6 Best Fertilizer for Cabbage | How and When to Use

Cabbage might not be a fan favorite among picky eaters but it’s still one of the most versatile leafy vegetables around. So there are few things as sad as a cabbage harvest made up of small, lackluster heads.

Many home gardeners underestimate the nutritional needs of cabbage plants. Cabbage requires an incredible amount of nutrients to grow big and flavorful by the end of the year.

Before you give up on growing cabbage at home, I recommend reading the information below. I’ve broken down — step-by-step — how to feed cabbage for the harvest of your dreams. You’ll also find a list of the best fertilizers for cabbage based on my own experience.

Fertilizers for Cabbage

If you’re in a rush, here are my go-to fertilizers for growing cabbage at home:

Dr. Earth Premium Gold All Purpose Fertilizer 4-4-4

Best Organic Fertilizer for Cabbage

Dr. Earth Premium Gold All Purpose Fertilizer 4-4-4

Balanced nutrition using only organic ingredients also supports long-term soil health. Use either as slow-release pellets or transform them into a compost tea.

JR Peters Classic Fertilizer 20-20-20

Best Water-Soluble Fertilizer for Cabbage

JR Peters Classic Fertilizer 20-20-20

Water-soluble fertilizer for use in nutrient-depleted soil and where established cabbage plants need a nutrient boost.  

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How to Choose the Best Fertilizer for Cabbage

Though cabbage plants are heavy feeders, they’re not picky about where those nutrients come from. The type of fertilizer you use is far less important than ensuring your cabbage has constant access to nitrogen and other macronutrients.

When the soil conditions are right cabbage plants perform best when fed with a balanced fertilizer. A balanced fertilizer contains equal amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. You can tell whether fertilizer is balanced or not by looking at the N-P-K ratio.

N-P-K Ratio Cabbage Fertilizer Requirements

An N-P-K ratio is a sequence of 3 numbers found on nearly all fertilizer labels. These numbers represent the percentages of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in the formula. For a balanced fertilizer for cabbage, look for an N-P-K ratio with identical numbers — i.e., 4-4-4 or 10-10-10.

Soil pH for Cabbage Plants and Nutrient Uptake

Cabbage tends to grow best in neutral or slightly acidic soil with a pH between 6 and 7. Since soil pH plays a big role in how easily plant roots can absorb certain nutrients, soil that is too acidic or alkaline will often cause nutrient deficiencies.

Granular Vs Liquid Fertilizer

Most gardeners rely on granular or liquid fertilizer (or a mix of both) to feed their vegetables. Both types of fertilizers will provide quality nutrition and it often comes down to your preference as a gardener and how quickly your plants need to benefit from an intake of nutrients. 

Liquid Fertilizer for Cabbage 

I don’t recommend relying exclusively on liquid fertilizer when growing cabbage. However, liquids are ideal for supplemental feedings when an extra boost of nutrients may be required throughout late spring and summer. 

Slow-Release Fertilizer Granules

Fertilizer granules are ideal for feeding cabbage throughout the growing season. The best granular formulas release nutrients over the course of several weeks. This ensures that your cabbage heads never go without the nutrients they need to grow as big as possible.

Synthetic Vs Organic Fertilizers for Cabbage

The key difference between synthetic and organic fertilizers is the ingredient source. Synthetic fertilizers rely on inorganic materials like minerals and gasses. Organic ones utilize materials like plant and animal waste. 

Some gardeners also use “organic fertilizer” to describe amendments like compost, blood meal, and manure. While these are all examples of organic fertilizers, there are also many organic fertilizers that are processed and sold in stores. 

Best Fertilizer for Cabbage Reviews

Cabbage needs a steady supply of macronutrients to reach its full potential. So a high-quality fertilizer is by far one of the best investments you can make for future cabbage crops. 

