Fertilizing The Shrubs
Shrubs are generally perennial, woody plants with low, bushy growth patterns. These plants are foundational, anchoring elements of any well-balanced landscape. While they are easy plants to keep, a basic maintenance program should be developed to keep shrubs in top condition year after year. A solid maintenance program includes controlling insects or disease problems, suppressing weeds, and applying fertilizer once a year to encourage growth as well as keep colors vibrant. Generally, you should fertilize your shrubs in either the spring or fall. This recommendation applies only if the condition of your shrub indicates it need fertilization. The extension does not advise an annual fertilization based on the calendar only. Set out any spring application before the start of new growth. Apply in autumn after the first frost. Avoid late summer applications, which may promote new growth that won’t survive the winter. New shrubs typically need fertilization to help them become established. If you place new plants in the ground in autumn, wait until spring to fertilize. If you set new plants in the soil in spring, wait six to eight weeks before applying a fertilizer. A slow-release fertilizer gives the best results for new plants. Give only a light application of fertilizer for your new shrubs.
Let a soil test serve as a general guide when deciding how much fertilizer your shrubs need. Check with your county extension to see if it performs soil tests. How much rainfall your location receives can also determine when you should apply fertilizer. During a rainy season, your soil may require more fertilizer. Once you decide how much fertilizer your shrubs need per year, consider splitting the application between early spring and late fall.