When to fertilise fruit trees

Updated February 21, 2017

Growing fruit trees is a popular form of gardening because the trees provide fresh fruit to eat, cook with and preserve for jams and jellies. Properly caring for fruit trees will ensure the trees product quite a bit of fruit and the best way to do so is the learn and understand when and how much fertiliser to use to aide in the production of fruit.

Organic fertilisers

Organic fertilisers are optimal for fruit trees because the fruit is edible and you don't want any extra pesticides or harmful chemicals added to the fruit that grows. Organic fertilisers produced from various types of animal manure, crushed bone meal, blood meal and fish cakes is preferred. The most common type of fertiliser is made with animal manure because of its high content of nitrogen. As the manure breaks down, the naturally occurring chemical changes produces the nitrogen, which is essential to plant and fruit growth. Fertilisers made of crushed bone meal worked into the soil under the tree canopy to induce vigorous growing is a slower acting fertiliser as are other types of fertilisers.

Chemical fertilisers

Chemical fertilisers are available as well. Chemical fertilisers are produced in large quantities in order to keep up with the demand of fertilisers available to the public. It is necessary to use the correct chemical fertiliser for fruit trees. Since it is important not to contaminate the fruit, there are chemical fertilisers that are especially formulated for fruit trees. Since there are so many varieties available, it is essential to choose the right one by reading product labels and taking note of any warnings regarding edible plants or trees.

When to apply fertiliser

If the fruit trees experience a slowing of tree growth or fruit production, it may be necessary to fertilise it in order to supply the needed nutrients. Fruit bearing trees should grow at least eight to ten inches a year; the brighter green limbs growing on the tree will determine this. The age of the tree is important for determining fertiliser use. For example, five-year-old fruit trees will need to have at least 227 g (1/2 lb) of nitrogen applied around the base of the tree and under the leaf lines. Ten-year-old trees will need at least 454 g (1 lb).


An important note to consider is if the lawn surrounding the fruit trees has been fertilised regularly, it should not be necessary to fertilise fruit trees, as they are already getting an adequate amount of fertiliser. Additionally, early spring is the best time for fertiliser applications. This stimulates the tree early in order to produce fruit at the correct time. It is not advisable to apply fertiliser during the summer months as this may encourage fruit production at the wrong time and the fruit may freeze.

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About the Author

Cathy Conrad has more than five years of newsprint experience as an assistant editor and is a professional writer. She has worked as a virtual assistant and email support specialist, and has more than 20 years of experience working in the medical field. Conrad is currently licensed as a Texas insurance representative and has many years in home improvement and gardening.