Your Complete Guide To The Best Fertilizer For Evergreens

best fertilizer for evergreens

Evergreens are the foundation of a healthy landscape and form an essential part of your home. They not only lend shade and beauty but also provide significant value to your property. However, you have to care for them to keep them in healthy conditions.

In a suburban or urban neighborhood, evergreens often require fertilizing. Modern home structures create unfavorable growing conditions for evergreens. Most of the time, the topsoil is not replaced but entirely removed. Also, the evergreens are crowded by sidewalks or streets and have to strive for nutrients. In this type of environment, fertilization becomes necessary.

Evergreen shrubs and trees benefit from fertilizers applications as they add and enrich the plant with nutrients. Therefore, it becomes highly essential to find the best fertilizer for evergreens for their proper growth and development. 

Determine The Need To Fertilize Evergreens

Fertilizers are often misrepresented as “food” for evergreens. Evergreens can produce food through photosynthesis in the form of sugars. Fertilizer provides the nutrients or minerals required to carry out the photosynthesis process. Moreover, they maintain an adequate quantity of minerals in the soil.

When fertilizing evergreens, you should consider two things; Fertilizers should be used only when required and use in the correct place, at the correct time, and in the correct amount.

The following points will help you decide whether you should fertilize your evergreens or not.

Soil Test

Performing a soil test can determine the alkalinity (pH) or acidity of the soil along with the amount of nutrients present. After looking at the results, you can identify if your evergreen requires more nutrients to make up for the deficiencies or not.


The evergreens shows poor growth signs such as smaller leaf size, yellow-colored leaves, or falling of leaves earlier than expected. These symptoms show nutrients deficiency in the plants. However, the symptoms can also be caused due to heavily compacted soil or stress induced by weeds or insects.

Before you apply fertilizer, determine the root cause of the problem and solve it.


If you are growing the evergreens in the lawn, which is regularly fertilized, you should not fertilize them individually. The roots of shrubs or trees will absorb the fertilizer eventually. However, the evergreens in planting beds should be regularly fertilized, especially those with no organic matter or those planted on sandy soil.

Planting Age

Fertilizers applied in the early years of already established shrubs, and trees can speed up their growth. However, slow-release fertilizers are ideal for newly planted evergreens. 

What Are The Nutrients Required?

Evergreens do require essential nutrients from the soil to develop to their full strength. There are fourteen essential nutrients present in the soil, dissolved in water to absorb by the plant’s roots.

The nutrients are not present in an adequate amount required for the healthy growth of the plant in the soil. Therefore, you need fertilizers to fill the deficiency of nutrients in soil and plants.

The nutrients are classified into two categories macro and micro-nutrients. The macro-nutrients are further divided into two categories as primary and secondary nutrients.

The primary nutrients include Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium. Evergreens require these nutrients in large quantities. In contrast, secondary nutrients are not required in large amounts but are essential for the plant’s health. These include magnesium, sulphur, and calcium.

The micro-nutrients are necessary for the development and growth of the plant. These include Boron, Copper, Manganese, Zinc, Iron, Chlorine, Nickel, Molybdenum, and Copper. Among all of them, copper is essential for reproduction and photosynthesis, while others help absorb different elements.

Let us discuss the essential nutrients required by plants:

Primary Nutrients

Phosphorus (P)

Phosphorus helps in the process of photosynthesis. Assisting in the formation of all sugars, oils, and starches, it also helps with the proper plant maturation, the conversion of solar energy into chemical energy, and withstanding stress.

For rapid root growth, improved flower blooming, phosphorus is a crucial nutrient required by evergreens. The primary sources of phosphorus for plants are superphosphate, fertilizer, and bone meal.

Nitrogen (N)

Nitrogen forms an essential part of all enzymes, metabolic processes, and proteins involved in transferring and synthesizing energy. Being a part of chlorophyll, it helps in the smooth process of photosynthesis. Moreover, it initiates the plant’s rapid growth, fruit production, and improve leaf quality.

Nitrogen comes mostly from fertilizer applications.

Potassium (K)

Plants absorb potassium in a more considerable amount as compared to other minerals. Potassium helps in building fruit quality, protein, reduction of disease, and photosynthesis. Additionally, the sources of potassium are organic materials, fertilizers, and soil minerals.

