7 Best Evergreen Fertilizer | How And When To Use Them

From the earliest recorded times, evergreens have represented a sense of everlasting vitality and immortality. Our ancient ancestors marveled at the ability of these trees and shrubs to endure the harshest climates with no visible effect. Evergreens are so named for their steadfast foliage that remains so vibrantly green. Contrasting quite beautifully and giving hope and comfort when viewed through a winter blizzard. 

Ecologically, the consistent structures of these garden monoliths provide much-needed shelter against the elements, in any season, for birds and other wildlife. For us, they provide a low-maintenance option to create privacy, protective property borders, and lush landscape features. While remaining relatively hardy in areas with rain scarcity and poor soil, once maturity is reached. To help them reach this point of hardiness, growers seek out the best evergreen fertilizer.

Choosing The Best Fertilizer For Evergreen Trees And Shrubs

Whether you have a broad-leaf or pine needle variety, achieving ongoing, year-round interest in your landscape is a road that begins at first planting and continues up to the fifth year. Most evergreens become pretty low-maintenance after that. With only minor adjustments being needed if you happen to see an increase in needle or foliage loss or if they are moved to a new location.

Applying a beneficial fertilizer, containing the right mix of macro and micronutrients will not only ensure consistent health for your evergreens but the soil they’re planted in, as well. Similar to other non-flowering plants and grasses, what they thrive on most is nitrogen. But, since soil structure and climate vary from region to region, I have some great options for you that will not provide this vital macronutrient but others that will cater to these beautifully enduring features in your particular landscape. 

Slow-Release vs Continuous Release Fertilizer

The method by which we feed our evergreens can be as different as our garden landscapes. Two longer-lasting methods are continuous-release and slow-release. While the names of each sound pretty much the same, there are distinct differences. The technology used to assemble each type is different and is key to how nutrients are conveyed to your trees and shrubs upon application. The second difference is how long they last.

Controlled-release feeds (CRF) and slow-release (SRF) are both designed to dispense nourishment slowly, over time. Many CRF products, coated in a vegetable-based polymer, only respond to soil temperature. As it warms, the polymer breaks down releasing vital nutrients as it does. CFR products can last anywhere from 2 – 18 months.

SRF products enlist the help of beneficial soil microbes to break up nutrients and convey them to the roots. This type can last up to 12 months but nutrient distribution is also affected by soil pH, organic matter, and moisture.

Types of Fertilizer for Evergreens

Deciding on 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 evergreens 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 evergreens.

Fertilizer Spikes For Evergreen Trees

I find gradual-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 always necessary either, as nutrients are released by micro-organisms that live in the soil.

Liquid Evergreen Feed

Quick-release liquids are economical, especially ones versatile enough to use on your lawn too. Some liquids formulated specifically for these trees and shrubs may not be. The greatest benefit to this method 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.

Evergreen Plant Food Granules & Powder

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. Powders are water-soluble, fast-acting, and typically low-cost that give plants an immediate boost of nutrients but do run the risk of root burn and runoff.

Evergreen Fertilizer NPK Ratio

Nitrogen-loving evergreens thrive with the right macronutrient combination. Three key elements are nitrogen (N) – for lush, dense foliage growth, phosphorus (P) – for strong roots and disease resistance, and potassium (K) – for efficient distribution of water, oxygen, and other nutrients.

The optimum NPK ratio is 10-8-15 which represents 10% Nitrogen, 8% phosphorus, and 15% potassium. You’d think that it would have more nitrogen. But, given the size of these statuesque topiaries, more potassium means all that other critically important stuff is going to get where it needs to go to keep the whole plant healthy and thriving.


Best Fertilizer For Evergreen Trees Reviews

After a deep dive into review boards and product forums across the gardening landscape, in addition to my own personal experience using them, I’ve arrived at my list of the 7 best evergreen fertilizers out there.


1. Jobe’s Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes 13-3-4

Jobe’s Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes

I’ll start with a familiar one. Jobe’s slow-release fertilizer spikes for all types of evergreens are easy to use, pre-measured, and specifically formulated to send consistent nourishment directly to the roots. With no wasteful run-off.

For those of you who are regular readers of my posts, you’ll know that I prefer these for a few reasons. Shortly after applying these to some newly planted evergreens, the increased nitrogen really got those roots going and ensured rapid growth and fuller-looking foliage. I’m into my third season of using these with my line of Arborvitae and I’m pleased to report that the needles have remained healthy and green throughout each winter.

Click here to check Jobe’s Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes on Amazon.

How To Use: Water soil thoroughly before evenly spacing spikes around the tree’s dripline. Apply 1-3 spikes depending on trunk diameter, or one spike per 3 ft of shrub height.

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

Pros      

  • Mess-free fertilizing with no strong odor
  • Only two applications are needed for the whole season

Cons

  • Can be difficult to push into dry, dense soil

2. Scotts Evergreen Flowering Tree & Shrub Continuous Release Plant Food 11-7-7

Scotts Evergreen Flowering Tree & Shrub Continuous Release Plant Food

This slow-release granular option from Scott’s will alleviate any concern you might have about nitrogen causing root burn, provided you are using it for well-established conifers that are currently growing in well-composted and acid-rich soil.

