One bite of a sun-ripened piece of fruit and you’ve got the flavor of summer itself, right in the palm of your hand. Growing fruit trees gives you an even grander seasonal experience plus access to some healthy snacks at the peak of freshness.
But, like all living things, fruit trees need a healthy environment to thrive in and, oftentimes, a little extra boost of nourishment to help them generate all that juicy fruit. Fruit tree fertilizers can provide just the nutrients needed to do just that. Let’s take a look at the different types available.
Types Of Fruit Tree Fertilizer
You’ll notice from our selection of best fruit tree fertilizers that we have focused our top eleven picks exclusively on natural and organic fertilizers. The reason for this is simple, fruit trees respond really well to soil environments that have been nourished with organic matter. But, let’s face it, eating the fruits of our labor that have been fertilized with all-natural ingredients rather than any synthetic chemicals is better for us too, right?
For the most part, these organic fertilizers come in three main varieties:
Fruit Tree Fertilizer Spikes
Slow-release spikes are one of the easiest to use, especially if you have more than one fruit tree. Pre-measured and compact for easy storage, they carry far less risk of run-off and root burn.
Watering them in is not necessary either, as nutrients are released by micro-organisms that naturally live in the soil. This method of application also carries the added benefit of stimulating an increased resistance to tree disease and pests.
Granules are another slow-release choice. Heavily concentrated, they provide consistent nourishment for up to nine months. No watering is needed to activate and is less likely to leach into nearby surface or groundwater.
Apply them by simply sprinkling them around the base of your tree or work them into the soil for faster feeding. For larger, orchard applications, a seed spreader can be used for a lighter workload.
Powder fertilizers can be applied either directly into the soil around your tree’s base or diluted in water as a “tea”. This type is perfect for larger applications such as in orchards or on farms but does require a bit more effort in smaller spaces. While these are some of the most economical, they do carry a risk of root burn if exact measurements are not used.
Liquids can conserve water and time, especially if you choose one versatile enough to use when watering the rest of your garden. Nutrients are carried to the root system through the soil where the biggest benefit is the speed at which nutrients reach the roots. Liquid feeds also tend to keep the pH levels in your soil balanced. However, too much of a good thing can cause over-feeding and may lead to root burn so always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines and measurements.
Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer Vs Synthetic
Choosing an organic or synthetic (inorganic) fertilizer is a matter of preference and end goals. A basic understanding of the difference can help you make a solid fertilizer choice.
Organics are plant or animal-based containing manures and other natural materials. Inorganics are manufactured with minerals and synthetic chemicals. Organic feeds contain lower nutrient levels but can nourish fruit trees for longer periods of time while also improving the soil. Using inorganic fertilizers can result in a higher yield of larger fruits. However, they can also potentially contaminate nearby water sources.
Fruit Tree Food N-P-K Ratio
Fruit trees are far more successful when they have access to the right combination of macronutrients. These are nitrogen (N) – for healthy branches and leaves, phosphorus (P) – for a robust root system and an abundance of blooms, and potassium (K) – for durable resistance to disease and pests.
When you are choosing the right fruit tree fertilizers for your needs consider: Is the surrounding soil in need of amending? Do you have an orchard of trees or a single feature tree in your garden? Are feature trees in the ground or in a pot? The answers to these will determine if you need higher nitrogen content or perhaps a bit more phosphorus or potassium.
So, what exactly is NPK?
Every fertilizer label will display three numbers (X-X-X). These numbers are known as the N-P-K ratio of that fertilizer, indicating the proportions of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium in it. For example: A 6-2-3 NPK contains 6% nitrogen, 2% phosphorus and 3% potassium. Every plant and tree requires these three elements in order to thrive, just in different proportions, or NPK ratios.
Each type of fruit and nut tree has its own N-P-K needs in order to produce lush foliage and healthy, flavorful fruits. When considering what NPK balance to purchase, certain environmental conditions should also be taken into account.
However, we realize it’s probably not practical to have a specific fertilizer for every tree in your garden, right? So our list of fertilizers is selected with convenience in mind and they make a great all-around option when you just want to buy one fruit tree fertilizer for home use.
