow the growth of your plants.

But things are a bit different sometimes. That’s why I say that nitrogen is a tricky macronutrient.

If you overfertilize, too much nitrogen will do more harm than good. This is because plants will focus too much on their leaves instead of flowering or fruiting.

Let me summarise all this for you.

Nitrogen is the go-to nutrient for healthy, robust foliage and essential functions like photosynthesis. This is the nutrient behind healthy foliage of vegetable plants, perennials, and annuals.

Now, let’s talk about phosphorus.

Phosphorus (20%):

What makes the 20-20-20 fertilizer great is the presence of all three essential macronutrients (NPK).

Recall the role of nitrogen. It powered plant growth.

When it comes to phosphorus, it powers fruiting and blooms.

What is 20-20-20 Fertilizer Good For?

So if you want to increase hydrangea blooms or you want more tomatoes from your vegetable plant, a high phosphorus fertilizer will do the job.

The other primary function of phosphorus is supporting plants’ root and shoot systems. Thanks to phosphorus that our plants anchor firmly in the soil.

Phosphorus powers blooms and fruiting. The right amount of phosphorus means an improved root system, beautiful flowers, and healthy fruits.

Now, let’s talk about potassium (K in N-P-K).

Potassium (20%):

This member of the “Big Three” controls the flow of liquids and regulates the function of enzymes.

Potassium’s ability to increase plants’ resistance to diseases makes it essential for plants. This, in turn, will make your plants strong and vibrant.

Potassium also increases drought resistance by conserving moisture. Therefore, potassium deficiency will make your plants vulnerable to diseases.

That’s not what we want.

This “Big Three” member increases plants’ resistance to diseases. It improves the plant’s overall health by making them strong and vibrant.

With this, it is time to move on to the next topic.

What is 20-20-20 Fertilizer Good For?

Being a balanced fertilizer, 20-20-20 fertilizer is suitable for heavy-feeding plants, leafy vegetables, container plants, young fruit trees, and even hydrangeas. The 20% nitrogen is the go-to nutrient for healthy, robust foliage. Phosphorus (20%) powers blooms and fruiting in your plants, and potassium (20%) improves the plant’s overall health.

Let me explain all this in detail.

Being a balanced fertilizer, the 20-20-20 is an excellent choice for some plants.

Here are a few of them.

Plants That Like 20-20-20 Fertilizer:

Plants That Like 20-20-20 Fertilizer

Heavy Feeding Plants:

Tomatoes, potatoes, and peppers need lots of nutrients for healthy growth and fruit.

The reason heavy-feeding plants prefer a balanced fertilizer is because it supports both foliage and fruit development.

When it comes to peppers, having the right amount of nitrogen is extremely important. Too much nitrogen will lead to fewer peppers.

The best thing you can do is conduct a soil test to know your soil needs. In this way, you can get personalized recommendations as well.

However, a balanced fertilizer such as the Triple 20 is the best choice without a soil test.

Since these are heavy feeders, they should be fertilized throughout the growing season. If your soil has plenty of nutrients, switch to a lighter blend, such as 5-5-5 or 10-10-10.

Leafy Vegetables (Lettuce):

Generally, a high NPK ratio fertilizer is good for leafy vegetables like lettuce.

The high nitrogen content is what will produce dark green leaves.

As we previously covered, the growth of leaves is supported by nitrogen, while root development requires phosphorus, and potassium enhances the plant’s overall health.

This is why a balanced all-purpose fertilizer promotes faster and more lush growth.


Hydrangeas are generally considered heavy feeders.

So if you want plenty of blooms, your hydrangeas would love those extra nutrients.

Therefore, a balanced fertilizer such as the 20-20-20 is typically suitable for hydrangeas.

You should know that too much nitrogen in the soil can lead to fewer blooms (pre-flowering stage).

So, you should switch to a fertilizer high in phosphorus then.

(That is the middle number in the N-P-K).

You May Like:

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Young Fruit Trees:

Young fruit trees need high potassium for healthy growth and development. However, a high amount of nitrogen is not ideal for their roots.

A balanced fertilizer such as the 20-20-20 is typically suitable for these young trees.

The high potassium content in this fertilizer boosts the plant’s overall health and initial growth.

If your soil is already high in nitrogen, switch to a lighter blend, such as the 5-20-20 fertilizer.

You can find this out by doing a soil test. However, 20-20-20 is your best choice without it.

Container Plants:

Container plants grow efficiently with a slow-release fertilizer during the planting and growing stage.

A water-soluble balanced 20-20-20 fertilizer will quickly provide all the essential nutrients to your plant, leading to rapid growth.

This fertilization may be enough for the plant due to the stronger mix. For the best application rates, follow the instructions on the package.

The high potassium and nitrogen will give it a boost in growth and will generate vibrant green leaves.

