5 Best Arborvitae Fertilizers | How And When To Use Them

The arborvitae has an illustrious history dating as far back as the 16th century. Royals and aristocrats used these shrubs to adorn grand and extravagant gardens as a means of advertising their wealth and status.

Today, we’re a bit more practical when it comes to these leafy monoliths. Not only are they beautiful but they are also highly functional. Whether defining property borders and entryways or sculpting into whimsical and elegant shapes, understanding what they need to thrive is the best way to ensure their health and vitality. And that includes finding the best arborvitae fertilizer for your particular shrubs and growing conditions.

2 Best Arborvitae Fertilizers

If you’re in a hurry, the two Arborvitae fertilizers I have highlighted below offer high-quality nutrients that are perfect for use on Arborvitae and other evergreen trees.

Jobe's Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes 13-3-4

Best Fertilizer Spikes

Jobe’s Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes 13-3-4

Feed your evergreen trees all season long with just two fertilizer spikes. Super convenient, outstanding results.

Vigoro Evergreen Tree Food 16-4-8

Best Top Dressing

Vigoro Evergreen Tree Food 16-4-8

A top-dressing ideal for giving your evergreen a nitrogen boost in spring and late summer, without the risk of fertilizer burn.

Choosing The Best Arborvitae Fertilizer

Which feed to use is simple when a few important points are established. What is your soil like? Maybe it’s already rich in certain nutrients or needs amending. What NPK do arborvitaes prefer? Would a slow or quick-release option work best for you?

These are things we’ll touch on more in-depth as we review some of the best fertilizers on the market and which may be the perfect fit for your arborvitae.

Granular vs Liquid

Whether to use a slow-release (granules and spikes) or a quick-release (liquid) is purely a matter of choice and what makes your gardening experience easier and more pleasurable. Let’s take a look at the difference between them.

Liquid Concentrate

Quick-release liquids are economical, especially ones versatile enough to use in your entire garden. Some liquids formulated specifically for arborvitaes may not be. The greatest benefit is how fast nutrients reach the roots. Liquids also help to keep the soil pH level balanced. Yet, caution is recommended, as accidental over-feeding could lead to root damage.


Slow-release granules give you more freedom to focus on other things knowing that your plants are being well-fed. Heavily concentrated, granules provide consistent, hand-measured nutrients for three to six months with no extra water needed to activate. Plus, a granular option is also less likely to leach away from the plant’s roots.

Fertilizer Spikes

I find slow-release spikes to be very practical. Fewer applications are needed because they release nutrients slowly over time. Pre-measured and compact for easy storage, they carry far less risk of run-off and root burn. Not to mention less work for you. Watering them in is not necessary either, as nutrients are released by microorganisms that naturally live in the soil.

Arborvitae Fertilizer Ratio N-P-K

Arborvitaes thrive with the right macronutrient combination. Three key elements are nitrogen (N) – for consistent healthy growth, phosphorus (P) – for strong roots and lush foliage, and potassium (K) – promoting disease and pest resistance.

These statuesque topiaries do need more nitrogen in order to maintain elegance and structure in your garden. Higher amounts actually help them absorb other nutrients more efficiently. So, look for a higher first number (example: 15-5-6) in the N-P-K ratio.

Arborvitae Fertilizer Reviews

After wide-ranging research, here is a complete list of the 9 best types of fertilizers for arborvitaes. Allowing you to make the best choice for your trees and give them the boost they need for lush, healthy results.


  • No strong odor
  • Only two applications are needed for the whole season.
  • Improves soil condition


  • May be difficult to push into dry, dense soil

Jobe’s fertilizer spikes are easy-to-use, come pre-measured, and are specifically designed for nitrogen-loving evergreen trees and shrubs. My arborvitaes never fail to thrive with the help of these mess-free, slow-release spikes. They work by providing consistent nourishment directly to the roots, slowly over time. And with these, there is no wasteful runoff or odor. Click here for Jobe’s Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes

I only added arborvitae to my garden 2 years ago by planting a line of 3-year-old shrubs along the border of my driveway. I used Jobes fertilizer spikes from the get-go and have been impressed by how much they have grown and how much thicker they have become.

