Photo of blue and pink hydrangeas with caption that reads: What Plants Benefit From Holly-Tone?

What Plants Benefit from Holly-Tone? 

As an avid backyard gardener, you understand the importance of nurturing your plants with the right nutrients. Hollytone, a well-known organic fertilizer, has been a long-trusted choice for gardeners seeking to boost the health and vibrancy of their plants. Whether you’re tending to acid-loving azaleas or nurturing your vibrant blueberries, Hollytone might just be the secret ingredient your garden needs. 

Holly-Tone for Acid-Loving Plants

Holly-Tone is an organic fertilizer specifically designed to benefit acid-loving plants such as azaleas, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, blueberries, and holly.

Azaleas and Rhododendrons

Since Holly-Tone is geared toward acid-loving plants, azaleas, and rhododendrons are natural choices for its use. It contains a slow-release formula that provides continuous feeding, along with a special blend of Espoma Organic’s exclusive Bio-tone Microbes. These microbes stimulate the development of your plants and help them absorb the nutrients they need to thrive. By using Holly-tone, you can promote healthy growth and vibrant blooms for your azaleas and rhododendrons while maintaining the proper acidity levels in your soil.

Hydrangeas and Holly

Hydrangeas and holly can also benefit greatly from the use of Holly-tone fertilizer. The balanced formula, with an N-P-K analysis of 4-3-4 and the addition of nutrients like calcium, magnesium, and sulfur, provides essential support for the growth and development of these plants. By supplying them with what they need to flourish, you can expect healthier plants and more beautiful blooms throughout their growing seasons.


Flowers aren’t the only plants that benefit from Holly-Tone.  Several trees and shrubs thrive with the added nutrients it provides. 

Holly-Tone offers a multitude of benefits for magnolias and dogwoods. Both of these flowering trees prefer slightly acidic soil, making Holly-Tone an ideal choice for them. Applying the fertilizer can improve their nutrient intake, resulting in healthier growth and more vibrant blossoms. Evergreen trees such as spruce, hemlock, and arborvitae also love acidic soils, so using Holly-Tone can be extremely beneficial for their overall health as well.

What is Holly-Tone?

Holly-tone is a natural, slow-releasing fertilizer created by Espoma specifically for plants favoring acidic soil conditions. Its balanced, organic composition delivers vital nutrients essential for maintaining peak plant health. 

Choosing Holly-tone means embracing an environmentally conscious approach, utilizing a fertilizer made from a blend of plant, animal, and naturally sourced minerals. It boasts an N-P-K ratio of 4-3-4, which is ideal for feeding a variety of plants, including hollies, rhododendrons, azaleas, and hydrangeas.

To achieve optimal results, Espoma recommends applying Holly-tone biannually. A full dose should be used in the early spring, followed by a half dose in late fall to avoid excessive fertilization. Key advantages of using Holly-tone include:

  •  A gradual nutrient release for sustained nourishment.
  •  Absence of harsh fertilizer salts, reducing the risk of plant burn.
  •  Enhanced overall plant health through comprehensive nutrition.

To apply, simply sprinkle Holly-tone around your plants’ base and lightly incorporate it into the soil, being careful around the roots.

What is Holly-Tone Made of?

Nitrogen, Phosphorus, and Potassium

Holly-Tone is an organic fertilizer made for acid-loving plants. Its composition includes three essential macronutrients, which are Nitrogen (4%), Phosphorus (3%), and Potassium (4%). You might be familiar with these nutrients, as they are commonly referred to as N-P-K on fertilizer products.

These macronutrients help your plants grow healthy and strong. Nitrogen promotes leafy growth and overall plant health, while phosphorus strengthens roots and stimulates blooming. Potassium, on the other hand, improves resistance against diseases and boosts plant metabolism.

Natural Elements in Holly-Tone

This organic fertilizer prides itself on being made from a blend of natural ingredients, ensuring your plants get essential nutrients in a balanced manner. Some of these ingredients include:

  • Bone Meal: Rich in phosphorus, it helps plants develop sturdy root systems and encourages blooming.
  • Feather Meal: A great natural source of nitrogen, perfect for promoting healthy, green leaves.
  • Poultry Manure: Another valuable nitrogen source for your plants, contributing to overall plant growth and vigor.
  • Alfalfa Meal: Rich in nitrogen and trace elements, it promotes healthy leaves and provides a slow-release fertilizer effect.

Additionally, Holly-Tone contains essential micronutrients, such as 5% sulfur and iron, which help maintain low pH levels for acid-loving plants and ensure their optimal growth. Sulfur plays a crucial role in enhancing their ability to absorb nutrients, while iron helps maintain healthy green foliage.

