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9 Best Fertilizers for Shrubs – A Buyers Guide

9 Best Fertilizers for Shrubs – A Buyers Guide

Shrubs are low maintenance and can decorate any outdoor space with minimal effort. 

Water and sunlight are key components for growing any shrub variety but do not underestimate the importance of fertilizers. 

With the option of flowering, foliar, and fruit-bearing varieties, there is a shrub for everyone.

Shrubs are classified by their short plant height and multiple stems. There are deciduous and evergreen varieties that can provide seasonlong color to your garden. 

This article is all about fertilizing the shrubs in your garden, and we even have some recommendations to select the best fertilizer for shrubs. 

 

Best Fertilizer for Shrubs

 

Premium Gold All-purpose Fertilizer by Dr. Earth – Best Overall Fertilizer for Shrubs

If you are often confused by the NPK on the fertilizer package, you can go for a balanced fertilizer. Such fertilizers can be used for feeding a flowering, fruiting, or regular green shrub. 

The NPK ratio for this organic product is 4-4-4, so it has a balanced amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

This mixture contains a variety of special ingredients like forest humus, chicken manure, worm castings, bat guano, Norwegian kelp meal, and seaweed extract. 

It also contains the Probiotic, which is a unique blend of soil microbes with mycorrhizae. The mycorrhizae improve the distribution of nutrients in the soil and prepare the shrub for drought or harsh weather. 

If you follow the instructions on the package, this plant food will not cause any harm to pets or humans. 

I have been feeding my shrubs for the past two seasons, and they have shown massive growth with lots of new leaves and flowers. This fertilizer can feed young and established shrubs for several months. 

This fertilizer has multiple applications; you can use it as a soil builder or a soil feeder. It feeds the shrubs consistently to avoid any growth spikes. 

 

Pros

  • A single fertilizer for all shrub varieties in your garden 
  • Increases the size of the shrubs 
  • Made with a premium blend of minerals and natural ingredients 
  • Completely natural and organic 
  • Fast but stable supply of nutrients 
  • Listed by OMRI, OIM, CCOF, and NOP
  • No chemical or supplement fertilizers are needed 
  • Can feed the potted and in-ground shrubs 

 

Cons

  • This fertilizer attracts animals that might dig up the soil and ruin the shrubs
  • Lacks calcium and magnesium 

Don’t miss out on this wonderful shrub fertilizer by buying it here.

 

Fertilizer Spikes by Jobe’s – Best Fertilizer Spikes for Shrubs

These fertilizer spikes are controlled plant food for any shrub variety. 

Fertilizer spikes are gaining popularity because of their mess and odor-free application. They also feed the shrubs precisely near the roots. 

If the spikes are buried properly in the soil, they can feed the shrub for the whole season without any runoff. 

If you want to see your garden or landscape filled with green shrubs, reapply the spikes in early spring and late fall. This will ensure that the soil near the roots is always fertile and rich with essential nutrients.

Each spike is rich in nutrients with an NPK ratio of 15-3-3. The high nitrogen will benefit the root and foliage growth of young shrubs.

Place the plastic cap on the spike before hammering it into the soil. Make sure the spike is buried 1 or 2 inches below the surface. Remove the cap after hammering the spikes. 

These spikes should not be inserted very close to the stem or base of the shrub, as this can result in plant damage. Ensure the soil’s moist before inserting the spikes. 

You need a spike for every 3 ft of shrub height. 

 

Pros

  • Easy application 
  • Does not create any mess in the garden 
  • No strong odor which makes it easier to apply compared to conventional liquid and granular fertilizers
  • Not wasted by runoff 
  • Slow-release feeding for the whole growing period 
  • Feeds the plant in the root zone 
  • Also contains chlorine (around 3%)
  • Fortified with the Biozome

 

Cons

  • The cap does not fit the spikes
  • Hammering them in very dry soil will break the spikes 
  • Expensive to cover a large landscape area filled with shrubs 
  • Not for small shrubs that are less than 3 ft in height 

Don’t forget to buy this incredible fertilizer here.

 

Bio-tone Starter by Espoma Organics – Best Starter Fertilizer for Shrubs

Using a good quality starter fertilizer early in the season can give a good start to all types of shrubs in your garden. 

This Bio-tone formula contains Endo & Ecto Mycorrhizae that will enrich the soil and feed the microbes. They will also help in producing a bigger root system that will result in fast growth. 

Mycorrhizae are fungus roots that will create water and nutrients absorption points on the roots. 

