Trees and shrubs growing in their natural habitat rarely display symptoms of nutrient deficiency. This is due not only to the natural recycling of nutrients that occur in nature, but also to the fact that plants in the wild typically grow only where they are best adapted or have a competitive advantage.
Nursery, street trees, and landscape plantings are, for the most part, an artificial habitat. Soils may be vastly different from those of the native habitat of a given plant, and nutrient recycling systems may be altered or diminished as a result of planting schemes (planting in turf areas) or maintenance practices (collection of fallen leaves). For these reasons, periodic applications of fertilizer to the soil beneath ornamental trees and shrubs are sometimes needed to replenish essential mineral elements and to promote healthy growth.