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.

Best Evergreen Tree & Shrub Fertilizers

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

Jobe’s Evergreen Fertilizer Spikes 13-3-4

Best Fertilizer Spikes

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

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

Miracle-Gro Flowering Tree And Shrub Fertilizer

Best For Flowering Evergreens

2. Miracle-Gro Shake ‘N Feed Trees Food 18-6-12

A top-dressing fertilizer, ideal for giving your evergreen a controlled-release feed all season long.

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Choosing The Best Fertilizer For Evergreens

Whether you have a broad-leaf tree, a pine needle spruce, or an evergreen shrub, 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. Only minor adjustments are needed if you happen to see an increase in needle or foliage loss or if they are moved to a new location.

Evergreens require complete fertilizers, meaning a product that contains all three nutrients – Nitrogen (n), Phosphorus (p), and Potassium (k). Nitrogen, however, is the primary nutrient required for the production of amino acids that support cell growth and cell repair, and is essential for photosynthesis to occur. That being said evergreens aren’t especially fussy, so a fertilizer with the N-P-K ratio around 12-4-4 is ideal for evergreens. But don’t get too hung up about the exact ratio, just aim for a high nitrogen number around 50% higher than phosphorus and potassium

Understanding NPK Ratio

Nitrogen-loving evergreens thrive with the right macronutrient combination. Three key elements are:

  • Nitrogen (N) – for lush, dense foliage growth, but also critical in cell production to generate new growth. Nitrogen is also essential for phosphorus and potassium to be effective in their respective roles.
  • Phosphorus (P) – for strong roots and disease resistance.
  • Potassium (K) – for efficient distribution of water, oxygen, and other nutrients.

When we talk about the ‘Best’ fertilizer, we are not just talking about the ingredients. We also need to consider how it works in practice and whether it is convenient and effective for the consumer to apply. So let’s look at the various methods of nutrient distribution with slow-release and liquid-based products.

Evergreens also require trace minerals to support healthy growth, such as Calcium for cell growth and the strength of cell walls, Magnesium is required for chlorophyll production, which is essential for photosynthesis. Manganese is important for leaf creation and growth. Iron, Zinc, and copper are also required.

Slow-Release vs Controlled-Release Fertilizer

The method by which we feed our evergreens can be as different as our garden landscapes. Two longer-lasting methods are controlled-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.

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, lasting about 8 weeks per spike. 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 microorganisms 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 of 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.

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.

Best Evergreen Fertilizer


  • Mess-free fertilizing with no strong odor
  • Each spike lasts 8 weeks, providing a slow release of nutrients
  • Hammer the spike into the ground out of reach from pets and other wildlife


  • Spikes can be difficult to push or hammer into dry, dense soil

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 using tree spikes for a few reasons.

  • A single application lasts 8 weeks
  • I can penetrate them into the ground away from my dog
  • 100% of the fertilizer is available and does not wash or blow away

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 on my holly bush and I’m pleased to report that the foliage is green, dense, and healthy and the holly leaves are very glossy.

If I was to point out one downside of this product, well in fact two…first, the packaging is not resealable, so you will need to put the cardboard inner packaging into a plastic bag to keep the spikes dry over winter. Second, if the ground is very dry, you will need to water it first or drill holes to place the spikes into the ground. Otherwise, they can be prone to crumble if you strike them with a hammer into a hard or dry soil surface.

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 drip line. Apply the number of spikes stated on the packaging depending on the tree trunk diameter. Hammer the spikes into the ground at least 30 inches from the trunk. I apply them in early spring, then every 8 weeks until fall.

Jobes Evergreen Fertilizer spikes
Fertilizer spike spacing guidelines
Packet of spikes
Spikes inside the inner carton
Jobes Evergreen Fertilizer spikes #4
The spike has a protective hammer cap

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.

Miracle-Gro Shake 'N Feed Flowering Trees And Shrubs Plant Food 18-6-12


  • This is a good choice for anyone who is looking for a general-purpose fertilizer for both flowering and non-flowering evergreens
  • Formulated for healthy feeding of flowering and non-flowering shrubs


  • May result in burning if not watered thoroughly

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 Pencil Cypress trees 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 flowering shrubs.

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

Miracle Gro Trees and Shrubs packet
Miracle-Gro trees and shrubs packet
Miracle Gro Trees and Shrubs Granule Size
Medium size slow release granules
Miracle Gro Trees and Shrubs Scoop
Pre-measured scoop dispenser

How To Use: For ground-planted shrubs, shake the recommended amount (per tree or shrub size) onto soil within the drip line. For my large Azalea, I worked 2 tbsp into the pot’s soil. For my Cypress trees, I used three handfuls every couple of months broadcast around the base of the tree. 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.

3. Scotts Evergreen Continuous Release Plant Food 11-7-7

Best for Flowering Evergreen Shrubs

Scotts Evergreen Tree & Shrub Food 11-7-7


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


  • Not recommended for potted trees and shrubs

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

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

Vigoro Tree, Shrub And Evergreen Plant Food 16-4-8


  • Rapid growth in newly planted saplings
  • Quick results in ailing trees and shrubs
  • Formula lends itself to fertilizing boxwoods and other closely planted evergreen hedges


  • Not recommended for well-composted soil

I have to say that the pine trees I tried this granular feed on really weathered our harsh winters well. Formulated to encourage strong root systems, and 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.

Espoma Holly Tone Organic Fertilizer 4-3-4


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


  • May require a higher dose if applied to mulched soil

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 as well as our large variegated holly tree. This fertilizer has stood the test of time when it comes to acid-loving plants and I have enjoyed using it for many years with great success.

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 tend t use holly-tone around my acid-loving shrubs two or sometimes three times per season. Twice on flowering shrubs and a third time for holly and any other evergreens that bears late fruit, berries, or even cones.

Espoma holly tone packet
Espoma Holly tone packet
Sprinkle granules around tree
Sprinkle granules around the tree
Dig fertilizer into soil
Dig fertilizer into the soil

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 and always dig it into the soil.

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.

Miracle-Gro Miracid Plant Food 28-10-10


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


  • Not recommended for acidic soil

A water-soluble option for your acid-loving plants is this Miracle-Gro option with a 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 get underneath 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 the “waking up” and filling out nicely. 4.8 / 5 stars

Down To Earth All Natural Acid Mix Fertilizer 4-3-6


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


  • May require more product per application than others

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

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

Fertilizing 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 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 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.

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.

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