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I've recently planted some medium size (about 4' or 1.25m) root-balled cherry/common laurel bushes. Some are looking a little unhappy a couple of weeks later and I wondered if applying some balanced fertilizer would be sensible to help them get established, or whether fertilizing too soon could cause problems.

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I don't see the harm. I know most root ball soil from garden centers come with some slow release granules, but I have always thrown some 10-10-10 into the base of the hole as well as some into the filler mix when planting new shrubs and trees. In fact, I just did it this past week.

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A general purpose fertiliser such as Growmore will do no harm,though it is unlikely to help with the current issue because, unless you've been having lots of rain quite often and it's good and wet, the more likely problem is water. Although any new planting requires watering, more mature shrubs in particular require a great deal of watering and frequently, such that the whole of the root ball is kept damp most of the time. Given the root ball may be over six inches deep beneath the soil, that's a fair amount of water needed to penetrate that far. Mature shrubs are more expensive than their younger versions, and also require more nurturing until they are fully established after a year or two.

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  • indeed I think this is certainly an issue. It's not in an easy-to-water location and after weeks of continuous rain, somewhat typically planting these things has coincided with a protracted dry spell... keeps forecasting downpours that never arrive. In the UK, I must be one of the few people wanting bad weather now we can only meet friends outdoors!
    – Mr. Boy
    Apr 9, 2021 at 10:57
  • I'm with you there - been waiting for forecast rain which has not arrived and the plants I want to put in have been sitting in their pots for weeks - I dare not disturb the soil until rain arrives,it just dries out faster if I do but even so, its approaching the point where I may need to put a sprinkler on for the existing plants, its been quite a while since any rain...after such a wet winter too...
    – Bamboo
    Apr 9, 2021 at 11:36

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