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Organic tree fertilizer?

515 Views 4 Replies 2 Participants Last post by  yequanamama
What do you recommend using and where would you recommend buying it? Also, what about a "root builder", also for trees?

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Thanks, Nemmer. (By the way, would that location be Utah Valley?) What can anyone tell me about liquified seaweed for root development?
It's for new trees in a new neighborhood. The developer didn't put in the healthiest trees, and they need a liitle help. After a couple of years I expect them to do fine on their own.
Fertilizer could do more harm than good.

You don't want to encourage fast growth because the tree doesn't have the roots to support it--but research does not show that any of the "root stimulants" actually work. My husband (an arborist) sometimes uses an anti-transpirant on newly moved trees if they are being unusually stressed. It reduces water loss from leaves, and reduces the overall demands on the tree's system. He considers it effective, though certainly not a cure-all.

There are some things to consider if you want to help a stressed tree get established:

Planting can be hard on trees and much worse if handled poorly. Check to make sure the trees are not planted too deeply--the first big roots should be barely below the surface. One of the most common mistakes with trees, that is extremely harmful, is planting them too deeply. When a tree is planted in poor and compacted soils, radial trenching can help a lot. We have often done this for trees, and dh does it with very large ones but I frequently do it when I plant. These are like troughs of loosened soil that extend outward from the tree's current roots, and are filled with a looser (more organic matter) soil so that the roots can grow outward where they belong--then I often actually gently pull some of the roots into the trench to head them in the right direction.

The tree is probably in big trouble if any synthetic burlap or a wire basket has been left on--another common practice that drastically reduces survival. You can check for these if you dig a little below the surface.

Mulch is really beneficial. It also adds some organic matter/fertility to the soil gradually. Make sure it doesn't touch the bark at all, though.

And water. Water through the first year (spring-summer only) or two--soaking the entire root zone thoroughly once per week or every other week if heavy rain does not fall. The tree may look bad the first summer, but if it has a chance of surviving its previous treatment at all, then these measures are the best help to give it.

A small amount of compost on the surface (In a circle about 2 ft. diameter) is possibly beneficial--because it offers a VERY slow source of soil fertility and helps address the damaged soil. Stay away from anything that releases quickly--and seaweed and fish fertilizers are considered fast-release organics. They tend to be high-nitrogen and this is a problem because fast leaf growth is encouraged and makes the tree even more out-of-balance.
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