30-10-10 fertilizer is most commonly used for growing large-scale commercial crops. For homeowners, it is most useful for growing orchids and leafy vegetables. 30-10-10 is a very poor choice for lawns because its high phosphorus content can be harmful to the environment. It is also not a good choice for flowering plants or plants that produce fruits and vegetables. 30-10-10 fertilizer encourages leafy growth but can actually decrease the number of flowers plants produce. Fewer flowers means a reduced harvest of fruits and vegetables. So, 30-10-10 should be used for specialized purposes only.
What Do the Numbers on 30-10-10 Fertilizer Mean?
The numbers 30-10-10 refer to the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium contained in the fertilizer, by weight. Every fertilizer bag should have a 3-number sequence. On all fertilizer bags, the first number signifies the percentage of nitrogen in the fertilizer. For 30-10-10, this means the fertilizer contains 30% nitrogen.
- The 30 means that 30-10-10 contains 30% nitrogen.
- The first 10 signifies that 30-10-10 contains 10% phosphorus.
- The second 10 in 30-10-10 indicates that the fertilizer contains 10% potassium.
The second number in the 3-number sequence indicates the percentage of phosphorus in the fertilizer. 30-10-10 contains 10% phosphorus. Finally, the third number refers to the percentage of potassium in the fertilizer. So, 30-10-10 fertilizer contains 10% potassium. Since nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium only make up 50% of the fertilizer, the rest of the ingredients are micronutrients and additives that improve fertilizer absorption.
What is the NPK Ratio of 30-10-10 Fertilizer?
The NPK ratio of 30-10-10 fertilizer is 3:1:1. This means that 30-10-10 has 3 parts nitrogen for every 1 part phosphorus and 1 part potassium. It is essential to look at NPK ratios when examining fertilizer. The NPK ratio determines what plants will benefit most from a fertilizer. For instance, most lawn grasses benefit best from fertilizer with a 4:1:2 ratio.
- 30-10-10 fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 3:1:1.
- This ratio indicates the fertilizer contains 3 parts nitrogen to 1 part phosphorus and 1 part potassium.
- The NPK ratio is more important than the numbers on the fertilizer bag.
- Fertilizers with different numbers may actually have the same NPK ratio.
Two fertilizers with different numbers on the bag can have an identical NPK ratio. For instance, a fertilizer with the numbers 15-5-5 on the bag has the same 3:1:1 ratio as 30-10-10. 15-5-5 still has 3 times more nitrogen than phosphorus and potassium. This means 15-5-5 is suitable for the same uses as 30-10-10. You will just have to use twice as much 15-5-5 to provide the same amount of soil nutrients as 30-10-10.
6 Best and Worst Uses for 30-10-10 Fertilizer
30-10-10 is a very specialized fertilizer that provides a major benefit to some plants but is not useful for others. Because 30-10-10 encourages a lot of leafy growth, it can make plants seem to thrive in the short term, but could be detrimental in the long run. Here is when to use and avoid 30-10-10:
Best for: Orchids
Orchids thrive when fed with a 30-10-10 fertilizer. The high nitrogen content promotes leaf and stem growth that orchids spend most of their time producing. The phosphorus encourages proper root development. Meanwhile, the potassium is just enough to fuel the production of the 1 or 2 flowers your orchids will sprout yearly.
- This 30-10-10 orchid fertilizer will get great results.
- Orchids grow well with 30-10-10 because they produce few flowers.
- The high nitrogen content in 30-10-10 helps orchids grow their signature long stems.
Orchids are one of the few flowering plants that benefit greatly from 30-10-10 fertilizer. Since orchids are small plants, you do not need large packages of fertilizer. Instead, choose a specialized orchid fertilizer with a 30-10-10 nutrient balance.
Worst for: Lawns
30-10-10 fertilizer is a poor choice for turfgrass because of its high phosphorus content. Not only is a high concentration of phosphorus unnecessary for most established lawns, but it may also be illegal in your area. Many regions in the United States restrict the use of high-phosphorus fertilizers since the runoff can be harmful to the environment.
- 30-10-10 is not an ideal lawn fertilizer.
- The high phosphorus in 30-10-10 can harm the environment.
- Try this excellent lawn fertilizer with a 30-0-4 nutrient balance.
