HUNTINGTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- When the average home gardener thinks about fertilizing his/her shrubs and trees, a spring application usually comes to mind.
Certainly a spring application of fertilizer is standard landscape management for all plants. However, keep in mind that the type of fertilizer differs, especially considering plants like rhododendrons, azalea and hollies. With these, an acid based fertilizer is recommended. The reasoning here is that this type of fertilizer will help create a constant acid soil under those trees and shrubs.
There are a lot of different types of acid based fertilizers, in either solid or liquid form. Most trees and shrubs just mentioned require an acid fertilizer, while all others require a non acid based fertilizer. However, for most landscape plants, a fall fertilization can put the final touch to a well managed landscape.
Up front and important is the fact that you don't fall fertilize evergreens or any plant that retains its green needles or leaves. The reasoning here is that late fertilization, especially after July, will stimulate new growth that won't survive the harsh winter conditions.
Make sure to fertilize under the shrubs and trees where their root system is most active, which is out towards the ends of their branching system. As for tree spikes, I like to use granular fertilizer rather than spikes because it will cover the entire root area -- not just where a spike is pounded into the soil.
Fertilizing your landscape plants in the fall will certainly strengthen the plant's root system, especially when there is a nutrient demand on those roots in the spring.