Organic fertilizers are gaining popularity as more and more gardeners turn to organics to support their plants. There are several different organic fertilizers that one could use for their gardens. However, this can make it confusing for those who are new to organics.

It can be difficult for people used to following precise instructions to adjust to the seemingly random “shoveling it on” methods of the veteran organic gardener.

Our list of the 10 best common organic fertilizers will help give you an idea of your options regarding which fertilizer is best suited for your needs. Whether you’re looking for a good all-purpose fertilizer or something specifically targeting a certain aspect of plant health, an option should be available that fits your requirements.

Our list contains some of today’s most popular and useful options, from fish emulsions and alfalfa meal to worm castings and soft rock phosphate.

Here are 10 Common and Best Organic Fertilizers for Gardening

1. Alfalfa Meal

Alfalfa meal is a plant-based fertilizer made from ground-up alfalfa and is best known as hay for animals. It contains 2.5% N, 1% P, and 1.5% K, which provides slow to moderate sources of nutrition for plants. Alfalfa meal is ideal for tilling in early spring and before planting as it helps to compost the soil faster due to its fine texture.

As an added benefit, alfalfa meal will also help bind the soil together and improve water retention. When looking to purchase an alfalfa meal, many sources are available online with various pricing options to suit any budget you may have.

Because of its slow to moderate nutrient release system, alfalfa meal can be beneficial for providing long-term sources of nourishment for your garden’s growth. Alfalfa meal can be used both dry or wet to ensure your plants get the proper amount of food and water to thrive optimally.

Adding alfalfa meal once a season could provide excellent results that are seen over time in your garden’s overall health, lush foliage, and better yield of fruits or vegetables once harvested.

2. Fish Emulsion

Fish emulsion is a great nitrogen-dense fertilizer that can give leafy houseplants an extra energy boost. This emulsion is approximately 9% nitrogen and contains no phosphorous or potassium. It is particularly useful for houseplants requiring nitrogen-rich soil, such as high-light and tropical plants.

The low phosphorus and potassium levels in this nutrient mix help avoid overfertilizing, which can cause burn spots on the leaves or lack of growth due to too much concentration of minerals.

Fish emulsion has a slightly acidic pH level, so some plants may not tolerate it as well as others. If using this product, it’s important to use it sparingly and observe the response of the plants to any adverse reactions.

Thankfully, fish emulsion fertilizer is easy to find in most nurseries and hydro stores, where prices can vary significantly from vendor to vendor. Before applying the product to your plants, make sure to do your research and compare prices between different vendors, so you get the most bang for your buck.

4. Bone Meal

Bone meal is popular organic fertilizer gardeners use to provide phosphorus and protein-based nutrients to their plants. It is made from boiling animal bones, which are then ground up into a fine powder.

Bone meal has been used as an organic fertilizer for hundreds of years and provides essential nutrients like calcium, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and nitrogen to the soil. It also helps to increase the soil’s acidity, promoting better root growth and increased flower/fruit production.

When applying bone meal to your plants, it’s important to remember that it can take several months for these nutrients to be released into the soil. As a result, you should apply this product in early spring before planting or during the fall when preparing your garden for the winter months. Bone meal is available in most home and garden stores and online.

5. Guano

Guano is an organic fertilizer used for centuries to enrich the soil and promote healthy plant growth. Derived from bird droppings, guano is a natural source of essential nutrients like nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. It can help gardeners create lush gardens with abundant blooms and delicious fruits and vegetables when used properly.

Guano, also known as Bat Manure, has been utilized as a soil amendment for centuries. This fertilizer is abundant in nutrients and is derived from bats that consume insects and fruits. It can be used to directly feed your plants or amend your soil.

If you’re looking for organic fertilizers, make sure to check the packaging to verify that the product you’re purchasing is certified for organic gardening. You can find these fertilizers at your local garden center or online.

6. Compost

It is made up of decomposed plant and animal materials that help nourish and enhance soil quality. The natural elements in compost act as a slow-release fertilizer, providing essential nutrients to plants over a period of time without overwhelming them with too much at once.

Compost also helps improve soil structure and water retention, making it an ideal choice for gardeners looking to create a healthy landscape.

Compost can be made from a variety of materials, including vegetable scraps, grass clippings, leaves, manure, and shredded newspaper. The key is to make sure the compost is well-balanced with plenty of carbon-rich materials like leaves and straw for bulk and nitrogen-rich materials like manure and grass clippings for nutrients. Compost is available in most garden centers or online.

7. Seaweed

Seaweed is one of the most nutrient-dense organic fertilizers available, packed with essential micronutrients and minerals that help promote healthy growth in plants.

It is a natural source of nitrogen, potassium, phosphorus, and magnesium, as well as trace elements like zinc, iron, and manganese. Seaweed can also help improve soil quality and structure, making it an ideal choice for gardeners looking to add nutrients to their soil.

Seaweed can be found washed up on shorelines or purchased in liquid or pellet form from gardening stores. When applying seaweed fertilizer to your plants, make sure to dilute it with water before application since it is very concentrated.