Further, potassium supports the plant’s ability to tolerate extreme temperatures.

Secondary Nutrients

Sulphur (S)

Sulphur promotes the production of protein by acting as essential plant food. It activates the development and activity of vitamins and enzymes in the plants. Moreover, Sulphur improves seed production and root growth.

Sulphur can be induced into the soil through fertilizers or rainwater. Some amount of gypsum also increases sulphur levels in the soil.

Calcium (Ca)

Calcium is a crucial part of the cell wall structure and provides retention and transport of strength and other elements in the plant. It also neutralizes the effect of organic acids and alkali salts inside the plant.

Dolomitic lime, superphosphate, and gypsum are some sources of calcium for plants.

Magnesium (Mg)

Magnesium helps to increase phosphorus intake and boost chlorophyll production. As a result, it encourages CO2 absorption and produces a blooming green color. It activates the plant’s enzymes required for growth.

Fertilizers, dolomitic limestone, soil minerals, and organic material are some sources of magnesium.

How To Identify The Deficiencies?

The signs of deficiencies are generally visible on the evergreens. If you inspect your plant regularly, you might see yellow or light-colored leaves. These are the indication of nutrient deficiency in plants.

Let us look at some of the signs of nutrient deficiency in evergreens.

Nitrogen Deficiency

If the evergreen has nitrogen deficiency, it will be first visible on the older leaves. The leaves will be small and show intense fall color and may fall early. Additionally, the number of branches and shoots will decrease eventually.

Potassium Deficiency

Just like nitrogen, the signs are visible on older leaves. The deficient leaves will have interveinal or marginal chlorosis accompanied by scorching. Also, the leaves may be rolled upwards and are crinkled.

Phosphorus Deficiency

The older foliage will first show the phosphorus deficiency. The leaves might turn dark green from the front and bronze or purple on the back. Leaves will appear smaller and may fall early.

Calcium Deficiency

The signs of deficiency will be visible on the new leaves. The leaves will be small with necrotic tips. Moreover, the shoots will display terminal dieback symptoms.

Iron Deficiency

The young leaves are the first to show the signs of iron deficiency. Leaves will show contrasting colors as light green and dark green on the veins. Also, the leaves will have marginal bleaching and scorching.

Magnesium Deficiency

The older leaves will appear brittle and thin and also fall prematurely. Furthermore, the leaves will form interveinal necrosis and reddening.

What Is The Best Time To Fertilize?

The best time to fertilize the evergreens is during early Spring or late fall. You should not fertilizer the evergreens in later summer as it will encourage growth and lead to winter injury. Also, the drought conditions are not suitable to fertilize as the evergreens won’t absorb the nutrients due to water’s unavailability.

Boost Your Evergreens Growth In The Spring

Generally, Spring is considered the best time for fertilizer. The fertilizers applied during Spring can stimulate late-season growth, which will not have enough time to harden as the temperature drops. 

If you fertilize your evergreens in the Spring, then tend to grow into a healthier and greener canopy. Moreover, it will stay green for an extended period. Thus, the application of fertilizer will provide an additional boost to the plant growth.

Let Your Evergreens Become Nutrient-Rich In The Fall

During the fall, the deciduous shrubs and trees have lost their year’s foliage, and the growth of plants and leaves have slowed down. Fertilization during this time will allow the evergreens to absorb the nutrients to perform essential health functions. The plants will promote root development and disease resistance.

The nutrients stored in the plants will be available for the plant’s growth in the next Spring. Precisely speaking, fertilizing evergreens in fall encourages the following:

  • Expansion of root system
  • Vigorous tree growth
  • Eliminates stress
  • Restore nutrients from the soil

How To Choose The Best Fertilizer For Evergreens?

When you have multiple fertilizer options in the market, how would you choose the best fertilizer for evergreens? You need to consider some essential things before you search in the market.

NPK Value

All the fertilizers display NPK values. But what is it? The NPK ratio tells you the amount of Nitrogen (N), Phosphorus (P), and Potassium (K) the fertilizer has. These are the primary nutrients required by evergreens in the highest quantity.

