The Complete Guide to Using Triple 10 Fertilizer

Triple 10 fertilizer can be a good choice if you’re looking for a standard fertilizer for all plants and vegetables. But there are many things to consider before you use it, particularly, some of the harmful effects it can have on your health and the environment.

Triple 10 fertilizer contains nitrogen, phosphate, and potash equally. These are the three most important plant nutrients making triple a general purpose fertilizer mix . For granular triple 10 fertilizer, apply once during spring and fall for best results. Apply liquid fertilizer more frequently.

This article will discuss what triple 10 fertilizer is in great detail. It will also discuss how to use it, the pros and cons, and whether it can be harmful to your health.

What Is Triple 10 Fertilizer?

Triple 10 fertilizer is an inorganic or synthetic fertilizer that contains chemicals and nutrients necessary for plant growth and development. It contains 10 percent of the three primary macronutrients: nitrogen, phosphate, and potash. It can also include other nutrients.

Many brands sell triple 10 fertilizer, so some of them have varying ingredients. The one thing they all have in common is the percentage of macronutrients in each product.

Most triple 10 fertilizers will have “10-10-10” written on the front of the packaging. 

On all fertilizer packaging (including triple 10 varieties):

  • The first digit relates to the nitrogen percentage.
  • The second digit relates to the phosphate percentage.
  • The third digit relates to the potash percentage.

For example, a fertilizer with “5-0-5” written on the packaging indicates it contains 5% nitrogen, 0% phosphate, and 5% potash. In this case, it wouldn’t be a triple 10 fertilizer—triple 10 fertilizer will always have three “10” digits on the front of the packaging.

While all triple 10 fertilizers contain the same nitrogen, phosphate, and potash levels, they can have other plant nutrients. Some other common ones include:

  • Boron
  • Iron
  • Copper
  • Zinc

Not all triple 10 fertilizers contain the same micronutrients (like the ones above). So if your soil lacks certain micronutrients, you’ll need to make sure your triple 10 fertilizer has the ones you need. You can generally find the ingredients list on the back of the packaging.

Triple 10 fertilizer isn’t a good choice if your soil only needs one particular nutrient. For example, if it has enough nitrogen and potassium but needs extra phosphate, you would need a fertilizer that focuses on phosphate. In that case, a triple 10 fertilizer wouldn’t be appropriate because it would contain too much nitrogen and potash.

How Triple 10 Fertilizer Works

Triple 10 functions like the ‘jack-of-all-trades’ of fertilizers. Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium (or potash) are the three major plant nutrients, providing the majority of its nutrient requirements for growth. Triple 10 fertilizer is a term rather than a brand for an equal mixture of all three.

As a result, it’s a good all purpose fertilizer and can sometimes be the only extra plant food you’ll need. That said, there are times when using triple 10 is not recommended as it can cause nutrient imbalances in the soil.

How you use triple 10 fertilizer will depend on whether it’s liquid or granular. You can apply granular triple 10 fertilizer directly to the soil. But you must mix liquid triple 10 fertilizer with water before using it. Generally, the fertilizer packaging will have instructions, so it’s best to follow those.

But below, I’ll discuss how to use each type if you don’t have any instructions.

How To Use Liquid Triple 10 Fertilizer

Liquid triple 10 fertilizer generally releases nutrients quicker than granular fertilizer, so it’s good if you’re looking for fast results. Here is a brief guide on how to use triple 10 liquid fertilizer:

  1. Mix 1-2 oz (30-60 ml) of liquid fertilizer with every gallon (4.5 liters) of water. 
  2. Pour into an easy-to-use container, such as a watering can. 
  3. Apply the fertilizer solution to the soil and around your plants or vegetables.
  4. Water plants a few hours after applying triple 10 liquid fertilizer.
  5. Reapply as frequently as necessary. 

The measurements in the first step are general—some fertilizers may have different measurement requirements. Also, you’ll need to reapply liquid fertilizer frequently during the growing season because the plants absorb it quickly. Sometimes, you may need to apply it once every two or three weeks.

However, some plants need more fertilizer than others. Ensure you understand each plant’s needs before fertilizing, as you want to avoid over-fertilizing.

It would be best to wait until the liquid fertilizer has dried before watering your plants. Otherwise, you may interfere with the plants’ absorption of nutrients.

How To Use Granular Triple 10 Fertilizer

While it’s sometimes necessary to apply liquid fertilizer every 2-3 weeks during the growing season, it’s not essential to apply granular fertilizer this frequently because it releases nutrients slowly. 

Below is a guide on how to use granular triple 10 fertilizer on plants and vegetables:

  1. Read the instructions if there are any. You should follow the product’s instructions because some fertilizers may have different application processes.
  2. Using your hands or a spreader, apply the fertilizer to all plants or vegetables.
  3. Mix the granules a few inches into the soil for slightly faster absorption.
  4. Water the soil and plants after applying the granular triple 10 fertilizer.