You can apply the diluted solution directly to the soil or use a watering can to disperse it over the soil surface. Seaweed is an excellent choice for organic gardening, providing essential nutrients and minerals to your plants.

8. Cotton Seed Meal

Cotton seed meal is a cost-effective and beneficial plant fertilizer that is commonly used in areas where cotton is grown. It contains 6% nitrogen, 3% phosphorous, and 1% potassium to promote robust growth of all kinds of plants.

When added to the soil before planting cover crops or mulching it, it brings a rich nitrogenated atmosphere for the fertile spring season, optimizing the growing conditions for your garden.

When looking for a cotton seed meal, one can often find it sold at local plant nurseries, garden centers, or stores specializing in fertilizers. Prices tend to vary depending on where you are purchasing from, but more often than not, they are quite reasonable and bear a good value against other types of fertilizers.

Cotton seed meal is an invaluable tool for achieving a high-yield garden during the springtime and should be considered for any home gardener wanting to feed their plants with nourishing nutrients right at the start of the growing season.

9. Greensand

Greensand is a shallow marine sediment that has been ground up into fine sand. It contains moderate amounts of the essential nutrients nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, which make it an ideal additive to any garden soil or compost pile.

Greensand is particularly effective at improving soil structure, aeration, and drainage when incorporated into the soil, making it a valuable organic material for any gardener.

Greensand has long been used in both organic and traditional farming practices as a slow-release fertilizer that provides beneficial minerals such as iron, magnesium, and calcium to plant roots over time. It can also be applied directly onto foliage with foliar sprays to provide extra nutrition for plants with high nutrient requirements.

In addition to aiding in normal growth and development, greensand can help protect plants from disease by increasing their resistance to extreme temperature fluctuations and creating better water retention for gardens in areas that lack adequate rainfall.

10. Soybean Meal

Soybean meal is a great addition to soil maintenance, providing both short-term and long-term benefits. It contains 3% nitrogen, 0.5% phosphorous, and 2.5% potassium which all contribute to faster growth of root systems and more profuse blooms in plants.

This balanced chemical composition also acts as a slow-release fertilizer that energizes growing plants over time and encourages healthy growth. The soybean meal can also help increase soil’s water-holding capacity, making it ideal for locations with limited or inconsistent rainfall.

Another great benefit of using soybean meal is its availability and affordability. One can purchase this product from various suppliers at competitive prices without sacrificing quality, making it an accessible solution for improving soil conditions.

Many growers prefer to buy soybean meal because it’s an organic material that adds natural nutrients to the soil without any harsh chemicals or toxins that could be harmful to both the environment and human health.

When used correctly and with regular applications, the results are obvious within a matter of weeks, allowing you to enjoy beautiful gardens or bountiful crops with minimal effort.

Frequently Asked Questions [FAQs]

1. How Do I Apply Organic Fertilizer To My Garden?

Organic fertilizer can be applied to your garden in several ways, including top-dressing, side-dressing, and incorporating it into the soil.

Top-dressing involves spreading the fertilizer on top of the soil, while side-dressing involves placing the fertilizer beside the plant. Incorporating the fertilizer into the soil involves mixing it into the soil before planting.

2. How Often Should I Apply Organic Fertilizer To My Garden?

The frequency of applying organic fertilizer depends on the type of fertilizer and the specific needs of your plants. Some fertilizers can be applied once a season, while others may need to be applied more frequently. Always refer to the instructions on the fertilizer package for guidance.

3. Can I Use Organic Fertilizer On All Types Of Plants?

Yes, organic fertilizer can be used on all types of plants, including vegetables, fruits, flowers, and trees. However, it is important to choose the right type of fertilizer for the specific needs of each plant.

4. Can Organic Fertilizer Be Harmful To Pets?

Organic fertilizers are generally considered safe for pets, but some fertilizers may attract pets to the area. It is best to keep pets away from the fertilized area until the fertilizer has been absorbed into the soil.

5. How Does Organic Fertilizer Compare To Synthetic Fertilizer?

Organic fertilizer is generally considered to be a safer and more sustainable option than synthetic fertilizer. Organic fertilizer provides slow-release nutrients to plants, which helps to improve soil health over time.

Synthetic fertilizers, on the other hand, can provide a quick burst of nutrients, but they can also leach into groundwater and cause pollution.


Organic fertilizers can be a great option for gardeners looking to support the health of their plants without using harsh chemicals or toxins. Organic fertilizers provide slow-release nutrients, improve soil health, and will not leach into groundwater like synthetic fertilizers. Different types of organic fertilizer are available and should be chosen based on the specific needs of each plant. With consistent application, these fertilizers can help you create beautiful, bountiful gardens.

About the Author

Virginia E. Hayes is a gardening enthusiast who loves to write about gardening tools, safety issues, and ways to keep gardens clean and safe. With her vast experience in gardening, she provides valuable insights and tips to help fellow gardening enthusiasts to enhance their gardening experience. Her passion for gardening and writing has made her a sought-after author in the gardening community.

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