Michelia Alba leaves turning pale green, what to do?

azmomSeptember 26, 2013

I have three small Michelia Alba trees planted in pots. They are doing well, and have been producing many blooms. Now leaves on one of the trees are turning pale green. What should I do?

Thank you in advance for any advice you may offer.

This post was edited by azmom on Sat, Mar 29, 14 at 10:20

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Did this happen after you feed the plant?

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 12:04PM
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I loaded photos of these 3 small trees. The left and right one are about 5 feet tall, the middle one is around 4 feet.

three trees -1

three trees - 2

The ones with pal color leaves is the tree of the left.

The leaves on the tree in the middle look spotty too, but so much greener.

The tree at right side is the one with flowers now. It has 8 blooms.

All 3 trees give flowers. I feed Fish Fertilizer monthly. Occasionally, I add Peter's amazing soil. Because our extremely hot summer, I water them when the saucer is dry, may be three times a week.

During none summer seasons, water once a week, or when the soil feels dry. All 3 trees look happy, but the pal color leaves are worrisome. Especially the one on the left.

What should I feed them?

Thank you.

    Bookmark   September 26, 2013 at 7:58PM
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As long as the leaves are not dropping a lot, they are still safe.

There's some form of chlorosis going on there. Too much of certain element can inhibit the absorption of another.

Since you are living in the States, I recommend you to use Miracle Grow liquid fert(comes in crystal form). It's all the good stuff in one and you should begin to see improvement in 2-3 days.

    Bookmark   September 27, 2013 at 6:26AM
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I would say over watering and in a mix that stays wet to often, a non porous one combined with salt toxicity which is very bad for these trees..

It seems the other ones are likely to follow.

I would get rid of those saucers and pull back on watering until your mix has almost fully dried out which may take a while since I think your mix is much too organic for these trees..

Those roots are dying and no matter what you feed them, they will not take up nutrients and in fact die even further until you let the fine roots heal/breath.

Once your mix dries out, flush your mix out with fresh water and let it drain freely..

See if pulling back on watering and flushing your mixes out makes difference...


    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 9:10AM
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Our summer here is hot and dry, the temperature stays above 105 for months, and often it goes above 120F. In hot summer days, it takes one day for saucers to dry. I don't think they have been over watered.

The trees do not look dying since new leaves, flower bulbs pop out all the time. When the temperature was lower, they are big and plump. Now they are smaller due to high temperature. They have been growing much taller since last winter when they were short and with a few leaves.

I removed one tree from the pot to exam, the roots looked normal. The potting soil I used is mixed with cactus and palm soil to improve the drainage.

I think as Tolip suggested, non-chlorotic could be the issue. Thank you Tolip.

I just feed the plants with KeRex, Super Iron Chelate that was sold by Bakers, imo, it is the best nursery in town.

Mike, you do remind me to leech the plants; I have not done it for a while. Thank you.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 2:56PM
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If you mix is porous and it dries out that fast, then I think the next step thing to keep in mind is that it's just to darn hot for your trees to take up nutrients???

Yes, flushing your mixes out is also very good for your plants.I find that many of my plants in hot places actually rebel like that and become like that..

Mine loves only morning or late afternoon sun and cool temps..I mean 80's or lower..

I hope your weather cools so you will know...

I must say that because you are using saucers all year probably because of that very nice floor, it is a must that you flush your pots with fresh water at least once a month with Alba plants..

Hope it all works out for you

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 7:29PM
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As I said it's some form of chlorosis. The cause of it is not immediately known. It's either due to the acidity of the soil that prevents the absorption of certain element or it could be due to the presence of too much of some element that prevents the absorption of another. Whatever it is, it is best to feed with a fertilizer that's balanced. By balanced I don't mean the NPK numbers. It should be a fertilizer that has all the necessary nutrients and trace elements in it. Takes care of all existing deficiencies and also keeps the plant flowering too.

    Bookmark   September 28, 2013 at 10:19PM
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Tolip and I have given you many reason and suggestions of what could be causing this to your trees...

Please let us know when you have finally cured the problem..

