Succulents have become increasingly popular as houseplants, and they make a great low-maintenance option for beginners. Choosing the right succulent food, however, is essential to help your succulents thrive.
With so many types of houseplant fertilizers available, it can be difficult for shoppers to narrow down the options. To help make the search easier, the following recommendations were selected for their quality formulas, versatility, and value. Keep reading to learn about some of the key features to consider when shopping for the best succulent fertilizer, and then explore some of the top picks organized by each product’s winning features.
- BEST OVERALL: Jobe’s Organics 09524 All Purpose Fertilizer
- BEST BANG FOR THE BUCK: Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food
- BEST LIQUID: Espoma Company INPF8 Organic Indoor Plant Food
- BEST GRANULAR: Dr. Earth Organic Premium Gold All Purpose Fertilizer
- BEST SLOW RELEASE: Jobe’s 06703 Succulent Fertilizer Spikes
- BEST WORM CASTINGS: Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Succulents
While it’s easy to assume that all plant fertilizers offer similar performance, a number of factors affect their functionality. Keep reading to learn about several of the most important features to consider when choosing the best fertilizer for succulents.
Types of Fertilizer for Succulents
Houseplant fertilizers are available in liquid, granular, and slow-release formulas. It’s also possible to purchase worm castings as a nutritional supplement. Each kind has both advantages and disadvantages.
- Liquid fertilizers can be sold in spray bottles or in concentrated formulas that have to be diluted with water before use. Concentrated formulas require a little more work but tend to be more economical. Liquid fertilizers instantly release nutrients but have to be applied more frequently, about every week or two.
- Granular fertilizers are affordable and easy to use, simply requiring the user to mix them into the soil. They should be reapplied every 4 to 6 weeks.
- Slow-release fertilizers come in pellets, balls, spikes, or capsules and feature a special coating that allows them to release nutrients into the soil gradually. They can last as long as 9 months. Slow-release formulas are convenient but provide the user with less control and carry a risk of overfertilization.
- Worm castings act as a natural fertilizer that contains key nutrients like carbon, calcium, nitrogen, and magnesium. They also act as a pH amendment, helping the soil to absorb nutrients more readily.
The best food for succulents will feature a mix of macronutrients and micronutrients. The primary macronutrients found in plant fertilizers are nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K). The balance of these nutrients is represented by an NPK ratio, which should be clearly advertised on the packaging.
Every plant has different nutritional needs, so there is no one NPK ratio that is perfect for all succulents. It’s best to research the specific nutritional needs of the plant you’re dealing with before choosing a fertilizer. As an all-purpose solution, however, an NPK ratio of 1-1-1 is a great option because it contains an equal amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. Fertilizers with a higher concentration of phosphorus featuring an NPK ratio of 1-2-1 are also a good option.
Organic vs. Inorganic
When it comes to the ingredients they contain, houseplant fertilizers fall into two primary categories: organic and inorganic.
- Organic fertilizers are made exclusively with natural ingredients. Household scraps like coffee grounds and eggshells can also act as organic fertilizers. Organic fertilizers generally tend to release nutrients over time and might not produce instant results. One downside of organic fertilizers is that they may have an unpleasant smell. Since the term “organic” isn’t well regulated when it comes to plant fertilizers, look for a product that has been certified by a reputable board such as the Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI).
- Inorganic fertilizers may contain some natural ingredients but also contain synthetic compounds that work quickly when applied to plant soil. These synthetic ingredients allow for higher concentrations of both macronutrients and micronutrients. One major advantage of inorganic fertilizers is that they are generally odorless.
Those caring for houseplants as well as pets should be mindful of the type of fertilizer they choose. Plant fertilizers are made with either organic or inorganic ingredients, and some of the ingredients found in plant fertilizers can cause adverse effects; fertilizers containing synthetic ingredients may be harmful to pets if consumed. Organic fertilizers, on the other hand, are generally considered to be safe.
The downside of organic fertilizers, however, is that the ingredients they contain—like manure, blood meal, bone meal, and fish emulsion—may have a smell that’s appealing to pets. Luckily, if these types of fertilizers are ingested, they carry a minimal risk of causing any harm.
