Perennial and shrub feeding (fertilizer) schedule?

sue36(Z5 Maine)May 20, 2008

I know absolutely nothing about feeding perennials and shrubs. Does anyone have a cheat sheet, chart, etc., that shows what formula different plants should be fed and how often? I've been gardening for years and have always sort of winged it (used a little Miracle Grow or Holly Tone). Even if you only know what should be done for certain plants, please respond. All help is appreciated!

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I think you could drive yourself nuts with a different fertilizer formulation and schedule for every different thing. If your plants have survived your years of gardening, whatever you're doing now must not be causing any harm.

I don't do any of it - save for Miracle-Gro maybe twice a season on some annuals. And all the garden beds get a topdress of compost once a year. Shrubs, once established really don't need a feeding regimen - or simply follow the recommendations on the bag of Holly Tone if it's appropriate for the shrubs you have.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 1:31AM
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laceyvail(6A, WV)

Ditto, feed the soil, not the plants. Maybe give acid loving shrubs a little holly tone in early spring. Otherwise, don't fertilize plants.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 5:56AM
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Bumblebeez SC Zone 7

I see a huge difference when I use Miracle grow. I like to give them all a shot right before they bloom and then the bloom is spectacular. I also give it again several times over the season. They also get osmocote and fresh mulch -which eventually breaks down. If something were not performing beautifully I would not do this but the plants are huge and bloom great.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 6:51AM
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donnabaskets(Zone 8a, Central MS)

I sprinkle fertilizer on the bed when I replant annuals twice a year, 10-10-10, osmocote, or whatever balanced fertilizer I found on the clearance shelves, usually not organic only because I haven't found a good organic that gives me equal results. I ask alot of the soil where annuals grow, so I feel they need it. Since I started doing this I get much bigger and more numerous blooms without a doubt. I use a light hand when sprinkling.

For perennials and shrubs, I feed the soil, trying to add organic material to the bed at least once a year: composted manure (from bags), or compost, plus organic mulch that is constantly rotting in. Then I feed on an as-needed basis. For instance, my azaleas looked awful this spring. So I sprinkled a cup of Holly Tone around their root zones in early spring. MAde a world of difference. I usually give my roses the same treatment with Rose Tone, but not once a month like the package says! Once a year, plus good soil gives me great results. You really don't need a cheat sheet. Stick to organics as much as you can, care for your soil, and mulch. You'll find that you save money, time, and labor.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 10:17AM
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sue36(Z5 Maine)

Thanks for the info. When you add compost do you pull the mulch back? Or do you not mulch or only do a thin layer, turning it all into the soil?

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 11:12AM
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lindac(Iowa Z 5/4)

I mulch with small pine decays in a season. I also use very generous helpings of alfalfa pellets every spring and again in mid summer.
In this coundry we so sooo soooo over use chemical fertilizers that we are ruining our lakes and rivers.
And for those of you who say you notice a big difference whan you feed with Mirical gro...I say try blood meal and alfalfa and bone meal.....but for potted plants....they need a boost to that confined space.

Here is a link that might be useful: Alfalfa tea

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 1:36PM
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waplummer(Z5 NY)

I don't fertilize.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2008 at 10:55PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

i never bother fertilizing trees.. conifers.. nor shrubs.. waste of money IMHO ....

annuals.. since they have so much to accomplish in one year.. can get a little of this or that.. i would tend toward a generic cubed fert.. 12-12-12.. or 16 or 19 .. though 19 is getting pretty high .... amount varies on formula ...

perennials.. i would tend to be very careful .. they need to harden off for winter.. so one dose of something in mid summer would be about it ....

all that said.. a good mulch.. or a layer of compost.. feeds the soil.. and negates the necessity to add anything else ...

they are plants... NOT YOUR BABIES... they have been around for millions of years... without any help from us.... they really dont NEED TO BE FEED like children ...

but if it pleases you.. just go easy.. and cheap ...


    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 10:18AM
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proudgrma(Zone 5)

I use the best compost available from a local nursery because I believe it is the backbone of the garden. I put 2 inches of compost on all the gardens, sometimes sprinkle a light helping of 5-10-5 fertilizer. That's it, and my plants are healthy and beautiful. I agree, we fertilize too much! I would never use Miracle Gro on my perennials, but I do use that kind of product on my annuals in windowboxes and containers.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 1:41PM
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The only thing I fertilize are my clematis (once, in the spring) and the petunias in my hanging baskets.

Beyond those two, my plants pull their nutrients from the soil, which I enrich with compost each spring. I also work the previous year's mulch into the soil, which helps feed it.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 1:51PM
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sue36(Z5 Maine)

This is my current plan...I am going to add 2" of compost to the 80'+ bed that is being partially planted this year (loam was spread last fall) and am going to spread some 10-10-10 fertilizer on the beds that were planted last year. My rhods look awful (lots of winter kill on them) so I may give them some Holly Tone.

Thanks everyone.

    Bookmark   May 22, 2008 at 6:57PM
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