Best fertilizer for pine trees

Fertilizing Evergreens

Evergreen trees do not require much fertilizer, if any at all. It is very easy to over fertilize an evergreen. Fertilizing evergreens are only required if the tree is losing its dark green color from a lack of nutrients.

What a Plant Needs

First of all, evergreens typically only need sunshine and water, but for normal growth, a plant also needs 17 nutrients. Hydrogen, carbon, and oxygen are pulled from the air. Nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, and sulfur are macronutrients pulled from the soil in large amounts. Micronutrients such as iron, zinc, molybdenum, manganese, boron, copper, cobalt, and chlorine are pulled from the soil as well, but in much smaller doses than the macronutrients.

Poor Evergreen Growth

If an evergreen is having problems with limited growth, it is most likely caused by nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium. Evergreens, like any other tree or shrub, suffering from poor growth will typically have one or more of the following symptoms: light colored or yellow leaves or needles, dieback at the tips of the branches, wilting, twig growth that is shorter than expected, and more.

Poor soil conditions are typically to blame when an evergreen is suffering from poor plant growth. Factors such as poor soil aeration or moisture, improper pH levels, a nutrient toxicity or deficiency, or disease all lead to poor plant growth for evergreens and other plants.

When to Fertilize Evergreens

When determining whether or not to fertilize an evergreen tree, it is best to conduct a soil analysis of the area around the tree. A soil analysis will tell if the soil is lacking any nutrients or if it has an excess of any nutrients. A soil analysis will also tell the amount of organic matter within the soil, as well as the pH level of the soil.

How to Fertilize Evergreens

When an evergreen does require fertilizer, it is essential that the fertilizer is absorbed into the soil and then absorbed from the soil by the plant. Fertilizer should never be applied directly to a new planting hole.

Sum it up

When caring for trees and shrubs, not all trees and shrubs are created equal. Research is the key for each particular plant being worked with. Lawn care services, tree service companies and nurseries are excellent resources to ask questions and get recommendations from.

If you are ever unsure of what to do, how to handle a job, or just too short on time it is best to call a professional to be sure the job is being done correctly. Look around, ask friends or family, and research companies on the Better Business Bureau to find a company that you can trust.

For our pest control blog articles, please visit us at a division of TurfGator

TurfGator – Tree and Shrub Care:

  • Insect & Disease Control
  • Fall Fertilization
  • Emerald Ash Borer (EAB)
  • Landscape Bed Weed Control

Norfolk Island Pine Basic Plant Care

Norfolk Island Pine (Araucaria heterophylla) is a common plant in warm, tropical climates. Norfolk Island Pine is a popular houseplant because it thrives in light, cool rooms. Named for the small South Pacific island on which it was first discovered in the 1700s, Norfolk Island Pine is commonly seen during the winter months as small tabletop Christmas trees. Another unique use for this popular plant is for bonsai, the Asian art of sculpting miniature trees.

Norfolk Island Pine Light Requirements:

Norfolk Island Pine requires ample light but never direct sunlight. As a houseplant, Norfolk Island Pine does very well in covered patios, sunrooms and other areas with a steadily cool temperature, full light to partial shade and good ventilation. Keep Norfolk Island Pine relatively cool in the summer (around 65oF) and warm in the winter (40-55oF). Limp branches are a common sign of over heating.

Norfolk Island Pine Water Requirements:

Norfolk Island Pine enjoys an evenly moist environment. Soil should be kept moist but well drained. Water the soil freely during the growing season but keep only slightly moist in the winter during the plant’s natural resting period. Spraying occasionally can also be helpful during growth. Take care not to over water plants as damage may occur. Limp branches are also a common sign of excessive watering.

Water Norfolk Island Pine regularly with soft lukewarm water as cool or cold water may shock young roots. Fill the watering vessel with tepid water or allow the water to stand openly until room temperature. This also allows any much of the chlorine in tap water to evaporate.

Norfolk Island Pine Fertilizer Requirements:

Apply a balanced (20-20-20) liquid fertilizer to Norfolk Island Pine every two (2) weeks during the growing period. In the summer, especially if grown outdoors, feed plants with an acid fertilizer such as rhododendron food as the high nitrogen concentration stimulates better foliage growth. Suspend fertilizing during the winter or reduce to less than the frequency of watering.

Norfolk Island Pine Pests & Diseases:

Norfolk Island Pine is susceptible to common houseplant pests such as mealybugs and scale insects. Pathogen affecting these plants may include bleeding cankers and needle necrosis. Needle necrosis is a deadening of the plant tissue caused by trauma, viral, or bacterial infection. These infections may occur after long periods of humidity or other factors and are typically easiest to recognize after the onset of needle necrosis causes leaves to change from healthy green colors to browns and yellows signifying death. Needle necrosis can only be resolved through pruning.

