Farmers, gardeners, groundskeepers and proud homeowners alike all understand the value of caring for plants. And there’s one thing that all plants have in common, it is the need for nutrition.
Plants require food just like every other living thing, but most plants don’t get it directly by eating. Instead, they take up their resources through the soil, and if you want to give plants the resources they need you’ll need to fertilize the soil they are growing in.
But, plants need different amounts of nutrients depending on the species, their condition, their growth phase, and the environment, and choosing the wrong fertilizer or giving them the wrong ratios can stunt their growth or even kill them.
To help you figure out which fertilizer is best for your plants, I’m bringing you a comprehensive guide on one of the most common fertilizers, 8-8-8. I’ll tell you all about it below…
What Does 8-8-8 Signify for Fertilizer?
The first thing to know about fertilizers is decoding the three numbers in their names.
In 8-8-8 fertilizer, these three numbers represent the percentages of nitrogen (atomic symbol N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K, again the atomic symbol!) respectively, commonly labeled or referred to as ‘NPK‘.
Together, these are nutrients and resources that pretty much all plants need to thrive.
What Ingredients are Typically in 8-8-8 Fertilizer?
8-8-8 fertilizer is a combination of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium, as mentioned above. It also usually contains trace amounts of other minerals like iron and magnesium.
8-8-8 fertilizer can come in many different forms such as liquid, powder or solid pellets.
Some 8-8-8 fertilizers contain additional additives like natural organics or soil conditioners, so be sure to check the ingredients if you are looking for a more specialized fertilizer or a basic one!
Benefits of 8-8-8 Fertilizer
The mix of nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium in 8-8-8 fertilizer is a great “all-rounder” for most plants, and is generally forgiving if you apply too much- remember that too much fertilizer can “cook” or poison plants!
Plants use nitrogen to promote leafy growth, phosphorus for flowering and fruiting, and potassium to promote strong root systems.
Whether it comes to a tried-and-true all-purpose fertilizer for regular feeding and conditioning, or if you want to start slow and fertilize more often if needed, you won’t go wrong with 8-8-8…
What Plants is 8-8-8 Fertilizer Best For?
Triple-8 is great for all kinds of plants, and especially good for plants that are just starting out or growing slowly, as the mild mix of nutrients can help them get established.
It is also suitable for sensitive plants like herbs, and it is a fine choice for lawns and general garden use especially.
8-8-8 is a mild fertilizer that works well to nourish most plants, so it’s also good for those who are not sure exactly what their particular plant needs and just want to give them something to help them get by until they can zero in on a more precise feeding plan.
When Should You Use 8-8-8 Fertilizer?
Use 8-8-8 fertilizer when it’s time for periodic feeding, when you want to give your plants a balanced ratio of nutrients, or when you’re starting out with a new plant and don’t know what its specific needs are.
For lawns and gardens, use it at once every 3 months, beginning at the start of the growing season.
When Is the Best Time To Apply 8-8-8?
Like pretty much all fertilizers, you should try to apply it in the morning or evening. You want to avoid the hottest part of the day, as strong sunlight can exacerbate the risk of chemical burn and plant scorching.
If you have plenty of cloud cover or a shady garden, you’re in luck and you can apply it at your discretion, any time of day. Otherwise, avoid applying during midday or the afternoon.
How Much 8-8-8 Fertilizer Should You Use per Acre?
The amount of 8-8-8 fertilizer to use per acre depends on what plants are being grown and the specific soil conditions.
Generally speaking, 1 pound of 8-8-8 per 1000 sq. ft is a good starting point for lawns or gardens; adding more if needed based on soil tests or plant observation requirements.
Remember: if in doubt, use less! Too much fertilizer can easily be worse than not enough.
What’s the Best Method to Apply 8-8-8 Fertilizer?
You have several options for applying triple-8 depending on what form it comes in. If you have a liquid 8-8-8 fertilizer, it can be applied with a sprayer or watering can.
For solid pellets, use a spreader for even distribution over the soil. This can be tricky if you aren’t familiar with using your sprayer or broadcaster as it can be difficult to tell, much less control, how much fertilizer is actually being released!
Pay attention, and if you aren’t sure set your nozzle or opening to 1/4 or 1/3 of max.
Whatever your application method, make sure you are aware of where you’ve already applied, and carefully follow instructions to avoid burning plants with too much nitrogen or other nutrients.
Also be careful not to apply it too close to the base of your plants, as you can damage their roots.
Is 8-8-8 Fertilizer Good for Lawns?
Yes, triple-8 is a great standby fertilizer for most kinds of grass, including cold-season grasses.
As with plants and gardens, it is best to use a light hand when applying 8-8-8 fertilizer to lawns; apply conservatively, and reduce the amount if you start seeing discoloration or browning of the grass.
Is 8-8-8 Fertilizer Good for Gardens?
It sure is. 8-8-8 is a mild balanced fertilizer that will give your garden the nutrients it needs with minimal risk overfeeding or burning.
Regular applications of 8-8-8 can help keep your flowers, vegetables, and other plants stay healthy and happy.
Do I Need to Water after Applying 8-8-8 Fertilizer
Generally yes. For granules and powder, water is what helps the fertilizer dissolve and absorb into the soil where plants can take it up through their roots, so make sure to water after applying.
If you’re using a liquid 8-8-8 formula, it’s best to follow the manufacturer’s instructions for use, as it might need to be diluted prior to application.
What’s the Average Price of 8-8-8 Fertilizer?
Triple-8 usually runs anywhere from .13 to .20 cents an ounce depending on brand and other attributes. Larger buys often get you a better price…
Where Can You Buy 8-8-8 Fertilizer?
Triple-8 is one of the most common and widely-used fertilizers, and as such you can find it in most garden centers, big box stores, online, and hardware stores.
It’s a plant care mainstay, and as such is readily available pretty much everywhere.
What’s the Best 8-8-8 Fertilizer Brand?
A great question to start a fight with! There are quite a few good ones on the market, but I like Purely Organic Products Triple Play 8-8-8. The stuff does wonders in the garden, and is ideal for tomatoes!
Tom has lived and worked on farms and homesteads from the Carolinas to Kentucky and beyond. He is passionate about helping people prepare for tough times by embracing lifestyles of self-sufficiency.