The Best Organic Fertilizers for Fruit Trees

Tyler holding 3 citrus tree fertilizers

We have many different fruit trees (lemon, orange, tangerine, lime, apple, cherry, fig, and more), so I’ve done hours of research to find the right fertilizers.

This guide is designed for both planted and potted fruit trees, so by all means, stick around! I’m sure you’ll find this useful.

Why Do We Have to Use Fertilizer?

No matter if this is your first fruit tree or your 50th, you’re likely going to need to fertilize it and provide it with nutrients at some point.

This is especially true with potted fruit trees, as they have a limited amount of soil to work with. On the other hand, planted fruit trees can grow their roots to be far-reaching and access a wider area to absorb more nutrients from the soil. Because of this, if the soil is rich enough, planted fruit trees likely won’t need much fertilizer (if any at all).

However, the problem with many store-bought fertilizers is that they’re fast-release, meaning the potent nutrients can spread through the soil too quickly. This can either overload and kill the plant, or the majority of nutrients will be leached through the soil—unused by the plant.

Fortunately, there are a few brands out there that are not only slow-release fertilizers but organic and easy to use.

These Are the Top 2 Fertilizers for Fruit Trees

  1. Down to Earth Organic Fruit Tree Mix
  2. Jobe’s Organics Fruit & Citrus Fertilizer Spikes

Why I Like Down to Earth the Best

While Jobe’s fertilizer spikes make it easy to fertilize your fruit trees, Down to Earth’s is a better fertilizer overall, especially for younger plants.

Reputable Brand

Down to Earth started in Oregon in the late 70s as a result of American gardeners demanding organic options to the countless synthetic fertilizers filling the shelves. They caught the market right on time to be a part of the booming organic movement in the 80s.

Today, most physical products outsource their manufacturing and production to other companies, which means standards are never as good and facilities are also shared with countless other products and brands.

On the other hand, Down to Earth owns their own manufacturing plant and carefully sources their suppliers to better provide a premium fertilizer with better ingredients. This not only benefits the tree but also the microbes in the soil (which is even more important!).

Lastly, Down to Earth’s fertilizers are OMRI certified for growing organic crops that meet USDA’s organic standards. If growing organically is important to you, Down to Earth is a great choice for fertilizer. However, I would recommend double-checking the product description and their website to make sure it meets your standards, especially if you’re growing commercially.

Better NPK

Down to Earth has an NPK (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) that’s better suited for fruit trees. Fruit are typically high nitrogen feeders and often require double the nitrogen to phosphorus and potassium (especially citrus trees).

Looking at the NPK for Jobe’s fruit spikes, they have an NPK of 3-5-5 (about half the nitrogen to phosphorus and potassium), while Down to Earth’s Fruit tree Mix has an NPK of 6-2-4.

Don’t get me wrong, Jobe’s fertilizer is great. The only difference is that the lower nitrogen content in their fertilizer will encourage fruiting and blossoming more than foliage growth, which is great for more mature fruit trees. But for most fruit trees, especially younger ones that still need some growing, Down to Earth’s NPK is a better choice.

Compostable Package

While it’s not the main selling point, Down to Earth’s packaging is compostable, which is pretty cool since I like to look for any environmentally-friendly actions when I can, even if they’re small (bonus points if they’re easy to get on board with).

Even though it’s not the first thing I look for when shopping for a quality organic fertilizer, the little things do count.

Variety of Fertilizers

Down to Earth also offers many different blends, along with individual ingredients such as kelp, bone, and blood meal. While you can mix your own blends with these ingredients, I like to keep it easy and use their pre-made blends.

I’ll include a list of their most popular fertilizer mixes on Amazon, along with which fruit tree you should pair them with.

Fruit TreeFertilizer
AvocadoDown To Earth’s Citrus Mix
CitrusDown To Earth’s Citrus Mix
Apple/PearDown To Earth’s Fruit Tree Mix
Cherry/PlumDown To Earth’s Fruit Tree Mix
PeachDown To Earth’s Fruit Tree Mix
FigDown To Earth’s Fruit Tree Mix

What to Look for in a Fertilizer

Normally, when you’re shopping for organic fruit fertilizers, there are a few key indicators that can help you spot what makes a good fertilizer vs a bad one. Here are some of the biggest differences to look for:

  • Quality, organic materials
  • Proper NPK
  • Slow-release ingredients
  • Transparent manufacturing
  • How long the brand has been around (and its reputation)

As long as the fertilizer you find meets these points, it should be a safe bet to use for your plant. Remember, you can always start small with fertilizer to see how your fruit tree likes it.

If you notice any adverse or extreme reactions, like leaves falling off, then stop applying the fertilizer and try to determine what the issue is and if it came from the fertilizer.

To help identify and resolve what may be affecting your fruit tree, I recent wrote a some posts about a few different trees. Feel free to check them out:

If you’re not a fan of the two fertilizers I suggested above, and you want to do your own shopping, you can check out this page on Amazon for a good start.

What You Can Expect From Synthetic Fertilizers

Something that we often forget about is that just like how we do well with fresh food and a healthy gut, plants do the same. Not only do they thrive on high-quality nutrients, but they also grow much better in soil that has a healthy microbe population.

Unfortunately, the majority of fertilizers made today are synthetic, which means they contain plastics and other chemicals. I don’t know what life forms out there that can eat plastic and still stay healthy, but it can’t be a good long-term solution.

This is also true for the microbes in the soil. Often, synthetic fertilizers are too potent and processed to be properly broken down by smaller life forms, like microorganisms.

So, while fruit trees can absorb and use some nutrients from synthetic fertilizers, it often comes to the detriment of the long-term health of the tree and the microorganisms in the soil. This is one of the quickest ways to turn soil into dirt.

How to Make Your Own Homemade Fruit Tree Fertilizer

If you’re like me and you’re always experimenting or finding new ways to do something, or if you simply don’t want to buy fertilizer, you can make great fruit tree fertilizer at home. It’s also a great project to do with your family and friends.

I spent several hours researching and testing various methods for homemade fruit fertilizer and put it into a blog post, so make sure to check it out.

If you’d like to get updates on what’s new with Couch to Homestead and what we’re testing, make sure to sign up for our biweekly updates.

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