How to Use Tone Fertilizers

Tones are gentle, natural fertilizers calibrated for specific types of plant needs.
Tones are gentle, natural fertilizers calibrated for specific types of plant needs. (Image: Jupiterimages/ Images)

Tone fertilizer is a family of natural products created by The Espoma Company, including the common Holly-Tone, Rose-Tone and Tomato-Tone versions. They mix a combination of macronutrients and micronutrients in varying levels to suit the specific needs of plants they were created to support. In addition to nitrogen, potassium and phosphorous, they all contain 11 to 12 micronutrients and trace elements from natural organic sources such as kelp and crabmeal. Additionally, they contain inorganics such as sulfate of potash. Tones are preferred over synthetic fertilizers by some because they are animal friendly and don't run the risk of burning plant tissues or leaving a buildup of mineral salts in the soil.

Things You'll Need

  • Tone fertilizer of choice
  • 1-cup measuring cup
  • Teaspoon measure
  • Shovel

Feed trees with the appropriate Tone fertilizer, using 3 cups (1 lb.) of fertilizer for every 1 inch in width of the trunk diameter. Triple this amount for trees with a trunk diameter greater than 3 inches.

Fertilize shrubs with 1 cup of the appropriate Tone product for every 1 foot of branch, spreading it at the shrub canopy. Double this to 2 cups per 1 foot if the shrub is larger than 3 feet in diameter.

Provide not-yet-planted garden beds with 10 lbs. Tone fertilizer for every 100 square feet of soil surface, tilling it into the top 4 inches of soil. Cut this rate in half to 5 lbs. per 100 square feet for established beds.

Prepare potted plants by mixing 1 part Tone fertilizer to 30 parts potting medium before planting. Apply 1 tsp. Tone fertilizer for every 4 inches of container diameter on established container plants.

Shovel out the the top 1 to 6 inches of surface soil, being careful not dig up or cut shallow roots, and mix in a Tone granular fertilizer. Water the application area deeply and thoroughly immediately after fertilizing. This will help keep the fertilizer in place and begin distributing the nutrients to the root zone.

Tips & Warnings

  • Apply the Tone fertilizer away from the trunk, main stems or stalks to prevent over-concentration, and extend the application area to beyond the outer drip line of the plant, shrub or tree.
  • The dosing amount and placement of a natural Tone fertilizer recommended for a given plant should never be considered interchangeable with the application of synthetic fertilizers, as this can lead to plant damage or death.

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