Fertilize Your Plants and Trees
Just like us, trees and plants require nutrients to live and grow. Also similar to us, the demand includes both macronutrients (like Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium) and micronutrients (Iron, Zinc, Copper). Different types of plants and trees established in different types of conditions need varying amounts of these nutrients, and deficiencies could result in a failure to thrive as well as stronger vulnerability to disease and vengeful insects.
Inside Louisville’s city lines, the threat can be even greater. Trees in urban and suburban environments are often under further stress due to conditions such as low moisture availability, competition with neighboring turf, and what is called the “urban heat island” effect.
But we do have some trusty tools in our belt to keep this risk in check. In addition to keeping newly planted trees watered and pruned, there are a variety of fertilizers available to nurture the soil your new tree or plant calls home. And these last months of winter, as we prepare for spring’s new growth, are a great time to act.
Finding the Right Fertilizer
Both organic and inorganic fertilizers can be used to supply these important nutrients. While inorganic fertilizers are highly soluble and more rapidly available to the plant, the effects are not as long lasting as organic fertilizers which take time to break down and release nutrients more slowly. A combination of both can be applied to tackle both immediate and extended needs, but Abundant generally prescribes organic, slow release fertilizers that we inject into the ground with a pump-driven soil probe.
The best indicator of the type of fertilization your plants and trees might need is a soil test. The samples are analyzed by a laboratory and a recommendation is made based upon the current level of each nutrient, the acidity or alkalinity of the soil, and the types of plants being grown. You can get a free soil evaluation by taking a sample to your local county extension office.
While the soil test is the most accurate indicator there are a few other ways you can measure what your plants lack and need:
Shoot Growth:If new shoot growth is in excess of 6 inches, fertilization is probably unnecessary. If growth is under 6 inches, fertilization might be applied.
Foliage Color:Yellow or off-color leaves could indicate a need for fertilization as these symptoms generally occur on trees which are not using up enough of one or more required nutrient.
Yard History: Trees and plants in yards that are fertilized for turf on a regular basis rarely need to have supplemental fertilizer applied. Resort to taking a look at your shoot growth to see if anything additional is required.