5 Best Fertilizer for Apple and Pear Trees | How and When to Use

Adding fruit trees to your garden is a great way to not only add some beauty to it but also have some delicious fresh fruit. But, to get your fruit trees to thrive by growing to their full potential, as well as yielding a plentiful crop, and remaining healthy and disease-free, they are going to need a helping hand with a good quality nutrient feed.

I’ve been growing fruit-bearing trees for some years now and you can believe me when I say that relying just on an appropriate amount of sunlight, good soil, and sufficient water isn’t enough to get the best out of them. I also know a thing or two about choosing and using the best fertilizer for apple and pear trees, so read on to find out more.

Best Fertilizer For Apple And Pear Trees

If you’re short of time take a look at the summary below for the best apple fertilizer and pear fertilizers for all situations.

Jobe’s Organics Continuous Release Fruit Fertilizer Spikes

Best Fertilizer Spikes

Jobe’s Organics Fruit Tree Fertilizer Spike

Convenient pre-measured fertilizer spike designed to be pushed an inch into the ground to provide a slow-release feed right through the growing season.

Jobe’s Organics Fruit & Nut Granular Fertilizer

Best Top Dressing Fertilizer

Jobe’s Organics Fruit Tree Fertilizer Granules

Organic granular fertilizer is perfect for top dressing around apple and pear trees. Offering better value for money over fertilizer spikes.

Choosing the Best Fertilizer for Apple Trees

There are hundreds of different fertilizers on the market, but apple and pear trees need a specific balance of nutrients and you’ll want to look out for both during the planting and growing stages of an apple and pear tree’s life. These three primary nutrients are common to all fertilizers and they are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Nitrogen is essential in aiding new growth and is of particular importance to the successful growth of pears and eating apples. Phosphorus helps build sturdy roots, and potassium will keep the plant cells healthy and perhaps most importantly, is what encourages the development of new buds and fruits.  

When you don’t provide your apple trees with these three nutrients, it can cause stunted growth, pests to accumulate on the tree, and the potential for diseases. While fruit trees and other plants can obtain these nutrients from the soil you’ve planted them in, there are numerous reasons why they won’t be getting them in the right quantities. This includes depleted soi and overbearing or hungry roots from neighboring trees or plants,  

The best way to determine what, if any, nutrients your apple tree is lacking is to test the soil’s pH using a soil test kit. From there, you can start searching for the best fertilizer. You’ll want one that provides the nutrients they need but you’ll also want a fertilizer that compliments your gardening style. Here are some options for you to consider.

Granular Vs. Liquid Fertilizer

Granular fertilizers are tiny particles that are designed to release slowly over time. Once you incorporate a granular fertilizer into the soil around your apple or pear tree, it will continue to nourish the soil and fertilize the roots every time you water them.  

Liquid fertilizers are fast-acting and offer a quick burst of nutrients to your fruit trees once they have been absorbed by the roots of the tree. They are more prone to be washed away and need to be used more frequently. The flipside of liquid fertilizers is they tend to be a more concentrated formula which can lead to fertilizer burn or when used frequently, can lead to over-fertilizing.

Liquid fertilizers work in two ways. You’ll either need to dilute the concentrated formula with water before applying it to the base of your apple or pear trees. This needs to be done regularly during the growing season. Alternatively, liquid fertilizers can be used as a foliar feed, which can be sprayed directly on the foliage of fruit trees. More about that in a minute.

Liquid Concentrate or Spray

If you’re looking into liquid fertilizer, you’ll need to decide between liquid concentrate or spray. You won’t want to use these products on newly planted trees, but they’re a great option later down the line. Liquid concentrate is easy to apply by pouring the appropriate amount into the soil of your tree. 

Spraying liquid fertilizer is perfect for correcting deficiencies and is referred to as foliar feeding. This type of feeding is when you spray liquid fertilizer on the plants, and they absorb the nutrients through their foliage. 

Fertilizer Granules or Powder

Granules, also known as pellets, and powder are another popular fertilizer for plants. Using granules or powder is ideal for newly planted apple or pear trees. When it comes to these types of fertilizer, powder fertilizers are just powdered versions of the same granule fertilizer. 

