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How to Fertilize Shade Plants

By Kathryn Hatter ; Updated September 21, 2017
Fertilize shade plants to keep them vibrant and healthy.
in_garden image by Deil from Fotolia.com

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.

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.

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

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

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.

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 Will Need

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

About the Author


Kathryn Hatter is a veteran home-school educator, as well as an accomplished gardener, quilter, crocheter, cook, decorator and digital graphics creator. As a regular contributor to Natural News, many of Hatter's Internet publications focus on natural health and parenting. Hatter has also had publication on home improvement websites such as Redbeacon.