Fruit trees provide magnificent landscape features and tasty homegrown fruit every year. For optimum fruit tree growth, the soil pH should be between 6-6.5. But your tree needs more than soil pH to perform better.
Fruit trees are heavy feeders and require more fertilizer than other in-ground houseplants.
Within no time, they will absorb all the nutrients from the soil for their growth and fruit development.
To enjoy tasty fruit throughout the year, you should wisely choose an economical and healthy fruit tree fertilizer.
We already know plants need 16 nutrients for healthy growth, but your fruit trees feed heavily on the three macronutrients. Therefore, it is important to ensure a steady supply of macronutrients to help maintain the health and freshness of the trees.
Fruit trees are challenging for some gardeners, especially when choosing the right fertilizer for fruit trees. You need to accurately determine what fertilizer is needed and the best time to apply it.
This buying guide will answer all the questions related to fertilizing fruit trees, and I will share the features of the best fertilizers for fruit trees to help you choose one for the fruit garden.
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Best Fertilizers for Fruit Trees
The best fertilizers for fruit trees are high in nitrogen (N). Use fertilizers with an NPK ratio of 12-0-0, 15-0-0, or 16-0-0 or a balanced fertilizer high in nitrogen such as 6-2-1 or 10-2-2 or a different fertilizer where nitrogen (N) is dominant. Fertilize in spring at the flowering stage.
The best fertilizers for fruit trees are:
- Best Overall Fruit Tree Fertilizer – Jobe’s Organics Fruit and Citrus Fertilizer
- Best Liquid Fruit Tree Fertilizer – Urban Farm Fertilizers Apples, Oranges & Citrus Fertilizer
- Best for Budget Fruit Tree Fertilizer – Fruit and Citrus Spikes by Miracle-Gro
The University of Maryland suggests not to over-apply chemical or organic fertilizer as it can burn the roots and the foliage.
What is the Best Fertilizer for Fruit trees? Overall – Jobe’s Organics Fruit and Citrus Fertilizer
This fertilizer offers long-lasting results for your fruit trees and does not harm the environment, humans, or pets since it’s organic. The nutrients are distributed aggressively and quickly via the roots of the trees.
Dying or yellowing fruit trees will revive within a few days after application, and you will be amazed by the quantity and quality of blooms and flowers.
Like many other fertilizers by Jobe’s, this fruit tree fertilizer also contains the special Biozome. It is beneficial microorganisms that improve the organic activity in the soil. So you are helping your fruit trees and doing a long-term favor to your soil.
This fertilizer’s four main organic ingredients are processed manure, sulfate of potash, bone, and feather meal.
It does not matter what type of fruit tree is being fertilized with this plant food. You will have more yield.
Since it’s an organic fertilizer, it reduces the risk of diseases and pests by strengthening the immune system of your fruit tree.
One of my Citrus trees was almost dead last season, and all the leaves were yellow or brown. But after a single application of this fertilizer, the Citrus tree started showing signs of regrowth, and soon, it had plenty of new green leaves.
It comes in a granular form, so you can adjust the nutrient content according to the instructions on the label or based on individual plant needs.
The most important thing for any fertilizer is the NPK ratio. This one has 3-5-5, which might be low for some fruit trees, but it is worth it for the long term.
The package states that the application of this fertilizer should be repeated every 2 or 3 weeks (or as required). You should feed your fruit trees with Jobe’s Organics Fruit and Citrus fertilizer in late spring, early fall, and late winter.
Make sure you store the fertilizer away from moisture and light.
- Organic and OMRI listed
- The granular formula is easier to use
- It can be used for both new and established trees
- Improves the drought resistance of fruit trees
- Guaranteed to not burn if used properly
- It can be used as a compost starter
- Has a stinky smell
Best Liquid Fertilizer for Fruit Trees – Urban Farm Fertilizers Apples, Oranges & Citrus Fertilizer
This is a special fertilizer because it’s a micro-brewed liquid fertilizer for all fruit trees. It is hand-made daily for a fresh mixture of plant food. It is 100% complete nutrition with a 4-2-4 NPK ratio.
According to Urban Farms and Fertilizers, it combines greenhouse-grade minerals and concentrated organic materials.
It contains organic components like worm castings, mycorrhizae, humic acid, kelp, and other minerals. The biggest plus is that it is rich in calcium which plays a major role in the size, flavor, and juiciness of fruits.