This fertilizer may not suit all soil types, but it works brilliantly for all acid-loving plants and for yards and gardens with a pH value of 6.5 and below. Expect a well-formed root structure and lusciously green foliage all year round if you use this bi-monthly from spring onwards and throughout the growing season.

You’ll also find with this particular Evergreen fertilizer that the higher ratio of phosphorus and potassium will increase the number of blooms in your dogwood and hydrangeas, as well. It’s a versatile win-win! Check out prices for Scotts Evergreen, Flowering Tree & Shrub Fertilizer here on Amazon.

How To Use: 1 cup spread over every sq ft of the growing area within the drip line feeds for up to 2 months. Work granules into the top 3” of soil and water thoroughly.

Customer Reviews:  Customers who aren’t allowed to build fences around their property use evergreens instead. Creating an “accidental” control test with their neighbors. After using Scott’s evergreen feed, their conifers are 2 feet taller than those of the neighbors after just one season! 4.6 / 5 stars

Pros      

  • Beneficial NPK for well-composted soil
  • Fast growth in just one season

Cons

  • Not recommended for potted trees and shrubs

3. Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Flowering Trees and Shrubs Plant Food 18-6-12

Miracle-Gro Shake 'N Feed Flowering Trees and Shrubs Plant Food

Since Miracle-Gro is such a familiar household name I like to put these products through their paces as hard as I can to make sure that they really do live up to the Miracle-Gro reputation. The claim is for healthy growth and beautiful blooms throughout the growing season all thanks to the nitrogen-focused feed that offers a continuous release of microbes that work their magic in the soil for up to three months.

I road-tested Miracle-Gro Shake N’ Feed on a couple of un-composted potted evergreen shrubs and my potted azaleas. The results for both varieties were just as advertised although, mine took longer than the advertised 2 days. My evergreens held up beautifully with lush green foliage, but it was the acid-loving azaleas, that looked particularly spectacular with an unexpected number of bloom clusters. A definite recommendation for acid-loving plants.

Check Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed latest price on Amazon.

How To Use: For ground-planted shrubs, shake the recommended amount (per shrub size) onto soil within the drip line. For pots, I worked 2 tbsp into the soil. In either case, be sure to provide a very generous watering after application.

Customer Reviews: Consumers in harsh winter regions all but gave up on their evergreens and flowering shrubs until they tried Miracle-Gro Shake N’ Feed. Claiming a noticeable difference in just two days! Noting that full watering is necessary to avoid root burn. 4.7 / 5 stars.

Pros      

  • Results in just two days
  • Formulated for healthy feeding of flowering and non-flowering shrubs

Cons

  • May result in burning if not watered in thoroughly

4. Vigoro Tree, Shrub and Evergreen Plant Food 16-4-8

Vigoro Tree, Shrub and Evergreen Plant Food

I have to say that the pine trees I tried this granular feed on really weathered our harsh winters well. Formulated to encourage strong roots systems, increase the volume of growth and vibrancy of foliage over a longer period of time due to its time-released nitrogen feature.

Vigoro evergreen fertilizer has an N-P-K of 12-5-7 and boasts a formula that improves stress tolerance and soil conditions. This fertilizer is one to reach for if you have nitrogen-lacking soil or your climate is prone to significant temperature highs and lows. Use this if you notice yellowing of leaves or leaf-drop as this is a sure sign of nitrogen deficiency. Click here to view Vigoro Tree, Shrub And Evergreen Plant Food on Amazon.com

How To Use: Cast the recommended amount around the base of each tree within the dripline. Then repeat every two months during the active growing season.

Customer Reviews: Gardeners who took the large and pricy task of lining their properties with evergreens were rightfully concerned about the health and longevity of their new investment. Many are reporting that everything flourished even through the following winter. Greatly easing their concerns and awarding this product 4.5 / 5 stars.

Pros      

  • Rapid growth in newly planted saplings
  • Quick results in ailing trees and shrubs

Cons

  • Not recommended for well-composted soil

5.  Espoma Holly Tone Organic Fertilizer 4-3-4

Espoma Holly Tone

Containing proprietary Bio-Tone Microbes, my next pick is Holly-Tone, an all-natural product from the brand Espoma. It’s fair to say that Espona’s trademark formula worked wonders on my evergreen rhododendrons and acid-hungry blueberry bushes creating strong, flower-covered hedges and healthy plant growth that withstood all that winter threw at them.

The granules come in a generously sized 18-pound bag and are specially formulated to work for many different types of plants, not just hydrangeas. I just sprinkled them around my shrubs twice in one season prior to rainfall and they really made a difference in my effort to support the bees! Espoma Holly-Tone is available from Amazon.com

How To Use: For shrubs, 1 cup per foot of branch spread. For trees, 1 lb per inch of trunk diameter. Once in spring, then repeat at half the dosage in fall. Always apply prior to rainfall.