When using powder fertilizer, you can use it in either form by applying it to the soil directly or diluting it in water first. While granular fertilizer, in general, is slower release, the powder version is generally faster than using granules. 

Fruit Tree Fertilizer Spikes

Fruit tree fertilizer spikes quite simply fertilizer that has been formed into a stake, where the pointy end gets hammered or driven into the ground. They’re easy to install in rows beneath fruit trees and help deliver fertilizer in a precise manner that encourages even distribution in the soil.

Fertilizer spikes offer a mess-free approach because they are pre-measured and simply get buried below the surface of the soil. No mixing or digging and no odor for your dog or cat to get excited about. They work on a slow-release basis, dispursing nutrients gradually, and can last for up to eight weeks.

Organic Apple Tree Fertilizer

Most organic fertilizers are high in natural nitrogen sources, which many fruit trees crave. Some great examples of ingredients to look for in your organic fertilizer include soybean meal, composted chicken manure, blood meal, and other composted manure.

Organic fertilizers are the safer option if you are planning on eating the harvested fruit because they don’t contain any chemical-based substances that could be potentially harmful if ingested.

Moreover, they are safe for humans, animals, and the environment. That is because they consist of naturally occurring materials found on farms and in nature.

best fertilizer for apple and pear trees 1 edited

Pear and Apple Tree Fertilizer N-P-K 

Regardless of what type of fertilizer you choose, you’ll want to make sure there’s an appropriate amount of N-P-K in the formula. This includes the three main macronutrients all plants need to thrive, nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Nitrogen (N) is what makes plants grow bigger and healthier. Phosphorus (P) also helps plants grow bigger, but it’s primarily necessary for plants to take in water and nutrients via the stem. Potassium (K) is what keeps your healthy plants staying healthy. It’s also important because it encourages flowers, and in this case, fruits, to grow. 

When using artificial fertilizers for this purpose, it is essential to know what amount of fertilizer you need to add because too much will lead to unwanted side effects. If you’re uncertain, go for a balanced fertilizer, like 20-20-20 (N-P-K)


Best Fertilizer for Apple and Pear Trees Reviews

Here is my pick of the very best fertilizers for apple and pear trees that are currently available on the market. I’ve based my choices on performance, quality, and value for money. As well as personal experience and the views and opinions of users via forums and review centers.


1. Jobe’s Organics Continuous Release Fruit Fertilizer Spikes 8-2-2

Jobe’s Organics Continuous Release Fruit Fertilizer Spikes

My top pick of apple and pear tree fertilizers are these continuous release spikes for fruit trees from Jobe’s Organics. They are made with Jobe’s patented Biozome formula and contain zero chemicals, which is great news for fruit trees as well as your soil.

I recommend using these on pear trees and all culinary varieties of apple trees since these need a higher proportion of nitrogen than the ornamental types.  

These spikes couldn’t be easier to use because you don’t need to bother with any pre-mixing mess and there is no fear of harmful runoff. All you’ll need are the spikes and a hammer to push them into the ground around the tree. For best results do this in either late winter or early spring. Click here for Jobe’s Organics Continuous Release Fertilizer Spikes

How To Use: Sink spikes 1-2 inches into the soil, evenly spaced, around the drip line. Once in spring, then repeat in autumn. The number of spikes to apply depends on trunk diameter.

One thing to note is that animals tend to be attracted to the organic smell of these spikes. So, make sure they are buried well below the surface to prevent curious pets from getting hold of them.

Pros      

  • Great value for money
  • One application needed for the whole season
  • Improves soil condition while fertilizing fruit trees
  • Contains patented Biozome for safe, eco-friendly feeding

Cons

  • Needs to stored in a cool, dry place

2. Jobe’s Organics Fruit & Nut Granular Fertilizer 3-5-5 

Jobe’s Organics Fruit & Nut Granular Fertilizer

If you’re not a fan of spikes, Jobe’s Organics has a fantastic granular fertilizer. They use their special formula of Biozome, which will help to improve the condition of your soil. In turn, the inclusion of the microorganism ‘archaea’ helps to break the granules down faster than other fertilizers resulting in trees becoming more resistant to disease and pests, plus overall improved tree health during the growing season and beyond.

