Organic Fertilizer For Boxwoods

brownthumb65(8B Florida)April 15, 2010


I am hoping someone here can tell me what type of non-chemical fertilizer I can use for my Boxwoods.

They were looking great right after winter. I am in Zone 8b so no snow, but it does freeze every so often. Anyway, they were busting bright green and now I am noticing that the older leaves on the inside are turning yellow!!

Doing some research I have found out it is a nitrogen deficiency, (hope that's correct) but I would like to use a non-chemical fertilizer.

Any advice is appreciated.



PS would anybody know why my one boxwood that is near the foundation of the house is so much bigger and nicer looking than the others? Is it something in the cement/brick that leaches into the soil or what??

(I will post the last question in the shrubs forum also looking for more hits):-)

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Dan Staley

All fertilizers are chemical. Compost tea is a chemical brew.

Nonetheless, if the veins on the yellow leaves can be seen, it is an N deficiency. If not, we'll need to ask more questions.

We don't have enough information about the shrub closest to the house to do anything but guess. Likely more heat there if a non-northerly exposure.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 9:27PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Hmmm - are you sure it's not scale, mites, pH issue, other? Box are not heavy feeders.


    Bookmark   April 15, 2010 at 10:40PM
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brownthumb65(8B Florida)

Sorry, I should of said I would like to not use any synthetic fertilizer. Some of us are more "confused" than others. Too many thumps on the head. lol.

What more do you need to know about the one by the house, Dan? You said that there wasn't enough information.

I will go and look closer at the yellow leaves on the shrubs tomorrow to see if I can see the veins.
I will also check the PH of the soil.

Maybe I can post a Pic??!!

I have never fertilized these plants. They were ripped out of the ground by my brother at my moms house. My husband and I went and "rescued" the nicest 12 we could find.
That was exactly 3 years ago and we've never had any problems until now.



    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 12:56AM
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rhizo_1 (North AL) zone 7

Do you know what kind of boxwood they are? And is your Mom's house in Florida, as well?

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 1:14PM
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brownthumb65(8B Florida)

Yes, Mom is in Florida also, same zone as us.
I am assuming it is Japanese Boxwood.

I am also including a link to the photos my son took just a few minutes ago. If you click on the photos, they will enlarge.

I haven't had a chance to check the PH yet.
Thank for the help.

Here is a link that might be useful: Boxwood Leaves

    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 3:10PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Looks like spider mites to me.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 3:43PM
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Dan Staley

I don't see N deficiency, my first reaction was sucking insect as well, but I'm not sure about that either from this distance and the position of the affected lvs. Put a magnifying glass on the lvs and twigs on the plant and search for critters. Not 100% certain it isn't troubled plant shedding extra lvs either, or spring shedding of old lvs. Pix some help but raise more questions than provide answers.

The description of the one shrub above tells us nothing of its position/aspect/exposute, eave width, light received in relation to others, prevailing winds and so on.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 4:05PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

In the last picture I see older leaves toward the center of the plant which are favored by mites, with the pepper-speckles that look so much like mite feeding sites (this, on other pictures as well), which is what moved mites to the fore of the suspect's list for me. Not arguing what I think it actually is, or disagreeing with anything anyone said, just offering the rationale behind my reasoning. It IS hard to tell from anywhere but there. ;o)


    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 4:54PM
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Dan Staley

No, I agree Al that there are a few leaves with the telltale specks on them & that's what made me think that too. I'm not 100% convinced that's the main problem & maybe just opportunism on the mites' part on some lvs.

I'd be happy to be wrong on that if I could troubleshoot it down with more info here.


    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 5:22PM
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brownthumb65(8B Florida)

I appreciate you guys trying to help me ;-)

We used the magnifying glass and could not find any critters. We looked under and over the leaves. What we did find was something that looked like a gray fungus on some of the branches not all of them. Fuzzy like. We see this on many plants and trees here so I am not sure if it is an issue.

I just had a brain storm and since you guys know more than I do, you can tell me if I am right or wrong.
We live just south of Georgia in Florida's panhandle and this winter was CCOLD. I mean it actually went down into the teens for a few nights and I never covered my Boxwoods with anything. Fish were actually dying in the Gulf Of Mexico!
My Boxwoods turned really dark at that time.

Could it be possible that they "froze" some leaves and just now they are turning yellow and dropping off? I mean we shook some of the bushes and the yellow leaves just flew off earlier.

When it started warming up about 4 weeks ago the Boxwoods looked beautiful, nice and bright green and happy!

I just don't understand how this can happen to all of my Boxwoods at once. We have about 13 of them and I have never had this problem before.

Thanks much! I appreciate everyone's expertise on this site. I do my best with learning from books and websites and here. You're all very helpful!


    Bookmark   April 16, 2010 at 9:51PM
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Leaves on the inside of a plant that turn yellow may simply be an indication that those leaves do not receive enough sunlight to add to the plants health and they have had all life support removed and are dying, it does not necessarily mean a nutrient deficiency. If the rest of the pkant is growing well and not showing signs of nutrient deficiency it isn't.

    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 8:35AM
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Dan Staley

Well, the cold could have been a disturbance/stressor for the plant such that there is partitioning of energy and some of the older leaves are being shed, as there is not enough stored energy to maintain their reduced functioning. I see sun hitting them in one pic, but hard to tell for how long and that could be a contributing factor as well - sun doesn't hit them long enough and they are expendable at this time. I still see a few leaves in one pic that have stippling that look like mite damage, but again I'd say opportunism.

Anyway, nutrient deficiencies won't kill the plant in one fell swoop. If you start losing, say, 20% of the leaves, that is some other issue and you should revisit the troubleshooting. As it is now, too hard to distance diagnose the exact cause, and that clue may be enough that your plants are shedding a few lvs from environmental stressors. Shedding increases markedly, there's a problem. Stays like this, a reaction to stress.


    Bookmark   April 17, 2010 at 1:05PM
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