Can Garden Fertilizer Be Used for Other Plants?

Garden fertilizer is an integral part of increasing healthy growth in your garden. There are many different types of garden fertilizer, all formulated for different gardening goals, but can it be used outside of the garden? Can garden fertilizer be used for other plants?

Garden fertilizer can be used for most other plants because it is formulated to be an all-purpose fertilizer for use on plants, vegetables, and flowers. There are many special-purpose fertilizers that should only be used on their intended plant. 

The rest of this article will explore different types of garden fertilizers and their many uses. I will also go over other types of fertilizer, how to choose the right fertilizer for your gardening needs, and some of my top all-purpose fertilizer recommendations.

Garden Fertilizer: An All-Purpose Gardening Tool

Garden fertilizer is an excellent tool for supporting a flourishing, fruitful garden. Because of its multipurpose design, it provides healthy nutrients that can benefit a wide variety of plants, including those that are grown for human consumption like vegetables and fruits. 

Garden fertilizer comes in many different forms. The main types of garden fertilizer are:

  • Quick Release Granules. These granules are to be deposited onto the soil and mixed in, and then watered to begin the slow-release process. Over the next 3-4 weeks, the granules release nutrients into the ground, gradually increasing the health of the plants.
  • Slow Release Granules. Similar in structure to the quick-release granules, this fertilizer must be sprinkled, then covered in soil. The granules deliver nutrients much more slowly than the quick-release, working over months rather than weeks. Slow-release granules are beneficial because they have to be applied much less often.
  • Liquid Fertilizer. This highly concentrated fertilizer is mixed with water and then dispersed over the garden using a spray nozzle or a watering can. Liquid fertilizers usually last only 2-3 weeks, so they must be applied more often.
  • Spike Fertilizer. Once driven into the soil, these spikes deliver nutrients by decomposing slowly over time. This form of fertilizer usually lasts up to 3 months. 

All of these types of all-purpose garden fertilizers work well both in the garden and on your lawn. Spike fertilizers, particularly, are great for larger plants like bushes and trees. Garden fertilizer is probably one of the most versatile gardening tools available. 

Garden fertilizers can also be divided into three different categories, including:

  • Inorganic Fertilizers. These fertilizers use chemical compounds to add salt and minerals to the soil.
  • Natural Organic Fertilizer. These fertilizers are made of organic materials, like composted plants, food waste, or animal waste. 
  • Synthetic Organic Fertilizer. These fertilizers are made of man-made organic materials. Similar to natural organic, but with some additional, targeted nutrients.

What Other Types of Fertilizer Are There?

When it comes to fertilizer, there are numerous different types and forms. While garden fertilizer is generally an all-purpose fertilizer that can be used on many kinds of plants, there are also special-purpose fertilizers specifically formulated for a unique plant or purpose. 

Special-purpose fertilizers are available for specific plants like blueberries, azaleas, orchids, and more. The fertilizer is specifically formulated to provide the nutrients those plants would benefit from. 

There are also special-purpose fertilizers formulated for unique goals. For example, removing weeds from the lawn or encouraging leaf growth. 

Some fertilizer formulations are created with added herbicides and pesticides to kill pesky weeds while at the same time encouraging the healthy growth of your lawn. These fertilizers are beneficial for destroying weeds trying to take over your yard but should never be used in a garden because of the potential for harm to your plants.

How To Choose the Right Fertilizer for Your Needs

Choosing the right fertilizer can be a daunting task when every package in the fertilizer aisle claims to be the best. Before heading to the home and garden store, be sure to examine your specific needs so that you can choose the fertilizer that will work the best for you.

Some of the things you should consider before choosing a fertilizer are:

  • What do you hope to achieve with your fertilizer? Take some time to list out your goals before choosing a fertilizer. If you are fertilizing an azalea garden, you’ll want something more targeted, like azalea-specific food. If you are fertilizing a whole vegetable garden or your front lawn, then an all-purpose fertilizer will be a better choice.
  • How much maintenance do you have time for? If you don’t have the time to commit to regularly fertilizing your space, you’ll probably want to opt for spikes or slow-release granules that last longer. If you are willing to make time to fertilize more regularly, a liquid or slow-release granule option will work well! 
  • How quickly do you hope to see results? Organic fertilizers or slow-release options will show results more slowly, but the fertilization process will last longer. If you wish to see a quick improvement in your plants, you’ll want to use a liquid fertilizer or a quick-release granule option. 

Keep in mind that the home and garden store attendants can be an excellent resource for your gardening needs. Take some time to talk with them about your garden and what you are trying to address or improve with the fertilizer. The garden center expert will likely be able to provide you with some insight into which fertilizer will work best for your specific needs.

If you are unsure, start with an all-purpose garden fertilizer. These are usually mild-tempered and will encourage growth in various environments. You can always change things up later when you’ve identified specific areas of the garden that you’d like to target. 

Garden Fertilizer vs. Lawn Fertilizer

While garden fertilizer is a great product for a wide variety of plants, including your lawn, the same can’t be said about lawn fertilizer. Because of its all-purpose nature, garden fertilizer works well for supporting lawn growth. On the other hand, lawn fertilizer should never be used in the garden. 

Fertilizers all have an NPK indication on their label. NPK stands for nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium, the three primary nutrients fertilizer delivers. You can learn more about these nutrients in my other article about lack of phosphorus in lawn fertilizer: Why Does Lawn Fertilizer Not Have Phosphorus?

There is usually a large amount of nitrogen in fertilizers due to its ability to promote green, leafy growth. While green, lush growth seems like it could be beneficial to a garden, it actually tends to create an environment of leafy overgrowth, where the leaves grow out of control, the flowers cease to bloom, and the vegetation stops growing.

When lawn fertilizer has weed-killer in it, it can also be a danger to the bees that might be pollinating your garden. Lawn fertilizer is specially formulated for grass growth and is best used solely for lawns. 

Garden fertilizer is far more versatile. Its NPK value is usually more balanced, providing even support to the roots, leaves, and the plant’s overall ability to grow.


Garden fertilizer can be used on other plants because it is usually all-purpose. Garden fertilizer is a great gardening tool for improving the health of your garden, lawn, bushes, trees, and more! With its ability to fertilize a multitude of plant types, garden fertilizer is a great option to have on hand in your garden shed. 

Special-purpose fertilizers and lawn fertilizers are also very effective tools but should only be used for their intended purpose and should never be used as a substitute for garden fertilizer.

Alexander Picot

Alexander Picot is the principal creator of, a website dedicated to gardening tips. Inspired by his mother’s love of gardening, Alex has a passion for taking care of plants and turning backyards into feel-good places and loves to share his experience with the rest of the world.

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