Use this one once fruit trees have matured and you know that your soil has the correct balance of nitrogen. The higher ratio of phosphorus and potassium makes this blend perfect for encouraging buds to develop and fruit to form.

How To Use: For new or potted plantings, work granules into the soil before planting. For established trees, work 1 1/2 cups into the soil around the tree base per foot of tree spread. Check out prices for Jobe’s Organics Fruit & Nut Granular Fertilizer at Amazon.com

The only potential downside to this fertilizer is the smell. While some of Jobe’s other products don’t smell or have a minimal scent, this one does have a strong odor.

Pros      

  • Encouraging bud development and fruit to form
  • Resealable bag for easy pouring and storage
  • Suitable for use in containers or garden beds

Cons

  • Strong ‘organic’ odor

3. Dr. Earth Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer 5-5-2

Dr. Earth Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer

Dr. Earth is my next choice, it’s an organic, slow-release granular fertilizer with an N-P-K of 5-5-2. This is a great fertilizer if you live in a drought-tolerant region or have a shorter growing season because it contains Dr.Earth’s patented TruBiotic formula that releases organic microbes and mycorrhizae into the soil.

It also contains mycorrhizal fungi which help to improve the soil conditions. These added nutrients in the soil will then be absorbed via the roots, increasing the vitality of your fruit trees. Check out offers and prices for Dr. Earth Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer here.

The combined result of more nourished soil ensures robust root development and highly flavorsome and disease-free fruit. So, if your apple or pear tree is lacking vibrancy, has stunted growth, or drooping leaves, it may need a little root restoration. In which case, this is an ideal fertilizer to use.

How To Use: For established fruit trees, work 1 cup of fertilizer into the soil within the drip line every three months throughout the growing season. For new trees, add 2 cups to the planting hole and water thoroughly. 

Pros      

  • It has probiotics and mycorrhizae that stimulate root development
  • Safe around people, pets and wildlife

Cons

  • Strong ‘organic’ odor

4. Down To Earth Fruit Tree and Bush Organic Fertilizer 6-2-4

Down To Earth Fruit Tree Organic Fertilizer

I’ve been a fan of the entire fertilizer range from Down To Earth for some years now. The ingredients in all of their products are all-natural and organic and they go to great lengths both on their packaging and via their website to explain how to get the best out of their products.

Their granular fruit tree and bush organic fertilizer is no exception. Not only is it suitable for apple and pear trees, but you can also use it for a wide range of other fruit trees and shrubs too.

This fertilizer has been specially formulated with an N-P-K ratio of 6-2-4 so it’s perfect for culinary varieties of fruiting trees. It also contains calcium which is known to promote the size and quality of fruit growth and also increase your expected harvest yield. Click here for Down To Earth Fruit Tree Organic Fertilizer

How To Use: For young trees, sprinkle 1 or 2 cups of fertilizer per inch of the trunk directly onto the soil. Repeat this 3 times per year: Once in spring after flowering, another one month later, and then a third application another month after that.

Pros      

  • Added calcium for optimum fruit development
  • Certified organic by the OMRI
  • Versatile use for fruiting trees, shrubs and canes

Cons

  • May require more product for optimum results


5. Espoma TR4 Tree-Tone Plant Food 6-2-3

Espoma TR4 Tree-Tone Plant Food

This organic fertilizer from Espoma offers versatility when it comes to both sun-loving fruit trees and shade-preferring ornamentals. It contains Espoma’s exclusive Bio-tone microbe formula that results in consistent, slow-release nutrition for all types of non-citrus fruit trees.

This is a slow-release formula. You” need to apply the first application in spring to provide a boost of nutrients and a further application in fall to replenish any nutrient deficiencies that may have occurred during the growing season and to prime soil ready for the following year.

How To Use: Measure out 9 cups (3lbs) of fertilizer per inch of tree trunk. Sprinkle the required measure of granules onto the soil around the tree trunk and within the dripline. Apply once in early spring and again in early fall.