Other Plants That Benefit From Holly-Tone


Holly-Tone can be highly beneficial for several types of berries, including raspberries and blueberries. Fertilizing your berry plants with Holly-Tone will provide them with essential nutrients while maintaining the acidity levels in the soil to keep your plants producing fruit year after year. Ferns and Other Beneficiaries

Apart from berries, Holly-Tone is particularly well-suited for acid-loving plants like ferns, camellias, and pachysandra. These plants will thrive with the use of Holly-Tone because they, too, need acidic soil for optimal growth. Other plants that benefit from Holly-Tone include:

  • Asters: Not only do these vibrant flowers benefit from Holly-Tone, but they also add beautiful pops of color to your garden.
  • Pieris and Andromeda: These acid-loving shrubs receive extra nourishment from Holly-Tone to boost their growth.
  • Fir, Juniper, and Mountain Ash: As acid-loving trees, applying Holly-Tone to the soil around these trees will provide them with the necessary nutrients to develop strong roots and canopy.
  • Gardenia and Heath: These flowering plants prefer acidic soil, making Holly-Tone the perfect choice for maintaining their soil conditions.
  • Oak: Although not all oaks are acid-loving, some species do appreciate the acidity provided by Holly-Tone.

How to Apply Holly-Tone

Before applying Holly-Tone, it is helpful to test your soil’s pH level to ensure it falls within the appropriate range for acid-loving plants. These plants typically thrive in lower pH soil conditions, usually between 4.5 and 5.5. If needed, you can amend your soil with organic matter, such as compost, to improve soil structure and provide essential nutrients. Keep in mind that monitoring your garden’s soil conditions is critical for the overall health and growth of your plants. 

For new beds, mix Holly-Tone with compost or soil at the bottom of the planting hole. Around established plants, sprinkle the fertilizer around the drip line and gently mix it with the soil or mulch. Always water your plants thoroughly after applying the fertilizer. Maintain a consistent watering schedule, as moisture is crucial for both nutrient absorption and overall plant health. Finally, make sure the acid-loving plants are in areas with suitable sunlight conditions, as per their specific requirements.


Does Holly-tone turn hydrangeas blue?

Holly-tone won’t directly turn your hydrangeas blue, but it can help create the acidic soil conditions necessary for blue hydrangea coloration. Hydrangeas change color based on the soil pH and the availability of aluminum ions. In acidic soil, with pH levels below 6, aluminum ions are readily available, allowing the hydrangeas to take them up and produce blue flowers. Holly-tone’s addition of elemental sulfur helps acidify the soil, which in turn increases the likelihood of blue hydrangea blooms. However, other factors, such as the specific hydrangea variety and the soil type, can also influence the final color of your hydrangea blooms.

Can I use Hollytone in my vegetable garden?

Yes, you can use Holly-tone on certain acid-loving vegetables such as blueberries. However, be careful when applying it to other vegetables, as not all plants prefer acidic soil.

I’ve already applied mulch. Can I still apply Holly-Tone?

Absolutely! Gently pull back the mulch around the base of the plant, apply Holly-Tone according to the package directions, and then replace the mulch. This helps protect the fertilizer and keeps your plants happy.

Will Hollytone burn my plants?

As an organic and natural fertilizer, Holly-tone is unlikely to burn your plants when used as directed. If you’re unsure, it’s always a good idea to apply the fertilizer according to the package instructions to avoid any issues.

Should I water plants after applying Hollytone?

Yes! Watering your plants after applying Holly-tone is a great way to help the fertilizer absorb into the soil. Be sure to give the area a thorough soaking to make the most of the nutrients.

Does Holly-tone expire?

Holly-tone doesn’t have a specific expiration date, but it’s best to store it in a cool, dry place and use it within a few years for optimal effectiveness.

Can I use Hollytone on roses?

While roses can benefit from the nutrients provided in Holly-Tone, the N-P-K ratio is not ideal for them.  Instead, we recommend using Espoma’s Rose-Tone.

Will Holly-tone lower pH?

Yes, Holly-tone contains sulfur, which acts to raise the acidity of the soil, effectively lowering the pH. Make sure to monitor your soil’s pH to ensure it remains within the optimal range for your plants.

Final Thoughts

Embracing Espoma’s Holly-tone as part of your gardening routine is more than just a choice for plant nutrition; it’s a step towards sustainable and eco-friendly gardening practices. This organic, slow-release fertilizer is specially formulated to meet the needs of acid-loving plants, providing them with the essential nutrients for robust growth and vibrant health. By using Holly-tone, you’re not only ensuring that your hollies, azaleas, rhododendrons, and hydrangeas receive the best possible care, but you’re also contributing to a healthier environment.