While there are many ways to deliver these key nutrients, some produce better results than others. These are my preferred cabbage fertilizers based on research and personal experience:


  • Certified organic by OMRI
  • Contains TruBiotic microbes for soil health
  • Slow- and instant-release nutrition


  • May attract insects

This certified organic pelletized fertilizer from Dr. Earth is my top recommendation for cabbage fertilizers because it ticks all the boxes when it comes to macronutrient requirements and can be used throughout the growing season – even for new plantings. 

The versatility of this fertilizer really lends itself to cabbage growing. Not only can it be used to side dress and offer slow-release fertilizing to the soil around brassicas, but it can also be ‘brewed up’ as a compost tea. This compost tea can then be separated, partly to mulch into the soil but also to use as a foliar spray or water deep into the root zone.  

Dr. Earth prides itself on using feed-grade ingredients in its organic fertilizers. As far as nutrition goes, I love that this formula offers a combination of instant- and slow-release nutrients for cabbage. It also contains beneficial microbes to support the long-term soil health of your garden.

How To Use: Mix into the top layer of soil prior to planting cabbage or spread around the plants themselves. Water thoroughly after each application.


  • A balanced blend of nutrients
  • Can be applied with a watering can or hose-end sprayer
  • Well suited to all heavy feeders such as rhubarb, pumpkins, corn, or tomato plants.


  • Can cause foliage burn with excessive use

If you like the idea of feeding your cabbage several times throughout the year, you’ll want a high-quality liquid formula like this one from JR Peters. It’s a great value all-purpose fertilizer that can be used not only for edibles but also flowers, trees, shrubs, and lawns.

While cabbage is a heavy feeder and does benefit from a balanced NPK ratio, new plantings can be susceptible to foliage burn when fertilizer is used excessively and for that reason, this 20-20-20 nutrient profile might be a bit too concentrated for anything other than more mature cabbage plants. 

For the best results, I recommend mixing a higher ratio of water to fertilizer until you know how your vegetables respond.

How To Use: Dissolve up to 1 tablespoon of fertilizer per gallon of water and apply it during routine irrigation.


  • Fortified with amino acids
  • Easy to measure and apply
  • Ideal nutrient profile for cabbage


  • May burn foliage

Another wonderful all-purpose formula for mid-season feedings is the Triple 10 All-Purpose Liquid Fertilizer. It has the perfect balance of macronutrients to support cabbage crops throughout spring and summer.

The addition of amino acids in this feed means that my cabbage plants are more resistant to drought conditions and cold spells, as well as have protection against pests and diseases. And if that’s not enough, the inclusion of seaweed extract means the flavor and yield of my cabbage crops are even better. 

Note that this liquid fertilizer is a concentrate, so you must dilute it before applying it to your garden bed! Fortunately, the package it comes in makes it super easy to measure out the exact amount of fertilizer your cabbages need.

How To Use: Mix 1 or 2 ounces of fertilizer per gallon of water. Saturate the soil around the cabbage as often as every 2 weeks.


  • Slow-release formula feeds for several weeks
  • Releases beneficial microbes into the soil
  • Great for phosphorus-deficient soil


  • Low in nitrogen

While most cabbage plants respond well to a balanced fertilizer, not all garden soil is the same. If you’ve found that your vegetable garden lacks phosphorus, this Jobe’s Organic Plant Food is my go-to solution.

Since this organic fertilizer is fairly low in nitrogen, I definitely recommend combining it with an application of aged compost or manure in the early spring. Or you can supplement the soil with urea or another preferred source of nitrogen.

How To Use: Gently work granules into the soil. Do not let fertilizer come into direct contact with your cabbage plants. Water thoroughly after each application.


  • Safe to use for foliar feeding
  • Can be added to a hose-end sprayer


  • Not a slow-release formula

I really like Fox Farm fertilizers for use on edible vegetable and herb plants. This liquid concentrate is relatively balanced while offering an extra dose of nitrogen, which is perfect for cabbage during the early stages of growth.

