Another important element of fall tree maintenance is fertilization. However, there is more to effective fertilization than making a quick trip to your local home improvement store and picking up a bag of fertilizer. Below you’ll find five tips to making the most of your fall fertilization routine.
- Examine trees to determine if fertilization is necessary. Not every tree needs to be fertilized every year. If the leaves of your tree are small and off-color, that could indicate a deficiency in nutrients. Similarly, branches with less than 12-14 inches of annual internodal expansion (growth) could also benefit from fertilization.
The leaf on the left is healthy. The leaf on the right is an uhealthy and off-color with its yellow tint and pronounced green veins.
- Understand your tree. Effective fertilization depends on understanding the type of tree and what nutrients it is missing. Certified arborists can assist in the identification of trees and nutrient deficiencies.
- Use the right fertilizer. At First Choice, we use slow release nitrogen fertilizers with low solubility that are composed in such a way that trees are only using resources when the soil is warm enough for growth.
- Fertilize young trees. This rule is pretty simple. If you just planted a tree, it will need the extra boost from fertilization to help it grow and remain healthy. Newly transplanted trees benefit from fertilizers rich in root growth elements such as phosphorous and potassium.
- Do not fertilize trees in decline. Older trees in decline are in “retirement.” They survive by being conservative with their resources and using energy for defense instead of growth. As a growth stimulator, fertilizer speeds up the decline of a tree and forces it to use stored carbohydrates on expansion. Instead of fertilizing trees in decline, consider using a growth regulator like Cambistat.