What are symptoms of fertilizer salt damage?

arctictropical(Z4)May 19, 2010

I have an earlier post on older plants with new growth leaves that are smaller. Some get a brown, or burnt looking edge. Most are more yellow than normal. I think that it has been because of fertilizer salt build up in the soil. I flushed the pots with fresh water for the first time since last Summer (I grow them under HO grow lights during the winter). I think they are doing better already. Has anyone else had any experience with recognizing fertilizer salt build up in potted plants?

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tdogdad(Zone 9)

You will often see white salts around the holes or in the case of glazed pots, oozing from the pot. Burnt leaves are also a sign. I always flush pots during the hot days of the summer to clean accumulations.

    Bookmark   May 19, 2010 at 6:24PM
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Thanks.... I'm sure that was the problem. Since I flushed all of my potted plummies last Saturday, the plants did an "about face" and are starting to come out of their sickly look. I think I will flush them about every fourth watering, just to make sure. I about killed off all of my older plants from not doing this.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 3:15PM
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tdogdad(Zone 9)

A couple of times a season is fine. The salts take time to accumulate unless you are over fertilizing.

    Bookmark   May 21, 2010 at 7:19PM
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Salt will also build up if you use tap water to water your plants like we have in southern California. Our water in my area is a mix of well water from deep local wells and salt laden water from the Colorado River that we import into California. After using this stuff to water potted plants for two months you can see a crust of minerals and salt form on the surface of the soil in the pot and around the rim and base of the pot if you bottom water. In really bad cases the plant will turn purple and dry up and wither away. That's why I collect rain water and use it until it runs out.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 11:59AM
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Hey, great idea, Californian! I hadn't thought about collecting rain water. Our tap water is the best tasting artesian well water, but it is harder than nails! Guess I'll have to set some containers outside when it rains.

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 9:35PM
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craftymama132001(Ohio (5))

I only use rain water for all my plants. I have 3 - 55 gal. containers going. lol Of course, during May Ohio has an abundance of rain, so it's easy to fill the containers. I've never seen salt buildup on any of my containers. Gotta love rain water! I hope you all have a great Memorial Day weekend!!!!

    Bookmark   May 28, 2010 at 11:39PM
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Hello plant world, I am a fairly inexperienced gardener who is working indoors on a few potted plants. Recently I noticed a few of my plants had a white crust developing along the sides of the pot, and some of the tips of the plant were drying up and dying. I tried flushing the plants' soil, and for most of them it seemed to work, but for my basil (in the largest pot) the salt reappeared today in another part of the same pot! Advice?

Also, after flushing the next day the soil is still pretty damp. I heard salt develops from underwatering, so should I water them a day after flushing?

Anyway, any help is greatly appreciated. I'm going to try using rainwater, probably a lot better then tap, especially here in Jersey ;) Thanks!

    Bookmark   August 11, 2010 at 12:29PM
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The white crust might be a combination of fertilizer salts and hard water deposits. I have terribly hard water, and so I water my plants with 1/2 soft water and 1/2 hard water (my kitchen tap has soft water in the hot tap, and hard water in the cold tap). It seems to work for me. I suppose rain water is the best, but we don't get any rain to speak of during the summer months in Utah. As long as I flush my plants occasionally, my plants are thriving with no problems.

    Bookmark   August 15, 2010 at 7:44PM
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newgen(9 Central California)

How much rain can you collect in a year? Is it enough to use until the next rain season? I never paid attention to the rain months before, but will now.

    Bookmark   August 19, 2010 at 1:04AM
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