A single can (1 quartz) will make 64 gallons of liquid fertilizer, so it’s worth every penny. Whether your plant is growing in-ground, pot, or hydroponic system, you can use this fertilizer for all of them.
You can use hand watering, hose end, or drip irrigation system for the application. You can even make foliar applications with this fertilizer.
The fertilizer can be reused for up to 2 years after opening, but make sure you shake it well. Mix 1 tablespoon of fertilizer in 1 gallon of water and apply every third week with watering.
- Suitable for container, soil, and hydroponic gardening
- Good for organic gardening
- Stand-alone fertilizer, so you do not need to add anything else
- Some customers have complained that the quantity of the product is less than its price
Learn more about this product here.
Best for Budget Fruit Tree Fertilizer – Fruit and Citrus Spikes by Miracle-Gro
This is another easy-to-use product by Miracle-Gro. You simply push the spikes inside the soil near the root zone. But moisturize the soil well before inserting them to avoid root burns. Never use them in dry soil.
The spikes come with a plastic cap to allow you to hammer them into the soil. The number of spikes depends on the size and diameter of the tree.
Each package contains 12 spikes with an NPK ratio of 15-5-10. So they are great for mature fruit trees. You should apply them once in spring and then again in fall.
Avoid using them on young trees or those growing in containers. These spikes should be stored properly in a dry location for later use. Getting any moisture on them will destroy them.
- No chance of over-fertilizing or wrong dosage
- It can be used for Palm trees as well
- Created from natural ingredients
- Easy to use
- These large spikes are not suitable for young fruit trees
- Not for container plants
Learn more about it here.
Best NPK Fruit Fertilizer – Down to Earth Citrus Fertilizer
Citrus trees are appealing because of their glossy foliage, fragrant blooms, and tasty fruits. Feeding with a good quality Citrus fertilizer adds to the beauty of this magnificent fruit tree.
This brand has been providing organic products since 1977. The selling point for this organic fertilizer is the NPK ratio of 6-3-3. I believe this ratio suits all varieties of fruit trees, including Citrus, berries, and nuts.
In addition to the three main macronutrients, it has a good blend of other important nutrients like sulfur, zinc, magnesium and iron.
It is the only fertilizer in the market with organic sources of zinc, calcium, and iron, making it a perfect combination of organic and chemical products.
This organic fertilizer is composed of natural ingredients like fish bone meal, feather meal, alfalfa meal, kelp meal, etc., to promote excellent foliage, flowers, and fruit growth.
It is one of the best fertilizers for organic fruit gardening. Use ½ or 1 cup of fertilizer for new trees in the soil mix. Use 1 cup of fertilizer per 1 inch of trunk diameter for established trees.
To maximize the fruit production on your Citrus tree, feed it 3-4 times per year. This granular fertilizer is designed for soil application and has insoluble materials; therefore, avoid mixing it in water.
- Designed for organic gardening
- OMRI certified
- Recyclable packaging
- Ideal for Citrus trees in pots and ground
- Has insoluble materials, so it cannot be mixed in water
- Has a bad smell
Best Organic Fertilizer for Fruit Trees – Dr. Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer
This organic fertilizer is indeed a wonder. It helps new trees stay healthy and revives the old trees in your backyard or garden that were dull and boring without any fruits for several years. The NPK ratio is 5-5-2.
The main reason behind the success of this fertilizer is probiotics that promote beneficial microorganisms in the soil.
Many gardeners have reported that it is an excellent product for the root development of fruit trees. This fertilizer also improves the overall nutrient uptake.
It guarantees a healthy yield because it comprises all-natural and organic ingredients. It can feed your trees for several weeks or months, and you will not have to add any extra chemical fertilizers.
Fruit and nut trees should be fed every 3 months in the growing season. But the fruit vines and berries should be fed every 2 months in the growing season.
The detailed application instructions are printed on the package, but ensure you water the soil after fertilization to avoid root damage.
- Low chances of overfertilizing
- Formulated specifically for vigorous fruit and root development
- 100% organic
- Strengthens the root system of fruit trees
- Can be used at initial planting of fruit trees
- Easily soluble in water
- Difficult to use for indoor fruit trees because of the strong smell
- Not for hydroponics
- Some customers have complained about mold growth on the soil after applying this fertilizer
Best Slow-release Fruit Tree Fertilizer – Fruit and Citrus Plant Food by EarthPods
The special formula promises the best results because this fertilizer releases a good amount of minerals, nutrients, humus, and soil organisms in the soil for tree growth and biological activity.
