16-16-16 Fertilizer for Fruit Trees | Why, When & How Often

Fertilizing your fruit trees is an excellent method to guarantee their optimal growth, with abundant foliage, flowers, and fruits! However, you may wonder which type of fertilizer is the most suitable.

A fertilizer that has an N.P.K of 16-16-16 is strong, and there are times when it should be used while other times it should be avoided. 

Is 16-16-16 fertilizer good for fruit trees? A fertilizer with a triple 16 NPK is good for fruit trees because it supplies nitrogen, phosphorous, and potassium in highly concentrated amounts. Use 16-16-16 fertilizer for new plantings, occasional applications, and when a tree is really deficient in nutrients, but be careful not to overuse it.

To understand how 16-16-16 fertilizer works, when to use it, when not to use it, and why fertilizer is helpful when it comes to growing fruit trees, read on!

You’ll get all of this plus some great recommendations for fertilizer brands so you won’t need to look any further. 

Triple 16 Fertilizer

A strong fertilizer that supplies ample levels of nutrients, triple 16 fertilizer should be used in select circumstances and with caution.

Using too much can do more harm than good. See more details as to why below! 

What Is 16-16-16 Fertilizer?

This type of fertilizer supplies an ample amount of each nutrient (16% nitrogen, 16% phosphorous, and 16% potassium) in concentrated amounts, giving the tree a boost in all of its growth.

What Is 16-16-16 Fertilizer Good For?

Triple 16 fertilizer is good for giving a struggling tree a large dose of each nutrient.

It is good for vegetative growth, root growth, flowering, and overall nutrient uptake since each nutrient is in a high quantity. 

Benefits of 16-16-16 Fertilizer

One of the main benefits of triple 16 fertilizer is that it supplies all of the nutrients in a balanced formula.

You know they have all been added equally and will be present for the tree. It’s also strong, so you know it will fill any gaps in nutrients the tree has. 

When NOT To Use 16-16-16 Fertilizer for Fruit Trees

You do not want to use a triple 16 fertilizer regularly because it will be too much for the tree to handle.

It can significantly change the pH of the soil and throw the soil chemistry off track, leading to leaf burn or tree death.

Fast-Release vs. Slow-Release Fertilizers

A fast-release fertilizer will supply nutrients to the tree quickly, helping a struggling tree with much-needed nutrients fast.

A slow-release fertilizer releases nutrients to the tree slowly over time and will continue to feed the tree for months to come. 

A fertilizer with both slow and fast-release characteristics would be best since it will feed the tree now and continue to feed it throughout the growing season. 

A woman holding granular fertilizer in gloved hands before application.

Best Fertilizer for Fruit Trees

Deciding which fertilizer is best for your fruit trees can be tricky. See some details on popular fertilizers below to understand which one is the best for your needs! 

Dr. Earth Natural Wonder Organic Fruit Tree Fertilizer

Dr. Earth Natural Wonder Fruit Tree Fertilizer, 4 lbs

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Dr. Earth is a great natural fertilizer that also contains mycorrhizae fungi, which will help the tree absorb and exchange nutrients.

It will supply nutrients for about 2 months and should be applied a few times per season.

Jobe’s Organics Granular Fruit & Citrus Plant Food

Jobe’s Organics Fruit & Citrus Plant Food, 4lbs

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Organic, all-natural, and full of beneficial mycorrhizae fungi, this fertilizer comes in a granulated formula that should be applied two times per year for best results. 

Fruit Tree Fertilizer Spikes

Miracle-Gro Fruit & Citrus Plant Food Spikes

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If you’re looking for an option that is easy and doesn’t require measuring out portions, this fertilizer is great!

Simply insert a few fertilizer spikes in the spring and fall around the tree to continually feed your trees for one season. 

Additional Options 

If you know the exact reason you are fertilizing and want to be specific with the nutrients you’re adding, see some nutrient-specific fertilizers below. 

  • Compost supplies natural material and beneficial microbes to the soil
  • Manure is high in nitrogen and is a natural nutrient supplier
  • Blood meal is great for nitrogen
  • Bone meal will help supply calcium and phosphorous
  • Potash is a great way to add potassium. 
  • Dolomite raises the pH of the soil 
  • Sulfur lowers the pH of the soil 

When To Fertilize Fruit Trees

Knowing what type of fruit tree is most important here.

Citrus trees can be fertilized five or six times per year while other fruit trees that bloom in the spring, such as peach trees, may only need to be fertilized in the spring after their buds open, although another application later in the season might be beneficial.

Fruit trees that fruit twice a year should be fertilized in the spring and late summer or fall to get the best harvests. 

How Much Fertilizer for Fruit Trees

A strong fertilizer like 16-16-16 should not be applied as heavily as something like 6-2-2 because it is much more concentrated.

Be sure to follow the directions on your fertilizer for specific instructions on how to fertilize your trees in the most beneficial way. 

How Often To Fertilize Fruit Trees

Fruit trees are best fertilized one to two times per year. Fertilize them in the spring after their buds open or leaves begin to form to supply them with nutrients.

It may also be helpful to fertilize your trees a second time in the late summer and fall if they produce two crops of fruit.

Related Questions: 

Are Coffee Grounds Good for Fruit Trees?

Toss your coffee grounds around the base of your tree to supply nitrogen over a long period of time as they break down.

Don’t overdo it, and stop adding coffee grounds if they begin to pile up as they could begin to change the soil chemistry if they are in too great of a supply. 

Is Wood Ash Good for Fruit Trees?

Wood ash, also known as biochar, is a great nutrient supply for trees! When wood burns and turns to charcoal, it captures atmospheric carbon and then will slowly release it into the soil as it breaks down.

It is a great fertilizer and is helpful to the environment because it sequesters carbon. 

Closing Thoughts

Use caution when applying a triple 16 fertilizer. Begin with a small amount as you can always add more, but you can’t take it away once applied.

Follow the tips above, and you’ll be fine. If you have any doubts, refer back to the guidelines, and try to be specific about what fertilizer you’re adding — your tree will thank you!