Is this nitrogen deficiency?

tonyb416(z5-6 NJ)October 12, 2010

Does this look like nitrogen deficiency?

This is my three year old calamondin tree. It's in a CHC mix (3:1) with peat. I fertilize it with Dynamite Palm and Citrus (13:5:11), with the following elements:

Magnesium: 3.03%

Sulfur: 4.5%

Iron: 0.175%

Manganese: 0.05%

Molybdenum: 0.15%

The leaves have been slowly turning yellow (new and old growth). New growth emerged yellow, got some green, then turned mostly yellow.

Any suggestions?




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It looks like a Nit its leaves are a bit curled. Is your citrus outside, and if so, did it frost?

Fruit look nice and green..sometimes when a plant fruits/flowers, the production takes nutrients from foliage, and goes towards fruits/flowers.
Perhaps a citrus fruit spray will help. It contains extra nutrients/minerals citrus require. Toni

    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 5:25PM
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Toni - is there anything visibly that distiguishes a nitrogen deficiency from other types of nutrient deficiencies?


    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 5:50PM
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Hi Tony..

If it were me, instead of adding more of one particular nutrient, I would first start watering with vinegar in your water ASAP...If the mix has a pH higher than your tree requires, most likely due to the CHC's, it will correct it very quickly..I would also leech the mix for a good minute or so with fresh water..

Better yet, I would throw that mix out before the onset of winter stresses it even further, while there is time, and put it in a good mix without the CHC's, since I am afraid you might not be aware of the disadvantages and the negative affects that the CHC's can cause on your tree until just now, or know how to correctly use them..

Watch out that you do not over fertilize creating an ever further problem..

Hi Toni..:-))))


    Bookmark   October 12, 2010 at 6:35PM
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Hi,does vinegar help to make your mix the right Ph if its more of an alkaline mix? Does it create the correct PH in your pot?
How much would you put in a 5 litre water can? cheers Jon

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 4:28AM
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tonyb416(z5-6 NJ)

This sounds more serious than I thought. Could you be more specific about the vinegar to water mix. Do you suggest white vinegar.

Also, could you direct me to an appropriate substitute for the CHC mix?

Thanks much! Hopefully I can still save it.

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 11:51AM
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Hi Tony..

Here is a link that might be very helpful to you in your search for a good mix...

If you find it is too much for you, then I would definately say that your plants would do much better in a bagged sollless mix that contains some sort of pine or fir bark, "High Quality", preferrably one from a nursery supplier or from a nursery itself..

I would check the ingredients on the bag and based on your growing area, conditions, read the contents and see how much peat as compared to bark it has..I tend to purchase those with a higher amount of bark verses peat..

When I am desperate and need a good quality mix because I can not make my own, I use "Farfard" brand..It has 70% bark, then perlite and then peat..Even better because I have such long winters, lack of light, and cold rooms, I add more perlite, and or strain more of the peat out..I end up with a very satisfying mix that drains fast and well until I can transplant into either the gritty mix or 5.1.1 mix come spring..

I use 1 capful of vinegar per gallon when watering mine since I am concerned about the soil solution pH which is very important to me, keeping it on the acidic side..


Here is a link that might be useful: Soil discussion..

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 12:32PM
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Mike, you're right about Vinager. Especially for acid-loving plants.

Another product that keeps leaves green is Epsom Salt.
People I know who use ES swear since they started adding to their plants' soil, leaves are shiny, deep green.

Last, Iron Sulfate/Chelate prevents Chlorosis. I apply, 2-3 times a year, since using, not one Iron deficency problem.
BWT, I mix my own soil based mediums. For those who plant in soil-less mixes, additional Iron might cause problems. Since I don't know what ingredients are in the soil-less mix, I don't have an answer..Perhaps Mike can help...Toni

    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 3:51PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Epsom salts may or may not cause leaves to green up, and won't 'keep' leaves green if there are other deficiencies at work that include chlorosis among their symptoms. IOW, you can't expect to eliminate the chlorosis caused by any of the other deficiencies (N,K,S,B,Z,Cu,Mn,Cl) commonly associated with chlorotic foliage by adding Epsom salts. If there IS a deficiency of Mg (or S) and an associated yellowing of foliage, THEN, adding Epsom salts might green things up.

When we set about to cure a plant's ills by adding singular elements or compounds aimed at supplying only 1 or two elements w/o a clear indication that those elements indeed ARE deficient, we do more harm than good. We are much better served to use a fertilizer that supplies all the essential elements in a single product, than to go about trying to identify and correct individual deficiencies.

In the same vein, we can't simply say that 'a chelate of Fe prevents chlorosis'. It MIGHT prevent chlorosis IF the fertilizer you were supplying wasn't doing the job AND the soil was Fe deficient, or the pH was too high, but in most cases, all that is needed to prevent Fe deficiency in either containers or mineral soils is to lower the pH. In many cases it's not even the Fe content in chelates that relieves an Fe deficiency, rather it's the fact that Fe sulfate lowers pH, which would make the Fe already IN the soil more available. IOW, enough Fe was already THERE, but unavailable because a high pH makes it insoluble. Adding a little vinegar (containers) in most cases 'cures' an Fe deficiency. Again, if the plant's chlorotic condition happened to be a result of a deficiency of Mg, N, ..., adding a chelate of Fe would neither correct or prevent the deficiency or symptoms.