11 Best Fertilizer For Fruit Trees Reviews
Through personal trial and error and experience of growing fruit trees over the years, I know that no single fertilizing formula is perfect for every situation. Not to mention we all have our own personal preferences when it comes to gardening. Some folk prefer an all-purpose product that can be used for a variety of garden feeding requirements. Other people will need a very specific product for a single purpose, such as for an ailing fruit tree or to increase yield. With this in mind, my pick is based on a broad selection of excellent products for you to use when fertilizing your fruit trees at home.
I’ve looked at the quality of the fertilizer ingredients, its overall performance as well as the level of customer satisfaction taken from thousands of customer reviews across all major retail platforms, and of course the product’s ease of use.
This effective, organic granular feed from Espoma is amazingly versatile. Healthy and beneficial for both sun-loving fruit trees and shade-preferring ornamentals. The 6-2-3 NPK balance plus exclusive Bio-tone microbes equal consistent, slow-release nutrition for all types of non-citrus fruit trees with just two seasonal applications.
I love the ease of use of this fertilizer. It’s a slow-release action that means I can simply apply a first application in spring that I know will boost the nutrient intake of my fruit trees and another in fall to replenish nutrients that need replacing in the soil and prepare it ready for the following year.
This is a great one for fruit trees that are generally healthy and don’t have any specific fertilizer requirements. Use it for Apple Trees, Pear Trees, Plums, and Cherry Trees. It is also great for use on nut trees such as Chestnut and Walnut trees. Check out the latest price on Amazon.com as you can often find discount vouchers or multi-buys on Espoma products.
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.
Watch the 2 minute video below for a great guide on how to use Espoma Fruit Tree Fertilizer.
Customer Reviews: Customer feedback shows how happy gardeners are with how quickly this product shows results on everything from a fledgling crepe myrtle to a 50-year-old pecan tree. Earning this a 4.7 / 5 stars.
- Versatile enough to benefit shade and full-sun fruit and ornamental trees
- Shows quick results with ailing trees
- Larger amount of product may be needed to achieve expected results
- Not intended for potted trees
Let me tell you, Down to Earth know a thing or two about organic fertilizers and fertilizing products. So much so, that their fruit tree fertilizer has been certified fully organic by the OMRI. Whether you are growing mangoes or peaches or apple trees or plums, this fertilizer has you covered.
It has been specially formulated with an N-P-K ratio of 6-2-4 and added calcium. This means it has been designed to promote the size and quality of fruit growth and increase your expected harvest yield.
But, what I love the most about this ethically-minded company is their attention to detail and know-how about fertilizing specific varieties of fruit trees and shrubs. Their packaging and website provide fertilizing instructions for pomme fruit and stone fruit separately and even provide different instructions for young and mature trees. They really have thought of everything and you can check the latest prices online here.
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.
For mature trees, apply twice per year, once in spring after flowering and another in mid-summer. You’ll need to measure out the required quantity (dependant upon the size of tree and type of tree) and sprinkle it directly onto the soil. The fertilizer will need digging in and I like to then water the area I’ve just dug to start activateing the fertilizer straight away.
Customer Reviews: Customers across the gardening spectrum are really impressed with just how fast they see new growth and more abundant fruit. While the process may require more product, customers are very pleased with the results, earning this an impressive 4.7 / 5 stars.
- Added calcium for optimum fruit development
- Certified organic by the OMRI
- Versatile use for fruiting trees, shrubs and canes
- May require more product for optimum results
If growing fleshy fruits and flavorful nuts are your thing, this second spike option from Jobe’s is just the ticket. Its 8-2-2 NPK provides an increased amount of nitrogen in a slow-release process resulting in more healthy foliage and fruit and less work for you.
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.
Customer Reviews: All over the retail spectrum, customers have been amazed by the ease of use and results of this product. With the added bonus of being so economical, Jobe’s fruit and nut fertilizer spikes boast a global consumer rating of 4.7 / 5. Buy online at Amazon.com
- 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
- Needs to stored in a cool, dry place
When a granular choice is preferred, Jobe’s has you covered. This 3-5-5 NPK product is lower in nitrogen for an effective partnership with proprietary microorganisms that break down organic material for faster and more lush results.
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 the latest prices and offers at Amazon.com
Customer Reviews: Across many different retail sources, customers were very happy with this product’s ease of use and how quickly they saw results in stagnated trees. Earning this granular version a rating of 4.5 / 5 stars.
