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Fertilizing Evergreens: When, How & Which Fertilizer To Use

The botanic world is blessed by the evergreen beauty that adds style to your garden or indoor décor.

Evergreen is considered every plant that continues to have leaves through the year and follows during the growing season and fall when they are matured. Tropical breeds usually belong to the evergreen plant and as a cold temperature tolerant evergreen are pines and firs.

The characteristic of evergreen plants is being closely compacted and reaching the height of 197 feet maximum.

If you’re a huge fan of the evergreen family, you already know that they are low-maintenance and on very rare occasions they need fertilization or watering is an issue. It’s a great plant even for dorm rooms, let alone the entire garden.

When to Fertilize Evergreens?

Early spring, to be more specific in April is ideal for evergreens to get food (before the growth happens). Also, in the middle of June or early Fall times, fertilization doesn’t hold any risk and is very well protected against the harsh winter.

For 1000 square feet use 2 1/2 tablespoons of fertilizer with NPK 10-8-6 ratio. For a 14-14-14 ratio, 2 tablespoons are enough and for a ratio with a 21-0-0 level, 1 1/4 tablespoons will do the job.

Never fertilize the evergreen trees in peak heat and in drought conditions because the plant needs extra effort to absorb the water and go through photosynthesis.

Even though the evergreen family doesn’t require much fertilization, but the strength to produce more, they do need a bit of food. In fact, you can even avoid fertilizing in the growing times.

If you notice some color change in the leaves and after a couple of months, the growth is gradually slow, then fertilizing becomes necessary.

How to Fertilize Evergreens?

The amount of fertilizer depends on the size which is measured in square feet. For example, for 5 square feet spruce coats more or less 25 square feet. For that size, 2-4 pounds of nitrogen per 1000 squares of topsoil will be sufficient.

Here’s how to apply the fertilizer for evergreen plants

  • Soak the part where you will fertilize to smoothen the soil for easy application.
  • Take a crowbar, soil auger, and round bar to make holes 2 inches deep in diameter. The holes should be 9-12 inches in depth so the fertilizer can infiltrate the root.
  • 2 feet is enough between the holes and 3 feet in case the trunk size is large and mature.
  • Water thoroughly and leave it like that.
  • Do not close the holes with soil.

In case you can’t spend much time in the fertilizing process, the liquid version is much more convenient. Add the liquid fertilizer from the bottom to reach the root in a heavy way (the light application will result in under-fertilization. Bear in mind that this approach may cost you more than a regular granulated form.

Best Fertilizers for Evergreens

1. Scotts Evergreen, Flowering Tree & Shrub

The granular form together with slow release as the excessive nitrogen causes root burn. Be mindful that Scott’s isn’t for every type of soil but it will work perfectly fine with a 6.5 pH level which means more acidic soils.

Besides evergreens, it’s excellent for, dogwoods, hydrangeas, magnolias, and other types of acid-lover trees and shrubs. 

The 11-7-7 NPK ratio directly applies to the soil. Based on the manufacturer’s promotion, this fertilizer is safe and the chances of burn are almost zero. Scott’s also contains a high level of potassium and phosphorus which will increase the blossoming and make the colors appear more vibrant.

A quick tip on how to use is getting 1 cup over every square foot and together with a drip line give food to the evergreen plant for 2 months. After fertilizing 3 inches deep and you’re done with it, water the area. 

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2. Jobe’s, Fertilizer Spikes, Evergreen Tree

Jobe’s fertilizers are doing great with all types of the evergreen family without exceptions. They are mess-free and have no strong smell. For those who are busy and have no time to spend, this fertilizer needs to be applied twice throughout the season.

Jobe’s, Fertilizer Spikes have an 11-3-4 NPK ratio to prove the right amount of nutrients for your special evergreen plant. Not only evergreen but also Cypress, Juniper, Magnolia, and Arborvitae trees.

The ideal time to use this fertilizer is either in the early Spring or late Fall. The only downside of this fertilizer is being hard to push into the dry and dense soil type.

Here’s a quick tip on how to use it. The first step is watering the soil evenly and spacing the fertilizer in the drip line. Apply the rule 1 spike for every 3 feet of shrub height.

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3. Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Plant Food

Shake ‘N Feed Plant Food is the fastest result-showing fertilizer, yes you will see the change within 2 days. However, I must warn you in the case of not watering properly, can burn the entire root, so watering is way more important here.

Just as its name, it does miracles to the evergreen family by containing vital micronutrients and bio ingredients to make your plant nourish happily. 

With Miracle-Gro, you will reach the expected result within 3 months period from drooping to nourishing beautiful trees and shrubs all through the season.

Here are the directions on how to use it. Apply directly dry, don’t you dare to pre-mix with water since the chemical seems to make the root prone to underwatering. Pour evenly into the soil and try to avoid contact with trunk and leaves and mix the fertilizer into the soil at the planting time. 

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6 Signs of Overfertilization the Evergreens 

  1. Crusty soil surface
  2. Yellow/brown leaves especially on tips.
  3. Brown/reddish, weak, and hobble roots.
  4. Slow growing that feels like it doesn’t grow at all.
  5. Dry seedlings
  6. The loss of leaves or all the covering is removed from the leaves.

A Brief Recap

Evergreens continue to bless us with their looks and low-maintenance features. By using the right fertilizer, the trees and shrubs will thrive in any conditions. Since it’s a real survivor of any condition, the fertilizing process shows success in the middle of June or early Fall times. 

The ideal NPK ratio for evergreen plants is 10-8-15 and slightly acidic soil between 5.5 to 6.5 is required. 

Never, ever fertilize the evergreen trees in peak heat and in drought conditions. Plus, look at the signs of overfertilizing because who knows, all the effort can go to waste.

Further Reading

If you enjoyed reading the article, here are some more. Check out what causes the euonymus leaves to turn brown and how to fix the brown leaves in the areca palm.

To find out the easy way to revive the cordyline, you should definitely read the article. Find out whether the money tree can live outdoors.

Aurora Hansen

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