Feeding Trees - What to Feed Your Foliage in Texas
Although most trees will get along in reasonably fertile soil without special feeding, they will grow better and look better if you give some attention to their nutritional demands. Undernourished trees, like people, get sick faster and more often. Once a tree has been planted, it should be fed regularly and the food should be placed down in the ground deep enough so it can do the job.
Trees, like other plants, need nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium. Nitrogen encourages rapid growth of the trunk and branches and produces healthy colors. A good tree fertilizer is one marked 10-8-6 on the label. This means "10% nitrogen, 8% phosphorus, and 6% potassium in various compounds. The best time to feed a tree is in early spring. The nutrients will then be available to the tree for the greater part of its growing season but will be largely used up by late summer.
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Feeding tree roots with dry fertilizers
- To get dry fertilizer down to as many roots as possible, plot a circular feeding zone that starts about a third of the distance from the trunk to the drip line and extends an equal distance beyond the drip line. Allow at least 10 feeding holes for each inch of trunk diameter, and space the holes 18-24 inches apart inside the feeding zone.
- After rolling back a tab of sod with a shovel, drive a crowbar into the ground and rotate it to make a hole.
- Using a large funnel, pour about a cup of fertilizer mixture into each hole. The funnel will guide the food into the hole, preventing it from spilling and over-fertilizing nearby grass.
- After filing the rest of the hole with plain peat moss, sand or soil, fold the grass tab back into place and tamp it down firmly with your foot. The tree's root system will absorb the nutrients from the dry fertilizer gradually over a period of two years or so.