I recommend using this fertilizer either as a soil amendment or foliar spray during spring and early summer to encourage large, vigorous cabbage heads. 

How To Use: Dilute the liquid concentrate in clean water using the measurement guidelines printed on the bottle. Apply directly to the soil or spray the entire cabbage plant for foliar feeding.


  • Feeds for up to 6 months
  • High dose of nitrogen


  • May burn cabbage foliage if overused

If your cabbage patch needs more nitrogen than anything else, I definitely recommend these granules from Osmocote. They’ll deliver a slow supply of nitrogen as well as other nutrients such as boron, manganese, iron, and magnesium that may otherwise be deficient following a soil test.

A single application of this fertilizer can feed for up to 6 months. I think this formula is a great option for anyone who wants a more hands-off approach to vegetable gardening and where soil conditions are not optimal. There’s no shame in letting a long-lasting fertilizer like this one take much of the work out of growing cabbage and more!

How To Use: Use the included scoop to measure and distribute granules over the soil being careful to avoid cabbage leaves. Water the area thoroughly after applying.

How to Fertilize Cabbage

Cabbage is a hearty vegetable that is quite easy to grow when adequately fed. Personally, I find that amending the soil in the spring with a rich organic fertilizer is equally as important as any mid-season applications. 

You can then supplement with granular or liquid fertilizer to encourage more vigorous growth without worrying about whether your cabbage’s basic needs are being met.

How To Make Cabbage Grow Faster

The best way to encourage fast growth is by providing a consistent source of nutrition for your cabbages. 

Supplement the soil with a good source of nitrogen early on in the year. Continue adding fertilizer as needed so that the soil does not become depleted part way through the growing season.

Avoiding Fertilizer Burn

Cabbage is not very susceptible to fertilizer burn via the roots. However, when high-strength fertilizer makes contact with the leaves it can easily damage the plant. 

Be sure to apply fertilizers directly to the soil and rinse away any that does come into contact with the foliage unless specifically intended for use as a foliar spray.

When to Fertilize Cabbage

It’s always a good idea to amend the soil prior to starting vegetables. Incorporate an organic fertilizer like aged compost or manure into the garden several weeks before transplanting cabbage.

Depending on your soil’s quality, fertilize with a slow-release formula 2 weeks after transplanting. Continue feeding throughout the growing season with a slow-release or liquid fertilizer.

Avoid fertilizing towards the end of the growing season as your cabbages increase in size – from late summer onwards – to avoid the heads of your cabbages from splitting.

How Often to Fertilize

After applying a slow-release fertilizer after transplanting, apply a second dose of nitrogen-rich fertilizer about a month later. 

If you opt for a liquid fertilizer for the main growing season, re-apply every 2 to 3 weeks according to the product packaging.

Verdict: Best Fertilizer for Cabbage

Applying a high-quality fertilizer to your cabbage patch could make a huge difference in this year’s crop versus the previous one! My favorite formula to use on cabbage is Dr. Earth Premium Gold All Purpose Fertilizer 4-4-4. It’s a balanced source of macronutrients that can be used on new plantings and for the entire duration of the growing season.  

Dr. Earth Premium Gold All Purpose Fertilizer 4-4-4

Best Organic Fertilizer for Cabbage

Dr. Earth Premium Gold All Purpose Fertilizer 4-4-4

Balanced nutrition using only organic ingredients also supports long-term soil health. Use either as slow-release pellets or transform them into a compost tea.

Alternatively, if you prefer a water-soluble fertilizer, then use JR Peters Classic Fertilizer 20-20-20. It’s a great option for heavy-feeding vegetables of all kinds.

JR Peters Classic Fertilizer 20-20-20

Best Water-Soluble Fertilizer for Cabbage

JR Peters Classic Fertilizer 20-20-20

Water-soluble fertilizer for use in nutrient-depleted soil and where established cabbage plants need a nutrient boost.  

FAQ’s Fertilizing Cabbage