For shrubs and trees, nitrogen is present in a large amount and is responsible for the rapid plant growth. However, the soil itself includes the three nutrients, and adding the fertilizer to them enhances growth, fruit yield, and flowering.

Organic Or Synthetic Fertilizer

Both Organic and Synthetic Fertilizers comes with some benefits and drawbacks. It is up to your personal preference which one you think is the best fertilizer for evergreens.

Synthetic fertilizers are rich in primary nutrients and are water-soluble. Additionally, they act as soon as they are applied. But, they entail fast release nitrogen that is quickly lost from the soil.

Organic fertilizers are environment friendly. They aim to promote the overall health of the soil by allowing worms and microbes to flourish. Also, the slow-release nutrients do not burn or damage the trees. 

What Are The Different Application Methods To Fertilize?

There is no one particular method that is required by every evergreen trees and shrubs for fertilization. To get the best fertilizer for evergreens, various methods and approaches are used. Let us take a detailed look at different application methods.

Granular Fertilizer

Granular Fertilizer is among the most practical fertilization application for ground cover and smaller plants. The fertilizer’s granules are absorbed by the soil, where a chemical reaction occurs to provide the desired quantity of nutrients to the plants.

Deep Root Liquid Fertilizer

The method of deep root liquid fertilization involves an injection of liquid material into the roots of the trees with the help of tools used by professionals. The tool is inserted close to the tree’s base to deliver the right amount of nutrients. This method avoids injecting excess nutrients and allows the evergreens to absorb the fertilizer through the roots.

Soil Systemic Injections

Soil Systemic Injection controls and prevents the accumulation of pests and disease in your evergreens. Plants absorb the products, and the leaves, stems, and roots are protected against the growth of unwanted organisms.


Spraying is among the most common fertilizer application method. For example, Foliar spray applications are used for various plant treatments. The fertilizer is directly sprayed on shrubs and trees’ foliage whenever required to control the spreading of disease and insects.

Trunk Sprays

Trunk Sprays are applied directly to the tree’s bark. Generally, the fertilizer is applied to the chest height of the tree so that the tree can intake the required amount of fertilizer. Additionally, trunk sprays treat borer whose young larvae can eat the internal tissues of the plant.

Fertilizer Spikes

Fertilizer spikes offer a straightforward and convenient application of applying the fertilizers to evergreens. Moreover, they are effective when you use them in small quantities.

The fertilizer sticks help to promote the biological activity within the soil and prevent disease and pest growth.

How Many Times Should Your Fertilize Evergreens?

The answer to this question lies in what type of fertilizer you are using. Check the fertilizer label that will inform you of the rate or amount of fertilizer you need and how often you should apply it to the plants.

For example, Soluble fertilizers should be applied within two weeks interval during the growing period. The Granular fertilizers are applied after every 8-6 weeks intervals, whereas slow-release fertilizers work slowly, so their one application is sufficient for the entire growing period.

Another thing you should consider is whether the evergreens require fertilizers or not. Fertilizers do not work to keep your plant alive but provide them with proper nutrition. Some healthy plants do not require frequent application of fertilizers. Therefore, it is important to carry out the soil test before applying fertilizers.

Best Fertilizers For Evergreens

Fertilizers fulfill the nutrients deficiency and aid in evergreen’s growth and development. Therefore, you need the best fertilizer for evergreens that ensures the optimum result. Given below are the detailed reviews of the best fertilizer for evergreens, which are top-rated in the market. 

1. Miracle-Gro Tree & Shrub Plant Food Spikes

NPK Ratio: 15-5-10

Trees and shrubs make a beautiful addition to your landscape. Therefore, it is your responsibility to provide structure, color, and fruit to the plants. Feeding your plants properly can result in blooming and lush green leaves throughout the season.

Miracle-Gro comes with tree spikes that are specifically formulated for evergreens, trees, and shrubs. During early Fall and Spring, you should use the fertilizer annually to ensure the continuous release of essential nutrients.

The fertilizer spikes help feed nutrients into the plant’s roots to maintain balanced feeding. Moreover, the spikes encourage the growth of impressive foliage.

With Miracle-Gro, what you need to do is to identify the tree’s drip line. You can find the drip line at the outermost circumference of the tree branches. You have to place the spike in a circular arrangement within the tree’s drip line. Make sure to hammer the spike at least two inches deep into the surface of the soil. 

