17-17-17 Fertilizer: Benefits and When & How To Use It

Whether you have a homestead, a garden or just stay home with some landscaping that you like to keep looking nice, you’re going to be doing plenty of caring for the plants on your property.

bucket filled with fertilizer
bucket filled with fertilizer

And plants, like every living thing, require nutrition. Plants get most of their nutrients from the soil, and just like our own pantries can run out of food the soil can run out of nutrients that plants need.

This is where you’ve got to step in with fertilizer. Fertilizers replenish the nutrients in the soil so the plants can grow big, grow quickly and thrive.

But you’ve got to get the amounts of nutrients right, and that means you need to know what kind of fertilizer you need for your application.

Today I’ll be telling you about 17-17-17 fertilizer so you can figure out if it is right for you and your plants…

What Does 17-17-17 Signify for Fertilizer?

The first thing you need to figure out concerning 17-17-17 fertilizer is what these numbers actually represent. This applies for all other ratios for other fertilizers, too!

Simply, this is the amount of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in the fertilizer, expressed as a percentage.

You’ll also see this commonly abbreviated as NPK. In case you are wondering about the discrepancy with the K, it is because the atomic symbol of potassium is K.

These three elements are the three things that pretty much every plant on Earth needs in order to survive and thrive.

What Ingredients are Typically in 17-17-17 Fertilizer?

Obviously, 17-17-17 is mostly nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium but it will contain other minerals in varying amounts depending on the manufacturer.

Fertilizers of this type typically contain iron, magnesium, lime and other substances that plants need.

Some of these things take the form of soil conditioners and other supposedly helpful compounds, but not all of them do, and it’s definitely worth selecting a fertilizer that meets your specific needs.

Always double-check the package before you buy…

Benefits of 17-17-17 Fertilizer

17-17-17 is a well-rounded and all-purpose fertilizer, but a potent one. This is a great option if you need to give plants a jolt of nutrition, so long as it is applied sparingly, or is a good leading application for severely depleted soils.

17-17-17 can, and will, fry your plants if you apply too much of, or apply it to plants that already have nutrient-rich soil. Generally, you can think of 17-17-17 as a supercharged version of the tried and true triple-8 fertilizer, also known as 8-8-8.

What Plants Is 17-17-17 Fertilizer Best For?

17-17-17 is ideal for resuscitating plants that are badly nutrient-depleted, or hardy plants that can withstand a jolt of intensive fertilization.

As mentioned above, it can and will damage or even kill more sensitive plants or any plants if you apply too much of it or apply it carelessly.

This means it is not a great option for delicate ornamentals or herbs generally, though!

When Should You Use 17-17-17 Fertilizer?

17-17-17 is best used quite sparingly. At the beginning of the season if you’re dealing with severely depleted soils, or if you are starting out anywhere that has been mishandled during previous seasons, 17-17-17 might be a good choice.

It can be applied periodically as needed, but only on a very limited basis.

For lawn and garden use, a little bit goes a long way and you might be able to apply only at the beginning of the spring season and expect it to last all year long.

When Is the Best Time To Apply 17-17-17?

A general rule of thumb with fertilizers, and one that certainly applies to 17-17-17, is that you should attempt to apply it only in the early morning or in the evening.

This is because you want to avoid the strongest sun and highest temperatures of the daytime.

If you apply 17-17-17 to plants, even applied correctly, during the heat of the day this might exacerbate chemical burns that can and will occur.

Generally, the only exception you want to make to the morning or evening application routine is if the plants you’re applying them to have nearly total shade during the middle part of the day or you have heavily overcast weather.

How Much 17-17-17 Fertilizer Should You Use per Acre?

This depends entirely on how much nutrition your plants, or the soil, needs. Once again, a decent rule of thumb is that you should use about a pound of 17-17-17 for every 1,000 square feet that you are treating assuming the soil is heavily depleted of nutrients.

Also, remember that you should apply, test and then apply again if and when needed. Adding too much fertilizer is as bad as not adding enough and usually worse!

You can always give it more later, so apply sparingly especially when you are dealing with something this strong.

What’s the Best Method to Apply 17-17-17 Fertilizer?

Your application method will depend on the specific type of fertilizer you buy. If you’re buying liquid 17-17-17, it can be applied with a sprayer, water hose attachment or even a watering can.

Just make sure you follow the manufacturer’s instructions for dilution and application strictly…

You can also get 17-17-17 in the form of solid pellets or flakes that can be applied with a broadcaster, or even by so-called fertilizer spikes that you drive into the ground a set distance apart and allow them to slowly release nutrients over time.

All are viable, but in all cases you must also be cautious to avoid over-fertilizing any given area. Pay attention!

Is 17-17-17 Fertilizer Good for Lawns?

It can be, but you must use it sparingly. 17-17-17 is very potent for established lawns, though if your whole lawn is turning yellow you can make a case for using this stronger general-purpose fertilizer.

It is also a worthwhile option for pre-fertilization if you are putting down seed and starting a brand new lawn.

Is 17-17-17 Fertilizer Good for Gardens?

Yes, but again used cautiously. This is very potent fertilizer as far as well-rounded, general-purpose ones are concerned.

It is a great solution for quickly resuscitating badly depleted soils, but otherwise it should be applied very sparingly to other plants in your garden, and then it should only be directly applied to the base of plants that are quite hardy.

Delicate plants like herbs and root vegetables are easily damaged or killed by 17-17-17.

What’s the Average Price of 17-17-17 Fertilizer?

17-17-17 is pretty concentrated stuff, so it cost a little more than you’re more common, weaker varieties of fertilizer.

Depending on the type you buy, expect it to run anywhere from .15 to .22 cents an ounce, and do remember that bulk purchases save more money if you have a large parcel.

Where Can You Buy 17-17-17 Fertilizer?

Although not nearly as common as triple eight, you can still get 17- 17-17 at pretty much every nicely stocked hardware store and garden center, and it is easy to find online.

What’s the Best 17-17-17 Fertilizer Brand?

There are several good brands out on the market, but I like Weaver Nutrient-Rich Plant Food. This one also has mineral supplements, is all-natural and is suitable for all sorts of plants and many common lawn grasses.

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