Fertilization can result in more rapid growth; faster recovery from injury, pruning, or pest problems; improved health and better foliage color. In other words, a well fed tree is able to repair itself and fight off insects and disease.
Timing is important. The best time to feed is during the dormancy of your trees and shrubs, sometime between late October and April. The next most ideal time is late winter or early spring. It is not recommended to fertilize from June to August.
Today's products give you options on how to apply the fertilizer.
Ferti•lome Tree and Shrub Food can be applied with a spreader in the area called the drip line of the tree. Another method, though more labor intensive, is the one I prefer for larger trees.
This method involves augering holes 6” to 12” deep in a staggered pattern, approximately 18” to 24”apart in a band 3' to 6' around the drip line of the tree. After calculating the correct amount of food, divide it up by the number of holes and pour the correct amount of granules into the holes.
The drip line is that area of rootzone below the furthest reach of the branches. This area contains the biggest share of feeder roots.
Fertilizer rates are usually determined by trunk diameter for trees, height for shrubs. Measure the tree's diameter approximately 4 feet above the ground.
Ferti•lome Tree and Shrub is a 19-8-10 and is applied at a rate of ½ lb. per inch of trunk diameter up to 6”. Over 6” apply 1 pound per inch. Always read and follow package directions.
For shrubs, use ½ cup per square yard of soil. Calculate area by measuring from the base of the shrub to 2' beyond the furthest reach of the branches.
After fertilization, water thoroughly.
Another great product to augment the summer recovery is Alpha Biosystems Thrive Tree and Shrub.
Thrive is not a fertilizer but is a concentrated root stimulator and soil conditioner. It contains microbial bacteria and mycorrhizal fungi. It increases and strengthens root system, restoring natural, biological activity to your soil. 16 oz. of Thrive will make 9 gallons of liquid magic. All you have to do is pour it on the rootzone of your trees and shrubs. Since it not a fertilizer, Thrive can be used any time. Thrive can also be used along with Fertilome Tree and Shrub.
Consider this, a little time and effort spent feeding your landscape will provide long term results in the future. Giving your trees and shrubs a little TLC now will go a long way towards helping them survive should another scorcher arrive next year.
Trees Get Hungry, too!
Sometimes, people are unclear as to the best time, or even if it is really necessary to fertilize trees. The question of whether to fertilize is easily answered. Plants are like people. A healthy, well-balanced diet helps our overall well-being and vigor. Likewise with trees. Unfertilized trees are missing out on the “health food” that will benefit long-term growth, strength and resistance to insects and disease. In general, trees should be fed as follows:
We recommend ferti•lome Tree & Shrub Food as the perfect product to feed your trees of all sizes. There is no need to dig holes because Tree & Shrub Food is scientifically formulated to move down through the soil directly to the root system of the tree.
Apply Tree & Shrub Food 6-8" from the trunk of the tree to avoid damaging the bark. A fertilizer spreader may be used to ensure even application. Continue spreading to a point several feet beyond the drip line (the area on the ground covered by the widest spread of the branches). This is important since many fine tree roots extend well beyond the tree’s drip line. To get the most out of your fertilizer dollars, always water in Tree & Shrub Food as soon as possible.
Apply ferti•lome Tree & Shrub Food at a rate of 5.25 pounds per 1,000 sq. ft. Use an empty 12 oz. coffee can to help you measure out the proper amount, each can covers 250 sq. ft., so for 1,000 sq. ft. you'll use 4 can fulls of product.
Tree & Shrub Food is great for all types of shrubs and other landscape plants, too. Use it twice a year on evergreens, flowering shrubs, ornamental shrubs, vines and ground covers. Apply Tree & Shrub Food to these plants at a rate of 1/2 cup per sq. yd. of soil area and water in well.
Water During the First 1-2 Months
Start by checking for moisture under the mulch at the base of the plant on a daily basis, especially during hot, windy weather. Once you have an idea how much water each plant requires, a visual inspection every few days should be adequate.
Soil type will affect your watering schedule because clay soil holds moisture longer than sandy loam. In general, during the spring and fall, water newly planted trees and shrubs every 3-4 days for sandy loam soil or every 4-5 days for clay soil. During hot, dry periods in the summer, water every 2-3 days for sandy loam or every 3-4 days for clay soil. Before watering, be sure to check the soil moisture by pushing your finger down into the soil a few inches.
Sometimes, newly planted broadleaf shrubs may defoliate during July and August. It is critical to continue watering these plants as stated above. As the weather cools in the fall, the plants will releaf.
Water During the Remainder of the First Growing Season
Starting with the third month and continuing through fall, water about once a week unless we are experiencing very hot temperatures. Then you may need to water twice a week. If the fall months are dry, make sure plants are watered thoroughly going into the winter. Then take advantage of warm days to water every couple of weeks if we continue to have little or no winter precipitation.
We recommend planting with a slow-release fertilizer, such as ferti•lome Start-N-Grow, mixed into the backfill; and watering plants in with a starter solution of ferti•lome Root Stimulator. Reapply the Start-N-Grow every 3-4 months during the first growing season. Water with ferti•lome Root Stimulator every 1-2 weeks for the first month and then monthly for the remainder of the first growing season.
After the first growing season, YOUNG trees and shrubs should be fertilized three times a year (spring, summer and fall) with ferti•lome Tree & Shrub Food. It’s easy to use, just apply it with a fertilizer spreader and water it in. It’s scientifically formulated to move directly down through the soil to the plant’s root system. Fine tree roots extend far beyond the drip line (the area under the branches), so apply Tree & Shrub Food well beyond that point. MATURING trees and shrubs should be fertilized twice a year (spring and fall). Fertilize ESTABLISHED trees and shrubs once a year in the fall.
Tree Stakes & Mulch
Larger trees should be staked to help keep them from shifting in the wind. Check trees periodically and if the cord starts cutting into the trunk, loosen the cord as needed. Stakes may be removed within 6-12 months.
To conserve moisture and protect roots, mulch should be maintained at 3-4” deep around the base of your plants. Keep mulch away from the trunk and do not mulch over 4” deep as this can lead to root injury.