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Deep Root Feeding Trees And Shrubs in The Chilly Fall Months

What does it mean to “deep root feed” your plants?

Deep_Root_Feeding_ChesterfieldMO.jpgDeep root feeding is the practice of using a probe to inject liquid fertilizer directly to the soil closely surrounding tree and shrub roots.

By injecting the food, you are making it readily available to the small feeder roots which can uptake the nutrients quickly. 

Feeding trees and shrubs gives the plants ability to use more of the fertilizer you’ve supplied than if it were sprayed or broadcasted on the soil surface alone.

What are the benefits of fertilizing trees and shrubs in St. Louis?

Feeder_Roots_Trees.jpgDeep root feeding trees and shrubs is especially beneficial in heavy clay or compacted soils which are what our grounds in St. Louis consist of.

When the soil conditions are not ideal, it takes a longer amount of time for broadcasted fertilizer to percolate through the soil to where the feeder roots live.

Feeder roots are responsible for almost the entire uptake of nutrients and water from the soil.

Any type of fertilization of trees and shrubs will provide great benefits to the plant and is an important part of your fall and spring landscape routines.

Fall is an especially important time to care for your plants.

The winter is tough on almost all plants. 

Heavy fertilization of trees and shrubs in the fall allows the plant to start storing carbohydrates that will help support the plant through the coming winter months.

During the winter months in St. Louis our plants are dormant which means there is no longer a nutrient exchange occurring between the roots and the foliage.  In addition, water and nutrients are traditionally in less supply and the plant must rely on their reserves to keep it strong and healthy. 

This is why we want to give them some help from a balanced fertilizer that they can use through the tough season.

Which fertilizer works best in the fall for trees & shrubs?

Fertilizer_Trees_Shrubs_StLouis.jpgA good fertilizer for trees and shrubs is a balanced fertilizer.

Remember your fertilizer numbers. Nitrogen-Phosphorus-Potassium. They each serve a purpose!

Traditional analysis of quality plant fertilizers are, 10-10-10, 13-13-13, or something similar.

Often fertilizers will also contain nutrients such as iron or micro nutrients. These are beneficial; however nitrogen should be your main consideration when considering deep root fertilizers.

Don’t forget about spring feeding.

Another tip is to balance some slow release fertilizer with quick acting, especially when feeding earlier in the season. This allows a longer feeding time for the plant.

For this reason, Dowco provides timely early spring deep root fertilization for our tree & shrub service clients.

All plants can benefit from fertilization but some will appreciate it more!

Fall deep root fertilization is especially urgent for plants that are experiencing some kind of stress.  The nutrients that are taken up by these stressed plants will give it food to store for the winter, allowing it to emerge healthier in the spring of the year. 

It would be best to wait to fertilize stressed plants until the heat of the summer has subsided. When fertilizer is applied during hot dry weather, there is a higher possibility of burning the roots causing more damage to a stressed tree or shrub.

Care doesn’t end after feeding.

It is always important to properly water your plants before and after fertilization.

Fall_Shrub_Mulching.jpgIf the soil surrounding the shrub is too dry the risk of burning roots increases. It is also not beneficial to fertilize plants in very wet conditions. The fertilizer can be diluted and reduce its effectiveness.

Mulching your trees and shrubs helps to reduce moisture loss, buffers the temperature of the root system and minimize weeds, which rob valuable nutrients from the desired plant.

Giving your plants food this fall will get them positioned to have a successful winter and you will notice the difference next spring.


So get out there and fertilize and next spring you can reap the rewards. Or, trust the experts at Dowco to protect your living investments! 

Tree and Shrub Care


Topics: Tree & Shrub Care Plant Care

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