Grasses thrive when they are fed with high volumes of nitrogen, little-to-no phosphorus, and small amounts of potassium. Instead of 30-10-10, look for a specialized lawn fertilizer with low phosphorus content. It will safely feed your lawn with exactly what it needs.
Best for: Leafy Vegetables
Lettuce, cabbage, kale, and bok choy grow very well when fed with 30-10-10. The reason for this is that 30-10-10 has a very high nitrogen content (30%) compared with relatively low potassium (10%). Nitrogen is responsible for leafy growth in plants. Meanwhile, potassium encourages flower production. Feeding plants with 30-10-10 encourages them to grow a lot of leaves but very few flowers. If you’re growing plants with edible leaves, 30-10-10 is a good choice.
- 30-10-10 is excellent for growing vegetables with edible leaves.
- Lettuce, cabbage, and spinach are common leafy greens grown with 30-10-10.
- Use this 30-10-10 fertilizer to feed your garden greens.
In addition to the leafy plants mentioned above, you can use 30-10-10 for other vegetables with edible greens. Arugula, Swiss chard, spinach, endives, and chives will benefit from 30-10-10 fertilizer. However, if you’re growing plants with edible roots and leaves—such as turnips—it is best to use a fertilizer designed for root vegetables.
Worst for: Fruits and Vegetables
30-10-10 is a bad fertilizer for your fruit trees, berries, and vegetables. The high nitrogen and low potassium content will force your plants to grow a lot of leaves and shoots. At first, this may make your garden look like it’s thriving. However, the overload of nitrogen will make your plants grow leaves instead of flowers. With fewer flowers, you’ll get fewer fruits and vegetables at harvest time.
- Do not use 30-10-10 for fruit trees, berries, or vegetables.
- Excess nitrogen in 30-10-10 causes your plants to produce fewer flowers, which leads to a smaller crop.
- Use a balanced fertilizer for fruits and vegetables, like this organic 4-4-4 fertilizer.
When growing fruits and vegetables, it’s best to use a balanced fertilizer. These are fertilizers with a 1:1:1 ratio. To make selecting a garden fertilizer easy, look for a product where all three numbers on the bag are the same. 5-5-5 and 10-10-10 fertilizers are excellent for fruits and vegetables. They’ll encourage leafy growth, as well as the production of flowers, which turn into healthy fruits and veggies.
Best for: Field Crops
30-10-10 is most commonly used for commercial farming. Specifically, it is used for growing corn, sorghum, and wheat, along with hay and other grass crops. Most home gardeners don’t grow these varieties, so you’ll often see 30-10-10 sold for commercial purposes instead of home use.
- Large farms use 30-10-10 for crops like corn and wheat.
- Hay and other pasture crops benefit from 30-10-10.
- If you are growing your own corn or hay, 30-10-10 can be a good choice.
If you do decide to experiment with growing your own corn, wheat, or oats, 30-10-10 is an excellent fertilizer. Additionally, if you are growing hay for pets or livestock, 30-10-10 can provide a big benefit.
Worst for: Flowering Plants
Flowering ornamentals will not blossom at their peak if you feed them with 30-10-10. The high nitrogen content will encourage a lot of leaf and stem growth but it will cause your ornamentals to produce fewer blooms. Since colorful flowers are the goal when growing ornamentals, don’t use 30-10-10 in a flower bed.
- 30-10-10 causes ornamentals to produce leaves instead of flowers.
- Potassium is the most important nutrient to encourage flower production.
- This 10-30-20 fertilizer will help your plants grow far more flowers than 30-10-10.
Potassium is essential for flower production. When you are choosing a fertilizer designed to maximize the beauty of your garden, select one with a higher potassium content than 30-10-10. A 3:1:2 NPK ratio is great for most flowering plants. If you want to encourage more blossoms, you may even choose a fertilizer that has more potassium than nitrogen.
What is 30-10-10 Fertilizer Good For?
Before you use 30-10-10 fertilizer, review this breakdown of its best and worst uses.
30-10-10 is good for:
- Leafy vegetables (lettuce, cabbage, etc.)
- Large crops (corn, wheat, hay, etc.)
30-10-10 is bad for:
- Fruits and vegetables
- Flowering plants
30-10-10 is not a bad fertilizer. Like all fertilizers, it excels in some uses but isn’t perfect for all plants. By choosing the right fertilizer for the plants you’re growing, you’ll get the best results.