How To Use: Water thoroughly prior to use. Insert spikes into the soil within the root range in late fall or early spring.

Customer Reviews: New arborvitae growers report being very pleased with the results they see after using these spikes. Newly planted shrubs adjust quicker and put out vibrant growth. Awarding this product with 4.7 / 5 stars and my choice for best buy.


  • Positive results with ailing trees
  • No risk of root burn or over-fertilizing


  • Needs to be stored in a cool, dry place

This slow-release, spike option from Miracle-gro is second on the list of best arborvitae fertilizers because of its impressive performance in supporting ailing trees that are growing in poor soil. It’s all thanks to the higher nitrogen content that works to support healthy, long-term growth and vitality.

I tried these out on two of my newly planted arborvitae last spring after they’d received somewhat of a battering from some late frost. They were looking tired and depleted with some early signs of discoloration in the foliage but after just a few weeks of hammering in these spikes into the soil, they were bouncing back and starting to show signs of new growth. Considering they were relatively new plants, they didn’t show any signs of root burn either. Win/win!

How To Use: Water thoroughly prior to use. Insert spikes into the soil around your shrub’s base in late fall or early spring. Check out Miracle-Gro Fertilizer Spikes For Trees And Shrubs here

Customer Reviews: Consumers are reporting very positive results after giving their ailing shrubs this nitrogen-focused NPK feed. Shrubs and trees that could not hang onto their leaves in summer are now lush, green, and healthy. Presenting Miracle-Gro spikes with 4.5 / 5 stars.


  • Easy application and storage options.
  • Time-released for enhanced nitrogen and consistent nutritional support


  • May not be suitable for use in nitrogen-rich soil

From Vigoro, comes this granular choice. It offers an alternative application method for fertilizer spikes while supporting the same full and vibrant results. It’s intended to increase both the volume of growth and vibrancy of foliage over a longer period of time since it boasts a time-released nitrogen feature.

This arborvitae fertilizer has an N-P-K of 12-5-7 and its formula includes the added feature of improving stress tolerance and soil conditions. It’s perfect if you have nitrogen-lacking soil or your climate is prone to significant temperature highs and lows. I’ll definitely be sprinkling it around the base of my arborvitae the next time we have a prolonged winter or when I see any signs of nitrogen deficiency such as yellowing of leaves or leaf drop. View Vigoro Tree, Shrub, And Evergreen Plant Food at Amazon.com

How To Use: Pepper granules around soil within the root zone in early spring and late fall.

Customer Reviews: Consumers across the retail gardening spectrum are describing why they’ve become repeat buyers of Vigoro’s fertilizer, time and time again. The application method is a snap and is very good value for money. Giving Vigoro’s 4.5 / 5 stars.


  • No pungent odor
  • Improves soil condition while supporting healthy growth


  • Not suitable for shrubs that prefer a lower pH

To help your arborvitaes thrive in an organic way, this liquid feed choice from Maxicrop, containing seaweed extract, supports strong root formation and establishment from sapling to maturity. It also does a great job of nurturing ailing plants back to health. Check the price of Maxicrop Original Seaweed Extract here.

I particularly like this fertilizer because it is mild enough to use every week and can be incorporated into my regular garden fertilizing schedule. I try to keep the nutrient levels in my soil topped up with regular composting and mulching and using this means there is little risk of root burn. It can also help to reduce the risk of heat stress that can be caused by extreme weather changes too.

Not only can this be used for your arborvitae but it’s great for flowering shrubs, fruit trees, and vegetables too. Making it a great value product for garden-wide usage.

How To Use: Mix 3 Tbsp into 4 liters (1 gallon) of water, and apply once a week.

Customer Reviews: Gardeners are reporting yellowing shrubs suddenly turning bright green with new growth as this organic option improves even in the most unruly soil types. 4.7 / 5 stars. 