Plants That Dont Like 20-20-20 Fertilizer:

Mature Fruiting Trees:

Mature fruit trees need lesser amounts of nitrogen than potassium and phosphorus.

As nitrogen is responsible for leaf growth, 20-20-20 fertilizer will generate more leaves than fruits.

Plants That Don't Like 20-20-20 Fertilizer

To generate more fruits, the tree will need more amounts of potassium and phosphorus.

Therefore, a specially formulated fruit tree fertilizer is your best choice.

African Violets:

This charming houseplant is pretty straightforward to grow.

African violets need plant food specifically designed for them. You should know that 14-12-14 is the recommended NPK ratio for African violets.

In short, using a fertilizer specifically designed for them is better.

This takes us straight to the next topic.

Best 20-20-20 Fertilizers:

If you want to find the right fertilizer., we’ve got your back!

Here are my top picks after testing different products (so you don’t have to waste your time and money).

Jack’s Classic All Purpose:

After reading hundreds of positive reviews on this product, I had to get one.

This fertilizer is an excellent solution for indoor and outdoor plants due to its balanced nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio.

Micronutrients (such as copper and iron) make the difference in this water-soluble fertilizer.

I used this fertilizer on my indoor foliage plants and could not ask for more. The lush green leaves made this product worth it.

That’s why it has been around for years.

The best part?

It comes with a measuring spoon that is easy to use

Regarding the application rate, the recommended dose is 1 tablespoon per gallon of water for outdoor plants.

For indoor plants, the recommended rate is 1/2 tablespoon per gallon of water every other week.

Jack's Classic 20-20-20 Fertilizer

This takes us straight to the next product.

Southern Ag PowerPak:

At this price point, this water-soluble fertilizer is one of the best.

The truth is that I was skeptical while ordering this.

To my surprise, this product turned out to be great. My weak plants are green and healthy.

Southern Ag 20-20-20 Fertilizer

The best thing is that it has a whole bunch of micronutrients. The only thing I can say is that:

This product is excellent. You should try this out.

How To Apply 20-20-20 Fertilizer:

When it comes to fertilizer, you have two options:

Liquid or granular.

Let’s take a look at each of them in detail.


The application process of a liquid fertilizer is straightforward.

Find out how many tablespoons (from the back of the product) to dissolve per gallon of water.

Then, mix it accordingly and apply it near the plant’s root zone using water can.

The best part?

As liquid fertilizers are water soluble, their nutrients are instantaneously available for the plant to uptake.



Most granular fertilizers are designed to release nutrients gradually and steadily over an extended period (that’s why they are called slow-release).

Apply the fertilizer in a circular pattern around the plant’s root zone. Then, water it in so that the fertilizer starts working.

The amount of fertilizer that needs to be applied should be checked from the package.

The best part?

As the nutrients are released slowly, the chance of nitrogen burn is low.

This takes us straight to our next point!

FAQ’S About 20-20-20 Fertilizer:

Now, let me address some common questions about 20-20-20 fertilizer.

Is 20-20-20 fertilizer good for lawns?

20-20-20 is an all-purpose fertilizer and works great on any lawn.

The balanced nutrients make this fertilizer a great choice.

But before any fertilization, a soil test is a great way to determine your lawn condition (and to get personalized recommendations).

But without a soil test, a balanced fertilizer is what you will need.

Here’s something that you need to know.

The 20-20-20 is a stronger blend, and your lawn may not need many nutrients. In that case, you can switch to something like 5-5-5 to 10-10-10.

In short, the 20-20-20 is NOT always the best choice.

Apply this fertilizer to your lawn according to the manufacturer’s instructions.

What are the benefits of 20-20-20 fertilizer?

The 20-20-20 is an all-purpose balanced fertilizer.

This fertilizer is excellent for indoor and outdoor plants due to its NPK ratio.

The high nitrogen is what gives the plants greener leaves. Phosphorus boosts root development, and potassium improves the plant’s overall health.

That’s why this fertilizer performs well in different conditions.

What is the difference between 10-10-10 and 20-20-20 fertilizer?

The main difference between the 20-20-20 and 10-10-10 is the percentage of nutrients in it.

20-20-20 is a stronger blend that has a higher percentage of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium.

When it comes to micronutrients and other additional contents, it depends on the specific fertilizer.

Final Verdict:

Many people are unsure whether or not to utilize the 20-20-20 fertilizer due to its potency.

But after testing multiple 20-20-20 fertilizers, I can say that this product produces impressive results for some plants.

So, what is 20-20-20 fertilizer good for?

Many plants love this NPK ratio.

Heavy-feeding plants, hydrangeas, and container plants love this fertilizer as it generates better blooms and greener leaves.

If you have more questions, feel free to get in touch. Stay tuned for more.

Happy Gardening!

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What is 20-20-20 Fertilizer Good For? Complete Guide (With Best Products)

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