Fertilizing Your Trees

Fertilizers supply essential nutrients and minerals to your trees so they can remain healthy. Common fertilizers contain nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium which are typically not present in soils. Before beginning to fertilize your trees, it’s essential to know how to do so correctly.

Your tree’s health isn’t guaranteed by fertilizer alone. No matter if fertilizer is applied or not, it’s still important to take other steps for maximum benefits. Fertilizer won’t do much good if there are pest or drought issues present; however, fertilizers can still be beneficial in certain circumstances. Before proceeding with fertilizing your trees, let us discuss some essential tips and knowledge you should possess.

When Should You Fertilize Trees?

Knowing when to fertilize trees is an essential step in understanding how to fertilize them effectively. Trees still growing should be fertilized throughout the year with nitrogen-based fertilizer; young trees require fertilization from March-June as they require it as they develop. Spring fertilization also benefits your trees by making their leaves greener and helping prevent infection. Fall fertilization also has many advantages; not only does it help your tree survive wintertime, but it helps replenish lost nutrients from the soil during summer.

As trees age, they will require less fertilizer. However, they still require some amount of fertilizer annually. To determine how much phosphorus and potassium your tree requires, take a soil test; this will let you determine how much fertilizer is necessary.

Signs Your Tree Needs Fertilizing:

  • Dead branches
  • Leaves can turn discolored
  • Twigs are very short
  • A smaller number of leaves
  • Smaller number of buds
  • Reduced leaf size
  • Increase in overall size

What Amount of Fertilizer Should You Use on Trees?

How much fertilizer you apply depends on several factors, including the stage of your tree and what kind of fertilizer is used. As a general guideline, use 1 to 0.2 pounds of nitrogen per 100 feet as measured on your fertilizer bag; this gives an accurate reading and allows for the correct application rate. If it looks like your tree still needs extra attention, space out fertilizing by several months until its tolerance for nitrogen has been reached.

Baby Trees

Babies do not need fertilization during their first year. After that, only minimal amounts of fertilizer should be applied; too much nitrogen could damage your tree’s roots. Use slow-release organic fertilizers on young trees which can be obtained from both animal and plant sources. Inorganic fertilizers tend to be more expensive than organic ones.

Growing Trees

Your tree must reach its maximum growth stage, which means it requires plenty of fertilizer. To ensure the health of your tree, check the fertilizer bag twice annually.

Mature Trees

Mature trees require very little fertilizer, if any. Make sure not to over fertilize as this will deplete the soil and minerals around them.

How Can I Fertilize Trees?

Mulch is often mistaken for fertilizing trees. Spread the fertilizer evenly over the root zone, taking care not to get into the tree trunk. Make sure not to apply too much fertilizer. Make sure your tree gets plenty of water after applying fertilizer so it absorbs into soil without damaging its root system. If soil is overly compacted, consider aerating before applying fertilizer.

What Makes a Beneficial Fruit Tree Fertilizer?

Fruit trees require nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium – the same nutrients found in most tree fertilizers. Nitrogen helps boost fruit tree growth by aiding photosynthesis; phosphorus helps transfer energy and cultivate strong roots; potassium controls water pressure so plants can take root more easily. These essential nutrients can be found in most fertilizers for healthy fruit trees.