Whereas the microbes will break the nutrients within the soil. Both of them work together to speed up nutrient absorption for young plants. 

If you use this on blooming shrubs, they will produce bigger, fragrant flowers. 

This starter plant food will create a very natural growing environment for your plants, which will minimize the damage caused by transplant stress or shock.

Mixing this fertilizer to the soil prior to planting maximizes the nutrient and water uptake.

The NPK for this starter plant food is 4-3-3, and all these nutrients are derived from natural sources like bone meal, greensand, alfalfa meal, poultry manure, and feather meal.

This plant food can be used for all types of houseplants in your garden, but the application method varies.

For shrubs, you have to mix the starter plant food in the soil that will be used for filling the planting holes.

 

Pros

  • Best starter fertilizer for organic gardening 
  • 100% natural fertilizer 
  • Free from all types of fillers and harmful sludge 
  • Filled with hundreds of microbes and mycorrhizae
  • Promotes deeper roots with bigger root mass 
  • Fast nutrient absorption 
  • Strengthens the young plant against transplant shock 
  • The shrubs can better handle environmental stress 

 

Cons

  • Has a strong smell of cow manure 

Learn more about this fertilizer by clicking here

 

Evergreen and Shrub Plant Food by Nature’s Care – Best Acid-Based Fertilizer for Shrubs

If you have acid-loving shrubs in your garden, you must get a packet of this fertilizer. This creates a perfect growing environment for evergreen, Hydrangeas, and Azaleas. 

This fertilizer does not have manure in it, so it is odor-free. This fertilizer is in granular form as pellets, so it lasts longer in the soil. 

A single feeding will feed the shrubs for 2 months. The pellets are also easy to apply. 

The NPK ratio for this shrub fertilizer is 3-3-6. It’s an organic fertilizer listed by OMRI.

 

Pros

  • OMRI listed for organic gardening of shrubs and evergreens
  • Granular pellets for easy application 
  • No manure odor 
  • Can also be used for other acid-loving fruits and vegetables 
  • Created by the maker’s of Miracle-Gro

 

Cons

  • Overdosage can kill the shrub 

Buy this wonderful shrub fertilizer here.

 

Shake n’ Feed for Flowering Trees & Shrubs by Miracle-Gro – Best Flowering Fertilizer for Shrubs

Flowering shrubs need huge amounts of energy to produce beautiful leaves and flowers. All this energy is supplied via good quality plant food. 

Miracle-Gro has introduced this version of Shake n’ Feed for flowering trees and shrubs. 

The natural minerals in this fertilizer will help in multiplying the microbes below the soil and the flowers above the soil. 

This fertilizer starts feeding the plant with the help of soil microbes. This method takes longer to supply the nutrients, but the remains are also available for a long period. 

Shake n’ Feed is considered as a 2-in-1 fertilizer because it promotes growth above and below the soil surface.

This plant food can feed the hungry flowering shrubs for up to 3 months. This fertilizer can also acidify the soil for plants that need acidic soil pH.

This fertilizer is suitable for flowering shrubs in containers and garden soil. If you want to enjoy the lovely blooms on the shrub throughout the year, feed them with this fertilizer every 3 months. 

Make sure you apply this in dry form as it’s not a water-soluble fertilizer. 

Without letting the fertilizer touch any foliage, flower, or stems, spread it within the drip line of the shrub. 

The quantity of fertilizer required is calculated based on the diameter of the drip line. Mix it well and water the area. 

Once the fertilizer comes in contact with moisture, it starts melting and dissolves in the soil. This plant food’s fertilizer analysis is 18-6-12. 

 

Pros

  • The earthworm castings, kelp meal, bone meal, and feather will keep the soil microbes happy 
  • Alters soil pH to make it acidic and helps grow strong roots
  • Gives a deep, vibrant color to foliage and blooms
  • Keeps releasing nutrients for up to 3 months 
  • Continuous application enhances water efficiency 
  • Works well for any acid-loving plant variety 
  • Contains iron, manganese, sulfur, and calcium 

 

Cons

  • Cannot be dissolved in water 
  • The nutrient ratio might be too strong for potted plants 
  • The seal was broken for some customers due to poor packaging 

Don’t forget to buy a packet of this fertilizer here.

 

All-Purpose Plant Food by Martha Stewart – Best Garden Bed Fertilizer for Shrubs

This fertilizer is great for preparing the garden bed for growing different types of shrubs. 

The manufacturer has also paid attention to the bag for this fertilizer; it is designed for long-lasting storage with a resealable top. This will protect the plant food from moisture, pests, and fungus growth. 

