Q&As: Feeding fruit trees

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Gardening-questionsDaltons answers your gardening questions. Plus, your chance to win!

Send us your gardening question and be in the draw to win! Each month Daltons will answer one of your questions, which we’ll feature here. Email your question to the address below (make sure you mention which area of the country you live in – it might be important to the answer – and if possible include a photo) and be in the draw to win a prize pack.

Last month’s winners were: Lesley McIntosh of Oamaru and Ngaire M. Phillips of Te Awamutu. See their questions and answers, below.


July 2015

This month’s prize: 1 x Daltons Premium Rose Pack

Daltons-Premium-Rose-packRoses fill gardens with gorgeous scents and beautiful blooms and are a firm favourite with many gardeners. June and July are ideal months to plant, relocate and prune roses. Our Daltons Premium Rose Pack has everything you need to plant new roses or nurture existing ones so you have stunning displays come spring.

This pack is valued at RRP $95 and includes 2 x Daltons Nutrient Enriched Compost, 1 x Daltons Premium Rose Fertiliser, 1 x Daltons Premium Flower Bed Mix and 1 x Daltons Premium Goldcote Rose and Flower Fertiliser PLUS a pair of comfortable, versatile Red Back gardening gloves from Omni Products www.omniproducts.co.nz.

To be in to win, EMAIL YOUR GARDENING QUESTION TO: sweetliving@daltons.co.nz and put Daltons Premium Rose Pack in the subject heading. Entries must be received by end of day Wednesday 29th July 2015. If your question wasn’t answered last time, try sending it in again.

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Apple-treesQ. Just wondering when is the best time to apply Sulphate of Potash around fruit trees to encourage flowering and fruiting? Also, I have heard that applying seaweed to the vegetable garden makes the plants more resistant to frost. Any truth in this? Thanks.

Lesley McIntosh

A. It’s always important to apply what is termed a ‘balanced nutrient fertiliser’ to your fruit trees so that there is good vegetable growth as well as flowering. You do not need to apply additional sulphate of potash to your fruit trees as there is already sufficient potash in a standard fruit tree fertiliser. The only exception to this rule is when growing roses, where we can apply additional sulphate of potash or a standard rose fertiliser, which is very high in potash.

Unfortunately, there is no proven evidence that applying seaweed to your garden will make them more resistant to frost. However, applying seaweed to your veggie garden is beneficial to the successful cultivation of healthy vegetables, as the seaweed contains many necessary micro-nutrients.

It is worth noting that traditional winter veggie crops, for example, cabbage, broccoli, cauliflower, turnips and swedes, are all quite robust in typical winter South Island conditions.

Products to try: Daltons Incredible Edible Fruit Tree and Berry Fertiliser.

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Orange_LemonsQ. I have moved into a new house in Te Awamutu, right in town. This week I had planted for me new dwarf citrus trees, a Satsuma mandarin and a Meyer lemon. They are in full sun. What should I do to give them the best growing conditions? Should I sprinkle blood and bone or a citrus fertiliser around them now? They are surrounded by concrete mowing rings and I wonder if I could plant annuals, say pansies, around them to keep down the weeds.

Ngaire M. Phillips

A. You can use both blood and bone and a citrus fertiliser throughout the growing season. Each of these fertilisers has different elements that are required for young growing trees. Just alternate the applications and when applying blood and bone to the surface of the soil, ensure it is watered in well or covered with a light spread of crushed bark, as dogs adore blood and bone.

Citrus feeding schedule:

  • February to mid-April  –  Feed every 4-6 weeks
  • April to September  –  Do not fertilise during winter
  • October to Christmas  –  Feed every 4-6 weeks

Citrus tree roots are very close to the surface of the soil so it is not a good idea to grow annuals around the base because they will rob the tree of available nutrients. If you are concerned by weeds, add a layer of bark mulch to help prevent young weed seeds germinating whilst still enabling water and nutrients to percolate through to the trees root system.

Taking a long-term view, your concrete rings will at some stage become a problem as the trees grow and the roots expand out from the base of the trunk. It will inhibit growth of the tree.

Young citrus trees will be frost tender so remember to cover them up on frosty nights, especially during the first three to four years of growth.

Products to try: Daltons Incredible Edible Citrus Fertiliser and Daltons Blood and Bone.


  1. My mum’s Tahitian Lime tree has leaves which are crinkling and are yellow in colour. Does it just need a feed?

  2. Steph Liebert says

    Hi there,
    I am so confused about growing beetroot from seed! Everywhere I read that successful beetroot needs a soil that’s rich in compost, sheep pellets, lime, blood and bone – all the good stuff!
    I have always done this when sowing my beetroot, but always with the same result – amazing leaves ( huge, shiny,healthy) but NO beetroot ( just tiny pitiful wee balls). I have wasted so many packets of beetroot seed, and I am so jealous of others who have easy beetroot success! Please can you help me achieve the seemingly impossible? Thanks so much! Steph of Mt Albert, Auckland

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