Mad About Berries

Fertilizers For Berries

There are plenty of different fertilizers for berries and other home and garden plants. Knowing which fertilizer is good for what plant and why is very important to every gardener or florist.

Fertilizers are plant food that feeds the plants during their growth providing all the necessary nutrients in a form that is easily accessible to the plants.

Updated: May 30, 2022.

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The content of nutrients in fertilizers from different companies varies, sometimes significantly. That is one of the reasons why should every gardener know what is in the fertilizer and for what plant he/she will use it.

Fertilizers have their content in nitrogen (N), phosphorous (P) and potassium (K) clearly printed on containers or bags. Also, they often have different compounds including microelements such as iron (Fe), magnesium (Mg), sulfur (S), boron (B), etc.

While the amount of nutrients in the soil is very important for proper growth, too much of nutrients, especially too much of a single nutrient can cause various issues and even kill plants.

The list of suitable fertilizers for berries is a long one - here are the most common ones.

Granulated Fertilizer For Berries

Granulated fertilizers are complex mineral fertilizers with different NPK content, often rich in microelements.

The most popular NPK fertilizer is the 15:15:15 formula, containing 15% of nitrogen, 15% of phosphorous, and 15% of potassium. Such balanced fertilizer can be used to quickly boost nutrients in the soil, but also for soil preparation in the autumn and late in winter/early in spring.

When adding NPT fertilizer be careful not to overfertilize plants, while avoiding direct contact of the fertilizer with the root system - NPK fertilizers can cause root burns.

To prevent over-fertilizing the plants, perhaps it is a good practice to add this fertilizer in small amounts, more often, for example, once a month - such application requires time and is not applicable in commercial production, but in small gardens, it is almost a common practice.

Slow Release Fertilizer For Berries

Slow release fertilizer for berries and other plants is a complex mineral fertilizer that slowly releases nutrients in the soil, feeding the plants over a longer period of time.

Slow release fertilizers tend to cost more than "ordinary" fertilizers, but granules have an envelope/membrane that allows fertilizer to be gradually dissolved in soil and used by the plants.

This fertilizer can be used every 3-4 months, without the danger of overfeeding the plants or causing any damage to the roots.

Organic Compost

Organic compost can be used to fertilize the plants and to improve the quality of the soil.

Organic compost is mixed with the soil, making the soil richer in nutrients and organic matter, allowing the soil to absorb more water, and also improving drainage and soil aeration.

Adding organic compost on a regular basis can significantly improve both heavy and sandy soils over time, making them suitable for various plants, not just berries.

Blood Meal Fertilizer

Blood meal fertilizer contains large amounts of organic nitrogen with relatively low amounts of phosphorous and potassium.

Blood meal fertilizer can be used to quickly add nitrogen to the soil which may be required in larger amounts during periods of strong growth.

However, too much nitrogen can cause many plants to grow large but weak, susceptible to various diseases and pests.

Personally, having soil with a balanced ratio of micro- and macro-nutrients is relatively easy to achieve in small gardens, negating the need for blood meal fertilizer.

Note: if You are growing nitrogen-hungry plants, blood meal fertilizer is highly recommended...

Worm Castings/Humus

Worm castings fertilizer is perhaps the best organic fertilizer that can be used for fertilizing berries and other plants.

Worm castings fertilizer is very rich in organic matter and other compounds that are easily available to plants, but that also feed the plants sometimes for months.

As a fertilizer, worm castings in the solid form can be added to the soil in the late autumn, late winter/early spring, or even during the growing season.

But, worm castings fertilizer also comes in liquid form which can be used to quickly refeed the plants.

Note: worm castings/humus fertilizers come in various concentrations - read the labels before adding them to the plants in order to avoid root burns and similar problems.

Chicken and Cow/Horse Fertilizer

Chicken and cow/horse fertilizer is organic fertilizer in the form of briquettes that contains dried chicken and cow/horse manure.

NPK content varies but generally, it is relatively low,  for example, 4-4-4.

But, these are very strong fertilizers, rich with microelements and organic matter and if it comes in direct contact with roots, roots can be damaged. It is best used in late winter and early spring while plants are dormant or garden patch is without plants.

On the other hand, it is not necessary to add this type of fertilizer as often as mineral fertilizer to the soil, since organic matter decomposes over time into compounds that plants can use, improving the quality of soil as well.

Also, this type of fertilizer is not odorless, so be sure to dig it into the soil.

Other Types of Fertilizers

There are other types of fertilizers on the market as well.

For example, one of the most commonly used microelement fertilizers is iron fertilizer - it contains iron available to plants in various forms and is used to improve iron content in the soil.

Also, there are similar fertilizers that contain magnesium, copper, and similar microelements, or these microelements are added to the iron fertilizer.

Personally, when fertilizing the berries with worm castings, humus, compost, dried fertilizer, or NPK fertilizers with added microelements, there is no need to look for specialized fertilizers. But, it is good to know that they exist.

How to Fertilize the Berries

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Various berries have different requirements, but in small gardens, one can add some organic fertilizer (worm castings, compost, little bit of NPK fertilizer) right after the harvest to help the plants prepare themselves for the winter season.

In the late winter or early spring, one may add dried manure or generous amounts of worm castings (read the labels, please!) and slow-release NPK fertilizer to prepare the soil for a period of strong growth. If the soil is heavy or sandy, adding some compost or good potting soil can improve the soil in the long run.

During the growing season, especially after flowering, one may add some liquid worm castings or NPK fertilizer to help plants bear the fruits.

Note: during the growing season, many small gardeners simply add a little bit of good potting soil, compost/humus/worm castings, and an NPK fertilizer to the soil almost on a monthly basis, or even whenever digging around the plants. Of course, added amounts are relatively small, but such practice keeps the nutrient levels very constant, avoiding spikes that may shock the plants.

These guidelines are general guidelines - different plants have different needs, so be sure to adjust the nutrients and pH level according to the plants that You have.

For more about this topic, be sure to check:

- Tomato Plant Fertilizer: How to Fertilize Tomatoes for a Great Harvest

or other articles in our Articles and Guides section.

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