Is there an added benefit to foliar fertilization? I have been spraying vermicasting tea on some of my plants and wondered if it was worth the effort or if I should simply apply the castings to the root system.
From the perspective of getting nutrients from outside the plant, inside the plant, foliar feeding is generally extremely inefficient. In those plants that benefit from foliar feeding, fertilizers in ionic form are far more effective than various emulsions/suspensions at providing supplemental nutrition, but roots are still, by far, the more efficient and reliable pathway. If your plants actually NEED foliar feeding - by default, there is something wrong with your basic nutritional supplementation program and your efforts are best concentrated there.
Foliar feeding is usually only used effectively to supply a few elements in ionic form (mainly N,Fe,Cu,Mn,Z), and only when plants that are able to provide a foliar pathway into the plant are growing so rapidly the nutrient stream cannot supply certain nutrients fast enough.
Remember - over-supplying a nutrient the plant doesn't need can be as bad as or worse than a deficiency. If you have a genuine deficiency, it's better by far to address it via the most efficient pathway - the root system. You can't make plants grow at beyond their genetic limitations, and supplying more of this or that than plants need is counter-productive. Trying to ensure the 12 elements you have control over are available in the soil and in the right ratio is about the best you can do.
I do both. Foliar feeding is like an energy drink for the plant. It gives it a quick but temporary boost. Sometimes that's needed. Adding the tea to the soil is a slower, yet longer lasting solution since it feeds the plant AND soil. I've been doing both for years and have never once damaged anything. :)
If foliar feeding your plants does improve their health then there is a problem with the soil they are growing in. If plants are growing in a good healthjy soil, ie. one with the pH in the optimal range and a balanced amopunt of nutrients with an active Soil Food Web, foliar feeding will do nothing for those plants.
Foliar feeding is like an energy drink for the plant. It gives
it a quick but temporary boost.
I'm wracking my brain trying to find the botanical information that makes this statement true, and I cannot.
I'd be appreciative of the poster going into a little more depth re that particular claim.
"I've been doing both for years and have never once damaged anything." is kind of like my recommending you shake a gris-gris over your plants to keep Japanese beetles at bay because that's what I do, and I've never had them.
Dan, there's no need to "wrack" your brain. You can just watch the video evidence on my youtube page.
No tapla, it's not like that at all. You're comparing using compost tea and not having a side effect to using a product to treat a non existant problem. My statement was akin to saying:
I fertilize my plants and have never had a negative result from fertilizing my plants.
And you saying: I take aspirin for a headache, but I've never had a headache.
You make zero sense..........but thanks for trying. :)
Anecdotal evidence and scientific studies are two different things but most gardeners (myself included) have to rely on "What works for me". Climate and soil qualities vary so much from area to area and year to year that sometimes past experience is all we have to go on.
There is some anecdotal evidence for instance that worm tea applied to the leaves has an inhibiting effect on many funguses nd discourages soft bodied insects like aphids. I know of no scientific studies to support this although there may be some if I knew where to look but if it works it works.
That's exactly right Hoodat. I just go with what works for me. Many times it doesn't mesh with accepted practices......but it does work for me. :)
I'm not going to make a broad statement either way, but I know I've had chlorosis showing in my hibiscus and citrus leaves and a dilute Fe/Mn spray has helped, but I of course then worked to amend the soil so it wouldn't be a continuing problem.
Praxus, you can choose to characterize whatever you want in whatever way you think satisfies your personality preferences, but the simple fact is that blanket statements like what I italicized are not backed by facts (esp in the context of the question posed by the OP).
It depends upon crop, timing, climate, and several other factors.
Esp with respect to vermi-tea, applied to the soil is likely to have far more benefits than to foliage across a broad range of plants.
Altho I agree with hoodat's implication that there may be some anti-fungal benefit for some plants in some places.
It's not all that important I suppose. The point I wanted to make is that foliar pathways for nutrients are inefficient and ineffective in most plants, and if foliar feeding DOES work, you're doing something wrong with regard to nutrient uptake via the roots.
