How, When and Why to Fertilize a Tree
You do not need to remove mulch to fertilize! Scatter or drop pellet fertilizer under the tree’s drip zone but avoid touching the tree trunk with the material. Be sure to not over-fertilize. Compare trees to others of the same kind: look at leaf size and color, and the length of new twig growth. Small, pale leaves and stunted growth may signal fertilizer need, but first rule out disease, insects, physical damage, and environmental stress such as flooding or drought. To determine which supplemental nutrients your tree needs, send a soil sample to a testing lab near by.
A fertilization program is used to maintain trees and shrubs in a vigorous condition and to increase their resistance to injury from diseases and insects. However, the addition of any soil nutrient is recommended only if soil or plant foliage tests indicate a deficiency. Trees and shrubs that need fertilization to stimulate more robust and vigorous growth include those exhibiting pale green, undersized leaves and reduced growth rates and those in declining condition (e. G. Dead branch tips, dieback) resulting from insect attacks or disease problems.
Trees and shrubs which should not be fertilized include newly planted specimens and those with severe root damage from recent trenching or construction. The root systems of these plants will need to re-establish before fertilizers are applied. Older, established trees do not need to be fertilized every year.
You want your tree to be its best. To grow larger. To live longer. To look better. For that to happen, you need to care for it throughout the seasons. Water it during dry spells. Mulch in the spring. And, fertilize your tree when it lacks nutrients.
How to Fertilize a Fruit Tree
Before you fertilize your fruit trees, send a small sample of soil to a local agricultural extension office to have an analysis done that will determine your soil’s ph level and which nutrients are present in the soil. Use this information to choose the right fertilizer for your fruit trees, then mix this fertilizer according to the instructions on the packaging. In early spring, drip the fertilizer into the ground in a circle about a foot away from the trunk of the tree, then spread of the rest of the fertilizer outside of the circle.
Mature apple trees have extensive roots systems that can extend 1 1/2 times the diameter of the canopy. Roots that absorb water and store excess nutrients for the next year’s growth can push about 4 feet deep, but the feeder roots that absorb most of the nutrients grow within the top 12 inches of the soil. Fertilizers should be broadcast on the surface evenly, beginning at least a foot away from the trunk and extending beyond the dripline.
Deep-root feeding with holes in the ground or spikes is only necessary with compacted soil or in areas with excessive water runoff. Be careful not to re-fertilize areas that were previously treated with other lawn or garden fertilizers. The best time to apply apple tree fertilizers is in the fall after the leaves have dropped.