Growing succulents is an excellent low responsibility task that requires one to occasionally water the plants, and that’s why many people buy succulents. However, using the wrong fertilizer or no fertilizer can drastically decrease the succulent’s visual appeal and longevity. That’s why it’s important to use the right, preferably organic, fertilizer for their succulents.
The best organic fertilizers for succulents include Jobe’s Organics for Bountiful Succulents, EarthPods Succulent Formula, and GrowBetter Organic Cactus and Succulent Fertilizer. These fertilizers nourish succulents, improve the plants’ size, and add to promote color vibrance.
That said, to make the right choice between the best picks, you must learn more about each product. This article goes over each fertilizer and covers its features, application, and comparative performance. Furthermore, it goes over the dos and don’ts of fertilizing succulents and what you should look for when buying succulent fertilizer for the first time.
What to Look for When Buying Succulent Fertilizer for the First Time
Succulents do not require fertilizer as often as regular houseplants. Of course, for the right color, growth, and health, they still need fertilizers with some consistency. But because of the low dosage requirements, chances are that the first fertilizer you buy is the only package you need, and almost every package will last you over a year. That means you must be cautious when making your purchase.
While diluted fertilizers require frequent application, it also increases the chances of human error. If you apply a fertilizer every two weeks, that means you also run the risk of applying the wrong amount every two weeks. On the other hand, if a fertilizer requires a once-a-year application, there is no way to make a mistake.
Reviews Over Four Stars on Amazon
Note that using the wrong fertilizer often kills succulents. Therefore, corrosive fertilizers will anger enough customers to leave behind negative reviews. Of course, the chances are that someone made an application mistake and misused their fertilizer, making the succulent suffer.
However, you want to avoid the same mistake. So regardless of why someone is leaving an angry review, you should consider it. If the fertilizer is corrosive, the overall rating will go well below three stars. If the product’s ease of use rating is lower than three, avoid buying it despite the overall rating because you do not want a complicated application that has higher chances of error.
Low N-P-K Fertilizers
N-P-K refers to the nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium ratio of the fertilizer. This is explained later in the article, but you want this to below. The nitrogen content must be lower than three, or you will burn your succulent, so make sure the N-P-K of your fertilizer starts with two or less.
When growing succulents, achieving size, color, and promoting a robust structure throughout the foliage and flowers can be quite a challenge. One of the main reasons for this is the lack of organic nutrients in the plants’ system. However, getting the right soil and replacing it every few weeks would make succulent-maintenance a taxing chore.
Easy to Use
EarthPods makes replacing nutrients in your succulents’ soil a breeze. As the pods are essentially capsules that you can insert into the soil, you do not need to mix. With mixing, there is a possibility of error in measurements, which can be brutal to your succulents.
The formula can help promote growth in succulents of all varieties, making it a great purchase if you have an assortment of succulents. You can use the same product for your indoor as well as your outdoor succulents.
For each of your plants, it will promote root growth, which is crucial for the succulents’ longevity. Shallower roots can lead to your succulents absorbing too much water even with a light soaking of the topsoil. As mentioned earlier, overwatering can kill the plant.
Helps Stem Development and Color Vibrancy
Aside from promoting root growth, the fertilizer also helps with stem development. Stem strength is essential to a succulent’s visual appeal. With enough strength, a succulent can stand tall. Even hanging succulents need stem strength to keep the buds from falling off.
Unless you use succulents exclusively for ground cover, you should focus on strengthening your plant’s stem using formulae like the EarthPods plant food. You should also consider the color vibrancy of your succulents.
EarthPods make sure your plants get enough nutrients to keep their color. Many succulents may survive with little nutrition but lose the vibrance, which was the reason they were planted in the first place.
EarthPods are made with a proprietary formula, which means that to get the same results as are praised by customers worldwide, you need to buy the same formula produced only by EarthPods. While the formula is exclusive to the brand, it is organic, making it more appealing as food for your plants.
Positive Reviews on Amazon
It has over 500 reviews on Amazon, which is a lot for an organic product since the market for organic fertilizers is not that big. The reviews collectively rank the product at 4.6 stars out of 5, and the feature rated highest is its thickness. That makes sense because the formula is dense, and each capsule is meant to last at least two weeks. One tube contains enough fertilizer to last six years for a single plant.
However, chances are you have multiple succulents, so the time it will take for you to run out of pods will be less than six years.
