How and When to Fertilize
The best products to fertilize your plants and trees with are good quality slow release products. Fertilizing with slow release products provides an even fertilization of the plant material over a period of 3-4 months, which water soluble products do not provide. Anything that is water soluble means that once it is watered, it dissipates quickly.
So, using slow release products is the best way to get your plants fertilized. How often should you do this? Ideally, Spring, Summer and Fall however if you are a snow bird or can only manage doing it a couple of times- Spring and Fall are the best. Your plants, palms, trees are coming out of winter after possibly being stressed by cold temperatures, lack of fertilizer (never fertilize in the winter months!) and many years- lack of rain. Spring is the time your plants are gearing back up for growth and food is essential.
Fall, is when your plants require more food to help them develop strong roots to make it through the winter- for the same reasons as above.
So how do you fertilize?
How you apply a fertilizer can also determine whether the application will be effective or not. Concentrating fertilizer in holes, as spikes, or in bands around the trunks of palms is less effective than spreading the same amount of fertilizer uniformly throughout the area under the canopy. This is because nutrient movement is almost exclusively downward in direction, and thus only that small proportion of the palm root system directly under concentrated fertilizer will ever be exposed to these nutrients. A concentration of fertilizer is also much more likely to burn palm roots than fertilizer spread out over a larger area. Injecting water-soluble fertilizers into the “root zone” of palms is never recommended because 1) water-soluble fertilizers are readily lost to leaching, 2) lateral movement of injected fertilizer is minimal, and 3) injecting any nutrients deeply enough to avoid turfgrass roots will also miss the majority of the palm’s fine feeder roots, which tend to intermingle with turf roots near the soil surface.” Fertilization of Field-Grown and Landscape Palms in Florida by Timothy K. Broschat
Most people want to drop the fertilizer right at the base or root ball of the tree/palm or plant when in fact, the feeder roots for the plants are usually about half way from the root ball to the edge of the plant or tree. For plants and shrubs, sprinkling down fertilizer around each plant with a gloved hand, just inside the drip line of each plant is ideal. Trees and palms should have fertilizer spread uniformly under the canopy of the tree or palm.
How much to use?
For palms and trees- take a rough measurement of the area under the tree or palm canopy and for every 10 square feet, lightly spread ½ cup of fertilizer around under the canopy. Water the area BEFORE and AFTER application. The guidelines for fertilizing can be found on our website.
Citrus trees also require regular fertilization and as with trees and palms, the feeder roots are out near the drip line of the trees. Citrus is a little different procedure for fertilization than regular trees in that you fertilize less more often when the tree is young and increase the amount of fertilizer and apply less often as the tree matures. There are guidelines for how much available on our website.
Differences in Fertilizers
At Verdego, we use and sell the Nurserymen Sure Gro fertilizer products. We feel these products meet the highest grade standards when it comes to plant fertilization. These products are different than fertilizers sold at big box stores.
A common question:
Why are some fertilizers more costly than others?
There are three main things that make some fertilizers more expensive than others:
1. The product has coated prills that break down slowly over a period of three to four months. They are released by water so they can be sprinkled around the plant material- do not need to be driven into the ground or dug in.
2. Some of the less expensive products only have the Nitrogen portion in slow release whereas the more expensive products have nitrogen, phosphorous or other components that are also slow release.
3. Micronutrients such as manganese, magnesium, copper are all part of the more expensive products, whereas micronutrients are often either not available in cheaper products or only partially.
So if you are going to spend the money on the large palms, trees or landscape, consider using the fertilizer products that will give you the best outcome possible!