The advantage of using spikes instead of granule and liquid fertilizer is that it follows a slow-release nutrients process. The nutrients are reached over time and do not leach away from the soil.


  • Easy to Use
  • High in nitrogen for strong growth
  • Slow-release nutrients
  • Able to revive dying plants


  • Some customers reported the death of young plants.

2. BioAdvanced 701700B 12-Month Shrub Protect

NPK Ratio: 2-1-1

Revitalize your shrubs and trees with BioAdvanced 12-Month Shrub Protect and prevent the growth of unwanted weeds and insects for about 12 months. It can kill Emerald Ash Borers, Leafminers, Fall Webworms, and Japanese Beetles.

With systemic rainproof protection, the fertilizer is absorbed by the plant’s root system internally to the leaf’s tip. Moreover, the fertilizer will not wash away due to irrigation or rain.

The product does not require any spraying. It comes with a measuring cup to measure and sprinkle the right amount around the plant’s base to get absorbed by the soil. You can apply the fertilizer to a wide variety of flowers including, flower beds, roses, and flowering shrubs such as azaleas.


  • Protection against harmful insects for straight 12 months
  • Comes with an in-built measuring cup
  • Can be used on potted plants
  • Offers systemic rainproof protection
  • Slow-release fertilizer


  • Can be used on only outdoor ornamental shrubs and non-bearing fruit plants and trees.

3. Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes

NPK Ratio: 11-3-4

You do everything to make sure that your evergreens always remain ever-green. Jobe’s Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes enhance your evergreen growth throughout the season with an endless supply of nutrients underneath the surface.

The slow-release formula is highly effective as it works at the tree’s roots. You just have to insert the spike around the drip line in a circular motion of every tree.

The spike comes in pre-measured quantities so as not to overfeed or burn the plants. Due to subsurface feeding, the slow-release formula inhibits any chemical or wasteful runoff. The fertilizer is highly beneficial for acidic evergreen trees and shrubs.

You can use the spike fertilizer during any season whenever your evergreens find the requirement of it. Additionally, it is easy to use, as it does not require any measuring or mixing.  


  • Slow-release formula
  • Pre-measured fertilizer
  • Safe to use around pets
  • Can be used in any season.


  • Can harm established evergreens

4. Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food

NPK Ratio: 24-8-16

With a guarantee not to burn the plants, Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food is safe to use for evergreens. For beautiful results, the plants require sunlight, water, and the right nutrition to thrive throughout the season.

The Miracle-Gro starts working as soon as you apply it. To ensure that your plants are active and growing, you should feed your plants after every seven to fourteen days.

Using the Miracle-Gro plant food is very straightforward. You have to shake the fertilizer on the desired areas of the plant. Make sure that you water the plant sufficiently for proper dispersion. Alternatively, you can also add the plant food into the watering can and then water your plant like you normally do.


  • Safe for plants
  • Does not burn the plants
  • Easy to use
  • Works as both fertilizer and food for plants


  • Require weekly re-application

5. Ross 14636 Root Feeder Refills

NPK Ratio: 25-10-10

Ross Root Feeder Refills for Trees and Shrubs ensure that your evergreens remain beautiful all season long. You can use the Ross Root Feeder to provide the right balance of nutrients to your plant’s roots simultaneously as you water them.

The product includes the 2-in-1 function of fertilizer as well as a fertilizer applicator. The application’s design is made to be sturdy and long-lasting to resist any wearing or tearing during gardening.

Unlike other fertilizers, the application process is quite different. The primary function is the same except for one; you need to fill the head with fertilizer before sticking it in the ground. Moreover, it is equipped with refills to add a stick of the refill fertilizer in the ground.

Next, you will close the head and inject the fertilizer stick into the ground. As the head is inside the ground so, when you water, it will ensure that the water reaches the roots evenly.


  • Fertilizer and Fertilizer applicator in one product
  • Highly durable fertilizer applicator
  • Requires no measuring or mixing
  • Fertilize at the roots


  • Instructions are difficult to understand

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Can You Use Coffee Ground To Fertilize Evergreens?

