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A few words about fertilizers.

In the back half of winter, thoughts of the spring garden begin to grow, and are followed by thoughts of ...fertilizer? What should you do now and what should wait a little longer?

Well, let's see.

  1. Stick with organics. They stay in the soil and are available as the plants need them. They don't leach through the soil into streams and lakes. You can't burn your beautiful perennials.

  2. Think evergreen and do those now, but be mindful of pH requirements of the individual plants.

  3. Try to postpone winter clean-up to preserve pollinators that may over-winter in dry stems and leaf litter.


Boxwoods benefit from early spring attention. March is the time to prune and feed boxwood. They like a more neutral pH, closer to 7.0, so stay away from fertilizer for acid-loving plants, and products that will lower the pH, like sulfur, coffee grounds, and tea bags. Arborvitae, all varieties, like a more neutral soil pH also. Keep the Espoma Holly Tone away from them as well.

Gardenias and Hollies are lovers of acid soil and lower pH. Holly Tone is the product for them. Follow package directions. Look for invigorated growth, appearance and blooming once they break dormancy later in spring.

One final note about organics.

Bone Meal is an often overlooked component in spring and fall fertilizing that will surprise even long-time gardeners. To rejuvenate older blooming shrubs, try using it twice a year, and watch the difference it makes.


Boxwood Fertilizer Recipe

Apply in early to mid March.

1 part (4lbs) Espoma Plant Tone

1 part (4lbs) Espoma Bone Meal

1 part (4lbs) Espoma Cottonseed Meal

Mix together and apply one cup per foot of branch spread.

Double the rate for shrubs larger than three feet in diameter.

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