Customer Reviews: The latest buzz is that Holly-Tone is the Go-to for acid-loving plant growers. Raspberries, evergreens, hydrangeas, and even strawberries thrive on this. 4.8 / 5 stars.

Pros      

  • Specially formulated to increase number of flowers and fruit yield
  • Higher pH for acid-loving plants

Cons

  • May require a higher dose if applying to mulched soil

6. Miracle-Gro Miracid Plant Food 28-10-10

Miracle-Gro Miracid Plant Food

A water-soluble option for your acid-loving plants is this Miracle-Gro option with miracle. If a soil test reveals an increased pH level, and you need to reintroduce a little acid, then this is going to help with that adjustment.

What I like about this fertilizer, is that evergreens are nourished both through their foliage and through the root system so be such to drench them as well as getting underneath at the soil. Click here for Miracle-Gro Miracid Plant Food

How To Use: Mix 1 tbsp per gallon of water then apply at the base of the plant. Repeat every two weeks.

Customer Reviews: Gardeners who struggled with ailing evergreen shrubs finally realized the pH in the soil was the culprit! After starting with Miracle-Gro’s Miracid, the pH lowered and nutrients freely flowed to their hedges and shrubs. Resulting in them “waking up” and filling out nicely. 4.8 / 5 stars

Pros      

  • Quickly lowers pH and increases acidity in soil
  • Fast results with azaleas, hydrangeas and all acid-loving berries

Cons

  • Not recommended for acidic soil

7. Down to Earth All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer 4-3-6

Down to Earth All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer

Rounding out my list of best picks is this always-dependable option for organic gardeners. Down to Earth offers an organic feed that naturally lowers pH levels for healthy evergreens, flowering shrubs, and high yields on berry bushes. Quick metabolism of nutrients means vigorous root growth and resistance to extreme weather conditions.

I’ve been using Down To Earth Acid Mix as a blueberry fertilizer for years and for good reason too. This feed is loaded with all-natural ingredients such as feather meal and blood meal, plus 2.5% humic acids. All of which contribute to boosting the nutrient count and acidity of the soil. Check Down To Earth’s the latest price here on Amazon

Down To Earth's Acid Mix 4-3-6

How To Use: Apply the recommended amount of fertilizer to evergreen trees, shrubs, as well as berry bushes, once in spring and again in fall.

Customer Reviews: Say goodbye to any crispy, yellowing bushes and hello to lush, green foliage in just two applications. Tons of new blooms and no harsh organic odor. 4.7 / 5 stars

Pros      

  • No harsh organic odor
  • Naturally lowers pH levels for quick infusion of nutrients

Cons

  • May require more product per application than others

How to Fertilize Evergreens

As you can see by this list of great feed options, there are several effective and viable ways to fertilize your evergreens. Be it a water-soluble, granular, or spike style application. It simply depends on what works best for you and your particular evergreen trees, shrubs and bushes.

When To Apply Evergreen Fertilizer

Evergreens like pines, spruce and conifers do well when fertilized from first planting all the way to five years into maturity. After that, they would only require a boost if new growth is sparse or slow. If foliage appears yellow or unhealthy or if the plant has endured significant damage from pests or disease.

Fertilizing Evergreens in The Fall

While some garden plants may not benefit from continued feeding into the fall, evergreens definitely do. Added nutrients at this time of year will be utilized by the plant for one last boost of robust root growth which will carry it all the way through the cold months of dormancy.

Fertilizing Evergreens in Winter

All plants go through seasonal stages. Falling temperatures in late fall and winter signal them to enter their dormancy period. Evergreens, while remaining green, also experience dormancy in winter. Any fertilizer applied during this time may actually harm your trees and shrubs as they aren’t “awake” enough to metabolize it. 

Evergreen Mulch

The best way to support the health and vitality of your evergreens once they reach 5 years of age is to add 3-4 inches of natural mulch around the base, with a fair amount of space between the mulch and the trunk. Mulch assists with moisture retention and nourishes the soil as it breaks down. But, if you push mulch right up onto the trunk though, it could cause damage as it decomposes.

How Often To Fertilize Evergreen Trees

How often to fertilize will depend on the method of application you choose. Water-solubles like liquid concentrates or powders will typically require more frequent applications. While slow-release spikes or granules require fewer.

Verdict: Best Evergreen Fertilizer

So, what’s your verdict? I am a big fan of Jobe’s long-lasting spikes, good value delivering excellent performance. The convenient and mess-free way to get luscious, vibrant evergreens all year long.

Or perhaps, Miracle-Gro’s pH lowering Miracid mix. The easy way to adjust the pH level in your soil for your acid-loving shrubs and trees.

If you’re looking for a natural product Down to Earth’s all-natural, organic option. Not only care for your evergreens but also boost the foliage and general health of your blueberry bushes too. Based on careful research into customer reviews and feedback, the best one for your garden trees and shrubs is bound to be found here.

Best Evergreen Fertilizer FAQ