Top 5 Fertilizers for Cabbage Growth and Yield

Fertilizers, providing essential nutrients, are crucial for the growth and development stages of cabbage farming.

Cabbage is a heavy feeder that requires high amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients such as magnesium, boron, molybdenum, and lime. The level of organic matter in your soil plays a vital role in plant nutrient availability.


Fertilizers can be applied in different forms and methods depending on the soil type, climate, and cropping system. The most common fertilizers for cabbage are organic manures, composts, chemical fertilizers, and biofertilizers. 

Organic manures and composts improve the soil structure and fertility, while chemical fertilizers supply readily available nutrients. Biofertilizers are beneficial microorganisms that enhance cabbage plants’ nutrient uptake and disease resistance. 

Fertilizer application should be made according to soil test results and crop requirements to avoid nutrient deficiencies or excesses that can affect the yield and quality of cabbage.

Fertilizer Types

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Fertilizers are substances that provide nutrients to plants and improve soil fertility. Different fertilizers exist, such as organic, inorganic, synthetic, and natural. 

Organic fertilizers are derived from plant or animal sources and contain carbon. Inorganic fertilizers are made from minerals or chemicals and do not contain carbon. 

Synthetic fertilizers are manufactured artificially and have specific nutrient ratios. Natural fertilizers are obtained from biological processes such as composting or manure.

Each type of fertilizer has its benefits and drawbacks. Organic fertilizers can improve soil structure, water retention, and microbial activity but may have low nutrient content, slow release rate, and potential pathogens. 

Inorganic fertilizers can provide high nutrient content, fast release rate, and precise application, but they may cause soil acidity, salinity, and nutrient leaching. 

Synthetic fertilizers can offer customized nutrient formulas, consistent quality, and easy storage, but they may be expensive, non-renewable, and harmful to the environment. 

Natural fertilizers can be cheap, renewable, and environmentally friendly but may vary in quality, availability, and composition.

Understanding Cabbage Nutrient Requirements

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Cabbage is a cool-season crop that requires adequate nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium for optimal growth and quality. 

Nitrogen is essential for leaf development and color, phosphorus promotes root growth and seed formation, and potassium regulates water balance and disease resistance. 

The exact nutrient requirements of cabbage depend on the soil type, variety, planting date, and environmental conditions. A soil test is recommended to determine the fertilizer needs of each cabbage field.


Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for cabbage growth. It helps the plant produce chlorophyll, which is responsible for the green color of the leaves and stems. Higher photosynthesis efficacies boost plant productivity and resilience.

Nitrogen also supports the development of proteins, enzymes, and amino acids vital for the plant’s metabolism and growth. Cabbage plants need a steady supply of nitrogen throughout their life cycle, especially during the vegetative stage when they form large heads. 

Too little nitrogen can result in stunted growth, yellowing leaves, and poor-quality heads. Too much nitrogen can cause excessive leaf growth at the expense of head formation and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases.

Signs of Nitrogen Deficiency in Cabbages

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for cabbages, promoting leaf growth and green color. If your cabbages lack nitrogen, they may show some of these indicators:

  • Yellowing or pale green leaves, especially on the lower and older leaves.
  • Stunted growth and small heads.
  • Loose or open heads that are prone to splitting or rotting.
  • Reduced yield and quality.

You can apply organic fertilizers such as compost, manure, blood meal, or fish emulsion to prevent or correct nitrogen deficiency in your cabbages. You can also use synthetic fertilizers that contain nitrogen, such as ammonium nitrate or urea. Follow the instructions on the label and avoid over-fertilizing, which can cause other plant problems.


Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for cabbage growth, as it helps with root development, stem strength, seed production, and disease resistance. Phosphorus deficiency can cause stunted growth, purple leaves, poor head formation, and low yield. 

To ensure adequate phosphorus supply, cabbage plants should be fertilized with a balanced fertilizer that contains phosphorus, such as 10-10-10 or 15-15-15. Phosphorus can also be applied as a side dressing or foliar spray during the growing season.