It's never seemed reasonable to me to elevate "It works for me" to clarion call status, especially when the phrase is invoked as cover for claims I know to be antithetical to sound horticulture. If you feel it works for you, that's all that's important, but you must allow that others' mileage may vary.
I'm sorry my analogy didn't make sense to you. I'll spare you another, but what I was pointing out is what you said really didn't make sense. Equating fertilizer with a source of energy ("Foliar feeding is like an energy drink for the plant.") is simply wrong. Fertilizer doesn't provide energy .... but thanks for trying.
Of course anything we spray on the foliage eventually ends up in the ground but in the case of something like worm tea it may not be in sufficient amounts to make any difference.
But that is not the concern of marketing hype that uses fact-free phrases like Foliar feeding is like an energy drink for the plant. It gives it a quick but temporary boost.
If I may be so bold as to point out my observation.
The OP asked a simple valid question hoping to get a relatively correct and pleasant answer.
For those of you that indicate in your information about yourselves that you speak several times a year, or are called on regularly by local clubs to speak, etc.........
Has it not occurred to you that your know it all manner and generally poor attitude towards others, reflects poorly on you? Your posts are quite likely to be read by the very people you're trying to impress with your public presentations. I for one would never attend a speech by anyone who is so deliberately condescending. I'm also betting I'm not the only one.
Please try to play nice =:)
Dan Staley, I don't choose to characterize whatever I want in whatever way I think satisfies my personality preferences. I characterized what you presented. It in no way "satisfies" me, although I suspect it in some odd manner satisfies you. That really is no concern of mine.
I never said foliar applications were superior in benefit than soil applications, so your rebuttal is irrelevant to my original comment to the OP.
Also there can not be any concrete "facts" since you admit and I concur that "It depends upon crop, timing, climate, and several other factors. I stand by my statement. In my gardening experience it works for me as I stated in the manner that I stated. I offered my opinion/advice to the OP based on my experience, not yours. I did not cast my net for debate. Offer what help you wish to the OP, but I neither need nor wish to receive the benefit of your opinion.
Tapla, by offering my OPINION/ADVICE to the original OP, I was not claiming it was based on any outside accepted scientific research or fact whatsoever. I further did not claim that any other poster in the comment area was wrong regardless of whether they agreed with my understanding of what "sound horticultural practices" to be. Curious that you seem to not be willing to extend the same courtesy. This is unfortunate and speaks to your lack of civility and manners in a polite comment area. I stand by my comment that foliar feeding is like an energy drink for plants based on MY experience and MY knowledge, not YOURS or anybody elses. If you have information to offer the OP, you are of course free to offer your advice with no rude contradiction from me. LetÂs see if I can expect the same from you in the future, ok?
I never claimed you made such a statement.
My observation - easily checked upthread - was the claim I italicized is not based in botanical fact.
This observation is directly relevant to the decision-making process of the OP.
It is great you claim it works for you. That is a fabulous claim! I am merely pointing out for the OP - and those finding this thread in a future search - is that there is no botanical-based reason why the italicized claim would work for anyone else. Plants don't work that way.
And for foliar applications to work at all (not in providing "energy", mind you, but in delivering nutrients contained within the spray), factors have to be right, including facts of leaf covering, turgor pressure, nutrient deficiency facts, time of day facts, leaf age, concentration, growth stage of crop facts, hygroscopic potential...
In fact, kimmsr and I find ourselves disagreeing on occasion, but their observation way upthread is a concise summation of the situation for the OP, and cutting out the reply with the infamous italicized claim and ending the thread at kimmsr's reply should be all the OP needs. IMHO.
How very......self-important?........pompous?....oh dear what is the most polite term for your utter condescending and imperialistic attitude....coughdouchebagcough! :) I knew there was a scientific term for it. You can claim all you please and puff about what a plant can and can not do. I myself have more faith in plants and prefer to demonstrate it in video evidence (which is what I do)for people who are tired of listening to the dusty, boring, monotonous droning of comment board experts. So people can rely on the dusty olde rhetoric of know-it-alls (this would be you), or they can make up their own mind without the hindrance of blowhards such as you correcting all who do not post advice to others that fits into what you perceive to be fact. Imagine a world where people can offer advice without douchebags trying to correct them.......how sweet would THAT be huh? LOL
Now go touch your degree, yourself or whatever you do when you're not trolling this comment area.
