If only trees & shrubs could talk to us. Oh, the things they would tell us! They could let us know when they need some water when they have had too much to drink, if an insect or disease is bothering them, and especially if they are hungry. We could be much better caregivers to our natural friends if only they could speak to us. Ah, but they do. They let us know when they are happy by becoming big, full, lush, and colorful. They also communicate their aches and pains to us through stunted growth, yellowing leaves, oozing sap, and so many other ways. If we pay close attention, we actually might be able to hear what they are saying. But, sometimes we just can’t! A lot of gardening is just trial and error. It’s often about just going for it, experimenting, and seeing what works.

If you know me, then by now, you know I am a huge fan of fertilizing trees and shrubs. Some might even say I am a fertilizer pusher! It is only because I want what is best for your plants. If trees & shrubs could speak or even yell at us, they might shout…”Gimme some food!” Everyone in the plant world knows that early spring and spring are excellent times to give your trees & shrubs a healthy dose of fertilizer but do we all realize how truly important it is to fertilize them in the fall? I KNEW IT WAS IMPORTANT BUT NOT NEARLY AS MUCH AS I THOUGHT! I learn new things every day.

I always knew that it was important to give our trees & shrubs a half dose of fertilizer in the fall to help them recover from the heat and drought stress of summer. I also knew that the reason we suggested feeding them at ½ the amount we do in the spring is to promote recovery but not encourage too much new growth before winter. We always thought that fertilizing our trees & shrubs late in the fall would make it so they could not harden off and get damaged from winter weather. WELL GUESS WHAT GUYS? THIS IS NOT EXACTLY TRUE ANYMORE!

The new truth is that we can fertilize trees & shrubs late into the fall. We can fertilize them a full month after the first killing frost. We can fertilize them after all the leaves have fallen off the trees. Yes, guys, this is the new thing I learned and wanted to pass onto you. Logically, this makes so much sense. I have been encouraging customers to put down Fall Lawn Food after their last mow of the season for years, why not trees & shrubs too! The rationale is…trees & shrubs significantly slow growth in late fall. After they lose their leaves, they have practically stopped growing up top for the year, but they do not stop growing down below. It is not only okay but it is great to give trees and shrubs the right fertilizer late in the fall. The food you give them at this time will just promote wonderful, deep root growth and store itself inside the root system so it is immediately available to the plant right away in the spring. How cool is that you guys!

So, here I go again, pushing fertilizer on you. We learn new things every day. Fall fertilizer for trees & shrubs is more important than we ever imagined. So go for it! Your plants are talking to you. Listen.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!


*Espoma Tree-Tone

*Espoma Holly-Tone

*Espoma Plant –Tone

*Van Wilgen’s Control Release

It’s hard to believe that we are talking about too much water given a year ago all we talked about was how to water! What a difference a year makes. The symptoms plants show when too dry and too wet mimic each other closely. Here are some tips to help you determine if your plants are showing signs of too much water.


Jason Scire, Nursery Manager

(Fruit Tree Care)

Don’t you want your family and friends to look at your fruit trees this year and exclaim, “What a fruiting beauty?! Don’t you want to share your bountiful harvest of peaches, apples, and plums with those you love? I am assuming your answer is a hardy “Yes!” Okay then, let’s make this happen. Fruit tree care begins now.

There isn’t much happening right now or is there? Yes, there is plenty going on with our fruit trees right now. The root system is waking up and busily absorbing nutrients and water, the canopy is starting to push out green buds that will open into beautiful flowers, and unfortunately, diseases and insects may also be waking up on our fruit trees.

Let’s begin, shall we!? Grab a bottle of Bonide’s All Season Horticultural Oil. If using concentrate, mix at a rate of 3 tablespoons per gallon of water. Spray the entire fruit tree from the tips of branches to the bottom of the trunk. This will help eliminate any overwintering insects or insect eggs. I always recommend horticultural oil to wake up the garden. Spray when temperatures are above 40 degrees but before the buds open.

When you grab your bottle of Horticultural Oil, be sure to pick up a bag of Espoma’s Tree-Tone. Tree-Tone is the perfect, organic, slow-release fertilizer for your fruit trees. Don’t be shy. Most people under-fertilize. Remember, it takes a lot of energy for fruit trees to push out that delicious fruit. Depending on the size of your fruit trees, you can use anywhere from 3lbs/9 cups to 6lbs/18 cups per inch of trunk diameter. I know that sounds like a lot, but trust me! Apply the fertilizer at the drip line of the tree always. That is where all the hungry feeder roots hang out. Feeding and Horticultural Spray can both happen NOW!

Don’t get too comfortable. The next step will happen soon. When you start to notice green tips appearing on your fruit trees, it is time to switch to Bonide’s Citrus, Fruit & Nut Orchard Spray, or Bonide’s Fruit Tree & Plant Guard. If using the concentrate of the Orchard Spray, use at a rate of 2.5 ounces/5 tablespoons to 5 ounces/10 tablespoons to 1 gallon of water. Spray every 7 to 10 days up to the day of harvesting fruit. If using the Fruit Tree Guard, mix at a rate of 2 ounces/2 tablespoons to 1 gallon of water. This product packs a potent punch and only needs to be applied 3 X’s in the season…at the green tip to pre-bloom, at petal fall, and at fruit set. Easy as 1, 2, 3!

Have you already done your winter pruning? If not, now is the time to clean up those suckers! I literally mean, it is time to clean up those suckers. Suckers are the unwanted branches that grow straight up from the base of the trunk, from shallow roots, and from branches. Anytime you see suckers growing, cut them off at the base. We don’t like suckers.

After all this work, you and your family will be able to reap the bounty of your plentiful harvest or simply enjoy eating a homegrown apple or two.

Come see us at Van Wilgen’s. We would love to help!


*Bonide’s Horticultural Oil

*Bonide’s Citrus, Fruit, & Nut Orchard Spray

*Bonide’s Fruit Tree & Plant Guard

*Espoma’s Tree-Tone