hydrangeas and how to feed acid loving plants with hollytone

How To Feed Acid-Loving Plants With Holly-tone: A Complete Guide

Blue hydrangeas with bright green leaves and title of blog post How To Feed Acid Loving Plants With Hollytone

Espoma Holly-tone, along with all of Espoma Organic’s slow-release fertilizers, provides your garden with a unique blend of organic fertilizer and Bio-tone microbes. I am never without an Espoma fertilizer for all of my garden planting. They have led to great success in my garden. Today I wanted to break down the benefits of Espoma’s Holly-tone, as it’s a favorite for many plants in the garden.

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What is Espoma Organic Hollytone Fertilizer?

Holly-tone is a slow-release fertilizer formulated for acid loving plants. It’s great for use on hollies, hydrangeas, blueberries, rhododendrons, azaleas and more.

Holly-tone contains a slow-release fertilizer that provides continuous feeding, along with a special blend of Espoma Organic’s exclusive Bio-tone Microbes. These beneficial microbes are a special blend of soil microbes that feed the soil, which in turn feed your plants. This creates stronger root systems by encouraging new plant roots and boosting plant health. 

Holly-tone will give your trees and shrubs and more vibrant color, with deeper green leaves. For hydrangeas with blooms that turn pink or blue depending on soil pH, Holly-tone will turn the hydrangeas blue (for pink blooms, use Espoma Organic Plant-tone.)

Bag of Hollytone fertilizer from Espoma Organic on shelf at store
Hollytone organic fertilizer from Espoma Organic is a great option for acid-loving plants, such as hollies, rhododendron, azaleas, and hydrangeas.

How Do I use Holly-tone?

Holly-tone should be applied twice per year, in the spring, and again in late fall. When applying in the fall, apply at half the spring rate. Blooming evergreens like azaleas and rhododendron should be fed at the first hint of bloom color. Berry crops should be fed in early spring and late spring, approximately 45-60 days apart.

To apply, sprinkle Holly-tone around the “drip line” of plants. The drip line of a plant is the ring of soil directly under the outer ring of the plant’s branches or leaves. If using in pots, mix Holly-tone into the soil when planting, or sprinkle on the top of the soil along the outer of edge of pots. After applying, water it in thoroughly.

You may also like our Spring Gardening Checklist

How much Hollytone should I use?

Shrubs: 1 cup of Holly-tone per foot of drip line diameter. Double the amount if the drip line is over 3 feet wide. 

Trees: 1 lb. of Holly-tone per inch of trunk diameter. Triple the amount if the diameter is over 3 inches.

New potted plants: For new plants, mix 2 cups of Holly-tone per cubic foot of soil, or 1.5 tbsp per quart.

Established plants: 1 tsp of Holly-tone for each 3” of pot diameter. Sprinkle around the outer edge of the pot.

Preparation of new bed: 10 lbs. per 100 square feet. Mix into the top four or five inches of new soil. For established beds, use 5 lbs. per 100 square feet.

What plants like Holly-tone?

Holly-tone is a good choice for all acid loving plants, including:

  • Amaryllis
  • Andromeda
  • Aster
  • Azalea
  • Bayberry
  • Bleeding heart
  • Blueberry
  • Camellia
  • Dogwood
  • Evergreens (Arborvitae & boxwoods are evergreen shrubs that do not require acid soils. Use Plant-tone for them)
  • Ferns
  • Fir
  • Gardenia
  • Heath
  • Heather
  • Hemlock
  • Holly
  • Huckleberry
  • Hydrangea
  • Inkberry
  • Juniper
  • Leucothoe
  • Lily-of-the-Valley
  • Lupine
  • Magnolia
  • Marigold
  • Mountain Ash
  • Mountain Laurel
  • Oak
  • Pachysandra
  • Phlox
  • Pieris
  • Pine
  • Raspberry (can also use Berry-tone)
  • Rhododendron
  • Spruce
  • Strawberries (can also use Berry-tone)
  • Wood-sorrel

Where can I find Hollytone?

Holly-tone can be found at most garden centers, and through Amazon.

Can I use Hollytone in my vegetable garden?

Holly-tone is specially formulated for acid-loving plants. For vegetables, it’s recommended to use Garden-tone or Tomato-tone.

I’ve already applied mulch. Can I still apply Hollytone?

You can still use Holly-tone, but do not apply on top of the mulch. To use Holly-tone after applying mulch, gently rake the mulch away from the plant’s drip line. Apply Holly-tone at the recommended amount, water in well, and reapply the mulch around the base of the plant.

Will Hollytone burn my plants?

Holly-tone will not burn plant roots. However, if it gets on plant leaves, rinse the product away with water or brush with a broom.

Should I water plants after applying Hollytone?

Yes, water plants thoroughly after applying Holly-tone. If steady rain is forecasted, apply before the rain arrives (I do this sometimes in the spring, when I’m fertilizing many plants. I apply my fertilizers before a rainy day and let nature water them in for me!)

Does Holly-tone expire?

If stored in a cool, dry place, the fertilizers in Holly-tone have an indefinite shelf life. The soil microbes are best until the date printed on the bag. If Holly-tone becomes damp, clumps may form. This will slightly lessen the quality, but the clumps can be broken apart and the product used in the recommended amounts.

Can you use too much Hollytone?

Holly-tone should be used at the recommended rates. Accidents are known to happen, though. If you feel you over applied, simply water the area thoroughly to wash away the excess.

When should I apply Hollytone?

Holly-tone should be used twice per year, in the spring and again in the fall. For berry plants, apply in early spring and late spring, 45-60 days in between applications.

Does Holly-tone turn hydrangeas blue?

Yes, Holly-tone will turn hydrangeas blue by acidifying the soil. 

Will Holly-tone lower pH?

Yes, Holly-tone will lower pH and acidify the soil.

Can I use Hollytone on roses.

It is not recommended to use Holly-tone on roses. For roses, Espoma Organic has a Rose-tone fertilizer.

What is Hollytone made of?

Holly-tone is derived from feather meal, poultry manure, bone meal, alfalfa meal, greensand, sulfate of potash, sulfate of potash magnesia, and elemental sulfur. It also contains active ingredients, including bacillus amyloliquefaciens, bacillus licheniformis, bacillus megaterium, bacillus pumilus, bacillus subtilis, and paenibacillus polymyxa.

If you have any further questions about Holly-tone, or any of Espoma Organic fertilizers and how to use them, leave a comment below and I’ll be happy to answer your questions. 

Also be sure to check out my post with 25 ways to make plants grow bigger and faster.

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How To Feed Acid-Loving Plants With Holly-tone: A Complete Guide

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