Fertilizing FAQs: Why, When and How

What you need to know hazardous trees


Trees are living things that require proper nutrients. When nature can’t supply it, you can help your trees to live a long, healthy life by applying fertilizer. If you want to do the job yourself, here are some frequently asked questions and answers that should help.




Why do I need to fertilize my trees?
A tree growing in the forest does not require fertilization. For in the forest, leaves that fall to the ground go “unraked” and they combine with other natural elements to form compost and feed a growing tree. However it’s much different for trees growing at your home or business. They must survive stressful man made elements like traffic, smog and noise (among others). For many of these trees fertilization is a must.

When should I apply fertilizer?
Florida has a short dormant season, so you can fertilize your trees at almost any point during the year. For best results we recommend three to four applications per year.

What type of fertilizer should I use?
There are two types of fertilizers. Fast release fertilizers are usually liquid and slow release fertilizers are granular. We recommend that you try slow release fertilizer first and use fast release fertilizers only if slow release formula does not give you the desired results.
If you’re purchasing the fertilizer at your local home improvement store, look for a nitrogen/phosphorus/potassium mix of 30/10/10 or 30/10/20. Finally, always use a palm tree fertilizer to fertilize your palm trees, as the tree fertilizers describe above can seriously harm your palm trees.

How much fertilizer should I use?
We recommend that you use 2 to 4 pounds of fertilizer per year, for every 1,000 square feet. Under no condition should you use more than six pounds per square foot, per year.

How do I fertilize my trees?
There are a few different methods, but here’s what we recommend. Using a bit that is 2” wide, drill a number of holes 4 – 8 inch deep within the entire application zone, approximately 24 inches apart. (The application zone should be a complete circle around the tree, from the trunk to the end of the furthest branches.) Then pour fertilizer in each hole leaving approximately 2 inches of space at the top.A much easier method is to evenly broadcast your fertilizer under your trees from the trunk out to or past the drip line(furthest reaching branch tips).Severely deficient and or declining trees may need to have a liquid fertilizer injected directly into the tree by a certified arborist qualified to preform tree injections.

Do all trees need to be fertilized?
If a tree has sufficient organic matter in its soil, it may not need to be fertilized. However the simple fact is that most trees can benefit from fertilization. If your trees are still young (less than three years) if they are planted in high traffic urban areas or if you just want to accelerate the growth process, fertilization is an absolute requirement.









Jon Wilbur is an ISA Certified Arborist and co-owner of Pinellas Tree Service, in Clearwater.

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Jon Wilbur