I planted a 12 foot red sunset maple last August and am considering
fertilizing it this Spring. I've read that one should wait at least a
year before fertilizing newly planted trees. I've also heard that one
should indeed fertilize newly planted trees and that its growth will
suffer if it's not fertilized. Can anyone give me the pros and cons
of fertilizing this spring as opposed to waiting until next spring?
Thanks in advance!
I don't know where you live but here in South Florida we use a rule of trunk
diameter. For every 1" of trunk diameter you wait 30 days before
fertilizing. Thus a 6" diameter tree would not get fertilized for 6 months.
Most horticulturists, including myself, will recommend you wait until after
one full growing season. If you planted in August, that would mean this
coming fall or even next spring. Newly planted trees and other plants need
to establish a sound root system before they attempt lots of new top growth
that fertilizing will encourage.
FWIW, unless your soil is deficient, most plants do not NEED to be
fertilized. That is a concept we humans have applied, assisted by fertilizer
manufacturer's marketing hype, thinking that growing things require 'food'.
Trees and shrubs planted outdoors in decent soil will obtain all the 'food'
they need by pulling necessary nutrients and water from the soil and
manufacturing their own food through a process of photosynthesis. Excessive
fertilizing or fertilizing when not necessary will create more problems than
it will eleviate - the plants become dependent on chemical supplements and
rapid leafy growth encourages insects and diseases. A light application of a
balanced, preferrably organic fertilizer once a year is more than sufficient
but a regular mulching of all your plants with a good compost will achieve
as much, plus improve the soil and encourage its occupants.
I have never applied a fertilizer to any of my trees (other then those grown
in containers) and all are thriving - but I do have really exceptional soil.
There is a long standing horticultural saying - feed the soil and you will
feed the plants. Fertilizing is overly hyped.
pam - gardengal
I always mix Osmocote slow release (24 month) fertilizer in the area
outside the root ball when I plant a tree. It encourages the roots to
spread outside the root ball. I never fertilize after that. I have
planted thousands of trees from conifers like metasequoia, white pine,
norway spruce, larch and Douglas fir to hardwoods like red oak, cutleaf
maples, white birch, fruit trees and Bradford pear.
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The most important thing to do with a transplant is to quickly
establish a good root system. Use a fert. higher in phosphorus and
potassium, lower in nitrogen. Phosphorus aids in root growth;
potassium aids in disease resistance and cold hardiness. Your soil PH
is probobly just as important if not more so. Contact your
agricultural agent to find the PH range for the specified plant.
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