The nutrient content of this fertilizer is 5-3-3, but it also contains a rich blend of soil microbes that help you in increasing organic matter in the soil. 

This fertilizer is a good choice for your shrubs and repairing the garden bed as it improves the soil’s water retention properties. 

To prepare a nutrient-rich garden bed, mix the fertilizer within the top 4-6 inches during soil preparation. This will boost young growth and help in root development. 

 

Pros

  • Organic fertilizer with soil microbes and natural ingredients 
  • Can be used for a wide variety of plants 
  • You can reseal the bag to store the fertilizer properly 
  • This fertilizer can also protect your plants from transplant shock 
  • Long-lasting results for a full season

 

Cons

  • Has an awful smell
  • The nutrient ratio might be low for feeding requirements of heavy feeding shrubs 
  • Can act as a squirrel repellant 

No need to step out of the house and buy this fertilizer if you’re going to order through this link.

 

Tree & Shrub Insect Control with Miracle-Gro Plant Food by Ortho – Best Insecticide Fertilizer for Shrubs

This fertilizer is created for feeding and killing; it feeds the plant and kills the insects. 

Shrubs are a perfect hiding spot for most garden bugs as they are dense and filled with leaves. 

This product can help you control a number of insects, including aphids, scales, borers, whiteflies, etc. 

But it also has Miracle-Gro plant food concentrate. So as your houseplants are freed from the bugs, they are immediately supplied with plant food to recover from damage fast. 

Feeding shrubs takes time, and repeating the application each time it rains can be difficult for most growers. This special formula is not affected by rains and keeps fighting bugs even after rainfall. 

Apply at the right time for full-year protection. To prevent insects invasions, apply this insecticide fertilizer from May to August. 

To kill the bugs that might be hiding in your shrubs, use this product from August to September. 

Mix 9 ounces of insecticide in 1 gallon of water to treat one foot-high shrub. 

 

Pros

  • Designed specifically to keep bugs away from ornamental shrubs 
  • Can also feed the plants
  • Continuous application can help get rid of all types of bugs listed by the manufacturer 
  • It’s a rainproof formula 

 

Cons

  • Liquid form is difficult to measure and apply 
  • Not for edible shrubs 
  • This fertilizer has dinotefuran, which is harmful to bees 

Order this wonderful fertilizer here.

 

All Natural Tree and Shrub Fertilizer by Down to Earth – Best Fertilizer for Potted Shrubs

If you have potted shrubs, this fertilizer would be a good pick. 

The NPK ratio is 4-2-2, but the selling point of this shrub fertilizer is the mycorrhizal fungi. It has not just one but eleven species of this fungi that create a natural blend for organic gardening. 

All these fungi will strengthen your shrub against environmental, water, and transplant stress. They will also expand the root system deep into the soil, which helps in growing the healthiest plants. 

This fertilizer can be mixed directly into the soil if you want to utilize it during soil preparation. 

For established plants, make small holes in the soil and fill them with this natural blend of fungi and nutrients. This will keep the fertilizer closer to the plant roots. 

 

Pros

  • Extremely beneficial for young shrubs for protection against different types of stresses 
  • Created using ecto and endo fungi, humates, fishbone meal, kelp meal, etc 
  • Works great for ball and burlap shrubs 
  • The box can be recycled or composted in the end 

 

Cons

  • Too expensive for treating a large number of shrubs

Have a look at this fertilizer through this link.

 

Evergreen, Flowering Tree and Shrub Fertilizer by Scotts – Best for Budget Fertilizer for Evergreen Shrubs

Evergreens remain green for multiple seasons but need extra help from you to do that. 

After sun and water, nutrients are the next thing needed to maintain the greenery of your landscape all year long. 

This fertilizer is highly recommended for evergreen shrub varieties. The NPK ratio is 11-7-7, so it helps in maintaining the greenery of the foliage. 

It also contributes to fast but strong root development. 

This granular plant food can last in the soil for up to 2 months, which is a long time compared to liquid fertilizers that should be reapplied every other week. 

This product does not involve any precision or mixing, simply spread these plant food granules on the soil. If you use this for blooming shrubs, you’ll find them loaded with flowers soon. 

 

Pros

  • Suitable for any type of acid-loving shrub and trees 
  • The nutrients nourish the soil for about 2 months
  • Easy to use, and even the bag can be resealed 
  • It’s a continuous release plant food

 

Cons

  • Too much of it can burn the flowering plants like roses 
  • There is no calcium in this plant food  

No need to wonder about this fertilizer if you peek through its details here.