- Fast results with ailing trees
- Resealable bag for easy pouring and storage
- Balanced N-P-K for use in containers or garden beds
- Over-feeding may result in more foliage and fewer blossoms and fruit
This slow-release, organic granular fruit tree feed from Kellogg’s has a unique and broad reach of application for fruit plants, trees, and shrubs. Fortified with essential microbes and mycorrhizal it will encourage strong, healthy root growth and bigger, better fruits. It is also listed as certified organic by the OMRI so you can be assured it’s full of the good stuff.
Try it as a fertilizer for citrus trees or on your berry bushes as well as all kinds of fruit and nut trees. This has been selected in the top pick list for its performance and value as an all-around tree fertilizing product. Buy it online here.
How To Use: For new plantings, mix two cups into the planting hole. For established trees, incorporate 1 cup per inch of trunk diameter, then repeat every 3 months. For potted trees and bushes, apply 2 tablespoons for every 6 inches of pot diameter and repeat every 2 months.
Customer Reviews: Consumers based their high rating of this product on reasonable price, convenient package size, and ease of use. While also being delighted at the increased flavor, texture, and juicy-ness of their fruit, awarding this product an impressive 4.7 / 5 stars.
- Broad application benefits to include berry bushes and citrus trees
- Improves the flavor and texture of fruit
- Increases soil condition and decreases the risk of root burn
- May exhibit a slight organic odor
For dependable, consistent nutrient delivery to your fruit and citrus trees, use these simple-to-use feed spikes from Jobe’s Organics. Presented in a sealable pouch for easy storage, the pre-measured 3-5-5 NPK balance improves soil quality while boosting fruit and foliage growth through robust root formation.
How To Use: Insert one spike for every 6 inches of overall tree diameter, every four to six weeks, without fear of runoff when watering, for lush, eco-conscious results.
Customer Reviews: Gardeners love the ease of use of this slow-release product while getting the added bonus of having trees with a strong resistance to disease. Offering 4.5 / 5 stars. Buy online here.
- Can be used on both container and ground planted trees
- Safe for people, pets, and the environment
- Short shelf-life. Must be used in one season.
Dr. Earth has provided proven results for over 30 years. The 5-5-2 NPK combination together with their trademark TruBiotic formula release organic microbes and mycorrhizae to stimulate robust root development and deliciously nutritious fruit even in drought-tolerant areas or those with shorter growing seasons.
This is a slow-release option however, the granules quickly create a nutrient-rich environment to promote lush foliage and plenty of fruit. This is the perfect fertilizer whether you are growing your fruit trees in containers or in the soil because it works well in areas with less fertile soil and limited rainfall. It is also people and pet safe. You can pick up a bag from Amazon.com here
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.
Customer Reviews: Gardeners can’t stop raving about just how fast they see results with this product. Trees that seem to be failing perk right up after one application. “Very good value for money.” at 4.5 / 5 stars.
- Contains no chicken manure or extra fillers
- Safe around people, pets and wildlife
- May exhibit a slight, natural odor
A more citrus-specific option now with this 6-3-3 NPK organic mix from Down to Earth. The higher ratio of nitrogen means you can expect more blossoms and juicier fruit. This is a great fruit tree fertilizer for getting essential minerals and micronutrients straight to the roots and seeing results quickly.
It’s the micronutrients such as iron, zinc, calcium, and sulfur as well as feather meal, fishbone meal, alfalfa meal, greensand, and basalt that sets this one apart from other fruit tree fertilizers. These all-natural ingredients help promote new growth, more fruit, and fragrant blossoms and you can pick up some for your tree fertilizing needs here.
Down to Earth have a great range of fertilizer products to suit lots of gardening needs. This particular mix is specific to nut, fruit, and citrus tree fertilizing but personally, I’m a big fan of their acid-mix formula that’s particularly good as a strawberry fertilizer.
How To Use: For new plantings, mix 1 cup into the soil and water well. For established trees, sprinkle 1 cup of feed per 1” of trunk diameter then repeat 3-4 times per year. This product can also be diluted as a liquid feed.
Customer Reviews: Beginner citrus growers seem especially impressed with this product. Its simple method of application and nutrients delivery show quick and positive results for those still learning the ropes, earning this a solid 4.5 / 5 stars.
