Tree Fertilizers: When and How (Including The Best Tree Fertilizers)

Fruit trees, evergreens, and deciduous trees all need fertilizer to make up for the nutrients they lack. Your trees may grow bigger, produce more fruit and leaves, and survive longer if you use the right kind of fertilizer. Trees in your garden will thrive for many years if you use the best tree fertilizer.

It’s essential to determine if your trees need fertilizing before you decide to fertilize them. Additional nutrients may not be beneficial to trees that appear to have been damaged by overwatering or disease. You must also use the correct amount of fertilizer, at the appropriate time, and in the proper location if you decide to fertilize trees.

Fertilizer application to trees may have some advantages. Trees do, after all, make an investment. They provide shelter, beauty, and often produce fruit. It’s worth maintaining trees because they may take years to grow into maturity. Washing, trimming, and fertilizing are all required for proper tree care.

Using tree fertilizers is explained in depth in this article. Many questions about supplying tree nutrients may be answered by reading through this article. You’ll discover the finest fertilizers for fruit trees as well as the best technique to feed them in your front or back yard.

Why You Should Use Tree Fertilizer

The sole purpose for fertilizing trees is to promote their overall health. Fertilizing trees keeps the roots healthy while encouraging new growth. Insects, diseases, and other stressors don’t affect trees that are well-grown. The nutrients trees need for rapid development are provided by fertilization.

Fertilizer can be useful for sustaining the growth of mature trees. To help young trees establish healthy roots, they may also benefit from proper fertilization. Your trees’ health may be improved by applying fertilizer regularly throughout the spring and fall. A slow-release fertilizer can be applied once a year as well.

Do You Need to Fertilize Evergreen Trees?

Fertilization may be beneficial to evergreen trees. If the soil quality is bad, needle growth is scarce, or there has been significant insect damage, you may apply fertilizer to evergreens. Some evergreens, on the other hand, grow at a leisurely pace. As a result, fertilizing evergreen trees may help them flourish and defend themselves against pests and diseases.

Even though they need fewer nutrients than deciduous or fruit trees, evergreens need feeding too. But, if the conifers or evergreens in your garden look robust, there may be a problem with the soil. You may choose to delay fertilizer application in that circumstance. It’s important to check the soil pH before deciding whether or not your evergreens need fertilizing. Evergreen trees prefer acidic soil in general. Nutrient uptake may be insufficient if the soil is too alkaline, and fertilization won’t provide the desired effects on evergreens.

Tree Fertilizer vs. Tree Food

Trees don’t eat soil. Fertilizing trees is just about nutrients and minerals, despite the fact that they’re commonly referred to as feeding them. Photosynthesis is how trees make food, and it’s what gives leaves healthy color and development. Fertilizer may increase the quality of the soil if it is low in minerals.

Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are the most important nutrients or minerals needed for plant growth. Iron, zinc, boron, silicon, molybdenum, copper, and manganese are also required by trees for healthy growth. The NPK rating on fertilizers will come as a surprise to you. The proportion of the three major nutrients in the fertilizer is referred to as this rating.

How to Decide If Your Tree Needs Fertilizer

Trees may get lush leaves, a strong root system, and produce fruits and flowers with the help of fertilizers. It is not always essential, though, to provide extra nutrients and minerals to trees. Photosynthesis is how trees feed themselves. Soil quality is sufficient in certain instances, and no further amendments are needed. How do you know if it’s necessary to fertilize trees in order to boost soil quality? Here are a few tips to help you out:

Test the soil to determine if your tree needs fertilizer. It’s usually a good idea to test the soil before purchasing tree fertilizer online or from a garden center. Nutrient levels and soil pH are measured by a soil test. This test will tell you if you need to fertilize trees to correct mineral deficiencies.

Growth rate can indicate if fertilizer is necessary. Yellowing foliage, reduced than typical leaf size, sluggish new development, or early leaf drop are all symptoms of insufficient development. Poor growth can be caused by a lack of nutrients. Overwatering, compacted soil, and external stressors may also play a role.

When was the tree planted? After a few years, young trees and freshly planted trees are typically fertilized further. Once a tree’s root system has established, slow-release tree fertilizers may help it grow.

Where is the tree growing? Fertilized trees that grow beside fertilized lawns seldom need additional fertilizer. Trees growing in sandy soil, however, may need additional nutrients in order to thrive.

Nutrients in Tree Fertilizer

Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium (NPK) are the three most important tree nutrients. There may be significant amounts of calcium, sulfur, and magnesium depending on the type of tree fertilizer you buy. Iron, zinc, copper, chloride, boron, copper and molybdenum are additional micronutrients that may be added to tree fertilizers. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are required for trees for the following reasons:

Nitrogen (N)—Photosynthesis is aided by this essential component, allowing the tree to produce carbohydrates for food. Nitrogen aids in the formation of lush, green leaves.