 

Fertilizers for Shrubs Buying Guide

 

Organic Fertilizer

Organic fertilizers are created from animal waste, mineral sources, and plant-based nutrients. 

Long-term use of the organic product will improve the structure of the soil and increase nutrient and water availability. 

Organic fertilizers have carbon which plays an important role in feeding soil microbes. Investing in organic plant food is an eco-friendly choice that reduces waste and increases biodiversity. 

If you keep fertilizing your garden with organic fertilizers, you might not need any fertilizers after some years because the soil will be naturally rich in minerals and organic matter. 

These fertilizers are safe to use on edible fruits and vegetable crops as they will not introduce any harmful toxins or chemicals into the ecosystem. 

They have a low percentage of nutrients, so they usually do not burn your plants if you follow the instructions. 

Cost is the only downside here; they’re expensive compared to the synthetic ones. 

Winner: Premium Gold All-purpose Fertilizer by Dr. Earth

 

Fertilizer Spikes

These are sticks of plant food that are inserted directly into the ground. These sticks can ensure a long-term supply nutrient supply for all plant types. 

Fertilizer spikes have several advantages, including easy application, having no odor, and lesser time for application. They are a perfect solution for new or busy houseplant growers. 

They are usually expensive than other types of fertilizer, but they are applied only once or twice in the year. You can also store them easily in the original bag or an air-tight plastic container.

To make sure all the nutrients are absorbed in the soil, dig small holes and bury the spikes in them. Avoid putting them in dry soil.

I would highly recommend watering your garden soil before using any type of fertilizer spikes.  

Winner: Fertilizer Spikes by Jobe’s

 

Insecticide Fertilizer

This is a unique combination of plant nutrients and bug-killing chemicals. Insecticide fertilizers are designed specifically for trees and shrubs to control the insect population. 

These are usually sprayed on plants in liquid form. 

Winner: Tree and Shrub Insect Control with Miracle-Gro Plant Food by Ortho

 

Choosing a Fertilizer for Shrubs

Just like vegetables, fruits, and trees, shrubs also need fertilizers to add minerals to the soil and improve plant health. However, if your shrub is growing under favorable conditions, it might need less plant food. 

What type and how much fertilizer should be used for a shrub depends on the following factors: 

 

Type of Shrub

You can grow different types of shrubs, and each needs different nutrients for growth. 

A flowering shrub needs a different type of nutrients compared to a fruit-bearing shrub. 

 

Age

Young shrubs need different amounts of fertilizer than established ones. Fertilizing in the early stages can trigger lots of foliage and root growth. 

Young shrubs are continuously producing new growth, hence, a slow-release type of fertilizer’s the best for them. 

 

Soil Analysis

A soil test is a must before feeding the shrubs. This gives you precise information about the nutrients, alkalinity, and acidity of the soil. 

The overall status of the soil will play an important role in choosing the NPK of the fertilizer. 

 

Overall Growth

Apart from the soil analysis, the physical growth can also indicate nutrient deficiencies. 

The leaf color, plant height, leaf drop, etc., can help you decide whether your plant needs to be fertilized or not. 

 

Growing Medium or Location

Shrubs planted in pots need more fertilizer than the ones that are growing in the lawn or garden. This is because the ones in the ground have natural sources of nutrients while the potted ones rely on you. 

Excessive feeding should be avoided as it results in weak plants that can burn easily. 

The best season to fertilize most shrub varieties is spring, as the shrubs will start producing new foliage. You should fertilize them with a nitrogen-based fertilizer.

You can repeat application in summer as well if your plant shows signs of weak growth. Avoid fertilizing drought-stressed shrubs as they cannot absorb the nutrients properly due to a lack of moisture. 

After spring, the next best season to feed the shrubs is fall. 

Once the outdoor temperature starts dropping below 40 degrees Fahrenheit or 4.4 degrees Celsius, feed your garden shrubs to help them develop resistance against drought. 

Newly planted shrubs need minimal feeding with a light fertilizer that is diluted at half strength. 

Young shrubs grow actively hence require more energy and plant food. Feed them regularly in the growing season. 

Established shrubs have a slow growth rate, so they also need less fertilizer. 

 

Conclusion

To conclude, shrubs need a nitrogen-based fertilizer in spring. But for later application, the type of fertilizer depends on whether you are growing a fruit shrub, flowering shrub, or foliar shrub.

All the top-selling fertilizers for different shrub varieties are given in this buying guide. 

We have reviewed the pros and cons for each of them to help you choose the best fertilizer for shrubs.