Our Top Picks
After learning about houseplant fertilizers, it’s time to choose the best succulent food for your indoor home garden. This list features the best indoor plant fertilizers and covers a range of specific houseplant needs.
Jobe’s Organics all-purpose fertilizer is free of synthetic ingredients and is completely biodegradable. It has a balanced NPK ratio of 4-4-4, which is ideal for succulents as well as many other types of houseplants. In fact, it’s even versatile enough to use on outdoor plants and flowers.
Jobe’s Organics fertilizers contain a proprietary microorganism called archaea, which breaks down the materials quickly once they’ve been mixed into the plant’s soil. Despite being a fast-acting fertilizer, it only needs to be reapplied every 4 to 8 weeks. The large 16-pound bag is resealable, and it offers a good value for those with many houseplants.
- Type: Granular
- Quantity: 16 pounds
- NPK ratio: 4-4-4
- Well-balanced 4-4-4 formula
- OMRI listed
- Resealable bag
- Various sizes available
- May be difficult to apply precisely
Get Jobe’s Organics 09524 All Purpose Fertilizer on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
This affordable synthetic liquid fertilizer from Miracle-Gro is specially formulated to help succulents thrive. Each bottle contains 8 ounces of fluid for a total of 16 ounces. While you can apply this plant food directly to the soil, you also can dilute it with water for plants with lower nutritional needs. The fact that it can be diluted also benefits users who are concerned about overfertilizing.
Use two pumps of fertilizer for small potted plants and five pumps for plants in containers with a 6-inch diameter or larger. One downside of this type of fertilizer is that it must be reapplied frequently. The manufacturer recommends fertilizing plants once every 2 weeks.
- Type: Liquid
- Quantity: 16 ounces
- NPK ratio: 0.5-1-1
- Excellent value
- Can be easily diluted
- Well-balanced formula
- Needs to be applied frequently
Get the Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Espoma’s organic indoor plant food has an NPK ratio of 2-2-2, which means that it features a balanced mixture of macronutrients to benefit a wide variety of houseplants. It’s made with natural ingredients and therefore is a great choice for organic gardening. Since the macronutrient percentages are relatively low, this product is an excellent pick for beginners who tend to overfertilize plants.
To use this Espoma product, mix 2 teaspoons of the liquid fertilizer with 1 quart of water, then thoroughly saturate the plant’s soil. According to the manufacturer, it should be applied every 2 to 4 weeks.
- Type: Liquid
- Quantity: 8 ounces
- NPK ratio: 2-2-2
- Well-balanced 2-2-2 formula
- Suitable for all houseplants
- Affordable price
Get Espoma Company INPF8 Organic Indoor Plant Food on Amazon or at Walmart.
Dr. Earth’s Premium Gold formula is a versatile fertilizer that’s certified organic and can be used on succulents as well as houseplants, flowering plants, vegetables, herbs, and even trees and shrubs. Mix a small amount of granules into the soil before planting to start your succulents off with a nutrient-rich environment. To use for established plants, sprinkle 2 tablespoons of fertilizer for every 6 inches of pot diameter.
This granular formula releases nutrients immediately but also works gradually, continuing to feed succulents for 2 months. According to the manufacturer, this 1-pound bag should feed 20 1-gallon plants for up to 2 months.
- Type: Granular
- Quantity: 1 pound
- NPK ratio: 4-4-4
- Well-balanced 4-4-4 formula
- Certified organic
- Safe to use around pets
- Multiple sizes available
- Difficult to apply precisely
Get Dr. Earth Organic Premium Gold All Purpose Fertilizer on Amazon or at Ace Hardware.
Slow-release formulas provide convenience for home gardeners who want to keep succulent care simple and fertilize their plants once per season only. This product from Jobe’s Organics comes in a spike form and is made from certified organic ingredients that are completely pet-friendly. The manufacturer recommends one spike for plants in pots with 4-inch diameters or smaller and two spikes for containers of up to 8 inches in diameter.