  • Temperature-controlled pellets for optimum feed times
  • Ideal for beds, borders, and containers


  • Not for use in potted plants under 6” in diameter

This slow-release option from Miracle-Gro calls for just one application per growing season of these nutrient-rich granules. And with a 12-4-8 NPK, it will release the right amount of beneficial support to your arborvitae for up to 3 months. It feeds those all-important microbes and so performs a great job of improving the soil too.

I rate this for being a great all-rounder for garden fertilizing because it is also suitable for use as a fruit, flower, and vegetable fertilizer.

How To Use: This is my go-to for a mess-free, no-mixing remedy when I need to get some fertilizer in the ground pronto. The “easy shake” lid makes scattering evenly easy. I just have to spread the suggested amount onto the soil within the root range. Once in early spring and again in late fall.

Customer Reviews: “Twice the plant size for the price!” is what’s being shared on many forums and review boards.  With no mixing or measuring, this product has earned its 4.6 / 5-star rating.

How To Fertilize Arborvitae

Now that you have some great feed choices to consider, the next step is to learn when to feed, why, and how. Read on for more details on each.

Fertilizing Arborvitaes

In a curated, garden environment, nutrients aren’t as abundant as in the wild. Leaving them to compete for sustenance. Potted arborvitae plants and shrubs are fully dependent on us for their nutrients. This is why finding the best arborvitae fertilizer is so important.

Arborvitae Fertilizer Burn

These shrubs do benefit from more nitrogen but make sure you choose the right feed and adhere to proper application to prevent root burn. In order to maintain health and vitality, it’s critical that fertilizer directions are followed. Especially, if choosing a liquid option. Otherwise, irreversible damage could result.

When To Fertilize Arborvitae Trees

The most beneficial time to feed your arborvitae is either in late fall, as your shrub enters its dormancy stage, or in very early spring before it “wakes up”. This ensures that they put all their energy right into the root system toward new spring growth. Fertilizing during active growth will only stimulate erratic and unhealthy growth.

Arborvitae Thuja Green Giant

Thuja shrubs are fast-growing and need very little fertilizing compared to other trees and shrubs unless closely planted with other plants. To avoid them having to compete for nutrients, feeding your Thujas once in either late fall or early spring will suffice. Adequate spacing for green giant arborvitae is critical to their growth success.

Arborvitae Emerald Green

A smaller fast-growing Arborvitae Emerald Green may require a few more feedings per year than its giant counterpart. The beginning of spring, summer, and autumn should result in a steady stream of nutrients to sustain your emerald beauty all through winter.

Arborvitae Fire Chief

The Arborvitae Fire Chief, with its lovely gold and red tips, is the smallest and slowest growing of the arborvitaes. The most common issue with this type is damage due to overfeeding, as attempts are made to speed up the growth rate. Interestingly, the best time to fertilize these is the same as the largest on our list, the Thuja. Once in late fall or early spring.

Fertilizing Arborvitaes Final Thoughts

So, there we have it. As promised, a list of the 9 best arborvitae fertilizers on the market. Based on my own horticulture experience and extensive market research into customer feedback from all manner of review forums.

Now, before you click on the provided links, consider where your arborvitae is planted and the condition of your soil to determine which NPK formula is best.

Jobe's Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes 13-3-4

Best Fertilizer Spikes

Jobe’s Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes 13-3-4

Feed your evergreen trees all season long with just two fertilizer spikes. Super convenient, outstanding results.

I highly recommend Jobe’s fertilizer spikes with their ease of use and long-term, slow-release benefits. Or perhaps, Miracle-Gro Fertilizer Spikes which have the same ease of use as Jobe’s but are also great for newly planted arborvitae. I also really like Vigoro’s Tree, Shrub, and Evergreen Plant Food which comes as a granular feed. This one helps develop strong root growth for ailing trees and shrubs.

Vigoro Evergreen Tree Food 16-4-8

Best Top Dressing

Vigoro Evergreen Tree Food 16-4-8

A top-dressing ideal for giving your evergreen a nitrogen boost in spring and late summer.

No matter which you choose, nurturing your historic evergreens and giving them the boost they need is always well worth the effort.

FAQ’s Arborvitae Fertilizers