Tree supplements?

UrbanGardner100October 7, 2013

Hello, I have a service berry tree I just purchased that came with something that appear to be nutrients/food in the form of green little balls. Does anyone know what these are?

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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

They are slow release fertilizer beads.....used by nurseries to give the plants in pots the nutrients they need....

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 4:47PM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

dig hole..

shake into bottom of hole..

plant properly..

and never fertilize a tree or shrub.. ever again ..

proper water.. and proper planting is all they need

see link on how to do it

and the only reason to use it. is because its right there ... but its better in the bottom where the plant can grow to use it in the future .. rather than fertilizing a stressed newly planted plant ...


Here is a link that might be useful: link

    Bookmark   October 7, 2013 at 7:28PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Urban, the green color of the slow release prills is indicative of a very long lasting nursery product. Some of these are labeled for as long as long as twelve months.

Ken is wrong about his assessment of the long term fertilizer needs of trees planted in the landscape. In many cases, tree roots and turfgrass roots co-mingle, so that trees have access to any products applied to the lawn. But, if fertilizers are not part of someone's lawn maintenance, an urban or suburban tree will need to be fertilized in some manner.

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 5:10AM
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Whether a tree needs to be fertilized or not depends on how you think. Trees need some nutrients which they get from the soil as well as from the leaves of tree. If the soil the tree grows in is properly fed, not necessarily "fertilized", the tree will grow strong and healthy. Too much fertilizer is as bad as too little.

Here is a link that might be useful: Feeding trees

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 7:30AM
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ken_adrian Adrian MI cold Z5

trees do not grow in pots..

the function of drenching/watering pots IN THE TRADE .. also makes all the nutrients flow out the bottom.. so a grower must add fert ... because he has to grow a tree in a pot for a long time to make it salable ....

i will bet me shiny nickle.. that there are millions of trees growing in all but the most barren counties all across the USA.. and the world..

AND NO ONE FERTILIZES THEM .... so why should I?????

if you are independently wealthy ... sure.. go spend the money ... have a bag of food for each your babies..

but to suggest they NEED it.. nonsense.. [a little of this or that... whatever ....]

and rhiz and i have been having this argument for years .... lol ...


    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 12:34PM
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Ken, there is a huge difference in trees that are growing naturally and trees growing in a cultivated garden. In natural environments, trees (and any other plants) receive the benefit of a continuing organic mulch in the form of leaf and twig debris, dying annual plants and wildlife detritus, including poop and actual decomposing bodies. All the nutrients a plant could need are available. And in areas where there this organic matter is far more limited, the plants have either adapted to the sparser conditions or they struggle.

In a cultivated garden, there is little of this organic material available. As gardeners, we tend to be overly meticulous in removing all that stuff because we consider it "messy". And even mulches we DO apply tend to be nutritionally limited. And because of both the manipulation of garden soils and the density and diversity of the plantings in a cultivated garden, often times nutrients ARE lacking. They are simply used up by the plants. As a horticultural consultant visiting 100's of gardens a year, I see it often. And it is often nitrogen that is lacking, especially in plantings away from any lawns. It is the most mobile of the primary plant nutrients, the least stable in the soil and the one most affected by lack of organic matter.

To say trees never need fertilizing is far too overly generalized. Sometimes they do! It is not a crime to fertilize when necessary so stop implying that is :-))

And btw, trees most certainly do grow in pots..........All of my collection of trees (25+) grow in containers permanently and quite happily. And maybe you've heard about bonsai.......???

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 2:31PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

It's because you are 'all or nothing ", ken. Many new construction sites, including building sites for homes, have zero native top soil. The fill dirt is typically of the worst possible quality.

Trees and shrubs planted in such soil will need nutritional support in order to be healthy. If a soil is deficient in macro or micro elements, a plant doesn't create them out of nothing. Do you think that they do?

I've had to address declining trees on such sites countless times in my career. Based on soil testing, of course, as well other outward expressions of decline such as die back, bad leaf color, poor shoot growth, disease incidence, and pest invasion.

IF the soil is reasonably healthy, trees can do fine without extra help. Sometimes the simple task of adding compost and/or a layer of mulch is all it takes. But sometimes, the existing soil just doesn't have what it takes. To deny that is simply your lack of experience.

We mostly agree, ken. FAR more people abuse fertilizer than not. But you really shouldn't shout "never, ever fertilize trees or shrubs...never " is pretty crappy advice.

Better to suggest that fertiliziation be based on the results of a soil test. It's great to encourage people to be conservative and to remind them that their permanent woody plants may not need fertilization. But "never, ever "? In every situation?

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 2:49PM
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IanW Zone 5 Ont. Can.

I agree with rhizo_1 and gardengal48....and so does the University of Michigan

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizing trees and shrubs

    Bookmark   October 8, 2013 at 6:59PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Gardengal.....would you believe that I just now saw your post?

    Bookmark   October 9, 2013 at 5:48AM
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