Phosphorus (P)—A required nutrient for tree growth and disease resistance. Flowers, seeds, and fruit are all helped to grow by phosphorite.

Potassium (K)—Trees need this important nutrient to create sound fruit and to protect themselves from freezing weather. Trees are less susceptible to disease and recover from illness when potassium is present.

What is the Recommended Tree Fertilizer?

Nitrogen is usually present in balanced tree fertilizer, and phosphorus and potassium are scarce. NPK ratings of 16-4-8, 12-4-8, and 12-6-6 are common tree fertilizers. The percentage of nutrients in the fertilizer is represented by the figures. A 16-4-8 tree fertilizer, for example, has 16% nitrogen, 4% phosphorus, and 8% potassium.

Since nitrogen tends to leech through the soil more quickly, it is often the most prevalent element. You’ll have to purchase a proper tree fertilizer if a soil analysis reveals nutrient deficits. The suggested tree fertilizer, for example, has an NPK of 10-8-15 if there is little potassium.

Common Types of Tree Fertilizers

Slow-release fertilizers and fast-release, or water-soluble fertilizers are two types of plant fertilizer available. The soil type determines whether or not water-soluble fertilizers should be used. Fast-release tree fertilizer usually passes through loamy, sandy soil quickly. Trees may not get enough nutrients as a result of this. Slow-release fertilizer releases nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium over a period of months, as the name implies.

Slow-Release Tree Fertilizer vs. Fast-Release Tree Fertilizer

For trees, slow-release fertilizers are generally recommended. Better tree growth and the possibility of root burn caused by a mineral buildup are achieved by using soil fertilizers that release nutrients gradually. Additionally, less fertilizer use results in fewer chemicals entering the environment, which has a lower effect.

For immediate repairs to tree health, fast-release tree fertilizers might be useful in certain situations. Mixing the liquid tree fertilizer according to manufacturer’s instructions is, however, critical. It’s also wise to keep in mind that applying too much fertilizer is better than applying too little. “Less is always more,” in this case.

Natural Tree Fertilizer 

For organic gardens and to minimize the risk of water contamination, natural tree fertilizers are helpful. Old cow manure or composted sewage sludge are common natural fertilizers for trees. For trees and shrubs, there are a variety of commercial natural fertilizers to choose from.

Natural tree fertilizers provide a broad spectrum of micronutrients, which is one of their advantages. Natural fertilizers, in addition to being more balanced than manufactured ones, help soil structure and don’t induce root burning.

It’s worth noting that applying organic nutrients to trees isn’t always enough for them to thrive. As a result, to receive an adequate quantity of nutrients, you might need to apply additional natural fertilizer. You’ll discover some great organic tree fertilizers that are safe to utilize and supply all the required nutrients at the conclusion of this article.

How Much Tree Fertilizer to Apply

The spread of the tree’s roots determines how much tree fertilizer to apply. A tree can receive between two and four pounds (0.9 and 1.8 kg) of pure nitrogen per thousand square feet (93 square meters) each year, on average. Most trees have a root area that is 1.5 times the canopy area size.

You may apply around one pound (0.45 kg) of nitrogen each year to slow-growing, bigger trees. Between two and four pounds is optimum for younger, quicker-growing trees. To find out how much fertilizer to apply, follow the mixing instructions on the packaging.

How to Fertilize Trees

The most effective way to apply tree fertilizer is direct fertilization. To cover the tree’s root zone area evenly, use a drop-type spreader. Fertilizer sprinkled across mulch is a good idea. Water the land adequately to allow nutrients to seep into the roots after spreading the fertilizer. The root zone will be 12 feet (3.6 meters) around the trunk, for example, if the tree’s crown is 8 feet (2.4 meters) wide. The tree’s canopy is covered in 1.5 times this amount of space.

Since the tree’s roots benefit from indirect fertilization, you may not need to feed lawn trees. The nutrients in the lawn fertilizer that you apply to the grass are absorbed by tree roots.

How Much Tree Fertilizer To Use – Example

The proper quantity of nutrients is crucial for healthy trees. You must first understand how much fertilizer to apply before spreading it across the tree’s root zone. The quantity of fertilizer required may be calculated in one of two ways. Fertilizer recommendations for 1,000 square feet (lbs. per 1,000 sq. ft.) Root zone area per square foot. In order to calculate the square footage of the root zone, assuming a tree’s canopy is round, use Pi (3.14) The following is a basic calculation:

  • The radius is calculated by dividing the canopy’s diameter by 2.
  • Squaring the number multiplies the result (i.e.,
  • Multiply the squared number by 3.14 (π).

