Gardening is a hobby that takes a lot of time and patience to be successful. You only see the fruits of your labor after lots of hard work, literally!
Even with the right amount of rain and sunshine, some plants need a little extra push to grow correctly.
Others may grow alright but definitely have room for improvement and increasing blooms. In these cases, most gardeners resort to using fertilizers.
Finding the best fertilizer for trees and shrubs requires some research. This article gives some insight into the top fertilizers, so you can choose the best one for you.
Table of Contents
The Best Fertilizers For Trees and Shrubs Healthy All Season
There are a few things you should keep in mind before getting your hands dirty with fertilizers. Most importantly, think about your growth goals. This chart compares the six best fertilizers, so you have good starting points to test out.
|Pictures||Tree Shrub Fertilizers||Fertilizer Analysis||Links|
|Jobe’s 01310 Fertilizer Spikes For Trees and Shrubs||16-4-4|
|Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food||24-8-16|
|Miracle-Gro 3002410 Shake 'N Feed Flowering Trees and Shrubs||18-6-12|
|Ross 14636 Root Feeder Refills||25-10-10|
|Osmocote 274850 Plus Outdoor and Indoor Smart-Release Food||15-9-12|
|Scotts Continuous Release Evergreen Flowering Tree and Shrub Fertilizer||11-7-7|
Fertilizer For Shrubs and Trees Reviewed
1. Jobe’s 01310 Fertilizer Spikes For Trees and Shrubs
Different fertilizers come with different features. First up is the Jobe’s brand. This particular product comes in a spike form.
Fertilizers like these are easy to apply to the soil because of their shape. All you have to do is make a little space in the ground by taking out some soil. Then, insert the fertilizer stick where needed, and cover it again.
Jobe’s fertilizer sticks come in a few different variations depending on the plant. You can choose from fruit and citrus, tree and shrub, and evergreen varieties based on your garden.
There is also room to customize how many spikes you want to buy with options from 5-160 spikes.
When using this product, it’s good to know that these spikes work in a slow-release format. If you apply it at the beginning of the season, they’re going to last all the way to the end of it. This makes for an efficient and non-wasteful fertilizer.
When applying these fertilizer sticks, make sure to apply them once at the start of spring. You can then reapply towards the end of fall. This ensures a nice fertilizer spread throughout the growing season.
2. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food
Next, we have the tried and true Miracle-Gro all-purpose plant food. Miracle-Gro is truly a miracle in terms of delivering results, so this is a solid product to test out. It’s also very easy to use.
When it comes to using the Miracle-Gro plant food, all you have to do is shake it onto the area that needs fertilizer. After that, make sure to water the plants and ground to allow for proper dispersion.
Alternatively, you can add the Miracle-Gro plant food directly into your watering can. Give it a good mix, and then water your plants as you normally would. This saves you time from having to complete two separate steps.
Using the Miracle-Gro plant food is simple if a bit time-consuming. Unlike the fertilizer spikes that release over time, this needs to be reapplied on a weekly basis. You might be able to apply it twice a week, but that depends on your growth goals.
An added bonus of using this Miracle-Gro product is that it’s safe for all plants. You don’t have to buy a separate product for each. Miracle-Gro claims that it doesn’t burn any plants with the correct usage, so that’s a great promise.
3. Miracle-Gro 3002410 Shake ‘N Feed Flowering Trees and Shrubs
If you’re looking for a Miracle-Gro product that has the benefit of extended-release, this one is for you. Consider Miracle-Gro’s Shake-N-Feed plant food. This combines the excellent formula of Miracle-Gro with a patented longer-lasting design.
Miracle-Gro’s Shake-N-Feed plant food comes in many different variations. You can choose from rose, vegetable, palm, weed preventing, and all-purpose formulas. This product can also be used on both planted and potted flowers.
A great feature that this product comes with is the extended-release formula. You can apply some plant food at the beginning of the season and enjoy its benefits for the next three months. This can be used to help both the bloom growth and the root and stem strength of your garden.
Ingredients like kelp, bone meal, and earthworm castings are all very nutritious. When combined, they make the perfect formula to keep your plants thriving year-round.
Unlike the other Miracle-Gro product, this one doesn’t need any watering for application. Simply shake the mixture onto the desired areas, and pat it down gently. That should take care of your plants for the next three months!
4. Ross 14636 Root Feeder Refills
This next product comes with both fertilizer and a fertilizer applicator in one. The Ross root feeder refills are easy to install. Many customers also gave glowing reviews for this product.
One of the best things about the Ross root feeder refills is the design of the applicator. The design for this product is very sturdy, and it’s built to last the wear and tear of gardening. The tough plastic of the feeder head keeps its shape throughout irrigation.