Ease of Use, Scent, and Packaging
For its ease of use, the product was given a 4.8-star rating. That is because the process of using it as well as tracking the application is as straightforward as possible. The scent rating for EarthPods is 4.7 stars out of 5. Unlike smelly fertilizers, this product is virtually neutral in scent. The packaging is rated at 4.6 stars because it is easy to store and is eco-friendly.
Value for Money
You can recycle and reuse the tube once you run out of the fertilizer pods, and the product’s lowest rating goes to its value for money proposition with 4.4 stars. That is still a high rating, and considering that a pack can last six years for a single succulent, it’s a bargain.
Safe for Kids, Pets, and the Environment
Last but not least, EarthPods are not just eco-friendly but are child and pet-friendly as well. Kids or pets can get sick or even burned upon coming in contact with chemical fertilizers. But EarthPods are safer because there are no corrosive chemicals in the formula.
Furthermore, it is easier to store the package because you don’t have to worry about spills. You can even store them in a kitchen cabinet because they are odorless and won’t affect your food ingredients.
How to Use
While EarthPods are easy to use, the directions are important because you do not want to over-fertilize your succulents.
- Measure the quantity required by plant size. Small plants require 1 to 2 pods, medium-sized succulents require 2 to 4 EarthPods, and finally, large plants can use 4 to 8 earth pods. Understand where your plant stands and only take as many capsules as are required. Err on the side of under-fertilizing than overfertilizing.
- Insert the capsule deep into the spoil till it almost touches the under-soil stem of the succulent.
- Repeat the steps above every two to three weeks. As long as you do not take less than 14 days to re-fertilize, the plant will not get over-fertilized.
- Store in a cool, dry environment. As the capsules dissolve with moisture and water, storing in a humid area like a bathroom cabinet may not be a great idea.
While all succulents are not cacti, all cacti are succulents, and often, cacti fertilizers are stronger and can burn other succulents because of their concentration. However, GrowBetter’s organic fertilizer is suitable for all succulents, including cacti. In fact, the formula is safe even for the edible varieties of succulents.
This means for you that the fertilizer helps your plant not just achieve aesthetic health by improving the succulent’s color and structure, it helps with the plant’s internal health as it is listed for use with edible succulents as well.
So if you want your succulents to absorb natural, organic ingredients and have great stem health, petal color, and internal resilience, you should opt for GrowBetter’s organic fertilizer because it is effective without being toxic.
Aside from being non-toxic and low in an adverse impact, the fertilizer is also of slow-release variety. This means you can apply it once and let the product release over time. So if you are busy, you can apply it once every eight weeks and have the fertilizer slow-releasing across the period.
When it comes to application, the fertilizer is compatible with native and potting soil. So whether your succulent is growing in a naturally positive soil or you have bought soil for succulents (like Hoffman Organic and Succulent Soil Mix), you can use GrowBetter fertilizer and help your plants grow thick and strong. Fertilizer is often mixed with potting soil at the replanting stage.
You can mix the versatile GrowBetter fertilizer with new potting soil, but it is more convenient to apply it to the topsoil.
Organic Materials Review Institute-Approved
People who purchase organic products are often reluctant to embrace a new brand, especially if the product is sold online. That is because certain resellers may advertise a product as organic without the product being so. Organic Materials Review Institute (OMRI) lists products that are truly organic, and the GrowBetter organic fertilizer is listed by the OMRI.
Therefore, it is impressive for the product to be organic and have an NPK ratio of 2-3-2. The NPK ratio refers to nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium content, respectively. These elements’ ratio dictates whether a fertilizer will improve the plant’s health or destroy the plant. Fertilizer and soil with high NPK content can kill a succulent.
With a low NPK, the GrowBetter fertilizer does not contain enough nitrogen or potassium to impact the plant adversely.
Mostly Positive Reviews on Amazon
The product has been reviewed and rated on Amazon over 160 times, and its global average rating stands at 4.5 stars out of 5. Usually, to have a rating higher than four on Amazon is a sign of quality. Keep in mind that the wrong fertilizer can kill a succulent and therefore garner anger and a harsh rating.
Customers who miscalculate and apply the fertilizer in the wrong quantities can also end up with a damaged plant. These customers are still likely to leave a bad review. However, if the product’s performance is at fault, enough people leave negative reviews to make the overall rating go below three stars.
