Saturday, July 4, 2015


The Symptoms of Over-Fertilizing

by Ashley Mackenzie, Demand Media
Over-fertilizing a lawn makes the grass grow too quickly.
Over-fertilizing a lawn makes the grass grow too quickly.
Fertilizing plants encourages healthy growth and flowering, but too much leads to problems.
The three main ingredients in fertilizers are nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium.
Nitrogen encourages foliage growth, phosphorus encourages root growth and flowering, and potassium helps plants absorb other nutrients, among other things.
 Sometimes imbalances cause plants to grow spindly without flowering, but other times plants receive too much of all nutrients.
In these cases, you'll need to recognize the symptoms of over-fertilizing and change your feeding routine to keep your plants healthy and attractive.


Some signs of over-fertilizing are easy to spot.
The most obvious is fertilizer crusting on the surface of the soil.
Other symptoms include the tips of leaves turning brown 
and lower leaves yellowing, 
wilting and falling from the plant.

 When fertilizer scorches roots, the roots may blacken and go limp. And though fertilizer should encourage healthy growth, too much can stunt growth or stop it entirely.
 These symptoms occur when salt builds up in the soil, 
making it increasingly difficult for the plant to absorb water.

Types of Over-Fertilizing

Besides adding too much fertilizer at once, it's possible to over-fertilize in less apparent ways, too. Sometimes fertilizer builds up when soil doesn't drain well.
Other times, the fertilizer isn't flushed through the soil with water, causing root burn.

 Slow-release fertilizers may help regulate the release of nutrients into the soil over time, but it's still possible to add too much if you don't see results as soon as you expect them.
All of these activities can cause plants to show signs of over-fertilizing.

Fertilizing Houseplants

You may notice more symptoms of over-fertilizing in houseplants than in outdoor plants,
 because plants that receive less light need less fertilizer.

Even following the fertilizer package's instructions on houseplants can result in over-fertilizing, given the lower light levels indoors.
 Plants that receive less than 200 foot candles of light may not need fertilizer at all,
according to horticulturalist Erv Evans writing for North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension.
Other plants, such as orchids, need diluted fertilizer instead of full strength.



If you notice a layer of fertilizer built up on the soil's surface, 
you should remove it without placing more soil on top. 
The soil should be wet when you apply fertilizer,   
and flushing water through the soil after fertilizing can help spread the nutrients
 and prevent root burn. 

With houseplants, a leaching every 4 to 6 months helps prevent salt buildup;
 this involves pouring 1 or 2 pots of water through the plant's container, 
letting it drain for 30 minutes and repeating.
 When the growing season ends for winter, stop fertilizing or reduce the frequency of fertilizer applications, depending on the plant.



Signs of Over-Fertilizing in Perennials

by Joshua Duvauchelle, Demand Media Google
Too much fertilizer can kill your plants.
Too much fertilizer can kill your plants.

Hungry plants need food. Fertilizer plays a special role in providing your plants with the nitrogen, phosphorous and other nutrients necessary to support optimal growth, health and disease resistance. But like most things in life, too much of a good thing creates a bad thing.
 If you use too much fertilizer on your perennial plants and flowers, you could kill them. 
If you notice signs of over-fertilization in your garden, immediately water your plants to thoroughly flush the excess nutrients away from their roots.

Healthy Foliage But No Flowers

You prize some of your perennials for their vibrant blossoms that add a spark of color to your yard. And while appropriate amounts of fertilizer helps encourage healthy blossom growth,
too much fertilizer can create excess nitrogen levels that stop the plants from producing flowers. 
If the plant has otherwise healthy, lush foliage but no blossoms during its traditional flowering time, you have likely over-fertilized it.

Plant "Burns" and Leaf Drops

Fertilizer products are actually various types of salts.
When applied too heavily or during a time of drought, the salt in fertilizer sucks moisture out of a plant's roots and plant tissue, resulting in "burned" tissue that's so dehydrated it dies.
 Symptoms include dead tissue around the base of the plant
 where the plant may have come in contact with fertilizer.

 In cases where the roots have been burned, all of the plant's leaves may completely fall off
because the roots are no longer able to supply the perennial with water and nutrients.

Leaf Edges Turning Brown

Chronic situations of constant, moderate over-fertilization reduces the plant's ability
to absorb nutrients because its roots are constantly being injured by the excess fertilizer.
In such cases, the plant's leaves may become pale or the edges of the plant's leaves may start to turn brown. These symptoms generally appear within a week of fertilization.

Special Considerations for Potted Plants

In a container garden, other symptoms of over-fertilization may appear among perennial plants
 that are specific to the growing system. 
Besides the general symptoms, such as leaf edges dying or all of the leaves falling off, 
another sign is a hard mineral crust forming on the surface 
of the potting soil, 
accompanied by white stains around the pot's drainage holes.

 This is created by the excess salts in fertilizer. 
To resolve this, break off and remove the hardened salt crust
 on the surface of the potting soil and water the pot. 
It's critical to note that pots are more prone to over-fertilization, 
because nutrients build up over time within the small, contained space of the pot.
 Leach potted plants every six months by watering the pot with water that's twice the volume of the total pot's volume. 
For example, if using a 1 gallon plant pot, water the pot with 2 gallons of water. 
 Regular leaching flushes the soil and keeps fertilizer from accumulating. 


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