The process of applying the feeder is a bit different from other fertilizers. It works like other fertilizer sticks do, except for one main part. You have to add the fertilizer into the head before you stick it in the ground.
This comes with refills, so you simply add a stick or two of the refill fertilizer. Close the top of the head, and insert it into the ground. Because this is plastic, make sure you have ample room in the ground for it, so you don’t use force.
Next, add a little bit of water to help the fertilizer dissolve. It’s going to take a few minutes to fully dissipate. Because the head is inserted in the ground, it ensures the roots get an even application of the product.
5. Osmocote 274850 Plus Outdoor and Indoor Smart-Release Food
Next is the Osmocote smart-release plant food. This product may not be as well-known as some of the others on the list, but it is right up there with the best. It has several positive features to its name.
One of the main specialties of the Osmocote plant food is that it feeds the plants for six months. That is one of the longest extended-release periods for fertilizers on this list. If you’re looking for a product that lasts, this one is perfect for you.
Secondly, Osmocote plant food can be used for both outdoor and indoor plants. Whether you’ve planted them in the ground or in a pot, this product can help them grow stronger and longer.
There’s also no differentiation on which plants you can and can’t use this on, so everything goes.
The Osmocote smart-release plant food is successful because it’s fortified with 11 nutrients. The quality of these ingredients means that the plants and shrubs also experience it.
As the icing on the cake, this product is available at an affordable price. It is right along the line when it comes to comparing prices. It’s not too expensive or too cheap, but just right.
6. Scotts Continuous Release Evergreen Flowering Tree and Shrub Fertilizer
Last but not least is the Scotts continuous release fertilizer. Like the other products on this list, this one also has several pros for using it. Let’s start with the most important: the ingredients.
The ingredients included in this product are great for helping different plants grow. However, one major component is missing: iron. Iron helps to reduce yellowness in the leaves, and without it, a big portion of good fertilizer is missing.
Aside from that point, this Scotts continuous release fertilizer has a lot to offer. This product is great because it releases throughout the soil over several months. You can apply it at the beginning of the growing season and see results all season long.
This fertilizer is perfect for acid-loving plants like evergreens, magnolias, dogwoods, and hydrangeas. It also works really well with azaleas, camellias, and rhododendrons. It’s successful with a wide range of plants because it encourages growth at the root.
Lastly, you have a few different options when it comes to package size with this product. You can opt for a smaller 2-pack at a reasonable price. You can also buy a 3-pack product that’s available for a discounted price.
What is the Best Fertilizer for Trees and Shrubs?
Many people think that fertilizer is a cure-all for all types of plant problems, but this is far from the truth. They think that fertilizers work with any plant to produce substantial results. But there is a time and place for every fertilizer, not a single fertilizer for every time and place.
Before you even look for the best fertilizer, first determine the type of fertilizer you need. The first test you should do is a regular soil test. This can tell you about the alkalinity or acidity of your soil, and then you can figure out how to balance that pH out.
Another thing that lets you know if you need fertilizer is the appearance of your plants. If you notice yellow leaves, little twig growth, and low nutrients, you need fertilizer.
You need to solve underlying problems, like disease-ridden plants and excessive insects. It’s important to take care of these basic problems first before adding fertilizer. Fertilizer doesn’t work if the plants aren’t at their best stage to grow.
Now that you’ve determined a need for your fertilizer, let’s take a look at your options in terms of types. Opt for a complete fertilizer, like a 16-4-8, 12-6-6, or 12-4-8, unless your soil’s phosphorus and potassium levels are optimal. Then, take a look at the release designs.
Fertilizers are either fast-release or extended-release products. Fast-release designs are meant to absorb in your soil in just a few minutes. On the other hand, extended-release products take their time in spreading out.
Fast-release fertilizers work quickly, but they sometimes leach the natural soil. This leaves it with fewer nutrients than before, but not enough to cause lots of damage. This fertilizer works better with sandy and well-drained soils.
Slow-release fertilizers have their own issues. Naturally, they take longer to get into effect. But, these fertilizers are great for new plants because they have a smaller chance of “burning”.
Fast-release fertilizers work great for established plants that need a quick pick-up. Slow-released products work great for building up new plants. It all depends on what growth stage your plants are at.
You might be wondering about natural fertilizers, like cow manure or composted materials. These fertilizers are excellent because they contain small amounts of iron and zinc. These chemicals aren’t found in synthetic fertilizers.
Natural fertilizers don’t have a concentration of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. That means you have to use more of them to get the same effect as synthetic fertilizers. You can see how there are pros and cons to both synthetic and natural products.