Norfolk Island Pine Propagation & Potting:

Allow potted plants to grow outdoors during the summer in an open but protected location in moderately fertile soil. Areas that are cool and ventilated with light shade are excellent for Norfolk Island Pine. For outdoor plants consider growing on a shady side of the house that receives bright light during the day. Do not grow in constant full or direct sunlight as overheating can dry the soil and cause foliage to wilt.

For indoor plants, use a soil-based potting mix. Repot Norfolk Island Pine every two to three (2-3) years to allow proper root growth. Plants will grow crooked if planted or kept in a corner.

Propagation is difficult even if high humidity is maintained. Prior to planting tip cuttings, treat the cuttings with rooting compound. Plant treated cuttings in warm soil (near 77oF, 25oC) .

Buy Norfolk Island Pine houseplants from your local florist

What’s the best N-P-K ratio for Norfolk Island Pine?

Hot Network Questions

  • Isn’t the notion that everything will occur in an infinite timeline an example of the gambler’s fallacy?
  • Is reductio ad absurdum a fallacy?
  • Are lower interest rates bad for the lending perspective of banks?
  • Please help with binomial expansion question
  • What makes a wheel spin?
  • Why is Hunter Biden’s testimony in the impeachment trial relevant?
  • What is “das Schulabschlusszeugnis” in this context?
  • Off the ground the game is at stake
  • Can we call forms like “Зин”, “Дим”, “мам”, “пап” vocative case?
  • What are the various ‘properties’ of a diode?
  • Can Strionic Resonator re-direct Ulamog, The Ceaseless Hunger’s exile ability?
  • Real rootedness of a polynomial
  • How to tell potential players to pick up their game
  • Confusion about how bleed works
  • Can the Actor feat allow a character to effectively speak a language they don’t know?
  • Regional idioms for sunshower?
  • Walk home one step at a time
  • Why does the Alpha Magnetic Spectrometer (AMS) on the ISS use carbon dioxide for coolant?
  • Can Computer Motherboards Work Fine Even With A Damaged SMD Capacitor/Resistor?
  • Ubuntu 18.04: Is dynamic swap space sizing practical? Running out of memory crashed Ubuntu
  • Is there a fee to be paid to reactivate a bank account of an American citizen?
  • Short story about intergalatic pizza delivery via time travel
  • Why couldn’t Hela defeat Surtur?

more hot questions

Benton County Extension Office

University of Minnesota Extension, Stearns County News
December 14, 2016
Source: Beth Berlin, Extension Educator-Horticulture
University of Minnesota Extension
Stearns, Benton, & Morrison Counties

Caring for Your Norfolk Island Pine
By Beth Berlin, University of Minnesota Extension

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (12/14/16) — Many people will receive a Norfolk Island Pine for the holidays. These beautiful evergreen trees can become a wonderful houseplant for many years to come with the right care.

Norfolk Island Pine, Araucaria heterophylla, is not actually a pine tree. It is a coniferous evergreen native to Norfolk Island in the South Pacific near Australia. They have short dark green needle-like leaves with broad spanning branches that give it a tiered appearance. In its native climate, they can reach 200 feet tall with a ten foot diameter trunk. As a houseplant it is very slow growing, only growing about 3-6 inches per year, but can reach a height of 5-8 feet.

To care for a Norfolk Island Pine, place it in a bright, sunny location. Be sure to spin your plant each week so that it doesn’t start to lean or grow towards the window and light. In general, Norfolk Island Pines can be kept at 65-72°F, but it is important not to expose them to extremes, both hot and cold. The minimum night time temperature this plant will tolerate is 50-55°F. The plant will perform best where night time temperatures are about 10°F cooler than the day temperatures.

Humidity is important for nearly all houseplants. The Norfolk Island Pines prefer higher humidity than what most of our homes are in the winter time, preferably around 50% humidity. Placing a humidifier nearby may help alleviate dry air. Fertilize when plants begin to put on new growth, typically March through September. However the plant will tolerate very little fertilizer, which will minimize growth; keeping the plant shorter and growing slower. The plant prefers moist roots but doesn’t like to be wet so be sure to have a well drained soil and container. Water thoroughly once the top one-inch of the soil is dry.

Norfolk Island Pines that experience wet soil and low light conditions may have lower limbs drop off. Some may experience needle drop which could be caused by dry conditions, including soil moisture, lack of humidity, or either cold or hot drafts or airflow. However, in general this is a fairly pest free plant and can be enjoyed for decades if well kept.

What is the Best Fertilizer for Evergreen Trees?

