Using Fruit Tree Spikes: Are Fertilizer Spikes Good For Fruit Trees

fertilizer spike
fertilizer spike
(Image credit: Imagesbybarbara)

Many gardeners have heard about fertilizer spikes for fruit trees and may be considering switching to them. Using fruit tree spikes certainly makes feeding your trees easier and that makes these spikes popular. But are fertilizer spikes good for fruit trees? Should you fertilize fruit trees with spikes? Read on to get the pros and cons of using fruit tree fertilizer spikes.

About Fruit Tree Fertilizer Spikes

Fertilizing nursery and landscape trees is often a necessity, and this includes fruit trees. Some gardeners note that trees in the wild don’t get fertilizer yet thrive. But this ignores the fact that wild trees profit from the nutrients that come from nature’s recycling process. Also, trees only grow wild where they are best adapted, while trees in the backyard have had a habitat foisted upon them. Soils may not be ideal and the entire nutrient recycling process of nature is rarely allowed to operate in full force, due to lawns and other ornamental plantings. That’s why it is usually necessary to help your backyard fruit trees stay healthy. You can build up the soil in your orchard with organic compost and mulch. But sometimes you also need to use fertilizer, either granular, liquid or fruit tree fertilizer spikes.

Are Fertilizer Spikes Good for Fruit Trees?

If you’ve never used fruit tree fertilizer spikes, you may wonder whether they are effective. Are fertilizer spikes good for fruit trees? In some ways, using fruit tree spikes does help your trees. Fertilizer spikes for fruit trees are literally shaped like little spikes that you drive into the ground around the dripline of a tree, once in spring and once in fall. These products are very convenient. They are easy to apply and eliminate the less-than-pleasant process of measuring out fertilizer and scratching it into the soil. Each spike contains fertilizer that is released into the soil. You can get fruit-specific spikes, like fruit tree fertilizer spikes for citrus plants. But there are detriments, too, to using fruit tree spikes that you should be aware of.

Should You Fertilize Fruit Trees with Spikes?

So should you fertilize fruit trees with spikes? Many experts suggest that this method of fertilizing fruit trees leaves a lot to be desired. Since the spikes are pressed into the soil at specific locations around the tree trunk, the concentrated nutrients are released unevenly around the root system. This can cause uneven root development, making the trees vulnerable to strong winds. Fruit tree fertilizer spikes can also provide an opportunity for insects to attack the tree roots. This pathway for pests can result in damage or disease, and sometimes even fruit tree death. Finally, fruit trees require different nutrients when they are just planted and in the middle of the growing season. With granular fertilizer, you can tailor the nutrients specifically to fit the tree’s requirements.

Teo Spengler

Teo Spengler has been gardening for 30 years. She is a docent at the San Francisco Botanical Garden. Her passion is trees, 250 of which she has planted on her land in France.