The Best 5 Fertilizers for Centipede Grass

When it comes to centipede grass, the fertilizer you use can use all the difference. There is too much marketing hype surrounding fertilizers. Don’t be tricked into buying fertilizers that may do more harm than good. The best fertilizers deliver quality ingredients with the proper N-P-K ratio.

Our top recommendation is…

Greenpinky’s top pick:
  • Perfect nutrient balance
  • Quality ingredients
  • Great price
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Centipede grass is a very popular grass that is grown for lawns, particularly in the Southern part of the United States. It is an ideal type of grass because of its ability to grow in all sorts of medium and how low maintenance it is.

Regardless, the proper fertilizer is needed to let your lawn look luscious and beautiful. The proper fertilizer should have high amounts of nitrogen and potassium with as little phosphorus as possible. Fertilizers with an N-P-K ratio of 15-0-15 or 18-0-18 work very well. Also look for fertilizers with quality ingredients.

Keep learning about our top picks as well as a centipede grass growing guide below.

Comparing Our Top 3 Recommendations for Centipede Grass Fertilizers

Healthy centipede grass lawn

The Best Centipede Grass Fertilizers

These are our top recommended fertilizers for centipede grass. They all have the proper N-P-K ratio and utilize top notch ingredients. Below are some short reviews and descriptions of our best picks.

Best Fertilizers for Centipede Grass

N-P-K Ratio: 15-0-15

This natural lawn fertilizer is specifically blended to treat lawns that look shabby or less than full due to potassium and nitrogen deficiencies. The fertilizer contains not only a balanced blend of these two nutrients but also humic and fulvic acids. These acids help to condition the soil, while the other ingredients add essential nutrients that lawns need in order to thrive. Centipede grass that is treated with this fertilizer is often greener and fuller. In addition, the fertilizer is safe and contains no chemicals. It’s also easy to apply, as it can simply be sprayed over the grass.

This is our favorite spray fertilizer with optimal nutrients specifically catered for centipede grass. People tend to be pretty divided when it comes to the topic of spray versus granular fertilizer. The way I see it, spray fertilizers are easier to apply, but may be a little less exact in their distribution of the fertilizer. Pick whichever you prefer. Regardless, both work as long as you have a quality fertilizer. What works, simply works. Can’t argue with results.

N-P-K Ratio: 15-0-15

This slow-release fertilizer helps to maintain lawn health by delivering essential vitamins and nutrients, including nitrogen and iron. The nitrogen releases slowly into the soil, so lawns only need to be treated with this fertilizer in the spring and fall. This fertilizer is specifically crafted to grow healthier centipede grass. It can help to maintain lawns that are already lush but can also be used to treat issues such as sparse patches or yellowing grass.

This fertilizer gets is our top recommendation if you prefer granular fertilizers.

N-P-K Ratio: 15-0-15

This weed and feed, which was designed specifically with centipede grass in mind, supports lawns in two ways. First, the carefully crafted blend of iron, nitrogen, and other trace elements slowly releases into the soil, nourishing the lawn for an extended period of time and promoting greener, fuller grass. Second, the mix also gets rid of pesky weeds that steal nutrients from the soil. In addition, this weed and feed is easy to apply. It can simply be sprinkled onto a damp lawn, either after a brief watering or in the morning when there is still dew on the grass.

If you are looking for the simplicity of a quality weed and feed, Ferti-Lome’s will serve you well.

N-P-K Ratio: 32-0-10

This lawn food from Scotts contains a balanced blend of nitrogen, iron, and potash that helps to promote healthier, more lush lawns. In addition, the fertilizer helps to protect lawns from heat or drought damage. The blend works well on any type of turf, including centipede grass, and is gentle enough that it won’t burn or damage the grass blades. It also has a slow-release formula, so it nourishes lawns for up to three months and won’t need to be reapplied during that time.

N-P-K Ratio: 12-0-0 + Iron and Manganese

This lawn booster is easy to use and contains the essential nutrients lawns need to thrive. A blend of nitrogen, iron, and manganese helps to boost the color of centipede grass and creates a more lush lawn. In addition, the nitrogen included releases in two ways. One-third of the nitrogen releases slowly, nourishing the lawn for a long time, while the other two-thirds release immediately, delivering much-needed nutrients quickly. Gardeners who use this lawn booster may find that their centipede grass grows much faster. In addition, it’s easy to mix this concentrated fertilizer and apply it to the lawn using any garden sprayer.

Centipede Grass Care Guide

Centipede grass, or eremochloa ophiuroides, is a grass that is known for its heat tolerance and low maintenance requirements. These qualities make it a favorite amongst lawn owners. Compared to other grasses, it requires far less attention.

Nonetheless, if you want a healthy, luscious centipede grass lawn, you will need to take care of it properly.

Best Places to Grow Centipede Grass

Centipede grass is restricted by the climate and soil requirements. It is more sensitive to cold than many other grass types (and conversely much more heat tolerant). It thrives in the sandy, acidic soils of the Southeast.

The grass itself forms a relatively shallow root system. This means that it needs regular water – whether that be through natural rainfall or extra watering. In periods of time where there are low rainfall, the lawn will need to be supplemented with additional water. One quality that makes centipede grass very forgiving is its ability to recover quickly from periods of stress.

Why Centipede Grass is So Popular

Centipede grass is extremely popular in the Southeast. This is because it thrives in these areas and does not require much maintenance. It has fair shade tolerance, so it will not die under shaded areas or trees. Even though it is sensitive to drought periods and will likely turn brown, it tends to go into a state of dormancy and will perk back when watering is restarted. It also grows fairly slowly, which means less mowing.

Soil Requirements

Centipede grass grows well in acidic sandy soils. It tolerates soil with pH as low as 4.5. Many other grass types cannot tolerate soils that are this acidic.  In more basic soils, centipede grass can become more sensitive to iron deficiencies. In areas where the soil is very basic, you may finding yourself frequently lowering the pH of the soil and supplementing with iron. In some ways, this negates the simplicity of the maintenance required for centipede grass lawns.

Centipede Grass Maintenance

You’ll want to try to keep your centipede grass around 1.5 – 2 inches tall. When you actually mow your lawn, try not to mow more than 1/3 of the blade of grass at a time. You can leave lawn clippings on the lawn to act as a mulch for the lawn.

Try to avoid excessive foot traffic on your lawn. Unlike certain grass types, centipede grass is not as durable to foot traffic. Centipede grass grows by spreading slowly, so after it sustains damage, it can take a while to recover.

Watering your Centipede Grass

As I mentioned earlier, centipede grass forms a rather shallow root systems. This can make it more prone to periods of drought and may turn brown sooner than other grass types. That being said, centipede grass should only be watered when you see wilting blades or when the grass turns slightly grayish-green. By spacing your watering schedule appropriately, it actually encourages the formation of a deeper root system and also will minimize the risk of developing diseases or attracting pests.

When you water, you want to apply about an inch of water. This should be enough to soak the soil to about 6-8 inches deep. Try to water early in the morning so that the grass has all day to dry off (again to minimize the risk of diseases).

In short, water regularly (but not too often) and let it soak deeply.

Fertilizing your Centipede Grass Lawn

Centipede grass can be sensitive to over fertilization, particularly with fertilizers with too much nitrogen or phosphorous. This is why it is vital to buy a fertilizer that is specifically made for centipede grass. You want fertilizer that has higher potassium components and virtually no phosphorous components. A phosphorous-free fertilizer with an N-P-K of 15-0-15 is ideal for centipede grass. You’ll want to use only about 2 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 square feet.

Fertilize your lawn after you file your taxes! No, really, fertilize your centipede grass after tax season. Generally, you’ll want to fertilize your grass a couple of weeks after the grass turns green, but before the temperature starts reaching above 85F. Usually, this means that you will want to start fertilizing around early to mid-May.

Be careful of using weed and feed fertilizers on centipede grass unless it’s specifically made for centipede grass, such as the Ferti-Lome Weed and Feed mentioned above. General weed and feed fertilizers can be deadly to centipede grass.

Bottom Line

Depending on if you like a spray fertilizer or granular fertilizer, I recommend buying Simple Lawn’s fertilizer or Ferti-Lome’s fertilizer, respectively. Do not make the mistake of buying a fertilizer that is not specifically meant to centipede grass. Even though centipede grass is a low maintenance grass, it has specific nutrient needs and the most common mistake that kills centipede grass is using inappropriate fertilizer (which leads to over fertilization). You cannot go wrong with any of the fertilizers above. 

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About the author: Carley Miller is a horticultural expert at TheGreenPinky. She previously owned a landscaping business for 25 years and worked at a local garden center for 10 years.

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