Pros      

  • Versatile enough to benefit shade and full-sun fruit and ornamental trees
  • Shows quick results with ailing trees

Cons

  • Larger amount of product may be needed to achieve expected results
  • Not intended for potted trees   

How to Fertilize Apple Trees Step-by-Step

Fertilizing your trees isn’t as difficult as it seems. Follow along with these steps to ensure a properly fertilized tree. 

Step One 

After you’ve determined what fertilizer to use, you’ll want to wear gloves. Fertilizers can be harmful to the skin. 

Step Two 

Read the directions of your fertilizer carefully. You’ll want to prepare the mixture base according to those instructions so that you don’t harm the tree. 

Step Three 

You’ll apply the fertilizer about a foot away from the trunk. Applying it too close can harm the tree. 

Step Four 

Lastly, spread the fertilizer about a foot away from the drip line, which is where the tree’s roots reach the farthest. 

Fertilizing for Maximum Apple Yield

From experience, you’ll want to fertilize your apple trees after planting them. That way, you can give them a boost so that they produce the maximum amounts of apples. If you’re using a fertilizer specifically formulated for apple trees, then be sure to get the recommended dosage.  

Soil pH

Planting an apple or pear tree in the proper soil will yield far more fruit than if the soil isn’t the correct pH. The first step to ensuring that you get the most out of your apples is performing a thorough soil analysis. Before performing a soil analysis, you’ll need to know the appropriate soil needed for both apple and pear trees. 

Apple Tree Soil pH

When you’re planting an apple tree, you’ll want the pH of the soil to be between 5.8 and 7.0. A pH rating of 7 is considered neutral, while anything below that is acidic. Your apple tree can survive in acidic soil above 5.8 pH, but I’ve found a neutral pH to be optimal. 

Pear Tree Soil pH

For pear trees, the pH of the soil depends heavily on the type of pear tree you’re planting. Many varieties of pear trees need a neutral pH of 7.0. Some pear trees can handle a more acidic pH of anywhere from 5.9 to 6.5. You’ll want to double-check the type of pear tree you’re planting against optimal soil pH before planting. 

Over Fertilizing Apple or Pear Trees

A good rule of thumb when fertilizing is that it’s better to apply less than more. You can always add more fertilizer, but you can’t take it away. If you over-fertilize your apple or pear trees, you might experience your trees becoming soft and fruits falling off easily when watering the tree. 

When to Fertilize Apple Trees

You can fertilize your apple trees anytime during the year, but spring is the best time. Fall is the second-best time to do so alongside spring. 

How Often to Fertilize Apple and Pear Trees

How often you fertilize apple or pear trees depends heavily on the type of fertilizer you use. If you choose granular fertilizer, you can fertilize them less often than you would with liquid fertilizer. Generally speaking, you’ll want to fertilize the trees three times during the growing season. You’ll want to wait about a month in between fertilizing. 

Verdict: Best Fertilizers for Pear Trees or Apples

I hope to have provided you with some real “fruit for thought” having now covered the five best fertilizers for apple and pear trees based on my insight and user experience with these products. I’ve also looked at their ease of use, and value for money plus a deep dive into customer feedback. So what is it to be?

Either Jobes Organics Fruit Tree Fertilizer Spikes or Jobes Organics Fruit and Nut Granules? Both contain the same patented formula and deliver fantastic results. The spikes offer a mess-free and pre-measured approach to fertilizing and are perfect for pear trees and eating varieties of apple trees. The granules on the other hand will increase bud development and flowering of all varieties.

Alternatively, do you need Dr. Earth’s Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer? Suitable for all varieties of apple and pear trees, especially if they are slightly ailing or you live in a drought-tolerant region or have a shorter growing season.

Jobe’s Organics Continuous Release Fruit Fertilizer Spikes

Best Fertilizer Spikes

Jobe’s Organics Fruit Tree Fertilizer Spike

Convenient pre-measured fertilizer spike designed to be pushed an inch into the ground to provide a slow-release feed right through the growing season.

Fertilizing Apple and Pear Trees FAQ’s

If you still have questions regarding fertilizing your apple or pear trees, here’s the most commonly asked question.