Coffee grounds are acidic, and therefore, they are suitable for acid-loving plants like blueberries or azaleas. If the soil is high in nitrogen quantity, the additional enhancement from coffee grounds can stop flowers and fruits growth.

In case you want to increase the soil acidity, adding coffee ground is the right choice. Coffee grounds contain 2-5 per cent of nitrogen. As nitrogen provides green growth, the coffee ground can encourage evergreens to grow leggy and lush. However, if you do not incorporate other nutrients like phosphorus, the shrubs will fail to flower.

2. Can You Add Cow Manure To Fertilize Trees?

Cow Manure is widely known as all-purpose fertilizer. Being low in nitrogen quality, it will not burn down trees and maintain the right balance of nutrients.

While using cow manure for evergreens, there is a low possibility of weeds making a home for themselves in your plants. A cow has four stomachs which digest the food evenly that only a few weed can make it through the manure. 

3. How Do You Save Dying Evergreens?

Saving a dying evergreen depends on how quickly you can diagnose the problem and its root cause. If your evergreen is still breathing, you can follow the below-mentioned tips to revive them:

  • Prune back all the affected and dead areas to prevent the growth of disease and secondary infestation. In some situations, you might have to remove the whole portion of the tree that is affected.
  • Provide at least one deep watering a week in highly drained soil. Make sure that the water reaches about 15 inches deep into the soil. If the soil has high clay content, you can change the watering period with two weeks interval.
  • You should avoid regular and light watering as it will promote root growth around the surface.
  • During late fall, provide one and last deep watering to the tree before the ground freezes or hardens.
  • Check the soil content and pH. Try to adjust the nutrients to meet the requirements of tree species. To lower the pH, use sulphur, aluminum sulfate, or organic material. However, to raise the pH, use compounds with limestone or lime.
  • To help the soil with moisture retention, mulch the area where the roots are spread. This way, the ground will preserve warmth even during winters.
  • Try to fertilize during early summer or Spring. If you fertilize in the late summer, it will promote growth that will not allow the ground to harden before winter. Also, the new growth will put additional stress on the tree.
  • Try to provide physical protection, especially during the winter season. Tree wraps or Burlap will protect the recovering and younger trees from dying in extreme temperatures.
  • You can apply fungicides to prevent frequent occurrences of the disease. Make sure you apply only after you have removed the affected or dead area.

4. Why Do Evergreen Trees Turn Brown In Color?

Evergreens are supposed to stay green all-year-round. However, evergreens don’t always last as lively as they should be. The diseases, events, and life cycle can cause a change in the appearance of evergreens.

Here are two main reasons why evergreens turn brown:


During winters, the weather is relatively tough and harsh on trees. Needles lacking water quantity will turn brown under direct sunlight.

To protect from dryness, you can use anti-desiccant spray. Also, the waxy coating can help retain moisture in trees and plants.

Evergreen Disease

When you inspect the evergreens, you should pay attention to the needle area that has turned brown. If the needle’s browning is not because of the sunlight but occurs in the regions that are not exposed to sunlight, you should look for possible infections.

The most common evergreen disease is root rot. It is a type of fungus that thrives in damp soil. You can prevent further growth of root rot by removing the damp soil and allowing the roots to dry.

Another problem that is common in evergreens is rust. Rust is a type of fungal disease. If the needle of evergreens has powdery spores, it is because of the rust. Also, there is a change in leaves from bright orange-colored leaves into rusty brown. You can prevent their growth by pruning the infected limbs and needles of the evergreen.  

5. What If You Overwater Evergreen Trees?

If you overwater trees, it will become difficult for the trees to breathe. The excess water will block the air spots that help in breathing. Thus, your evergreen tree will receive excess water but very insufficient oxygen. This could result in long-term tree stress, growth of fungi, and root rot.

Final Thoughts

Your evergreens do not require fertilizer all the time. However, plants can thrive and flourish to their full potential when they come in contact with the fertilizers. The best fertilizer for evergreens can provide the essential and the right amount of nutrients required by the plants. If that is not the case, you need to change your fertilizer. While taking care of evergreen, you cannot rely on just any fertilizer available in the market. We hope that our best fertilizer for evergreens and buying guide have provided you with enough information to take care of your evergreens properly.