15 Best Seed Starting Fertilizers: Homemade, Liquid, and Organic Nutrients for Seedlings Growth

Starting seeds is a rewarding endeavor for gardeners, but achieving lush, healthy seedlings requires great care. One critical element of seedling success is the use of appropriate fertilizers. Choosing the right fertilizer for seedlings can be tricky because many claim to be the best. What is the best liquid fertilizer for seed starts? What is the best organic fertilizer for new seedlings? And if you’re interested in DIY solutions, you might wonder how to make organic fertilizer at home or liquid fertilizer for seedlings.

Cucumber seedlings

We will dive into steps on how to make organic fertilizer and even how to make organic liquid fertilizer. With so many choices on the market, from Espoma Organic Seed Starter Mix to Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix, Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer, and Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula, there’s a solution for every gardener’s needs.

15 Best Seed Starting Fertilizers

Espoma Organic Seed Starter Mix

Priced at around $16 for an 8-quart bag, Espoma Organic Seed Starter Mix is an excellent option for gardeners interested in organic solutions. This mix is famous for its natural combination of moss and organic stuff, making it great for seeds to grow. It offers essential nutrients and aids in water retention, helping seedlings stay adequately moist.

One big benefit is that it has a special Myco-tone formula that helps roots grow better and means you don’t have to water as often. While it might not be the cheapest option on the market, its performance in boosting seedling health makes it worth the investment.

Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix

Another popular option for seed starting is the Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix. Priced at approximately $12 for an 8-quart bag, this mix is designed for fast germination and vigorous seedling growth. Containing a blend of sphagnum peat moss and other key nutrients, it’s tailored to help your seeds sprout with less hassle. Though not organic, its reliability and fast-action formula make it a go-to option for many gardeners. The mix is fortified with Miracle-Gro Plant Food, so you don’t have to worry about fertilizing your seedlings for the first six weeks after planting.

Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer

For those who prefer a specialized organic option for vegetables and tomatoes, Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer is an excellent choice. This fertilizer is affordable and effective at around $16 for a 4-pound bag. Formulated with bone meal, feather meal, and other organic ingredients, it ensures that your seedlings get all the nutrients they need. Being OMRI (Organic Materials Review Institute) listed, you can be assured of its organic integrity. Its 2-7-4 NPK ratio is ideal for promoting rapid root growth, lush foliage, and abundant blossoming once your plants mature.

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Seedling tray filled with dark soil with bark pieces and fertiliser

Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula

If you’re wondering what the best liquid fertilizer for seed starts, Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula should be on your list. Priced at around $40 for a pack of three 16-ounce bottles, this liquid nutrient trio is a comprehensive fertilizing solution for all stages of plant growth. The pack includes three distinct formulations: one for ‘Grow,’ one for ‘Bloom,’ and one for ‘Tiger Bloom,’ each designed to meet the needs of plants at different growth stages.

The liquid form allows for easy absorption and immediate action, making it ideal for seed starts that require immediate nourishment. Its balanced nutrient composition ensures your seedlings grow strong, healthy, and ready for transplanting.

Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer

Priced at around $25 for a 12-pound bag, Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer is another superb organic choice for gardeners aiming to boost the health and yield of their vegetable and herb seedlings. Enriched with many organic ingredients such as fish meal, feather meal, and kelp meal, it offers a well-rounded nutrient profile that promotes strong root systems, lush foliage, and abundant fruiting.

Its slow-release formula ensures that the nutrients are available longer, reducing the frequency of applications. It is also listed as OMRI, assuring you of its quality and organic nature. It is ideal for those who want to avoid synthetic fertilizers and focus on natural, organic gardening practices.

J R Peters Jack’s Classic All Purpose Fertilizer

Available for approximately $20 for a 4-pound container, J R Peters Jack’s Classic All Purpose Fertilizer is a versatile, water-soluble option well-suited for various plants, including seed starts. An NPK ratio of 20-20-20 provides balanced nutrition for seedlings, ensuring rapid growth and robust health. 

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Best Seed Starting Fertilizers:  Fertilizer for seedlings

This fertilizer is especially popular for its quick-action formula, which makes nutrients instantly available to plants. Being water-soluble, it also offers the convenience of application through foliar spray and soil drench, providing flexibility to gardeners who may prefer one method over the other. Its balanced formula and ease of use make it a preferred choice for an effective, non-organic option.

Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer

At around $25 for a quart bottle, Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer offers a unique blend of fish hydrolysate and seaweed, providing a nutrient-rich solution for your seed starts.  This organic liquid fertilizer comes with an NPK ratio of 2-3-1, designed to cater to the nutritional needs of growing seedlings, promoting stronger root systems and more vigorous growth.

It is also packed with essential micronutrients and amino acids, contributing to your plant’s overall health and resilience. Being liquid ensures quick absorption and action, making it a reliable option for those who prefer organic fertilizers but also want immediate results.

Dyna-Gro Liquid Grow Fertilizer

Priced at approximately $30 for a quart bottle, Dyna-Gro Liquid Grow Fertilizer is a high-performance, all-purpose liquid fertilizer suitable for hydroponic and soil-based growing systems. With an NPK ratio of 7-9-5, it is specially formulated to promote vigorous growth in seed starts.

Unlike many other liquid fertilizers that only provide essential macronutrients, Dyna-Gro includes a range of micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, and trace elements, ensuring a well-rounded diet for your seedlings. Being a liquid formulation, it offers the benefit of quick absorption, allowing for immediate nourishment of young plants. Its comprehensive nutrient profile makes it a popular choice for gardeners looking for a one-stop solution for their seedling’s growth needs.

Alaska Fish Emulsion Fertilizer

Retailing at about $10 for a quart bottle, Alaska Fish Emulsion Fertilizer is affordable yet effective for gardeners leaning toward organic methods. Extracted from fish remnants, this emulsion serves as a rich source of primary nutrients, boasting an NPK ratio of 5-1-1. Its organic nature makes it perfect for those wary of synthetic chemicals, offering a nourishing feed for seed starts.

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Seedlings Fertilizer

It provides vital macronutrients and essential micronutrients, making it a balanced option for fostering robust, healthy seedlings. Being a liquid, it facilitates quick absorption, offering immediate benefits to plants, and it’s particularly easy to apply either through soil drenching or as a foliar spray. It’s budget-friendly price and effective performance make it an attractive option for organic gardening enthusiasts.

Jobe’s Organics All Purpose Fertilizer Spikes

Priced around $12 for a pack of 50 spikes, Jobe’s Organics All Purpose Fertilizer Spikes offer a fuss-free, organic fertilizing option suitable for various plants, including new seedlings. These spikes contain bone meal, feather meal, and other organic materials encapsulated in a pre-measured, solid form that you insert into the soil.

This design ensures a slow, consistent release of nutrients directly to the root zone, reducing the chances of over or under-fertilizing. They are OMRI-listed, guaranteeing their organic credentials, and come with a balanced NPK ratio that supports vigorous root growth, strong stems, and lush foliage. Their ease of use and sustained-release formula makes them a convenient choice for gardeners looking for a set-and-forget organic fertilization method.

Burpee Organic Starter + Transplanting Granular Plant Food

For approximately $10 for a 4-pound bag, Burpee Organic Starter + Transplanting Granular Plant Food is tailor-made for those crucial early stages of plant growth. Its organic, granular formula is fortified with essential nutrients, carrying an NPK ratio of 4-4-2, perfect for nurturing seed starts and young transplants. 

Comprising feather meal, bone meal, and processed manure, it provides a slow-release feeding option that continuously nourishes the plants over an extended period. Being organic also enriches the soil’s structure and microbial life, contributing to your garden’s long-term health and sustainability. Its affordability and focus on the seed start and transplanting stages make it an attractive option for those looking for specialized organic fertilizers.

General Hydroponics Flora Series Nutrient Trio

Costing around $40 for a trio of quart bottles, the General Hydroponics Flora Series Nutrient Trio offers a comprehensive nutrient solution for those using hydroponic systems or who desire fast-acting, water-soluble fertilizers for soil-based gardens. The pack consists of ‘FloraGro,’ ‘FloraMicro,’ and ‘FloraBloom,’ each tailored to meet plant needs at different growth phases. 

These liquid concentrates offer rapid nutrient absorption, making them ideal for seed starts requiring immediate nourishment. The trio is engineered to provide balanced primary, secondary, and micronutrients, ensuring your seedlings develop into robust, healthy plants. Their versatility, effectiveness, and comprehensive nutrient profile make them popular among gardeners who require high-performance fertilizers catering to a wide range of growth stages.

