What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?

By Harry RamosLast update: 2024-07-11
What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?

There are only three main types of fertilizers that you should really know about – potassium (K), phosphorous (P), and nitrogen (N).

Every fertilizer has a specific ratio of each ingredient, shown in a series of numbers (i.e. 10-5-10 or 10-10-10), called NPK value and it always shows up in the same order: start with the N, the P next, and end with the K value.

To choose the right type of fertilizer for your plants, you just need to 1) understand the nutrients they need and 2) rely on this indicator to find the right ratio.

This article will discuss more details about that topic.

Potassium Fertilizers

What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?

This is one of the most vital nutrients that enhance photosynthesis and transforming other nutrients into food while boosting the plants’ roots to grow stronger and deeper. In other words, it avoids the lack of other nutrients and protects your plants from drought.

Not to say that potassium fertilizers can slow down most diseases that probably find their way into your plants.

For such reasons, it is commonly used in the growth stages of a plant.

On the application, there is actually no standard as it is different drastically based on what you are growing.

But there are some certain signals to let you know a plant is deficient in potassium.

The bottom leaves start browning or yellowing around the edge.

What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?

If the deficiency gets worse, they might die and fall off while keeping working up.

Once you see such signals, putting a potassium fertilizer as close to the roots as possible to reverse the damage. The most popular fertilizers that contain potassium are:

  • Potassium nitrate
  • Potassium chloride
  • Potassium sulfate
  • Muriate of potash
  • Sulfate of potash
What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?

Plants that benefit from potassium are summer and winter squash, tomatoes or other fruiting" vegetables, trees and bushes that produce edible fruit.

Phosphate Fertilizers

What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?

This nutrient provides your plants with lots of benefits, such as:

  • Improve the soil quality and help plants absorb nitrogen better
  • Encourage fruiting, seeding, and flowering for numerous types of trees and plants
  • Boost the stalks, stems and root system of a plant
  • Strengthen the plant’s structure

Phosphorous is generally essential throughout the whole lifecycle of a plant, from seedlings to maturity.

Unluckily, the signs of phosphorous deficiency are hard to know. Most plants will stunt their early stages of growth but as stated, it is not clear enough to spot out until it is late in the growth progress.

The best way to prevent that is by fertilizing your soil at least one month before seedling. Why one month? Because this nutrient takes a long time to activate virtually.

What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?

Add as much as phosphorus as possible to the sol.

Don’t bother you may ruin its balance or over-doing it because plants can’t absorb all of them. They just take the right amount needed for their growth.

For best results, dig up the soil and put it at root depth. Remember, those gardens with light, loamy soil or clay soil need phosphorous less than the sandy soil.

The most popular fertilizers that are rich in phosphorous are:

  • Ammonium polyphosphate
  • Ordinary superphosphate
  • Triple superphosphate
  • Monoammonium phosphate
  • Diammonium phosphate
What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?

Plants that benefit from phosphorous are legumes (peas, beans, etc.), plants grown in late fall to the winter which have rapid top growth and limited roots (lettuce), and annual plants.

Nitrogen Fertilizers

What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?

This nutrient is extremely essential in the middle stage of your plants’ growth as it boosts to grow the foliage largely by putting out more stems and leaves. In other words, it takes responsibility for leaf and plant growth.

Water helps break down this ingredient into the soil, changing it into ammonia and then absorbed into the plant roots.

One thing to note: Nitrogen shouldn’t be used during the fruiting or flowering of a plant.

Organic and inorganic fertilizers are the two wonderful sources of nitrogen. Commonly, most inorganic fertilizers comprise of:

  • Diammonium phosphate
  • Sodium nitrate
  • Potassium nitrate
  • Calcium nitrate
  • UAN solutions
  • Anhydrous ammonia
  • Ammonium nitrate
  • Ammonium sulfate
  • Urea

There are some plants that really don’t need nitrogen, such as beans, peas, and other legumes because they put nitrogen back into the soil.

Green leafy plants – such as cabbage, mustard greens, kales, Brussels sprouts, rhubarb, and lettuce - are typical nitrogen-loving garden plants.

What Are The Three Main Types Of Fertilizers?


The best way to absolutely transform your garden is by learning about the three major types of fertilizers. I hope this post is helpful to you.

Thanks for reading!

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