Signs of Phosphorus Deficiency in Cabbages

Phosphorus is an essential nutrient for cabbages and other brassicas. It helps them develop strong roots, stems, and leaves and produce quality heads. If your cabbages lack phosphorus, they may show some of these indicators:

  • Stunted growth and reduced yield
  • The purple or reddish coloration on the lower leaves and stems.
  • Poor root development and rotting
  • Delayed maturity and flowering
  • Small and misshapen heads

To prevent or correct phosphorus deficiency in cabbages, apply a balanced fertilizer containing phosphorus before planting or transplanting. You can also add organic matter, such as compost or manure, to improve soil fertility and pH. 

Avoid planting cabbages in cold soils that limit phosphorus availability. Monitor your cabbages regularly for signs of nutrient stress and adjust your fertilization accordingly.


Potassium helps cabbages regulate water balance, photosynthesis, enzyme activation, and plant stress resistance. Potassium deficiency can cause reduced yield, poor quality, and increased susceptibility to pests and diseases.

Signs of Potassium Deficiency

Potassium is an essential nutrient for cabbages, as it helps them grow healthy and resist diseases. If your cabbages lack potassium, they may show some of the following indicators:

  • Yellowing or browning of the leaf margins and tips
  • Curling or wilting of the leaves
  • Poor head formation or small heads
  • Reduced yield and quality
  • Increased susceptibility to pests and diseases

To prevent or correct potassium deficiency in your cabbages, you can apply organic or synthetic fertilizers that contain potassium, such as compost, manure, wood ash, potassium sulfate, or potassium chloride. 

Again, you should also test your soil regularly to monitor its pH and nutrient levels.

Secondary Nutrients and Micronutrients

Calcium, magnesium, sulfur, and trace elements are essential nutrients for plant growth and development. They play important roles in various physiological processes, such as cell division, photosynthesis, enzyme activity, and chlorophyll synthesis. 

Calcium is involved in cell wall formation and stability, membrane permeability, and signal transduction. Calcium deficiency can cause tipburn (browning of leaf margins), stunted growth, and poor head formation in cabbage. 

Magnesium is a component of chlorophyll and a cofactor for many enzymes. Magnesium deficiency can result in interveinal chlorosis (yellowing between leaf veins), leaf curling, and reduced head size. 

Sulfur is a constituent of amino acids, proteins, vitamins, and glucosinolates (compounds that give cabbage its characteristic flavor and health benefits). Sulfur deficiency can cause pale green leaves, thin stems, delayed maturity, and reduced glucosinolate content. 

Trace elements such as iron, zinc, manganese, boron, copper, molybdenum, and nickel are needed in minimal amounts but are essential for various biochemical reactions. Trace element deficiencies can cause symptoms such as leaf chlorosis, necrosis, distortion, wilting, and reduced yield.

The availability of these nutrients in the soil depends on several factors, such as soil texture, organic matter content, pH, and fertilizer application. Soil testing is the best method to assess the nutrient status of the soil and determine the appropriate fertilizer rates for cabbage production.

Organic sources such as composts, manures, and fertilizers can also supply these nutrients, improving soil quality and water-holding capacity.

Types of Fertilizers

Fertilizers are substances that provide nutrients to plants and improve their growth and yield. There are different types of fertilizers depending on their source, composition, and release rate. 

Organic Fertilizers

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Organic fertilizers are derived from natural materials such as animals, compost, green manure, or seaweed. 

They contain various nutrients in organic forms that need to be decomposed by soil microorganisms before plants can absorb them. Organic fertilizers improve soil structure, water retention, and biological activity.

Organic fertilizers are natural sources of nutrients that can enhance soil quality and plant growth. They are derived from plant or animal materials that are by-products or natural processes’ end products. Some examples of organic fertilizers are compost, manure, bone meal, blood meal, fish emulsion, seaweed extract, and feather meal.

Organic fertilizers have many benefits over synthetic fertilizers, such as:

  • They are non-toxic and do not contaminate the food or the environment with harmful chemicals.
  • They improve soil structure, water retention, aeration, and microbial activity.
  • They release nutrients slowly and steadily, reducing the risk of nutrient leaching or burning plants.
  • They provide a balanced supply of macro and micronutrients, organic matter, and beneficial organisms.
  • They are renewable and sustainable resources that reduce waste and greenhouse gas emissions.

The nutrient content of organic fertilizers varies depending on the source material. 

Still, generally, they contain moderate amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K), as well as other elements such as calcium (Ca), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), iron (Fe), zinc (Zn) and copper (Cu). 

The nutrient content can be affected by factors such as moisture content, age, storage method, and processing method.

The following table shows some examples of organic fertilizers and their approximate nutrient content:

Organic FertilizerN (%)P (%)K (%)
Bone meal4200
Blood meal1220
Fish emulsion523
Seaweed extract10.54
Feather meal1300

To use organic fertilizers effectively, it is vital to know the nutrient requirements of the plants, the nutrient availability of the soil, and the nutrient composition of the fertilizer. A soil test can help determine soil fertility and pH levels, and a fertilizer analysis can help determine how much fertilizer to apply and when.

Organic fertilizers can be applied differently depending on their form and purpose. Some standard methods are:

  • Broadcasting: spreading the fertilizer evenly over the soil surface before planting or during the growing season.
  • Side-dressing: applying the fertilizer along the sides of rows or around individual plants during the growing season.
  • Top-dressing: applying a thin layer of fertilizer over an established lawn or garden bed.
  • Foliar feeding: spraying a diluted solution of liquid fertilizer on plant leaves during the growing season.

If used properly, organic fertilizers can benefit soil health and plant growth. However, they also have some limitations and challenges that need to be considered, such as:

  • They may have lower nutrient concentrations than synthetic fertilizers, requiring larger quantities and more frequent applications.
  • They may have variable nutrient ratios that may not match the specific needs of different crops or stages of growth.
  • They may contain pathogens, weeds, or pests that could harm plants or humans if not treated or handled correctly.
  • They may have unpleasant odors or attract unwanted animals if not stored or disposed of properly.
  • Therefore, using organic fertilizers with other practices such as crop rotation, cover cropping, and mulching is advisable.

Synthetic Fertilizers

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Synthetic fertilizers are manufactured from chemical compounds such as ammonium nitrate, urea, or potassium chloride. They contain nutrients in inorganic forms that are readily available to plants. 

Synthetic fertilizers can provide precise amounts of nutrients to meet specific crop needs, but they may also cause environmental problems such as nutrient leaching, soil acidification, or water pollution.

Synthetic fertilizers are artificial substances that provide essential nutrients for plant growth. They have several benefits over organic fertilizers, such as:

  • They are more concentrated and can supply more nutrients per unit weight or volume.
  • They are more readily available and can be applied at any time of the year.
  • They are more uniform and consistent in their nutrient content and quality.
  • They can be tailored to meet the specific needs of different crops and soil conditions.

Some examples of synthetic fertilizers are

  • Urea contains 46% nitrogen. Nitrogen is essential for plant growth, especially for leafy vegetables like cabbage. Cabbage can use up to 2.57 oz. (70 g) of N per 40-square-foot (3.6m2) garden bed, depending on soil type, variety, and environmental conditions. Urea can be applied before planting or as a side dressing during the growing season.
  • Diammonium phosphate (DAP) contains 18% nitrogen and 46% phosphorus. Phosphorus is essential for root development, flowering, and fruiting. Cabbages need about 1.18 oz. (32 g) of N per 40-square-foot (3.6m2) garden bed for optimal yield. DAP can be applied before planting or as a starter fertilizer at planting.
  • Potassium chloride (KCl): A potassium-rich fertilizer that contains 60% potassium by weight. It is essential for crops that require high amounts of potassium, such as potatoes, tomatoes, and bananas.

Synthetic fertilizers can help improve crop production and quality, but they should be used cautiously and carefully. Overusing or misusing synthetic fertilizers can cause environmental problems such as soil acidification, nutrient leaching, water pollution, and greenhouse gas emissions. 

Therefore, it is advisable to follow the recommended rates and methods of application and to combine synthetic fertilizers with organic matter and other soil management practices.