Your tree’s canopy is 8 feet tall, for example. Over the street, there is a bridge. The following is an example of how to calculate square footage:

  • 8 ÷ 2 = 4
  • 4 x 4 = 16
  • 16 x π (3.14) = 50.24 sqft.

The NPK rating determines the quantity of fertilizer you need. A 20-pound example would be one. The nitrogen content of a bag filled with 10-8-6 is 10%. A 20-pound bag costs ten percent of that. 2 pounds is what it weighs. As a result, the pack weighs 2 pounds in total nitrogen.

Nitrogen application rates of 2 to 4 pounds per 1000 square feet are suggested. As a result, you’ll need to apply 0.1 – 0.2 pounds of nitrogen per tree (50 square feet). You’ll need to divide the initial suggestion by 20 because 1/20 of a 1000 square feet is required.

When to Apply Tree Fertilizer (The Ideal Time to Apply Tree Fertilizer)

Early spring or autumn are the optimal seasons to apply fertilizers to trees. Fertilizing trees in the summer is usually not a good idea. Trees can’t take in nutrients due to the scorching heat and lack of soil moisture. Fertilization should occur around the growing season, either before or after.

Fertilizing Trees in Spring: During the summer, lush green leaves are ensured thanks to spring fertilization. Fertilizing trees in the spring can also help them flourish and fight disease, according to experts.

Fertilizing Trees in Fall: It’s a good idea to fertilize trees in the autumn to make up for nutrients depleted during the summer. Fall fertilization may also be beneficial for strengthening roots over the winter.

Fertilizing New Trees

When you plant a tree, it doesn’t need fertilizer. The roots need a few years to establish themselves, which is why fertilizers must be used for several years. Before fertilizing young trees that have just been planted, wait two or three years. To identify nutrient shortages, a soil test must still be conducted.

The Best Tree Fertilizers

Let’s consider some of the finest tree fertilizer that you may buy on the internet. To assist you make an educated choice, the tree fertilizer reviews will examine the advantages and disadvantages of each product.

Jobe’s Tree Fertilizer Spikes

You can supply the proper quantity of nutrients at the appropriate time with plant fertilizer spikes using a slow-release formula. For all types of deciduous trees, Jobe’s fertilizer spikes are ideal. Your ornamental foliage trees will stay healthy until the end of the growing season if you apply fertilizer early in the spring.

Elm, birch, maple, poplar, oak, and most other deciduous trees can be used for this purpose. The NPK rating of Jobe’s tree fertilizer spikes is 16-4-4. There is no complicated measuring since all you have to do is drive the spikes into the ground. Jobe’s tree spikes, which are suitable for feeding fruit trees and evergreen conifers, can also be purchased.


  • Maximize the amount of lush green foliage
  • for a good price.
  • It’s simple to figure out how much tree fertilizer to use.
  • For all kinds of deciduous trees, this is an excellent choice.


  • Once you’ve opened the fertilizer spikes, make sure they’re dry.

Miracle-Gro Shake’ N Feed Flowering Trees and Shrubs

When it comes to effective tree and shrub fertilizers, Miracle-Gro is the brand leader. From spring until fall, the handy tree fertilizer pellets keep feeding the root system with essential nutrients on a regular basis. If the soil requires extra potassium, Miracle-Gro tree fertilizer has an NPK ratio of 18-6-12.


  • For a fair cost, you may get high-quality tree fertilizer.
  • There’s no measuring necessary, so it’s simple to use.
  • Only natural ingredients are used in the product.


  • The product has a bad odor, according to a few consumers.

Espoma Tree-Tone Plant

All of the essential nutrients required by deciduous trees are included in Espoma Tree-Tone fertilizer for trees. You may apply this fertilizer to fruit trees as well. This tree fertilizer is a 100% organic formula, which has some benefits. Moreover, tree fertilizers of this kind help preserve soil quality and decrease the chance of water contamination.

The NPK formula of this all-natural tree fertilizer is 6-3-2. Apples, cherries, pears, and peaches are all examples of fruit trees that may be fertilized using this formula. Willow, walnut, oak, cypress, chestnut, and other deciduous trees are also good candidates for this tree. Digging this fertilizer into the earth is one factor to consider when applying it to mature trees. It is, however, a good organic tree fertilizer.


  • Excellent results
  • Reasonable price tag
  • Organic gardening can benefit from this natural formula.


  • To fertilize mature trees, some digging around the root base is required.

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