How to Fertilize Shade Plants


While your sunny garden beds often command the most attention with their vibrant blooms and thriving blossoms, shady garden areas can also be a source of gardeners' pride. When you have a shady area filled with shade-loving plants, give these plants the attentive care they require so they will flourish as well. Fertilize shade plants several times during the growing season to ensure they grow into large and healthy plants.

Step 1

Apply the first fertilizer application of the season in the spring as perennial plants break dormancy and begin to grow. If you are growing annual shade-loving plants, fertilize approximately two weeks after you place the plants into the soil. Sprinkle 1/4 cup of balanced granular fertilizer to the soil around new plants and 1/2 cup of fertilizer to the soil around established plants, avoiding the plants' foliage as you do so.

Step 2

Till the fertilizer into the top 1 inch of soil with a hand rake to incorporate it fully into the soil.

Step 3

Water the plants generously immediately after fertilizing to activate the fertilizer and help it seep down to the plant roots.

Step 4

Add compost mulch around the base of the shade-growing plants to enhance the soil. Layer 2 to 3 inches of compost around the entire growing area. The mulch will not only improve the soil quality, but it will also conserve soil moisture and prevent weeds from encroaching on the plants.

Step 5

Fertilize the plants two more times during the growing season. Space each fertilizer application one month apart and apply the fertilizer following Steps 1 through 3.

Things You'll Need

  • All-purpose granular fertilizer (5-5-5 or 10-10-10)
  • Hand rake
  • Water
  • Aged compost


  • University of Minnesota Extension: Gardening in the Shade
Keywords: shady garden area, shade-loving plants, fertilize shade plants, shade garden

About this Author

Kathryn Hatter is a 42-year-old veteran homeschool educator and regular contributor to Natural News. She is an accomplished gardener, seamstress, quilter, painter, cook, decorator, digital graphics creator and she enjoys technical and computer gadgets. She began writing for Internet publications in 2007. She is interested in natural health and hopes to continue her formal education in the health field (nursing) when family commitments will allow.