I would choose this product for the mess-free, no-odor formula that is easier to apply than liquid and powder fertilizers.
To apply this plant food, put the capsule inside the soil near the tree’s center and water the soil. The capsule releases the nutrients directly into the soil.
Each package contains 100 capsules or fertilizer spikes, so you can use them for several trees throughout the year.
The main advantages of this product include enhanced root development, more blooms, and flavorful fruits. The nutrients are released near the root zone, so all the product is utilized, and nothing is wasted in the soil.
This fertilizer should be applied every 2 or 3 weeks in the growing season of your fruit trees. You can also open the pod and spread the fertilizer directly on the soil. The number of pods will vary depending on the size of your fruit tree.
For optimum results, use the Earthpods Teadrops with this fertilizer.
- Best for indoor fruit trees because it has no odor
- Environment-friendly packaging
- Can be used for any type of fruit tree, including Banana
- Easy to store and recycle
- This is a vegan product with no urea
- Suitable for potted and in-ground trees
- Expensive compared to other organic fertilizers
- The nutrients are released slowly, so its slow-acting fertilizer
Best Citrus Fertilizer – Citrus-Tone Plant Food by Espoma
This natural formula is guaranteed to improve the soil in your garden by adding not just a few but thousands of living soil microbes. The NPK ratio for Citrus-Tone is 5-2-6, meaning more fruit with high phosphorus content.
It provides all the necessary nutrients for healthy fruit development. Although the name mentions Citrus, it can also be used for other types of fruit and nut trees.
Within 2 weeks of application, the yellow leaves will start turning green. With strong and thicker branches, your fruit tree will have significant new growth.
Like any other organic fertilizer, this one also has a strong scent, but the smell will not be noticeable if you cover it with soil.
The Citrus tone formula promises a fruitful experience because it improves the overall health of your trees.
I have been using it for all my Lemon, Grapefruit, and Orange trees for the last two seasons, and it has not only increased the number of fruit on each tree but also improved the taste and size of fruits.
For application, mix it directly with soil or sprinkle it on top of the soil and water the soil. Avoid applying it within 6 inches of the trunk.
For new plants, mix 1 cup of fertilizer in the amended soil. For potted plants, use 1 teaspoon for 4 inches pot. Citrus trees should be fed thrice a year, in spring, fall, and winter.
- Improves the metabolism of trees
- Suitable for organic gardening
- Complete and balanced plant food
- Designed to produce tasty citrus fruits
- It will never burn roots
- The smell can attract your pets, especially dogs
- Not water soluble
Types of Fertilizer for Fruit Trees
There are plenty of options when it comes to fertilizing fruit trees. I will briefly shed light on the important aspects of each type of fertilizer to help you decide which fertilizer is best.
These fertilizers are produced using processed minerals or other chemical salts. You will find several multi-nutrient chemical fertilizers in the market.
Chemical fertilizer provides an instant boost of nutrients, but overfertilization is a common issue for this type of fertilizer.
The production of chemical fertilizers requires more energy and consumes a lot of natural resources. So they are not a long-term solution, and gardeners are looking for alternatives that are good for plants and the environment.
Winner: Down to Earth Citrus Fertilizer
These naturally occurring fertilizers are produced from animal or plant waste such as compost, manure, fish meal, bone meal, etc.
This type of fertilizer nourishes your fruit trees and improves the soil’s biodiversity and productivity. They are the best option for long-term soil health.
Since they are produced from renewables with no chemicals, they do not harm the environment or humans. An organic fertilizer rich in nitrogen is the top preference for most fruit trees.
Winner: Dr Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer
For fruit trees, you can use one of these fertilizers or combine the chemical and organic fertilizer (using them at different stages) for long-lasting results.
Other Considerations for Fruit Tree Fertilizers
I like feeding my fruit trees with liquid fertilizers because they provide fast results and evenly distribute nutrients. Each drop of liquid plant food is rich in essential nutrients.
Certain fertilizers do not dissolve in water and are used in dry form. They are usually mixed in the soil directly without dilution. They release nutrients slowly in the soil but are cheaper to buy, especially in bulk.