The fertilizer’s NPK ratio is 2-8-8, so it’s not ideal for plants that need a high quantity of nitrogen. As with all slow-release formulas, it’s important to be aware of your plant’s nutritional needs before use to prevent overfertilization.
- Type: Granular
- Quantity: 12 spikes
- NPK ratio: 2-8-8
- Allows for infrequent fertilization
- OMRI listed
- Carries risk of overfertilization
- Formula lacks nitrogen
Get Jobe’s 06703 Succulent Fertilizer Spikes on Amazon or at The Home Depot.
Worm castings are a natural supplement that add carbon, calcium, nitrogen, and magnesium to soil. This 4.5-pound bag contains a formula that’s odor-free and useful for a wide variety of plants, including succulents. Along with providing key nutrients, worm castings enrich soil with beneficial bacteria and microbes. They also improve the soil’s structure by providing added aeration so water can drain more easily—a bonus when caring for succulents.
Worm castings should act as a supplement to other fertilizers because they only contain nitrogen and lack phosphorus and potassium, meaning they won’t meet most succulents’ nutritional needs. They are universally applicable, however, and can provide additional nutrients to houseplants as well as vegetables, herbs, flowers, trees, and shrubs.
- Type: Worm castings
- Quantity: 4.5 pounds
- NPK ratio: 1-0-0
- Affordable price
- Versatile formula
- Odor-free product
- Must be combined with other fertilizers
Get the Worm Castings Organic Fertilizer on Amazon.
After reviewing this guide, you now know more about shopping for fertilizer for your succulents. We recommend the Jobe’s Organics 09524 All Purpose Fertilizer for its versatility, well-balanced NPK ratio, and relatively affordable price. Those on a budget may appreciate the Miracle-Gro Succulent Plant Food, which is sold in a two-pack and offers similar performance at a lower price point.
How We Chose the Best Fertilizer for Succulents
Years of experience covering home and garden products as well as extensive product research went into creating this guide. We explored more than 25 fertilizer options and weighed a number of practical considerations before making our recommendations.
- Nutrient mix: We prioritized products featuring a mix of key macronutrients and micronutrients. We primarily featured fertilizers with a balanced NPK ratio that are suitable to the widest variety of succulent types.
- Type: Since plant fertilizers come in a variety of formats, we aimed to feature an array of options with varying application methods.
- Value: Fertilizers vary widely in quantity and concentration, so we considered overall value for the cost when choosing our top picks.
Tips on How to Fertilize Succulents
The following tips help ensure that your succulents will thrive without risking overfertilization.
- Every fertilizer has specific application instructions; be sure to follow the directions listed on the label.
- Research the nutritional needs of your specific plant, and choose a fertilizer with an appropriate NPK ratio.
- Look for signs of overfertilization; drooping and burned leaves may indicate that the plant is being overfertilized.
- Avoid fertilizing succulents during their dormant season, which typically takes place between fall and spring.
- If you have pets, opt for a natural fertilizer, which won’t cause any adverse effects if ingested.
While you now know more about choosing the best succulent fertilizer, you might still be looking for more information about how to use it. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked questions about fertilizing succulents.
Q. Can you use regular fertilizer on succulents?
Yes—many standard houseplant fertilizers will also meet a succulent’s nutritional needs.
Q. What is a good natural fertilizer for succulents?
Our top pick, the Jobe’s Organics 09524 All Purpose Fertilizer, is a great choice for a natural fertilizer with OMRI certification.
Q. When should I fertilize succulents?
Many types of succulents have a dormant season that lasts from fall to spring. During this time, it’s not necessary to feed them with fertilizer.
Q. How often should I fertilize succulents?
Generally speaking, succulents can be fertilized three times per year during their growing season.
Q. Are coffee grounds good for succulents?
Since dried coffee grounds add nitrogen to the soil, they can act as a great natural plant food for succulents.
Q. Are eggshells good for succulents?
Eggshells provide succulents with calcium carbonate, making them a great choice as a supplement.
Q. Is Epsom salt good for succulents?
Epsom salt contains magnesium and sulfur, both of which benefit succulents. This makes them a good addition to other succulent plant food.