Dormant Feeding -A Safe and Easy Way to Fertilize Shrubs, Trees and Perennials
Many arborists and landscapers, especially in the north, do most of their tree and shrub fertilizing from late fall through late winter or even early spring up until when plants are actively growing above ground. You can fertilize heavier at this time, without the risk of leaf burn. Here is why it makes sense:
In the fall, plants stop sending water and minerals up to the leaves. Instead, they will use these nutrients to increase root mass, and to store up food for the winter as well. The changing of the color and dropping of leaves accompanies this phase of the growth cycle. By fertilizing at this time of the year, you allow the shrubs and trees to store up food as it sees fit for next year’s growth. We call this a dormant feeding, since above ground growth has stopped. But underground these plants are not dormant at all. The roots are very active (until the ground freezes) and will grab the fertilizer quickly. You can apply fertilizer much heavier at this stage without fear of leaf burn or flower drop.
How to Fertilize
We suggest a liquid soil drench for dormant feeding. Soaking the soil this way gets nutrients into the soil fast. You can apply with just a watering can, or use a hose-end sprayer for larger areas. Let the rain or even snow move the nutrients down deeper into the roots as the fall turns to winter. You can apply the fertilizer right over the plant and the surrounding soil where the roots will spread to. For older trees, you don’t need to fertilize too close to the trunk. (See below)
What to Use
One of our favorite All-Purpose fertilizers for shrubs and trees is our 10-8-8 Bio-Enhanced Liquid Fertilizer. This contains all the basic nutrients and is good for flowering and non-flowering plants and trees alike. If you are fertilizing mostly evergreens or non-flowering trees or plants you could also use our LAWN FORCE 5 (a 14-3-7 fertilizer) if you have some extra to spare. The beneficial root fungus (mycorrhizae) in LAWN FORCE 5 is especially great for shrubs and trees this time of year.
Where to Fertilize Trees
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