Evergreens are supposed to be just that–all green all the time!

So, what should you do if your pine’s color is lackluster or it’s growing slower than molasses?

Well, that could be happening because your tree doesn’t have enough nutrients in its soil to thrive. If that’s the case, fertilizer could be precisely what your tree needs.

Read on to find out if that’s right for your tree and what to use.

What is the best fertilizer for pine, blue spruce, cypress trees and more?

It depends! The absolute best way to determine what fertilizer you should use is a soil test. That will confirm if your tree needs fertilizer while also detailing what nutrients the soil is lacking!

Generally speaking, a slow-release formula made for trees is best. At Davey, our arborists inject Arbor Green PRO® directly into the soil of the tree’s root zone. That evenly distributes the nutrients that trees need. Plus, it goes right to their roots so that they can better absorb the good stuff!

Also, evergreens prefer acidic soil, meaning it has a pH level below 7. So, if you have fertilizer on hand for acid-loving plants, use it. Otherwise, opt for a product with equal parts of the three macronutrients trees need: nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P) and potassium (K). Ideally, a 1:1:1 ratio is best. Some areas have “no phosphorus” rules in place. That means, you may not be able to find a fertilizer with phosphorus (P) in stores. If that’s the case, go for a 1:0:1 ratio.

Will a homemade pine tree or evergreen tree fertilizer work?

Not as well as a product made just for trees! When you whip up a DIY remedy, it simply doesn’t have the right formulation of all the nutrients your tree needs.

For example, adding coffee grounds or organic matter around your evergreens’ soil is a good place to start if you need to increase your soil’s acidity. But it’s not a good place to end. While your tree would get a tiny dose of nitrogen, it’d miss out on its phosphorus (P) and potassium (K) that it needs.

What about those evergreen fertilizer spikes?

While these are super easy, they aren’t perfect. They often deliver most of the nutrients to the roots directly around the spike. That means the rest of the root system misses out!

Granular products often do a better job of getting the nutrients to all the roots, if there’s no grass around the tree. So, you’ll see more consistent growth throughout the tree. But, if there’s grass, that will soak up most of the nutrients!

So, if there’s grass around your tree, these spikes may be a better option since they’ll deliver the product below the grass roots. That way, the nutrients should make it to your evergreens’ roots (as long as you place the spikes deep enough).

Regardless of what you’re using, follow the package instructions carefully. And if you’re using a granular product, you have to be careful not to over apply!


A fertilization program is used to maintain trees and shrubs in a vigorous condition and to increase their resistance to injury from diseases and insects. However, the addition of any soil nutrient is recommended only if soil or plant foliage tests indicate a deficiency. Trees and shrubs that need fertilization to stimulate more robust and vigorous growth include those exhibiting pale green, undersized leaves and reduced growth rates and those in declining condition (e.g. dead branch tips, dieback) resulting from insect attacks or disease problems. Trees and shrubs which should not be fertilized include newly planted specimens and those with severe root damage from recent trenching or construction. The root systems of these plants will need to re-establish before fertilizers are applied. Older, established trees do not need to be fertilized every year.

For trees and shrubs in northern Illinois, the two most common causes of nutrient problems are high pH (alkaline) soils, which can lead to chronic deficiencies of nutrients in some tree species, such as red maple and pin oak, and nitrogen-deficient soils. Nitrogen (N), phosphorus (P), and potassium (K) are essential plant nutrients and these are most commonly applied. A list of soil testing services is available.


Fertilizers are labeled to indicate proportions of available nutrients. For example, a label showing a 20-5-5 formulation indicates 20% nitrogen (N), 5% phosphorus (P) as phosphoric acid, and 5% potassium (K) as potash. Thus, a 50 pound bag of 20% nitrogen fertilizer contains 10 pounds of actual nitrogen (50 x .20 = 10).

The following general recommendations apply to trees and shrubs needing a fertilization program. Soil and foliage test results may indicate more specific nutrient requirements.

For all trees and shrubs:

If needed, the best time to fertilize is late April or early May, or late fall once plants are dormant. The recommended fertilizer should be spread evenly across the soil surface. The amount of actual nitrogen applied should be 3 pounds (lbs) per 1,000 square feet. Do not use fertilizer containing herbicides, such as those formulated for use on lawns. The nitrogen content of the fertilizer should be 12% to 30%, with phosphorus and potassium at 3% to 12%. Fertilizer application rates are based upon the area occupied by the roots. Roots spread well beyond the branches on established trees and shrubs; therefore, the area beneath the plant to be fertilized should be 1.5 times the diameter of the branch spread. For groups of plants, estimate the surface area underneath the entire planting to be fertilized.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *