When to Feed Fruit Trees
Annually feed your apple, cherry, nectarine and plum trees with a nitrogen-rich fertilizer. According to Texas A&M University Department of Horticultural Science, if your soil pH is more than 7.8, you do not need anything else. When soil testing reveals a pH level below 7.5 and phosphorus or potassium deficiency, initially feed your fruit tree using fertilizer that reads 15-5-10. Apply nitrogen feedings subsequently.
Allow newly transplanted fruit trees to grow for one month before feeding them. Do not spread fertilizer within 6 inches of the trunk. Spread 1 cup of the fertilizer in a 2 foot circle around the fruit tree. Feed the fruit tree again in May or June after planting, following the instructions above.
For the second season of the fruit tree, increase the feeding area to a 3 foot circle. Feed your fruit tree in the early spring. In the third season increase the amount to 2 cups and in the fourth season to 3 cups. Contact your local cooperative extension office for the best month to feed your fruit tree.
Feed Fruit Trees With Nitrogen
It's easy to feed fruit trees with nitrogen. You can find both organic and synthetic nitrogen fertilizers at your local nursery or garden store. According to Jeff Schalau, Backyard Gardner for the Arizona Cooperative Extension, Yavapai County, "The most common forms of synthetic nitrogen fertilizer are ammonium sulfate, ammonium nitrate and urea." Apply the fertilizer according to the label and the aforementioned instructions in the "When to Feed Fruit Trees" section of this article.
Organic nitrogen rich fertilizers are made of composted materials such as sawdust and animal manure. Compost tea is a liquid fertilizer that uses properly aged manure. Fill a bucket 1/3 full with manure and then fill the remaining space with water. Cover the bucket and leave it in the shade for up to 3 days. Separate the liquid from the solids by straining. Dilute the compost tea 1:5 with water. Do not fertilize within 6 inches of the tree trunk. Feed the fruit tree foliage directly using a spray hose attachment. Water the tree with compost tea in the root area, which extends as far as the tips of the branches.