Fertilizing Cleyera

Broadleaf evergreens are popular for creating the structure of a garden. The large, glossy foliage of Cleyera remains even and dark no matter if the shrub grows in part sun or full shade. Fertilizing is not regularly required when Cleyera is planted in well-drained soil with an acidic pH. Even though the term evergreen relates to a shrub or tree retaining its foliage for a whole year, the leaves do not stay on the plant indefinitely. Cleyera will shed older leaves during its semi-dormant period in the winter or as new foliage emerges in the early spring. The older leaves will turn yellow before dropping and do not indicate the need for extra fertilizing.  


How to Fertilize Cleyera

Always perform a soil test when planting a new garden bed. Look for a test that provides a pH reading along with levels of phosphorus and potassium. Because Cleyera is an acid-loving shrub, it requires fertilizer specially formulated to maintain a low soil pH. A granular, slow-release formulation can be applied annually and will feed your shrub through the active growing season. Apply the fertilizer according to the manufacturer's recommendations early in the spring as the shrub is showing new growth. Apply the fertilizer in a ring on the soil within the drip line of the shrub. Lightly rake or “scratch” the fertilizer into the soil. Water the shrub with up to 1 inch of water (10 gallons). Nutrients will be slowly released into the soil at every watering or rainfall.

Best Time To Fertilize Cleyera

Cleyera will use fertilizer the most efficiently at the beginning of the spring as active growth begins. Soil temperatures over 50 degrees F are also needed to aid in the breakdown of nutrients into the soil. This is most important when using organic compost as a fertilizer. An annual feeding once every year or two is all that is needed to keep Cleyera growing robustly.

Best Fertilizer For Cleyera

Look for fertilizers formulated for acid-loving shrubs. Espoma Holly-tone is a reliable feed that has the correct ratio of NPK to support both blooming and healthy foliage growth. Dr. Earth Acid Lovers fertilizer is also a good source of nutrients that Cleyera needs. 

Cleyera Fertilizing Tips

  • Test your garden soil for pH levels as well as macronutrients
  • Feed Cleyera every one or two years if growth has slowed
  • Early spring is the best time to feed as new growth starts
  • Spread the fertilizer around the drip zone 


-Always wear protective gloves and a face mask when handling chemical fertilizers.

-Closely follow all directions and storage guidelines that are on the fertilizer label.

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 Author Robbin Small - Published 4-26-2023