Praxxus, while Dan's tone is sometimes dry and his gardening approach more conservative than some, I've never seen him call anyone names as you have done repeatedly here nor make claims he can not explain.
This forum can be a little adversarial at times -- many people are passionate about being organic and we don't always agree -- but let's please avoid insults.
Alabamanicole my apologies for bringing it to Dan's attention that he's a douchebag. That was wrong of me. He should feel absolutely free to behave like a total douchebag if he pleases BUT in the interest of politeness and civility I will not call him a douchebag again. *munches on a tomato* :)
It seems to me that Tapla and Dan were merely saying scientific facts are often more useful than someone's opinion. Of course, personal experience is valuable but that too must have an underlying scientific basis even if we don't fully understand it. Why do you find it necessary to utter personal attacks? This tact isn't acceptable to many of us. Please refrain.
Vermontkingdom, I know what Dan and Tap were saying. I also know the manner and tone in which they said it. My advice based on decades of personal experience to another member who ASKS for advice is not subject to approval or or rejection by pompous, self-important assbags. The OP asked for advice. They offered theirs. I did not contradict or belittle them with passive agressive and catty remarks re: Dan's "I'm wracking my brain trying to find the botanical information that makes this statement true, and I cannot", or Tap's shiny little pearl of worm poop: ""I've been doing both for years and have never once damaged anything." is kind of like my recommending you shake a gris-gris over your plants to keep Japanese beetles at bay because that's what I do, and I've never had them". If it is perfectly acceptable for them to respond with passive-aggressive crap such as that to someone who replied to another member's request for advice, I feel perfectly fine replying with an overtly distasteful evaluation of their behavior. What you find acceptable is of no concern to me. I will refrain when I please. I know I'll no doubt get tossed off the forum due to my inability to fit into the creepy little world of Dan, Tap and no doubt you. I do enjoy one unique quality. I am able to offer my advice to Pjames (OP) without crapping all over someone else who is trying to do the same. Lastly Vermontkingdom, when I feel the need to be patrolled by you, I will send you an email requesting it.
Here is a link that might be useful: Video of Tap and Dan fornicating a tomato
Time to stop feeding the troll, folks.
pjames, you are losing much of the well documented benefits of vermicompost or compost tea by using them as a foliar spray. Not only will the soil/root system benefit hugely from soil applications but university studies show that plants receive protection from spider mites, aphids, parasitic nematodes, and some diseases. This is both in the field and in containers, by the way.
No foliar application is required for these benefits to take place.
I know that this doesn't address the fertilization question you posted, but it appears that both sides of that issue have been discussed. Sort of. The attached link might answer some questions. Be sure to read it all the way through.
By the way, foliar applications of iron chelates are often used to 'green up' turfgrass before a televised golf tournament. :-) It a quickie fix that is almost cosmetic in nature, as it does not put the iron in the soil where it could do some long term benefits.
Here is a link that might be useful: Click here
"This forum can be a little adversarial at times -- many people are passionate about being organic and we don't always agree -- but let's please avoid insults." A little Do as I say, not as I do. I expected no more from you and I was not dissapointed. :)
The simple answer is that plant biology will define how necessary nutrients are best assimilated and utilized and that is through the root system, not through the foliage. This is not an opinion but merely a statement of fact of basic botany.......to allude otherwise is to indicate a lack of understanding of the underlying principles of plant growth, nothing more.
It is somewhat interesting that the dissenting and confrontational opinions expressed are from someone brand new to GardenWeb and who may not - to give them the consideration of a large benefit of doubt - be aware of the friendly, informative and generally non-adversarial nature of the GW exchanges. To fly into the fray with an immediate confrontational exchange that involves insults and personal attacks is really not on and often indicates a poster who is unlikely to be a longterm participant here. And too, those who defend their position by resorting to snide personal attacks generally do not have much of a position to defend :-)
Some of the "miracle" chemical products so highly advertised actually do give plants a quick shot in the arm because of the way they are formulated but as you point out the effect is mostly cosmetic and short term. Long term success depends on working with nature and taking a holistic approach. I like to think of the garden as a microcosm that includes the plants, soil, insect life and even the weeds all acting together to hopefully give us a succesful outcome. Keeping things in balance sometimes consists of interfering as little as posssible.