Once you figure out the formula and type of fertilizer, think about the extra features you want it to have. Synthetic fertilizers can also act as repellents for weeds. You can buy fertilizer with special features by reading the labels closely.
It helps to make a list of what you learn about your soil and plants. Then, you can find fertilizer to tackle the different problem areas you have. After that, wait for nature to run its course with your fertilizer in action.
When is the Best Time to Fertilize Trees and Shrubs?
It’s important to remember that there are certain times that fertilizers work best. If your plant is dying of thirst, it just won’t grow, regardless of how much fertilizer you throw on it.
Keeping a log of your planting times can help you find the best time to apply fertilizer for maximum growth.
You’re looking for a time when the roots of the plants are actively growing. Pay attention to the changes your plants make, and then add fertilizer accordingly. It also helps if you research the growth patterns of your plants beforehand.
As a general rule, it’s best to apply fertilizer to plants in the early spring. This helps them get ready for their upcoming growth period. You can also give a light helping of fertilizer in the early summertime.
Be careful when you fertilize any time before or during summer. If the weather conditions are too hot and dry, your plant isn’t going to absorb the fertilizer. Ensure that it’s properly watered and healthy before adding additional nutrients.
You should also be sure to apply fertilizer at a time when you have adequate water or irrigation methods. If you’re going through a drought, forget the fertilizer altogether. Applying fertilizer when plants need it and can absorb it ensures good results.
Tree and Shrub Fertilizing Time Video Guide
How to Fertilize Trees and Shrubs?
Now that you’re ready to fertilize your trees and shrubs, just how do you do it?
There are a few different methods of fertilization. Let’s start with direct and indirect fertilization.
Indirect fertilization is when your plants and shrubs are fertilized through runoff. You may have fertilized your lawn recently, and the leftover nutrients have traveled. In this case, you don’t have to do much to fertilize.
Direct fertilization is obviously a more active form of fertilizing your plants. You’re applying the fertilizer directly to the plants and shrubs that need it. This type of fertilization also has different methods to get it done.
One of the best ways to fertilize directly is by using a broadcasting system. You can cover much more ground by having an object spread the fertilizer from a high point. It’s like how you salt much more food if you hold your hand higher above the dish than if you bring it close.
Using a drop-type spreader, you can evenly spread a good amount of fertilizer over your plants. You should do this by distributing half of the product on the lawn in one go. Spread it in a perpendicular manner to what you did initially the second time to get good coverage.
If you’re fertilizing shrubs with lots of leaves, make sure to use a leaf rake to help bring that product down. Leaving excessive amounts of fertilizer on the leaves can cause damage and burning. You can also just add fertilizer directly onto the ground near the roots to avoid this.
A common way to distribute fertilizer is in a liquid form. This can be done in two ways. The first way includes a few attachments.
You attach your fertilizer solution to your garden hose and spray directly on the plants. Usually, this solution is less concentrated, so the chances of burning are smaller. This method helps dissolve nutrients beforehand, making for a speedy absorption.
The second way you can apply fertilizer with water is by adding it to the irrigation system. This works similarly to the broadcasting method. First, start by adding a small amount of fertilizer to your irrigation head.
Make sure to keep a steady hand here, as too much fertilizer, even when diluted, can harm your plants. When you turn on your water, the system begins dissolving the fertilizer immediately. This is then added to the soil and leaves of your plants, effectively coating them.
Last but not least, you can use the spike method to fertilize. Fertilizer spikes are a great way to get a slow-release product into your soil. It also helps reach the roots of the plants because the spikes are underground.
Whichever fertilization method you use, remember that you always need a little water. This helps dissolve the fertilizer and nutrients to get the magic started. Without water, some of the nutrients evaporate into the air without benefiting anything.
How Often Should You Fertilize Trees and Shrubs?
How often you fertilize your plants depends on their age and the season. Although there is no set amount of fertilizer you should give your plants, there is a general rule of thumb. Younger plants often require more fertilizer to get strong.
Depending on the fertilizer type, you may have to fertilize once every two or three weeks. If you have an extended-release fertilizer, apply it according to its directions. This helps keep your plants safe from fertilizer burns.
There are also two times in the year when it’s generally always a good idea to fertilize. Early spring and autumn are the best times to lay down some good foundations. Fertilizing during these times helps strengthen your plants for growing and dormant seasons.
If you’re still unsure of how to fertilize your plants, ask your local plant nursery worker. They’re skilled in helping plants grow and know them like the back of their hand. So, they can point out the best tree and shrub fertilizer for your plants and area.
Don’t feel discouraged if a particular fertilizer doesn’t seem to be working. Remember, these products work from the root up. Building a good base is key, and with the right fertilizer, your plants are going to be the base of a healthy garden.