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Aronia Planting Guide Part II – Fertilizer, Nutrients, Mulch and Compost

Fertilizer and Nutrients

Applying the right fertilizers at the right time can increase growth and yields. Professional advice should be used to determine the type and amount of fertilizing to use.

Fertilized and watered black aronia plant seedlings are easy to grow. A slow release fertilizer such as 0.3 lb/plant (or 3/4 cup /plant) of 1.7N-4.1P-12K or 14N-12P-14K 5-6 month slow release fertilizer is required to ensure the long-term survival and substantial growth of the plants. Apply fertilizer at leaf break in the spring. A second application can be made later during the summer.

To promote growth of the roots out into native soil, scatter the fertilizer in a wide, circular-shaped band around the plant on each side of the edge of the drip line and water it and mulch well. At some farms 14-12-14 5-6 month fertilizer is used for growing plants in the field. This is a granular slow release fertilizer. Be careful when fertilizing the plants as over fertilizing can kill the plants.

If using a water-soluble fertilizer: Mix according to the directions on container and when applying wet the leaves and drench the soil.

Some use a fish emulsion fertilizer (5-1-1) which they spray on the leaves monthly. Another alternative is to use aerated compose tea made using worm castings. This aerated compose tea is full of beneficial microorganisms that help the soil make minerals more available to the plant. The compost tea helps make the plants pest resistant and productive. In clay soils, aerated compost tea helps improve drainage and aeration as well as nutrition. Your plants will also benefit from spraying the leaves. Spraying your plants leaves with compost tea benefits your plant quickly and to a great extent.

A good sign of the sufficient amounts of nutrients is the dark green color of the large leaves, their density on the shoots and a significant growth of the shrub.

Mulch – Use it for the following reasons.

  • It helps retain water
  • It provides food for plants
  • It moderates soil temperatures and protects roots from high and low temperature stresses
  • It protects against premature flowering (frost insurance)
  • It suppresses weeds
  • It builds soil
  • It helps prevent erosion caused by rain and wind.

Newspapers make a great weed barrier to be mulched over while the plant is young.

Mulch reduces evaporation and provides less stress on plants in the heat of the summer. When mulching keep the mulch about 4 inches away from plant stems so rodents will not chew on the plants stems.

Weeds are one of the major problems with which a grower must contend. Mature aronia is somewhat tolerant of weeds and is not choked out as easily by weeds as some other plants after it is established. This is because it has a good tap-root and a suckering tendency producing more shoots to help it form a hedgerow. The tap-root once the plant is established in 3 or 4 years helps make it more tolerant of dry conditions in the summer and be able to compete with weeds for water and nourishment. It also has a suckering nature producing new shoots and widening its growth foot print. The plants tend to from a hedgerow over time.

Mulch / Compost

Give crops an extra boost by applying material between the rows of growing crops the plants using leaves or other mulch along the aronia shrub every fall. Mulched plants grow faster than plants that are not mulched.

A modified chopper box with a side discharge makes a convent way to do this task..

You may be able to get leaf mulch from your local town’s fall leaf collection

Mulch material options

  • Fall Leaves
  • pine needles and straw
  • grass cuttings
  • compost
  • corn fodder
  • shredded bark
  • wood chips (Wood mulches can starve plants because of their need for nitrogen while decomposing.)