Getting back to the Epsom salts and to the practice of adding a little of this and that w/o a good understanding of what the results might be - Lets say that the foliage of a plant is yellow. You have no idea what caused it, but you heard that Fe chelate and Epsom salts are goods for keeping leaves green. So you add Fe chelate and Epsom salts and nothing happens. Some might even think they didn't add enough, and apply again - nothing happens ........ because in fact the plant is deficient in N. So what have you done? You have added nutrients that were unnecessary, also elevating the fertility level of the soil unnecessarily. An excess of any nutrient can be as bad as a deficiency. Additionally, it's possible that the extra Fe would interfere with Mn (manganese) uptake, and the Mg (magnesium) could interfere with Ca uptake.

There is an ideal fertility level (EC/TDS) and an ideal ratio of the nutrients to each other. It is very easy to exceed the ideal fertility level and/or upset that ratio by adding nutrients willy nilly in the hope they make your plant green. It is best to stick to a nutrient supplementation program you're sure is supplying all the elements required for normal growth, and concentrate on making favorable the other cultural factors that affect growth.


    Bookmark   October 13, 2010 at 4:56PM
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I'm wondering where one can buy a reasonable amount of micronutrient powder -- I did a Web search and only found large quantities supplied to farmers.

    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 10:52AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

What are you looking for in particular?


    Bookmark   October 14, 2010 at 4:30PM
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I'd like to mix micronutrient powder with the planting medium; I make a lot up at a time. A thread on planting mediums mentioned that powder and it sounded like a good idea. I should get dolomite, too -- I used to use a little lime in my mixes, I can't think why I stopped. I'll be using the Grani-grit -- clever idea!

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 12:43PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

I meant what brand/type of micronutrient supplement are you looking for? Something like Micromax, STEM, ......


    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 2:32PM
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I think it was one of your posts that gave me the idea to try this, Al.

I don't know a brand, because I've never heard of doing this before. The idea of micronutrients is fairly new -- remember when fertilizers had nothing but NPK? Now some of them, but not all, have lots of other elements.

I have now searched TWICE and still can't find anything but large wholesalers dealing with big amounts for farmers. Probably I'm not searching correctly --

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 3:00PM
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Any brand or source tip would be appreciated; also amount. I mix about 5 gallons of medium at once in a cement mixing tub, mostly peat and sterile compost based (the compost is from the landfill and is quite sterile; smoking when I got a load today). I know you like it grittier, but I think I'll go that route gradually.

I think micronutrients in the mix is a good idea. I come from the era when people were still baking dirt in their ovens to kill the weed seeds; micronutrients just weren't on the horizon at all.

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 3:09PM
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Eg: Watering may or may not moisten the entire rootball, and won't keep rootball wet if proper watering isn't instituted.

A houseplant can add vibrance and life to the home during any season, even winter. Conversely, a dying house plant can cast a dismal pall over any room in any season. Keeping these plants happy, healthy and productive can be a challenge. According to the Epsom Salt Council, magnesium and sulfate are minerals essential to several key phases of plant life, from seed germination to chlorophyll production. In addition, the presence of these minerals aids plants in using phosphorous and nitrogen, which are also vital to plants as fertilizers. Epsom salt, then, doesn't keep your plants alive. It keep your plants living well.

Most Americans already have Epsom salt in the home; we just don't know exactly what it is. Rich in magnesium and sulfur, this salt provides essential minerals to all forms of life, both human and plants. While the most common use of Epsom salt is in foot baths, its virtues to the home gardener cannot be underestimated. Organic gardeners and natural farmers extol its virtues and swear by its results, so it makes sense that everyone could benefit from knowing how to employ these readily available minerals around the house.

This is one out of many examples gardeners use ES.

I am not saying, Citrus fertilizer shouldn't be used. It definately should.
By adding ES and Iron to soil, leaves will remain green. Is it a cure-all. No, it isn't. But it sure helps.
Most fertilizers do not contain complete mineral levels, therefore adding outside ingredients make up for the loss.

I realize this is a Citrus forum, but one example. I tried growing Gardenias for years without success. I addded acidic fertilizer, but that wasn't enough.
After researching, I discoverd Gardenias needed additional iron to survive. I bought another Gardenia, 1994/5, and aside from its fertilizer, added Iron, ES and Superthrive, my Gardenia is alive and well.

A similar problem arose with citrus. Since adding the 3 above ingredients, my citrus are doing great.

BTW, I am not saying I've never lost a plant..I have and probably will in the future, citrus included.
My citrus are nearing 10 yrs old, and have never suffered chlorosis or iron deficiency problems. 21 citrus. Toni

    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 4:18PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

For small amounts of Micromax, you can contact Julian @:

Earth Juice MicroBlast is a liquid micronutrient supplement widely available on the net.

STEM is a soluble preparation. If, after your researching is completed, you decide you want to use STEM, contact me off forum and I'll help.


    Bookmark   October 15, 2010 at 7:50PM
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Thanks for the info, Al, I did see "Earth Juice" during my researches. That might be easiest to obtain.

    Bookmark   October 16, 2010 at 9:52AM
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tonyb416(z5-6 NJ)

Ok, i pulled it out of the pot -- i didn't realize that it was in that MG citrus soil stuff, not the CHC mix. So I repotted it into a mix of pine bark fines, grit, gypsum and perlite (i didn't have any turface). Hope this greens up the leaves a bit 'cuz they're looking mighty yellow now.

-- Tony

    Bookmark   October 18, 2010 at 3:54PM
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