Gardengal, I offered the OP my OPINION. I never claimed it was based in any scientific FACT. Did you even read my original comment or did you just spend your entire time here crafting your lone-winded reply? For someone to respond to my original comment with a veiled, yet clearly rude remark does not speak well of "seasoned posters" here. And for nobody to call him on it speaks further to the tight-knit clique that seems to allow such rudeness from them. Apparently a newbie (this would be me) who points to someone acting like a douchebag (this would be Dan)and says, "You're acting like a douchebag" is frowned upon. I must have missed the TOU that dictates the length of time I must be a member here before it's acceptable for me to treat others the way I was initially treated. There was nothing "friendly and informative" about Dan's post: "I'm wracking my brain trying to find the botanical information that makes this statement true, and I cannot". For you to not comprehend this simple reality speaks to your obvious lack of comprehension......or as you would expect me to reply: "How on earth did you manage to insert your entire head inside your rectum?" Did I say that too soon? Should I wait until I've been here longer? :)
Your profile page is seriously cool. You do know this right? :)
garg, AIUI the term is '*sshat'. That is, unless '*ssbag' is a regional colloquialism or archaic term that I'm not aware of.
Surely Greasemonkey can add it to their search terms...
Not knowing a whit about how, or if, foliar fertilizing works, I go to good old google...
Here is a link that might be useful: HOW DOES FOLIAR FERTILIZER WORK?
from the link by pt03:
"This does not mean that the application of foliar fertiliser replaces the soil applied fertiliser, but increases their uptake."
I didn't want to jump-in to the fray as some people here seem to get pretty ugly in their posts, but this is what I've always understood and is why I foliar feed in addition to adding fertilizer (organic) to the soil. Even if it proves to be wrong it certainly won't hurt anything.
This is info on a website from a company that offers a consumer product of fertilizer able to be applied as a foliar application.
It does not supersede what was mentioned by the folk upthread who pointed out/listed the difficulties that plants face in assimilating minerals through their leaves.
From rhizo's link upthread: The Bottom Line
Â Tree and shrub species differ dramatically in their ability to absorb foliar fertilizers.
Â Proper plant selection relative to soil type is crucial to appropriate mineral nutrition.
Â Foliar spraying is best accomplished on overcast, cool days to reduce leaf burn.
Â In landscape plants, foliar spraying can test for nutrient deficiencies, but not solve them.
Â Micronutrients are the only minerals that are effectively applied through foliar application.
Â Foliar application will not alleviate mineral deficiencies in roots or subsequent crown growth.
Â Foliar spraying is only a temporary solution to the larger problem of soil nutrient availability.
Â Minerals (especially micronutrients) applied in amounts that exceed a plantÂs needs can injure or
kill the plant and contribute to environmental pollution.
Â Any benefit from foliar spraying of landscape trees and shrubs is minor considering the cost and
Again, in the context of the OP, there might be some antifungal benefit, but the critters in the solum will likely benefit more from the vermi-tea. There will be zero energy boost, and if the soil is fine already, there may be no mineral uptake in the lvs from a foliar application.
dan - I'm not discounting what you've written but do you have a link to this company and the fertilizer they sell? Thanks!
Sure Greg, just take away most of the extensions on Lloyd's URL from:
Foliar fertilization may be more valuable than you think. According to this research foliar feeding is far more efficient than soil fertilization. I don't think it should replace soil fertilization, but it can be used as supplemental fertilization. Take a look at this.
Here is a link that might be useful: Foliar applied fertilizer
All my formal training is in mechanical & electrical field, but pompous & condescending is insulting & adversarial as is rude name calling. We should all try to get alone.
Pjames, I will use my first Foliar spray this year on my Blueberries.
Thank for the link, Lloyd & rhizo 1.