Good luck


    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 9:42AM
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Tolip and Mike,

According to the label on the KeRex, it "prevents metallic iron from combining with other compounds in the soil, and allows it to remain free and available to the plant." It is suitable for alkaline soils that we have here.

Biology and chemistry are the weakest areas of my academic background; therefore I have no idea how accurate and truthful the label claims. In addition, since the plants are in potting soils instead of alkaline soils, I am not sure how KeRex would help. But heck, l feed the plants with it nonetheless. Worst of worst, the plants would die; yet it is not the end of the world.

Growing Michelia Alba in low desert is challenging to say the least. We have all the âÂÂshould not haveâ in our environment. I have had these three plants for 3 years, and have been keeping them indoor during cold winter and on the back yard patio the rest of the year. They receive morning sun until noon, then are in the shade of our house.

Yesterday I moved them onto the grass where they would receive filtered sunlight until noon, and then under the shade of big trees. Without saucers, the water would flow freely to the grass area.

Now, our temperature is 90s in the day and 60s during the night. I will wait for a couple of weeks before giving them light dose of miracle grow.

I also grow Grand Dukes and Plumerias, they are so easy to take care. In comparison, tendering Michelia Alba is such a pain, but the intoxicate fragrance from the blooms is 2nd to none, it makes every effort worthwhile.

I will follow up after a few weeks. Thank you again.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 9:51PM
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I notice your plumeria is also exhibiting the same symptoms. So it's due to something you fed the plants with.

    Bookmark   September 29, 2013 at 11:27PM
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Tolip brought up a good point that I totally missed and I am not sure if you did?

Your fertilizer is not a well balanced, and not readily available in which one that causing cause issues like this..
To much of one certain nutrient can cause a problem with another too....
F.E never satisfied any of my plants and in fact caused yellowing..

Use a well balanced fertilizer and watch the pH of your water..Growing in containers is far different than growing in pots..
The pH of your watering solution is what important at the time of feeding...It should be acidic in which vinegar can do this making nutrients readily available when fertilizing.

Tolip suggested a good fertilizer and I would do that as soon as possible...

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 8:18AM
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Guys thank you again.

You are absolutely right! Indeed I have been feeding the plants with unbalanced fertilizer. At home now I only have regular Miracle Gro All Purpose Plant Food (not liquid type) and Super Bloom flower food ((12-55-6) with 0.10% Chalated iron). Can I feed the plants with these fertilizers? especially right after I feed KeRex?

I will have to wait until Friday to get other types fertilizers from Bakers. Do you have any other recommendations?

Being so heavy, it is hard to move the large Plumeria. Its leaves got sun burn (is it right term?) as being exposed to strong sunlight. It still gives flowers with strong apricot scent, very sweet and beautiful. The little one sits under the shade, it has nice, dark green leaves, not as pale as in the photos.

The temperature is cooling down, throughout the weekend and today, I checked the Michelia Albas, they all look happy at the new spots. One even gives two more blooms.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 11:04PM
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First and foremost follow the instructions for the Kerex. As it is just iron supplement, I don't think it will cause root burn. I believe for the plants to get the best benefit from the new fertilizers, it is best to feed in warm weather. So yes catch it while you can.

I've read somewhere that fish emulsion is usually used together with seaweed extract to get an almost complete fertilizer. Seaweed as we know contains a lot of essential trace elements.

Hope your plants improve and check back so we all can learn.

    Bookmark   September 30, 2013 at 11:51PM
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Follow up -

Since last fall when temperature cooled down (except this past Jan. when it was too cold) I have been feeding 3 Michelia Alba plants every 2 or 3 weeks alternately with Miracle Grow liquid fert. and fish emulsion fert. Twice I feed the plants with KeRex.

All three plants have been growing very well with lots of new leaves that are green, bigger and beautiful. The plants look very healthy and happy. They have been producing a lot more flowers and of bigger size. I believe Miracle Grow liquid fert. is the one does the trick. It cured the imbalance problem that caused chlorosis.

Many thanks to Tolip for the great suggestion!

    Bookmark   March 29, 2014 at 9:41AM
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