If you’re using granular triple 10 fertilizer on your lawn rather than plants or vegetables, you can use a spreader to apply it evenly across the grass. You should water your lawn right after fertilizing, but you can wait 24 hours. If it rains, you won’t need to water it.

Pros of Triple 10 Fertilizer

Triple 10 fertilizer has many pros. Most importantly, it’s a good choice for anyone new to gardening and unsure what kind of fertilizer to use. Generally, triple 10 fertilizer is suitable for many plants, vegetables, and lawns, so it’s excellent as a “general use” fertilizer.

Below, I’ll discuss the main pros in more detail.

Easy To Use

Triple 10 fertilizer is super easy to use. Since it’s pre-made, you don’t have to figure out what nutrients you need and how to mix them. If you buy a granular triple 10 fertilizer, you don’t need to mix it at all—all you need to do is apply it directly to the soil. The process is super simple and quick.

And although you need to mix liquid triple 10 fertilizer with water, it’s also super easy to use. Even if you’re a beginner, you can easily use triple 10 fertilizer in your garden.

Suitable for Various Plants

Since triple 10 fertilizer contains 10 percent nitrogen, phosphate, and potash, it’s perfect for many plants. The percentage of nutrients isn’t too high, but it also isn’t too low, so you shouldn’t experience any short-term issues with your plants and soil (unless you misuse the fertilizer).

Contains Essential Macronutrients

All plants need the three primary macronutrients to grow and thrive, so it’s excellent that all triple 10 fertilizers contain these nutrients in decent amounts. Although they occur naturally in the soil, giving your plants a little extra will help them thrive and bloom to their fullest. These macronutrients are also excellent for fruits and vegetables.

Widely Available

Triple 10 fertilizer is one of the most common types you can buy, so it’s easy to come by. Almost every garden center should have triple 10 fertilizer. You can also find it easily online. There are many options, so you’ll never have difficulties finding a triple 10 fertilizer.

Cons of Triple 10 Fertilizer

While there are many pros to using triple 10 fertilizer, there are some cons to consider. One problem with triple 10 fertilizer is that it’s inorganic, meaning it contains chemicals that can be harmful in certain circumstances. Therefore, you must use triple 10 fertilizer cautiously and follow the manufacturer’s instructions.

You can find out more about the cons of triple 10 fertilizer below.

It Contains Harmful Chemicals

As I’ve already briefly mentioned, triple 10 fertilizer contains harmful chemicals you should be aware of before using it. Some triple 10 fertilizers (and other inorganic fertilizers) can contain harmful chemicals such as:

  • Lead
  • Mercury
  • Barium
  • Nickel
  • Dioxin

Many of these chemicals can cause adverse health effects from frequent inhalation or skin contact, which is undoubtedly a disadvantage.

Therefore, you should always wear protective clothing when using any triple 10 fertilizer, including gloves and a mask.

It’s Easy to Over-Fertilize

Although triple 10 fertilizer is often excellent for plants and vegetables, it can cause problems if you overuse it. It can also cause issues if your soil already has adequate levels of certain nutrients. If this is the case, adding a triple 10 fertilizer to the ground can cause fertilizer burn in plants and vegetables.

Before using triple 10 fertilizer, you should do a soil test to determine what nutrients your soil needs. You may discover that a triple 10 fertilizer contains the wrong level of nutrients for your soil, so a soil test is an excellent idea if you’re unsure what fertilizer to use.

You can buy a soil test kit in many garden stores. You can also contact your nearest university extension for more information on soil testing.

It Can Harm the Environment

If you use an excessive amount of triple 10 fertilizer (or any other inorganic fertilizer), it can seep into waterways, harming fish and other sea creatures. Fertilizers that plants don’t absorb can also emit harmful greenhouse gasses that are bad for the environment.

On the other hand, organic fertilizers aren’t as harmful because they don’t contain the chemicals that are in inorganic products.

The factories where triple 10 fertilizer is made are also harmful to the environment because of the energy they use.

Can You Use Triple 10 Fertilizer on Vegetables?

You can use triple 10 fertilizer on vegetables because all vegetables need nutrients to grow and thrive. However, some plants may require different levels of nutrients, so triple 10 fertilizer isn’t always the best solution.

Below, I’ll discuss some popular vegetables and the most appropriate fertilizers to use for them.


When a tomato plant is young, it’s generally okay to use a triple 10 fertilizer. But as it grows, it will need a higher level of potash. That’s why you’ll often see that tomato fertilizers contain a higher potash ratio than nitrogen and phosphate.

For example, this JR Peters Tomato Feed (available on contains nutrients in a ratio of 12-15-30. So, potash (the third digit) is the primary nutrient in this product, making it perfect for mature tomato plants.


According to the University of Minnesota, potatoes require more fertilizer than many other vegetables, so it’s essential to get it right. 