There are two ways of applying fertilizer to plants. The most common one is soil application. You apply the fertilizer directly to the soil in liquid or dry form. Since the fertilizer is applied in the root zone, it is absorbed faster by the trees.
The other method is foliar feeding which involves spraying foliage with liquid fertilizer. For fruit trees, soil application is more effective since you cannot cover the whole tree with foliar application. Your fruit tree might suffer from a nutrient deficiency or overfertilization.
Fertilizing Fruit Trees
All fruit trees are not the same; therefore, their fertilizer needs also vary. The method and rate of fertilization for young and established fruit trees also vary. The fertilizer can be spread on the soil by raking or digging holes near the root zone.
Young Fruit Trees – once your fruit tree is 1 or 2 years old, it falls into the young tree category. Start by mulching the soil under your fruit tree to avoid weed growth and enhance the soil. I prefer feeding my young fruit trees with an organic fertilizer with mulch or compost.
This will improve biological activity, which in return increases nutrient absorption.
You can use fertilizer at half strength for young trees that have not started bearing fruit to prevent overfeeding. But make sure you feed your young fruit tree enough to withstand the root expansion, disease or insects, and new growth.
Established Fruit Trees – For established trees, you need a careful fertilization plan to support fruit production. Fertilizer spikes, both organic and chemical, are the best option for such trees because they are easy to apply and focus on the root zone.
The number of spikes can be adjusted based on the variety of fruit trees you are growing. But remember that each type needs a different amount of fertilizer.
The following points will help you understand if you have under or over-fertilized your tree.
Underfertilizing will cause overall decline and slow growth. The number of fruits will also be less. If your fruit tree is growing in poor soil, never leave it unfed; otherwise, it can suffer from nutrient deficiencies, diseases, and pests.
Over Fertilizing – Your tree will produce less fruit and more flowers and leaves. Excessive or fast growth can weaken the tree. Adding unnecessary nutrients can also cause a nutrient imbalance in the soil. Applying fertilizer against the tree trunk can damage tissues.
Measure your tree’s annual growth to decide whether it needs any fertilizer. You can easily find the average annual growth for each type of fruit tree on the internet. Keep in mind that the growth will vary for fruit-bearing and nonbearing trees.
To identify the growth, look for bud ring scars on the shoots. There is a difference in texture and color above or below the scar. This will indicate the new growth of the tree.
You should check the growth on different points of a single tree and then take the average to find the annual growth. Repeat this process for all fruit trees in your garden or backyard.
When to Fertilize Fruit Trees?
Your trees will begin their annual growth in spring and need plenty of plant food. You should start fertilizing your trees just before the buds break. It is safe to use fertilizer up to 1 month before this point.
If you missed the budding stage, you could fertilize your tree until June.
The thumb rule is to avoid adding fertilizer in late summer or fall; however, if it is unnecessary, do not opt for high-nitrogen fertilizer.
Using a high-nitrogen fertilizer at the wrong time will redirect all plant energy and nutrients toward foliage growth instead of fruit production. You will end up with weak, tender branches that cannot withstand winter.
I always add organic compost in spring and fall because it helps eliminate the overfertilizing issues for fruit trees.
Frequently Asked Questions
What is the best time to fertilize fruit trees?
Fertilize in spring before the buds break. Spring is the most important season to start fertilizing as trees grow most in spring and summer and need lots of nutrients.
Which fertilizer is best for apple trees?
The best fertilizer for apple trees is Urban Farm Fertilizers Apples & Oranges. It is a liquid fertilizer that dissolves easily in water and has an NPK of 4.5-2.0-4.2. This ratio is ideal as apple trees need a higher amount of Nitrogen.
What is the best NPK ratio for fruit trees?
Fruit trees need fertilizer higher in Nitrogen (N) compared to Potassium (P) and Phosphorus (K). Use a liquid organic fertilizer whenever possible.
Spring is the best season to fertilize all fruit tree varieties because all the plant energy in the spring season is devoted to growing new leaves, flowers, or fruits. Your fruit trees need plenty of feeding to produce a bountiful harvest.
Whether you choose chemical or organic fertilizer, ensure it supplies the correct nutrients to your tree and does not under or over-fertilize. A soil test will help you determine what’s lacking, so do one thing before choosing the fertilizer for fruit trees.
This buying guide lists the best fertilizers for fruit trees of any type. If you like any fertilizers mentioned in this list, order now by clicking on the links.
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Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.