Feeding Trees & Shrubs
Early spring is the time to begin feeding many of the trees and shrubs in the garden. This feeding will help get them off to a good growing start early in the season. In addition to light and water, trees and shrubs need a regular diet of minerals and other elements. You can ensure that your trees and shrubs grow large and stay healthy and beautiful with a regular feeding program.
Trees and shrubs grow during spring and early summer. They become dormant during late fall and practically stop growing during winter. Some indicators that your trees and shrubs may be stressed and could benefit from a regular fertilizer feeding include:
• Annual twig growth was short.
• Leaves were light-green or yellow.
• Leaves appear smaller than normal.
• Leaves were shed during the growing season.
• Branch tips appear to be dying back.
• Foliage appears wilted.
• Leaves have an abnormal amount of dead spots.
• Production of leaves and/or flowers was less than normal.
What Kind of Fertilizer?
The question most often asked about spring feeding is, "What kind of fertilizer do I use for this or that plant?" Spring feeding of individual plants is simple, if you will follow this general rule:
• Evergreen trees and shrubs, including Rhododendrons, Camellias, Azaleas, Junipers, Cypress, Spruce, Pine, and most broad-leaf evergreens are fertilized with an acid loving plant fertilizer like Espoma Holly Tone.
• Deciduous trees and shrubs, which includes flowering and shade trees as well as fruit trees are all fed with a general garden-type fertilizer; we recommend Espoma Fruit and Shade Tree or Bumper Crop All-Purpose Food. (Exceptions to this rule are: Blueberries, Serviceberry, Fringe Tree, Clethra, Fothergilla, Witch Hazel, Oak Trees, and Magnolias. These are acid loving plants and you want to use the fertilizers mentioned above.)
• Roses and flowering shrubs (including lilacs, spirea, weigela, forsythia, etc.) are fertilized with a rose fertilizer like Espoma Rose-Tone or Bumper Crop Rose and Flower Food.
Common Methods to Fertilize Trees and Shrubs
Feeder roots of trees and shrubs are in a wide area from the drip-line (the circle that could be drawn on the soil around a tree, directly under the tips of its outermost branches) about halfway to the trunk and that same distance beyond the end of the limbs. So apply fertilizer in this feeder root zone.
• Surface Applications: Granular or diluted liquid fertilizer is spread across the soils surface. Rainfall and/or irrigation move the nutrients down to the root zone.
• Soil Injections: Fertilizer is placed into the soil around the root zone of the tree. This is a preferred method where grass is growing underneath a tree and placement of the fertilizer into the soil will allow the tree roots to utilize the fertilizer instead of the grass roots.
Tree fertilizer spikes accomplish this by being driven into the soil deep enough to be below the grass roots.
Read the Label. Always apply fertilizer as directed on the package.