Slow-Release Fertilizers

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Slow-release fertilizers are a type of synthetic fertilizer that release nutrients gradually over time. They can be coated with polymer materials or encapsulated in resin capsules that control the rate of nutrient release. 

Slow-release fertilizers reduce the frequency of fertilizer application, minimize nutrient losses and prevent salt accumulation in the soil.

Slow-release fertilizers are a type of fertilizer that release nutrients gradually over time rather than all at once. They have several benefits for plants and soil health, such as

  • Reducing nutrient leaching and runoff can pollute water sources and harm aquatic life.
  • Improving nutrient use efficiency and plant uptake can enhance growth and yield.
  • Minimizing salt accumulation and soil toxicity can damage plant roots and reduce water availability.
  • Decreasing the frequency and amount of fertilizer application can save time, money, and labor.

Some examples of slow-release fertilizers are:

  • Organic fertilizers: These are derived from plant or animal sources, such as compost, manure, bone meal, or blood meal. They contain various nutrients in different proportions depending on the source material. They release nutrients slowly as soil microorganisms decompose them.
  • Coated fertilizers: These are synthetic fertilizers coated with a material that controls the rate of nutrient release. The coating can be made of polymers, sulfur, or resin, and the release rate depends on factors such as temperature, moisture, and coating thickness.
  • Inhibitor fertilizers: These synthetic fertilizers contain inhibitors that slow down the chemical reactions that convert nutrients into plant-available forms. The inhibitors can be urease or nitrification inhibitors, which reduce nitrogen losses due to volatilization or denitrification.

Top 5 Fertilizers for Cabbage

Cabbage is a nutritious and versatile vegetable that can produce large, tasty heads if grown in fertile soil. However, cabbage is also a heavy feeder that requires a lot of nutrients throughout its growth cycle. 

To ensure a successful harvest, you must choose the right fertilizer for your cabbage plants and apply it at the right time and rate. Here are some of the best fertilizers for cabbage that you can use in your garden.

Fish Emulsion

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This organic liquid fertilizer provides a balanced dose of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium (NPK), micronutrients, and trace elements. Fish emulsion is perfect for boosting leafy growth and improving soil health. 

You can apply fish emulsion every two weeks during the growing season by diluting it with water, spraying it on the foliage, or watering it into the soil.

H3: Composted Chicken Manure

This organic fertilizer adds organic matter and nutrients to your soil. Composted chicken manure has a high nitrogen content that promotes green growth and head formation, and it also contains phosphorus, potassium, calcium, and other beneficial elements.

 You can apply composted chicken manure before planting by mixing it with your soil or as a side dressing during the growing season by sprinkling it around your plants.

All-Purpose Organic Vegetable Fertilizer

This granular fertilizer contains natural ingredients such as feather meal, bone meal, kelp meal, and alfalfa meal. It has an NPK ratio of 4-4-4, providing balanced nutrition for your cabbage plants. It also improves soil structure and microbial activity. 

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You can apply this fertilizer at planting time by working it into your soil or scratching it into the soil surface around your plants every four to six weeks during the growing season.

10-10-10 Synthetic Fertilizer

This chemical fertilizer provides a quick boost of nutrients for your cabbage plants. It has an NPK ratio of 10-10-10 that stimulates rapid growth and head development. 

It also contains some micronutrients such as iron, zinc, and manganese. You can apply this fertilizer at transplanting time by sprinkling it around your plants or every three to four weeks during the growing season by dissolving it in water and watering it into the soil.

Slow-Release Granular Fertilizer

This chemical fertilizer releases nutrients slowly over time for your cabbage plants. It has an NPK ratio of 14-14-14 that supports steady growth and head formation. It also contains some micronutrients such as boron, copper, and molybdenum. 

You can apply this fertilizer at planting time by mixing it with your soil or once during the growing season by sprinkling it around your plants.

Proper Fertilizer Application

Proper fertilizer application is essential for healthy plant growth and optimal crop yield. Fertilizers provide essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium to plants, often deficient in the soil. 

