fertilizing in the fall

ladymudduck(SE TX)September 12, 2004

I have a bed under a tree where the soil is flooded in the rainy season and baked like brick when it dries. I'm keeping it covered with leaf mulch from my trees but I think I need to add some good soil and fertilizer. Would it be best to do this now, in the early fall or next spring?

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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Are you concerned about the tree? I'm a little confused, sorry. Trees don't like to have their roots smothered with top soil. Three or four inches of good organic mulch is the best thing. Fertilize in the late winter in your area. But if you are worried about the health of your tree, perhaps something else is the issue.

    Bookmark   September 12, 2004 at 8:33PM
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ladymudduck(SE TX)

I am naturally concerned about the tree, I would not want to do anything to harm it. It is a large red oak. What I am wanting to grow healthier and larger is the variety of plants I have planted under it. I have a Lilly of the Nile, some Spider plants, Mother in Law's Tongues (I cannot remember plants actual names, the old fashioned ones my mother taught me are the ones that stuck) Dutchman's Pipes, some flowerless purple Cannas...I am experimenting to see what will grow best and so far nothing but the Spider plants do very well. I want to improve the soil without ripping out everything and digging it up. I try to keep pine straw and dead leaves on it. I want to put something on the surface that will help the plants and not harm the tree. Is this just wishfull thinking?

    Bookmark   September 14, 2004 at 7:37PM
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Dancey(Zone 8b Texas)

I don't think it's wishful thinking. As long as the tree roots at the base of the tree are not overloaded with mulch. The tree roots have to be able to breath. I have a shade bed around one of our huge oaks (not a redoak)and I put light mulch on that bed almost everyfall and ammend the soil in that bed. I think you'll be fine ammending your soil for your plants around your tree.

Dancey

    Bookmark   September 15, 2004 at 2:01PM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

I see, now! Wasn't sure if you were wanting to fertilize the tree or if you had other plants in that bed! Fall is not the right time to fertilize in your climate. You could encourage a new flush of succulent green growth that could become a frost target. The very best thing for tree AND for the plants under the tree is organic mulch.

3 to 4 inches would be tops for the mulch layer. You could top dress with compost, if you wish. Rainfall would help it infiltrate through the mulch to the soil, where it would do some real good. In the spring, a conservative dressing of a balanced fertilizer would be of benefit to your plantings.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2004 at 5:01PM
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