5 Signs Your Tree Needs Fertilizer

14 March 2023
 Categories: , Blog

Healthy trees depend on nutrients in the soil to grow well. A nutrient deficiency can lead to a slow decline that may eventually kill the tree, so it's important to spot problems early.

1. Weak Leafing

Compare the leaf of your tree to other nearby trees of the same variety. If the leaves on your tree are much smaller or even slightly misshapen, then your tree may be suffering from a nutrient deficiency. This is especially likely if there are no other apparent problems that could be the culprit, such as drought or insect galls. The tree should leaf out better next spring if you begin to fertilize it now.

2. Stunted Growth

Not just the leaves are affected. The entire tree may suffer stunted growth. You may notice fewer buds being produced or less spring flowering. Twig tips’ growth may slow noticeably so that the tree gains height very slowly. This stunting is also affecting the root system, even if you can't see them, which can cause the tree to seem loose in the ground as it has insufficient roots to anchor itself well.

3. Leaf Discoloration

A properly fertilized tree should have rich green leaves with even color and a healthy appearance. Nutrient deficiencies cause the leaves to yellow. Sometimes they look mottled, while in others the discoloration is more evenly distributed on the leaf surface. Keep in mind that yellowing can also be a result of over-watering, so make sure the soil moisture levels are also maintained.

4. Twig Dieback

You may notice that the tips of the branches and twigs aren't leafing out fully, or perhaps they have no leaves on them at all. The twig tips may also be browning and dying back. Twig dieback can be a symptom of a severe lack of nutrients. Diseases, like fire blight, can also cause twig dieback so it is important to rule these out as well. 

5. Soil Deficiencies

Periodically testing the soil nutrient level is a good idea, especially if you have newly planted trees or if your trees have shown symptoms of deficiencies. The only way to know exactly the nutrients and the amounts needed is to test the soil. You don't have to test the soil around your trees every year, especially if they are mature and doing well, but every few years can help you avoid nutrient deficiencies.

Contact a tree and lawn care service to schedule fertilizer treatments for your landscaping.