- Certified by the OMRI for organic use
- Dependable results season after season
- Versatile use for fruit, citrus and nut trees
- Follow manufacturer’s instructions to keep people and pets safe
This slow-release, granular option from Espoma provides a long-lasting stream of nutrients to the entire tree while improving soil quality. With exclusive Bio-Tone microbes and a 5-2-6 NPK balance, it’s formulated to produce lush foliage and bountiful fruit. This is available to buy online at Amazon.com
How To Use: For established trees, work into the soil evenly, along the drip line. For potted trees and shrubs, mix in one teaspoon for every 4 inches of pot diameter. Repeat every 60 days from early spring to autumn.
Customer Reviews: Gardeners are so happy with the results from this product that they’ve been purchasing new fruit trees to expand on their success! 4.5 / 5 stars.
- High fruit yield and overall tree health
- Exclusive Bio-Tone microbes for larger or more flavorful fruit
- Frequent watering may result in increased applications needed
These capsules from Earth Pods are a fantastic choice for potted fruit trees in your outdoor AND indoor spaces because they don’t exhibit any organic odor. This feed with a 2-2-4 NPK carries no risk of root burn and requires no measuring.
Earth Pods have racked up quite a following in recent years for their all-natural fertilizer ingredients and ethical, zero-waste packaging. Their capsules are also available to buy for a whole range of indoor and outdoor plants and shrubs from succulent fertilizers to vegetable plant food. Buy it online here.
How To Use: Push capsules into the soil near the trunk or open the capsules and sprinkled the contents onto the soil prior to watering. Repeat every 2-3 weeks.
Customer Reviews: Gardeners who have never offered feedback before are lining up to share how surprised and happy they are with the fast and lush results they’ve seen with Earth Pods fertilizer capsules. Garnering this a well-earned 4.6 / 5 stars.
- No organic odor
- Increased leaf and fruit production
- Zero waste packaging
- Higher application frequency than other options
This granular option from Fertilome is perfect for trees in containers or garden beds. Increased nitrogen promotes vigorous fruit production resulting in a higher yield of crops. Plus, zinc to protects against rosette disease.
How To Use: Spread granules evenly around soil at the dripline and water thoroughly. Amount will be specific to your tree’s size and fruit type.
Customer Reviews: Consumers are delighted with the abundance of fragrance fruits after using this product, even in winter. “Definitely worth the price after seeing these results.” Awarding Fertilome’s Fruit, Citrus & Pecan fertilizer 4.4 / 5 stars. Buy online here.
- Versatile enough for use most fruit, citrus and nut trees
- No organic odor
- Slightly higher purchase price per bag
When To Fertilize Fruit Trees
Now that we’ve covered some of the best options for fruit tree fertilizers, let’s talk about when to fertilize. Yes, each product label comes with basic instructions, which is great. But, these products cover a broad range of fruit-bearing trees. And, there are a few important points to consider for specific types of fruit.
For example, what gardening zone is your garden or orchard in? Feeding times may need to be adjusted according to when spring and fall begins. How old is your tree? Younger trees typically follow a different fertilizing schedule which then changes once they reach fruit-bearing age. What is the condition of your soil? Sandy, higher clay content? Is the pH balance right for the type of fruit tree you have? Is it lacking in either nitrogen, phosphorus, or potassium? You’ll want to do a soil test using a soil pH test kit BEFORE fertilizing so you know exactly how to amend the soil for a healthy, thriving tree if needed.
If you happen to live in the southern hemisphere, you too can benefit from these recommendations, simply disregarding the referenced months. After making the necessary adjustments to your soil, you’re ready to give your fruiting beauties the individual attention they need.
When To Fertilize Apple Trees
Apples benefit most from three feedings. First, in early spring (pre-flowering), the second, just after flowering (to encourage thorough fruit formation) and ONLY IF NEEDED, a third to bolster foliage growth. Too much nitrogen will inhibit any growth of new foliage during the summer months.
When To Fertilize Peach Trees
Unless your soil needs amending, peaches need no fertilizing until they reach fruit-bearing age. For established trees, two feedings will suffice. Once in early spring before flowering and again just after will give your peach trees the feed they need for vibrant leaves and juicy fruit.
