‘Best’ fertiliser to keep evergreen plants ‘healthy’ for the year

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Knowing when to fertilise evergreens can help to keep your plants greener for longer and support further growth year on year. Even the best evergreen shrubs need fertiliser to maintain their flourishing appearance. In fact, the prettiest evergreen plants often maintain their lush appearance due to adequate nourishment and tender care. Here is some expert advice on when to fertilise evergreen shrubs and plants so that gardeners can continue to care for this long-lasting foliage correctly.

Evergreen plants and shrubs are invaluable in any garden, providing structure, colour and interest right through the year.

They’re great for formal or informal hedges, providing the perfect backdrop for border plants. Many evergreens are beautiful plants in their own right, providing colour and interest throughout the year.

There are thousands of types in every size and shape with shades of green ranging from deepest emerald to sunny golden-green. 

Fertiliser is important for maintaining the health of these plants for years to come. Expert Rachel Crowe of Home & Gardens said: “There are a few key signs to look for when it comes to knowing when to fertilise your evergreen plants.

“When landscaping with evergreens, keep an eye out for uncharacteristically slow growth and needles losing colour and turning brown or yellow. These are tell-tale signs that your plant could do with a boost from fertiliser.”

While poor growth is not always a sign of low nutrients, it is a sure sign that shrubs, evergreen trees , or even climbers are suffering high amounts of stress.  

Rachel continued: “Heavily compacted soil, disease, and weeds, as well as freezing or scorching weather, can also cause similar symptoms. 

“Knowing what it is causing your plants’ discolouration and growth loss can be difficult, but in the absence of obvious pests, temperate weather, or well-tilled soil, adding fertiliser is the best place to start in trying to combat your plants’ problems.”

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If gardeners have recently replanted their evergreen plant, or moved it around, adding a slow-release fertiliser is a good idea as the roots re-establish themselves and repair the plant from any damage suffered during the move. 

The gardening pro said: “If you want to add fertiliser to your plant to prevent illness or disease, springtime is the ideal period to do so. 

“This gives the plants enough time to absorb the nutrients and reap the benefits of the fertiliser for its healthy growth over spring and summer. Leave fertilising until much later in summer and the fertiliser will have little effect.

“Also avoid fertilising your evergreens during a drought or period of excessively dry weather as this can make it more difficult to absorb water and ultimately kill the plant for good.”

In terms of which fertiliser is best used on evergreen plants, Rachel urged gardeners to use one that has a high amount of nitrogen.

She said: “When fertilising evergreens, it is best to use a product that is higher in nitrogen than phosphorous or potassium.

“Evergreens respond more quickly to nitrogen-based fertiliser than they do other nutrients such as those provided by using eggs in the garden or using banana peels as fertiliser.”

There are two main ways to add fertiliser to an evergreen plant. Firstly, the most common way is to spread the fertiliser across the topsoil before watering it well, much like fertilising a lawn.

The alternative option is to incorporate the fertiliser into the existing soil by digging holes and placing the fertiliser within. 

Poke holes approximately two inches in diameter and eight to 12 inches deep around two feet apart staring at the base of the plant and working outwards in circles until the edge of the shrub or tree coverage. Fill each hole equally with fertiliser and water thoroughly. 

While spring is the ideal time to fertilise evergreens, doing it in winter can help to prepare them for growth in the following spring as well as provide them with enough nutrients to survive the winter and remain green.

If gardeners are wanting to do this they should fertilise their evergreen just as it is preparing to enter dormancy for the winter period.  

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