Ease of Use, Value for Money, and Packaging
In GrowBetter’s excellent 4.5 star rating, ease of use has been rated at 4.6. This means that even if you are a beginner with succulent gardening, you will not have much difficulty applying this fertilizer to your plants’ soil. It is rated at 4.4 stars out of 4 for its value for money proposition.
That is very good for an organic product since they usually cost more. Finally, the product’s packaging is rated at 4.7 stars out of 5, and that is significant because most succulent fertilizers last a long time and require storing for extended periods.
How to Use
- Measure the diameter (width) of the pot or area you are about to apply the fertilizer too. It is crucial that you cover this area adequately as the wrong measurement will lead you to over-fertilizing the succulent.
- For every two inches (5.1 cm) of container diameter, take one teaspoon of GrowBetter organic fertilizer. If the pot is six inches (15.2 cm) wide, you will need three teaspoons. Don’t overheat the teaspoon, as it is always better to err on the side of under-fertilizing.
- Lightly sprinkle the fertilizer on the topsoil and mix it well. It is essential to mix the fertilizer evenly so that you don’t get asymmetrical results.
- Repeat the above steps every two months to keep the plants well-fertilized.
This fertilizer is among the easiest to apply and the most reviewed in its category. Because organic products are a niche compared to larger fertilizers, Jobe’s organic fertilizer has gathered over three thousand reviews, so let’s take a more in-depth look at what makes this product special.
Firstly, it comes with a money-back guarantee. Since fertilizers are a delicate matter with succulents, and it is easy to misuse a fertilizer and kill succulents, the guarantee is even more impressive. If you are not satisfied with the product’s performance across six months, you can get a refund for your purchased price as long as you have the dated receipt of the original purchase.
Of course, you can’t use this guarantee if buying from a reseller, so make sure you are buying from the brand’s official Amazon page.
Apply Once a Year
One reason why the product comes guaranteed is that it does not require repeated use. If you are applying fertilizer every two weeks, you risk mismeasuring and overfertilizing every two weeks. With Jobe’s fertilizer, you apply the spike once and let the fertilizer slow-release for a whole year.
It is also worth mentioning that, unlike cacti fertilizers, this one is formulated for all succulents, including cacti. That means you have a lower NPK ratio, which reduces the risk of burning the succulents.
Moreover, it is certified by OMRI. Many manufacturers take liberties with the term organic, as almost everything is technically created by using naturally occurring elements. The OMRI reviews and lists products that are genuinely organic, not just technically organic. Aside from the approval of OMRI and the guarantee provided by the manufacturer, another reason to buy this fertilizer is its root-feeding nature.
Stimulates Root Growth
Fertilizers that feed at the stem or contain chemicals more readily absorbed at the shallow levels have the drawback of not affecting the root health. Jobe’s organic fertilizer stimulates root growth by impacting the depths of the plant. More importantly, it helps with root burnout and similar problems that often occur with succulent gardening.
Positive Overall Rating on Amazon
Now coming back to the product’s Amazon rating, with over 3000 Amazon reviews, it holds a global average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. Having a positive overall average is quite impressive, with a sample of over 3000 reviews and ratings.
With succulent fertilizers, you have to be cautious of products that can burn your plants. When fertilizers ruin someone’s succulents, they are more likely to leave an extremely negative review, and over time, the overall rating of bad fertilizers goes below 3. With 4.5 stars, this fertilizer passes the quality and succulent-safety test.
Features and Packaging
In specific features, the fertilizer is rated at 4.6 stars out of 5. This makes sense because all one requires to apply this is sticking a spike in the topsoil. Yes, despite acting at the root level, the spike must be applied in the topsoil (more about this below). The fertilizer has a rating of 4.4 stars for its packaging.
Typically, it comes in a pack of 12 spikes, so the rating is relevant because the packaging may need to last for 12 years as individual spikes can feed a succulent for one year.
Lower than 4.4 stars is the fertilizer’s thickness rating. It is rated at 4.3 stars, which is only relevant in mobility and practicality and not in plants’ growth effectiveness. In other words, it does not matter how thick or thin a spike is to a plant if the fertilizer is effective in helping the plant grow. Also, with Jobe’s guarantee, it is evident that the product works.