However, applying too much or too little fertilizer can negatively affect the soil quality and the environment. Therefore, using fertilizers at the correct rate, time, and method is essential.

Soil Testing and Amendment

Soil testing and amendment can help gardeners determine the appropriate amount and type of fertilizer. Soil testing analyzes the soil for its physical and chemical properties, such as pH, texture, organic matter, and nutrient levels. 

Soil testing can reveal any nutrient deficiencies or imbalances in the soil that need to be corrected. 

Soil amendment adds organic or inorganic materials to the soil to improve its structure, water retention, drainage, and fertility. Soil amendment can also help adjust the pH of the soil to suit different plant preferences.

Gardeners can achieve proper fertilizer application that benefits their plants and the environment by testing soil and adjusting nutrient levels according to the test results and crop requirements.

Fertilizer Application Timing and Techniques

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Cabbage is a heavy feeder crop that requires adequate amounts of nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), potassium (K), and other micronutrients for optimal growth and yield. 

Fertilizer application timing and techniques can affect the cabbage plants’ availability and uptake of these nutrients. The following are some general guidelines for fertilizing cabbage based on soil tests and research from various sources.

Phosphorus and Potash

Apply most of the P and K fertilizer before planting or at planting time as a broadcast or band application. These nutrients are relatively immobile in the soil and must be placed near the root zone for better absorption. 

Cabbages need adequate levels of these nutrients for high yields and quality.


Apply N fertilizer in split applications throughout the growing season to match the crop demand and reduce losses due to leaching or volatilization. 

Cabbage can use up to 2.57 oz. (70 g) of N per 40-square-foot (3.6m2) garden bed, depending on soil type, variety, and environmental conditions.

 A general recommendation is to apply 25-50% of the total N at planting or soon after transplanting and then apply the rest in two or three side-dressings at 3-4 week intervals until heading begins.

 Avoid applying N after heading, as it may reduce head quality and increase disease susceptibility.


Apply micronutrients such as boron (B), sulfur (S), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), zinc (Zn), manganese (Mn), iron (Fe), copper (Cu), and molybdenum (Mo) if soil tests indicate a deficiency or if symptoms appear on the plants. 

These nutrients are essential for physiological processes such as photosynthesis, cell wall formation, enzyme activity, and nitrogen fixation. 

Some micronutrients can be applied as foliar sprays for quick correction of deficiencies. Others are better applied to the soil before planting or as side dressings with N fertilizer.

Following these, fertilizer application timing and techniques can optimize cabbage growth and yield while minimizing environmental impacts.

FAQs on Top 5 Fertilizers for Cabbage Growth and Yield

Which fertilizer is best for cabbages?
The best fertilizer for cabbages depends on various factors, such as soil type, nutrient content, and plant requirements. Organic manures and composts can improve soil structure and fertility, while chemical fertilizers provide readily available nutrients. Biofertilizers can enhance nutrient uptake and disease resistance. Conducting a soil test to determine the fertilizer needs of your cabbage crop is recommended.

What is the best pH fertilizer for growing cabbage?
The best pH range for growing cabbage is between 6.0 and 7.5. Cabbage plants require high nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, and micronutrients like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur. To determine the best fertilizer for your cabbage, conduct a soil test to assess your soil’s nutrient needs and pH level. Based on the results, choose a fertilizer that provides the necessary nutrients and adjusts the soil pH.

What makes cabbage bigger?
Cabbage can grow bigger with proper fertilization, especially nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. These nutrients help promote leaf and root growth and regulate water balance, photosynthesis, and disease resistance. Cabbage also requires adequate sunlight, water, and spacing to maximize its size and yield.

In Summary

These are some of the best fertilizers for cabbage that you can use to grow healthy and productive plants in your garden. Remember to follow the manufacturer’s instructions on how much and how often to apply each fertilizer type for optimal results.

Use proper equipment and calibration methods to ensure uniform and accurate application of fertilizers. Avoid applying fertilizers when foliage is wet or windy to prevent damage or drift—water after applying fertilizers to increase nutrient availability in the soil.

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