When To Fertilize Fig Trees
Ground-planted figs are slow-growers and are very easy to care for, rarely requiring extra feeding. Fertilize them only if you observe slow growth or yellowing leaves. However, in containers, with no other access to nutrients, you’ll need to feed and water them once a week.
When To Fertilize Orange, Lemon And Lime Trees
Citrus benefits from three good feedings per growing season. Because they typically grow in more temperate climates, the first feeding should be in winter (around February). The second, in late spring (after flowering) with the final dose being applied in late summer.
When To Fertilize Mango Trees
Well-established mangoes only need feeding once each spring, summer, and fall. New plantings require only two, once in mid-spring and again in midsummer until they reach fruit-bearing age. If you grow citrus trees, you can actually feed mangoes and citrus on the same schedule.
When To Fertilize Cherry Trees
Like figs, cherries are light feeders that don’t really need extra help. But if the soil doesn’t provide what they need or if the tree is failing, the general consensus is: for potted trees, every 4-6 weeks and every 2-3 months for larger, mature trees.
Fertilizing Fruit Trees In Containers
Of course, having an orchard full of fruit trees is every homesteader’s dream. But, what if you live in an urban setting. Maybe in a townhouse with a small yard or even an apartment with only a tiny, little balcony? Are you out of luck? Absolutely not! Dwarf fruit trees were cultivated for just this type of living, giving urban dwellers the experience of growing their own healthy snacks and breathing in all that amazing fruit-blossom fragrance.
Even in a small outdoor space, you can easily grow a fruit tree or two in some large, decorative pots. But, unlike trees grown in the ground, they need a bit more attention. The frequent watering needed will inevitably result in soil and nutrient run-off as the excess water drains. So, more frequent feeding will also be necessary.
As we’ve seen, many fruit tree fertilizers have higher levels of nitrogen. This is really beneficial for full-sized fruit and nut trees. In containers though, the excess nitrogen will focus more of the tree’s energy on producing new leaves and less on producing flowers and fruit. So, when choosing a fertilizer for potted trees, be mindful of that first number in the NPK ratio. It should be equal to or lesser than the other two.
Unless….you have dwarf citrus or avocado trees. In contrast to other types, these depend on generous amounts of nitrogen to produce all that lovely fruit. So, that first NPK number will need to be higher.
Fertilizing Fruit Tree In The Ground
Compared to potted ones, established fruit trees growing in garden beds or orchards, have some different needs. Simply due to the larger and more diverse environment they grow in. The best advice? Get to know your trees. Understanding their specific needs means your fruits will meet and maybe even exceed your expectations, season after season.
One way to get chummy is to simply observe them. When do the first leaves appear? When do they flower and start to bear fruit? When you’ve established the timing of these events, you’ll know exactly when to fertilize them.
Depending on the type of fruit you’re growing, you may need to feed them two or three times per growing season (label instructions may suggest differently, depending on the application type, and that’s fine). Typically, this would start in early spring, just before flowering. This is when the trees begin their growing cycle and absorb the most nutrients.
If you live in a more temperate climate, you can apply the first dose as early as February, but not before. A second time, after flowering and before fruit starts to appear. Then a third time, only if needed, in the fall. If fertilized too late, new growth on certain fruiting trees will be susceptible to frost damage which can extend to other parts of the tree.
So again, when you know what to look for, your garden-planted fruit trees will be happy to tell you what they need and when.
Fruit Tree Fertilizers Final Thoughts
It’s always a pleasure for us to share our decades of collective gardening experience with you and we hope that we’ve been able to provide you with some great “fruit for thought”. We’ve covered all different types of fruit tree fertilizers and the 11 best ones we’ve found on the market, based on carefully researched customer feedback, ease of use, and value for money.
Considering the different needs of each type of fruiting tree we’ve discussed, you might go for Espoma Organic Tree-Tone Fertilizer if you want a slow-release fertilizer that needs just two applications per year. Once in spring to boost nutrient intake and another in fall to replenish nutrients in the soil ready for the following year. Or, is your preference for the ethically-minded Down to Earth Fruit Tree Fertilizer? Another slow-release granular option that has you covered with instructions on how to administer the fertilizer depending on what fruit tree or shrub you are feeding.