Earth Juice Grow Liquid Organic Fertilizer

At approximately $25 for a quart bottle, Earth Juice Grow Liquid Organic Fertilizer is a premium, organic liquid fertilizer that gardeners can rely on for superior seed start nourishment. With a unique NPK ratio of 2-1-1, this product focuses on delivering key nutrients for root and foliage development. 

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Seedlings

Composed of bat guano, sea kelp, and other high-quality organic materials, it offers a comprehensive nutrient profile that includes macronutrients and essential trace elements. Being liquid allows for rapid absorption, making nutrients immediately available for young plants that need a quick nutrient boost. Whether applying it to the soil or as a foliar spray, the Earth Juice Grow Liquid Organic Fertilizer offers a flexible, effective solution for organic gardeners who demand high-quality inputs for their seed starts.

Botanicare Pure Blend Pro Grow Organic-Based Plant Food

Retailing at around $22 for a quart bottle, Botanicare Pure Blend Pro Grow Organic-Based Plant Food provides a unique blend of natural and mineral-based nutrients. This liquid fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 3-2-4, offering a balanced nutritional profile suitable for various stages of plant growth, including the crucial seedling phase.

Its formula incorporates fish meal, composted seabird guano, and other organic inputs, offering an array of nutrients that ensure robust growth. Due to its liquid form, the fertilizer ensures quick absorption, making it ideal for fast-acting yet organic-based solutions. It is particularly recommended for hydroponic systems but is versatile enough for soil-based applications, providing gardeners flexibility in their fertilization strategy.

Homemade Fertilizer for Seedlings

Homemade fertilizers offer gardeners a cost-effective, environmentally friendly way to provide essential nutrients to their seed starts. Gardeners often recycle kitchen scraps like veggies, coffee leftovers, and eggshells to make plant food. They do this by soaking these scraps in water for a few days, and making a liquid fertilizer. You can water it down and put it on the soil or spray it on the leaves for quick nourishment.

Composting remains a popular choice for those interested in solid fertilizers, converting kitchen waste and yard trimmings into a nutrient-rich soil amendment. Whether you’re looking to save money, recycle waste, or have more control over what goes into your garden, homemade fertilizers can be a valuable addition to your gardening routine.

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pepper seedlings with complex mineral fertilizer

Comparison Table for All the Best Seed Starting Fertilizers

Fertilizer NamePrice RangeFormNPK RatioOrganic or Non-Organic
Espoma Organic Seed Starter Mix$15-$20SolidVariedOrganic
Miracle-Gro Seed Starting Potting Mix$10-$15SolidVariedNon-Organic
Jobe’s Organics Vegetable & Tomato Fertilizer$15-$25SolidVariedOrganic
Fox Farm Liquid Nutrient Trio Soil Formula$40-$50LiquidVariedNon-Organic
Dr. Earth Organic 5 Tomato, Vegetable & Herb Fertilizer$20-$30SolidVariedOrganic
J R Peters Jack’s Classic All Purpose Fertilizer$15-$25Liquid20-20-20Non-Organic
Neptune’s Harvest Fish & Seaweed Fertilizer$20-$30Liquid2-3-1Organic
Dyna-Gro Liquid Grow Fertilizer$25-$35Liquid7-9-5Non-Organic
Alaska Fish Emulsion Fertilizer$8-$15Liquid5-1-1Organic
Jobe’s Organics All Purpose Fertilizer Spikes$10-$15SpikeVariedOrganic
Burpee Organic Starter + Transplanting Granular Plant Food$8-$12Granular4-4-2Organic
General Hydroponics Flora Series Nutrient Trio$35-$45LiquidVariedNon-Organic
Earth Juice Grow Liquid Organic Fertilizer$20-$30Liquid2-1-1Organic
Botanicare Pure Blend Pro Grow Organic-Based Plant Food$20-$30Liquid3-2-4Organic-Based
Homemade Fertilizer for SeedlingsDIY CostsVariedVariedOrganic

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Watering fertilizer tray

Conclusion

Navigating the world of seed-starting fertilizers can be complex, but understanding the options available can simplify the process. From premium organic liquid fertilizers like Earth Juice Grow and Botanicare Pure Blend Pro Grow to specialized commercial blends and even homemade fertilizers, there’s a solution to fit every gardening philosophy and need. 

Whether you’re an organic purist or looking for quick and effective nutrient solutions, the key is to match the fertilizer to the specific needs of your seedlings for optimal growth. Remember, healthy seedlings are the foundation of a thriving garden, and choosing the right fertilizer can set the stage for a successful growing season.

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