Can I Fertilize Newly Planted Trees And Shrubs In Late December?

Q: I’ll be out of town January thru April next year. Can I fertilize my newly planted trees and shrubs in late December? 

A: Some fertilizers, like 10-10-10, are dissolved into the soil with the first rain. That’s obviously not what you want. There are various ways to make fertilizer products release nutrients slowly. Some product granules are coated to respond to either temperature or the presence of moisture to release their nutrients. Organic fertilizers rely on soil organisms to first digest the product and then excrete the nutrients. Since the organisms are most active when the soil is warm, these fertilizers are considered to be temperature controlled. For that reason, I think you could apply an organic fertilizer like Holly-tone or Milorganite or E B Stone as early as December and still have nutrients left for your plants when things warm up in April.

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