Warmth and Value for Money
It is also rated 4.3 stars out of 5 for warmth, which again is not concerning if the overall effectiveness is rated at five stars. Finally, the product is given 4.2 stars, its lowest feature-rating, out of 5 stars for its value on the dollar. Considering that the spike can last a year, the upfront price is steeper than the average.
How to Use
- The product comes premeasured. Take a single spike.
- Plant the spike firmly into the soil near the flower.
- In the instance that you don’t see results in one month, add another spike.
- You can redo the above steps after one year.
Common Succulent Fertilizing Mistakes
Now that we have established the best organic fertilizers for your succulents let us go over the common mistakes people make when fertilizing their succulents.
Erring on the Side of More
When fertilizing the succulent, you have to consider the best- and worst-case scenarios. The worst-case scenario with under-fertilizing is that your plant may slowly become unhealthy and lose color. But the problem with over-fertilizing is that your plant will start to burn and might die right away. With that in mind, it is always better to take a little less fertilizer than is prescribed.
Not Using a Fertilizer
Another common mistake when it comes to fertilizing is not using fertilizer at all. This, combined with not changing the soil, results in the succulents losing color and structure. In some instances, the stem becomes too weak to keep the succulent erect, and since the main reason most succulents are planted is their visual appeal, it makes this mistake one of the costliest.
Using Regular Fertilizer
If you were searching for succulent fertilizers, you are not likely in this category. However, it is worth highlighting that regular plant fertilizer has up to eight times more nitrogen content than succulent fertilizer. Therefore, using the wrong fertilizer can almost instantly fry your plant.
Using a Cacti-Only Fertilizer
There is a lot of confusion between cacti and succulents, and some people use the terms interchangeably, but that is wrong because cacti are a part of the succulent category. In other words, all cacti are succulents. However, there are succulents that are not cacti.
Because non-cacti succulents have slightly different nutrient requirements, using fertilizers that don’t explicitly mention all succulents can still harm your plant despite being cactus-friendly. Therefore, only purchase succulent fertilizers that are listed as such on the package.
Buying Fake Fertilizer
With online shopping, one of the problems is the prevalence of scams. If you buy a fertilizer marketed as a ‘succulent’ fertilizer in its Amazon title, you may be tempted to look at reviews. If the product has over a thousand reviews, you may consider it reliable and buy.
But someone can sell a regular fertilizer till it has a thousand reviews, then rename the product to succulent fertilizer. Therefore, to make sure a product is succulent-friendly, look for the name on the package.
If succulents are mentioned on the package, then the product is genuine. If not, void purchasing the product. The same applies to products marketed as organic. Look for the organic label on the package, and even better, only buy OMRI-listed products.
Applying Fertilizer at Depth
Most fertilizers meant for succulents are supposed to be applied at the top layer, just like most succulents must be watered at the shallower levels. This allows fertilizer to slow-release and reaches the roots in an appropriate quantity. Applying the fertilizer too deep can give the roots early access to the nutrients and drenching them.
This can lead to the plant dying of overnutrition. If you apply the fertilizer too shallow, the nutrients will reach the plant too late, and it will take more time to improve its color and growth. But if you apply it too deeply, you will burn the plant. Therefore, as a rule of thumb, you should err on the side of applying the fertilizer on the shallower layer than the deeper.
Best Practices for Buying Organic Fertilizers for Succulents
To get the best results, and reduce the risk of over-handling your succulents, adopt the following best practices for choosing an organic fertilizer:
- If you have a mixed bed of succulents, look up the NPK ratios that each plant tolerates and buy the fertilizer that matches your most sensitive succulent.
- Buy fertilizers that go well with succulent soil-mix. Succulent soil comes with many nutrients, and a fertilizer that goes with nutrient-rich soil is likely to be low impact.
- When you find a fertilizer you wish to buy, search the reviews for any mentions of succulents you have. If you have an Aloe, opening the reviews page, press Ctrl+F and type “Aloe” to find all instances of the word’s mention. See if most results with your specific succulent are positive or negative.
- Adopt the smallest dose with the lowest frequency. Remember that succulents die from overhandling and become less aesthetic from under-nourishing.
Succulents can survive with little care as long as you water them the right way. But without the right fertilizer, you have little control over the quality of color, health of the plant, and its growth rate. Therefore, you should invest in the right fertilizer to aid you. And as long as you opt for a low-frequency organic succulent fertilizer, you can improve your plants’ health with minimal risk.