When to fertilize arborvitae

jazzygardener(z4 MN)September 2, 2010

I have Techny and Pyramidal arborvitae in zone 4. Can anyone tell me when I need to fertilize?

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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

never.. ever.. ever. ...

NEVER!!!!!!

ken

PS: only if a soil test indicates something is lacking from the soil.. would you add anything for a tree... shrub.. or in this case.. a conifer ...

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 4:31PM
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toronado3800 Zone 6 StLouis(6)

I totally agree with ken.

Do you have anything unusual going on jazzy? Is the tree in a pot, your house new construction or your land used to be anything unusual like the county compost heap that makes your situation unusual?

I always look at my small dawn redwood and imagine i could push it for growth with fertilizer. Then my big oak gets my attention and i look over and think 'if that redwood isnt right for my yard i want to find out now not 20 years from now when i cant afford as much fertilizer as it needs'

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 4:43PM
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jazzygardener(z4 MN)

Our soil isn't very good. It seems to have lots of sand mixed in and is constantly dry. Why wouldn't you ever fertilize a arborvitae? I see plant food stakes for trees in the garden center.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 4:59PM
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jazzygardener(z4 MN)

Our soil isn't very good. It seems to have lots of sand mixed in and is constantly dry. Why wouldn't you ever fertilize a arborvitae? I see plant food stakes for trees in the garden center.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 5:00PM
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Dan Staley

Plant food stakes (and fert in general) are a Madison Ave ploy to part you from your money.

Unless the soil test you performed showed a deficiency, plants are able to find the nutrients they need on their own, with no help from consumer goods.

Dan

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 5:21PM
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gardningrandma

The care regimen for trees is different than for lawns or houseplants or annual flowers. They don't normally need fertilizer.
You say your soil is sandy and constantly dry but that doesn't mean it's inadequate. Are there signs that there is something wrong with the tree such as discolored foliage or poor growth?
You can fertilize in an attempt to force them to grow bigger, faster but it's really not a good idea and idea to do it with stuff from the garden center if these trees are anything that you care about.

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 5:37PM
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tsugajunkie z5 SE WI

Arborvitae grow in Wisconsin's Northwoods in quite sandy soil. If its near a fertilized lawn, its probably got more than enough. Should there be a valid reason for fert, spikes would not be the way to go. You would want to broadcast the ferts around the root zone.

tj

    Bookmark   September 2, 2010 at 10:24PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

Some trees are heavy feeders and in a small area, can deplete some of the essential nutrients required to stay healthy.
I for one WOULD fertilize the trees.

Ian

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizing landscape trees

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 1:45AM
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hogmanay

In general I agree with Ken and others.

I have a row of them planted for a screen in the clay backfill they used to grade my lot. The soil is lacking in this particular area, much worse than most of the rest of the yard.

I have used a little blue-box miracle grow to make me feel better about their soil conditions, but I keep them mulched really well. They're growing like weeds in spite of the poor soil and general lack of rain this year. I attribute that to the mulch (closing in on two years worth of remulching as needed)

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 8:45AM
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Dan Staley

Ian, if you are using that linky to justify fertilizing plants in a soil of unknown fertility, there are several important caveats in the document. The doc actually supports our comments above.

Dan

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 9:38AM
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jazzygardener(z4 MN)

Thanks for the all of the feedback. The reason that I was thinking of fertilizing my arborvitae is because some of them are scrawny and growing very slowly. They're also competing for water with the smaller shrubs in this compact area. I'd like to get them to grow bigger and healthier.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 10:21AM
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gardningrandma

Were they recently transplanted or have they been there a while? If they are established then I would go ahead and do a soil test to figure out what is necessary and in the meanwhile try to minimize competition by removing plants that are too close. Also make sure they are getting enough sunlight and moisture. All the fertilizer in the world isn't going to make a tree look any better if it's just not getting the water it needs.

You can take an activity that is very "green"- caring for a tree, and make it very un-green by using fertilizer unnecessarily. We must remember this stuff ends up in our rivers and streams as non-point source pollution. Should especially be a concern in the land of 10,000 lakes.

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 11:13AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

you are welcome ....

i have about 500 conifers... and about 100 trees ... some fancy.. some plain ole ...

and below are two pix that show my native yellow sand...

CONIFERS AND TREES LOVE SAND ... put that thought out of your mind .... trees and conifers naturalize the side of mountains.. thriving in sand and loose rocks.. with absolutely no fertilizers ....

usually ... scraggly growth is related to low light situations .... are your plants in full sun ...

and finally.. if they need water.. give them water ...

if you figure out how to post a picture.. perhaps we can add some other ideas ...

but bottom line.. they are all trees.. they are not children.. they dont need food .... nor college.. nor their diapers changed .... all they need is some supplemental water and full sunshine...

ken

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 12:33PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

Fertilizing trees.....

Here is a link that might be useful: Standard for Fertilizing Shade & Ornamental Trees

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 12:40PM
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Dan Staley

Another link still not supporting the assertion Ian.

Esp as you haven't seen the site to assess conditions, haven't been given adequate information to make conclusions, nor have the results of the soil test been shared with you.

The only information we have with the premise is that part of the population is experiencing suboptimal growth. The number of reasons is large for this condition to manifest itself - making recommendations without adequate information is almost always wasteful.

Dan

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 1:02PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

Dan....

I didn't say you were wrong, but you assume that I did based on your replies.....I gave my opinion on what I would do...

I supplied the links as info for the poster to read and decide.....

Don't let your ego get in the way

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 9:09PM
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jamiedolan(4/5)

Agree with Ken. We have many pine, spruce, misc conifers up north in a very sandy area, they look great. We've had that property for getting close to 11 years now, and I know none of the plants / trees have been fertilized in that time frame. We have not even watered them, actually haven't done a single thing to them.

In the city here, we have heavy clay soil, often with poor drainage. I see spruce in the city that are "cared for to death" on a very regular basis, just saw 2 very nice blue spruce that died 2 houses over; I know exactly what happened, the guy was out there every single day watering them.

Sand is far better for these trees than heavier poor draining soils.

>The reason that I was thinking of fertilizing my
>arborvitae is because some of them are scrawny and
>growing very slowly.

I'm more inclined to think something else is wrong, as other suggested, perhaps not enough light, roots girdled,etc.

>They're also competing for water with the smaller shrubs
>in this compact area. I'd like to get them to grow bigger >and healthier.

Bigger, Healthier. -- Pick One. Well you can have both, but it takes time, I don't push in ground trees that I care about with fertilizer, with few exceptions.

It is fine to water them more, just don't over water, if your sandy soil drains well, then it will be quite difficult to over water.

>Some trees are heavy feeders

I have trouble believing that most conifers would be considered heavy feeders. I'd think things that are very fast growing like willows & poplars, would be the kind of thing that would be considered heavy feeders, and those are about the only trees in ground that I will fertilize - though I doubt it is necessary and would not normally suggest that to others.

Jamie

    Bookmark   September 3, 2010 at 10:16PM
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Dan Staley

Thank you Ian. Stating that an ego is the reason for pointing out that evidence doesn't support an assertion won't help someone in their decision-making process.

To reiterate: throwing fertilizer at a plant won't help it get more water. And it won't help a 'scrawny' plant if there is something else going on.

Dan

    Bookmark   September 4, 2010 at 10:04AM
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