Generally, potatoes need higher levels of potassium (potash) than nitrogen and phosphate, so a triple 10 fertilizer isn’t always the ideal choice. A fertilizer with low nitrogen and phosphate levels but higher potash levels is best for potatoes.


You can use triple 10 fertilizer on your carrots without causing too many issues, but it’s best to use one low in phosphorus and potassium. Moderate nitrogen levels are also best. So if using a triple 10 fertilizer, you shouldn’t use it too often—doing so may cause fertilizer burn.


Broccoli likes a decent amount of fertilizer; luckily, you can use triple 10 fertilizer without experiencing any issues. In addition to using fertilizer, you should ensure the soil is fertile and well-draining. Like all other plants and vegetables, avoid overfertilizing broccoli.

Is Triple 10 Fertilizer Completely Safe?

Triple 10 fertilizer is not completely safe and can cause health problems if ingested. Some brands of triple 10 also contain harmful chemicals that cause problems for biological life when they leech into the soil or drain into water bodies like rivers and streams.

Triple 10 fertilizer has many benefits and often doesn’t cause issues for people, but if you misuse it and aren’t careful, you and others can experience adverse health effects. Although fertilizer is excellent and healthy for plants, it’s not healthy for humans to breathe in or ingest. 

If you’ve recently applied triple 10 fertilizer, you should ensure no children or animals go near the area until it’s thoroughly dried or absorbed. To learn more about the safety of fertilizer, you can read my article: Is All Fertilizer Food Safe? What You Need to Know

Below are some of the harmful effects that triple 10 fertilizer can have on your health if you’re not careful.

It Causes Skin Irritation

If your skin comes into contact with triple 10 fertilizer, you may experience irritation. For example, you could get a rash. A fertilizer rash can be itchy and painful. And, of course, it causes redness.

The rash should go away by itself, but it can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks. To avoid skin irritation, burns, and rashes, wear protective gloves when handling triple 10 fertilizer.

It Can Be Poisonous

Triple 10 fertilizer can cause skin irritation, so, as you can imagine, it can also cause poisoning if you ingest it. Poisoning can occur accidentally (for example, a child touching a recently fertilized plant and then placing their hand in their mouth). 

If you or a child has accidentally ingested some triple 10 fertilizer and are feeling ill, it’s best to go to the hospital.

Some Chemicals Can Increase the Risk of Cancer

According to, certain exposure levels to garden products (like triple 10 fertilizer) can cause cancer. Of course, this is only likely to occur if you are constantly exposed to high levels of the chemicals, so it’s a relatively uncommon issue.

However, you can consider using an organic fertilizer to avoid these risks. These fertilizers don’t contain the harmful chemicals present in triple 10 fertilizers, so you don’t have to worry about cancer risks. You should also do a soil test to ensure you’re not needlessly applying chemicals to your plants and soil.

Is Triple 10 Fertilizer Good for Lawns?

Triple 10 fertilizer is good for Lawns. A lawn needs nitrogen, phosphate, and potash, and triple 10 fertilizer contains decent amounts of these macronutrients. To apply triple 10 fertilizer to your lawn, you should spread it evenly across every section.

Although your grass can still grow without triple 10 fertilizer, adding it to the lawn will help it grow greener and faster, giving it a healthy appearance. It’s best to use triple 10 fertilizer on your lawn in early spring to promote growth throughout spring and summer.

Using it for the colder months won’t be necessary because most grass will be dormant.

Although triple 10 fertilizer is suitable for lawns, it’s important to note that nitrogen is the most critical nutrient for grass because it helps with its luscious green color. For that reason, it’s often a good idea to use a fertilizer with higher nitrogen levels. 

Is Triple 10 Fertilizer Good for Trees?

Triple 10 fertilizer is good for trees, so you can use it to feed them. However, different tree varieties have different nutritional needs. So, some trees may benefit from other fertilizer but triple 10 fertilizer is generally an excellent place to start.

Trees need all the nutrients in triple 10 fertilizer, so they will benefit from it if you give it to them. However, some trees don’t need any fertilizer at all. For example, you shouldn’t fertilize evergreen trees unless they grow slowly or aren’t the right color. 

Using triple 10 (or any other fertilizer) on healthy evergreen trees will likely cause more harm than good, so it’s good to be aware of this before feeding your trees.

Most deciduous trees respond well to a well-balanced fertilizer, such as triple 10. However, they will also respond well to high-nitrogen fertilizers.


Triple 10 fertilizer is generally a good choice if you want to feed your plants, vegetables, or lawn. It is a well-balanced fertilizer that contains all the nutrients your plants need to grow and develop healthily.

There are two main types of triple 10 fertilizer: liquid and granular. You should mix liquid fertilizer with water, whereas you can apply granular fertilizer directly to the soil. 

Although triple 10 fertilizer works well in many scenarios, it’s not always the best choice. Certain plants require different levels of nutrients, so you should consider this before using 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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