Fertilize Fruit Trees Correctly – When, How and With What?

apple-tree with fruits

Not only is proper fertilizing essential for healthy plants in your garden, but also to promote fair ground. Trees need a whole range of nutrients and minerals such as nitrogen, potassium or phosphorus every year to develop new strong shoots and enough fruit. But what exactly should be observed to ensure you don’t harm your own plants?

What kinds of fertilizer are there?

dung-heapThere can be two types of fertilizers – organic and mineral fertilizers. Organic fertilizer is produced by the decomposition of substances that exist in nature, for example by composting or manure. By means of those substances, for example, heavy soil may be loosened or conversely light soils may be made heavier. Thus, the amount of humus is increased, which in turn sees the soil’s properties change in the long term and the soil can be made fertile. Compost in this case represents the ideal variant of organic fertilizers – within it not only is nitrogen present, but also the most important nutrients and trace elements needed by a tree.

Rock flour and horn chips are also forms of organic fertilizer. Rock flour consists of grated rock, while horn chips are a waste product of animal production. Here ground horns and hooves are reused as fertilizer. Each organic fertilizer contains trace elements, which although required by some plants only in small quantities, are essential for healthy plants.

Only healthy trees bear healthy fruit. Therefore, ensure that your trees are always supplied with sufficient nutrients.

Mineral fertilizer (also: “artificial fertilizers”) is usually designed for specific substances. For example, there is nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium-based fertilizers, also called NPK fertilizers. The substances are thereby given as nutrients that can be taken directly from your plants.

Mineral fertilizer, however, should be used with more caution than organic. In the latter, it is hardly possible to achieve over-fertilization, whereas this is not the case with the former. When substances are not used at the right time or in too large amounts, this can cause the ground water to become contaminated, causing discolored leaves or even changing their shape. At worst, they escape your trees; the water, by osmosis, strikes a balance between plant cells. This phenomenon is referred to as “burning”, because the green trees are often discolored yellow. In extreme cases, even the roots of the tree can be damaged. Too much nitrogen can encourage the growth of the tree; also true is that they cannot bloom and form fruit at the same speed and to the same extent. In addition, the tree is more susceptible to disease, pests and frost damage.

When and how should fruit trees be fertilized?

The number one rule is to fertilize only during the growth phase, so only if your trees begin to form shoots up to the time at which this stage is finished (usually this period is approximately from February to August). In autumn and winter, it is not necessary to fertilize, because at this time no substances may be included.

Moreover, you should definitely be aware of the fact that less is more! It is not necessary to fertilize each year; often, a two-year cycle is enough.

For deciduous trees the principle applies that these independent plants are usually powered by the leaf fall in autumn with the necessary materials. Therefore, a promotional action is to return the foliage toward its master. Earthworms subsequently transport them into the ground in where the roots extract all important substances. So before you begin to manually support, you should note that not every measure of a positive result means you are in the clear. If you are in doubt with regards to how to proceed, it is therefore most advisable to consult a professional.

Only with rich soil can you ensure that your trees will grow splendidly well again next year.apple-tree with fruits

In contrast, fruit trees require more materials to grow enough fruit. Here, it is important to form a so-called tree disc. A tree disc is formed circularly around the trunk. The haustoria, the areas of roots that can absorb nutrients, are located in the area of ​​the crown margin. Accordingly, you should not directly fertilize the strain, but at the outer edge of the tree base. If no tree grates are available for your trees, you may incorporate the manure into the turf. Prick holes in the grass at regular intervals and bring the manure to it.

Ideally you should fertilize your fruit trees with manure or mature compost and give pome fruit about 70 to 100 grams per tree of fertilizer nitrogen (e.g. horn shavings); in stone fruit it is about 100 to 140 grams.

The ground itself should be adequately maintained. Only a bottom which is adequately ventilated and has the proper moisture and temperature can transport the needed nutrients reliably. You achieve this by applying a thin layer of compost, a thicker layer of bark mulch or by loosening the soil, along with providing sufficient water, for example. Always make sure that these requirements are met.

If you need more information about fertilizing your trees or would like us to check your trees please don’t hesitate to contact us. We are here to help you.

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