Salt-index of chemical fertilizer & soluble for hot weather

strawchicago(zone 5a)September 24, 2013

Here's a link of salt-index in chemical fertilizers:

The above lists Urea at 74% salt, Ammonium nitrate at 104% salt, ammonium sulfate at 69, ammonium phosphate at 27, and gypsum (calcium sulfate) at 8.

Muriate of Potash is potassium chloride, the stuff that we use to de-ice my slippery sidewalk in zone 5a winter. Salt index of potassium chloride is highest, at 116.

Nitrogen fertilizers are highest in salt. Fabian G. Fernandez, the researcher who compiled U. of Illinois Salt-index, wrote: "In addition to salt injury, some N compounds (such as UAN, urea, and ammonium thiosulfate) produce ammonia, which can cause seedling death. The best fertilizers has a low-salt index, N compounds that do not produce free ammonia, and potassium phosphate - rather than potassium chloride as the K source."

Last night I was looking at site, "Stanford gardening", and it said NOT to use urea nor ammonia fertilizer for tomatoes. Well, I did that last year, and had to water my 12 tomatoes constantly ... less fruits, and too tall plants!

Phosphorus and potassium are less available in alkaline clay, both are bound up with calcium or magnesium. Lime in tap water also drives down both phosphorus and potassium.

Nitrogen mobility is a 10, it moves with water. Potassium mobility is a 3, not much. Phosphorus mobility is a 1, immobile. One research found that granular phosphorus applied on top, only moves 1 inch per year.

Per high phosphorus: it burns in hot weather, best in soluble form, and 1/4 the dosage.

Per high potassium: Wikipedia stated "High nitrogen or potassium induce calcium deficiency." When I gave Paul Neyron rose too much nitrogen, the blooms balled up. High calcium drives down potassium, and vice versa.

Alkaline clay has plenty of nitrogen, I never fertilize my 26 trees, yet they are taller than 2-story house. Rain also brings nitrogen and oxygen. Air is composed of 78% nitrogen, and 20% oxygen.

There's an Australian that lists the salt-index of sulfate of potash as 43.4. Gypsum has salt-index of 8, provides 23% calcium and 17% sulfur. University of California Extension chart listed 1 ton of gypsum as equivalent to 5.38 ton of sulfur. It also listed 1.09 ton of Ferric Sulfate as equivalent to 5.85 ton of sulfur.

Gypsum (calcium sulfate) is fast-acting, thus burns more than slow-released sulfur.

Dolomite provides 25% calcium, 10% magnesium with 0.8 salt. Lime (calcium carbonate) provides 36% calcium with 4.7 salt index. Both lime and dolomite are sold at Kelp4Less, free shipping, will make the surface of soil dry and alkaline, to prevent fungal germination.

Soluble Monopotassium phosphate has low salt index 8.4, and provides 52% phosphorus, and 34% potassium. Superphosphate provides 20% phosphorus, 12% sulfur, low salt index of 7.8. See link below:

The Chicago Botanical Garden, with 5,000 roses, pH of 7.4 loamy soil recommends SOLUBLE fertilizer NPK 20-20-20, with trace elements, 3 times for zone 5b. I tried that, and the salt zapped one of my young rose.

The soluble NPK of 2-20-20 has less nitrogen, low salt index of 7.2. Since MiracleGro Bloom Booster is cheaper with NPK 10-52-10 plus trace elements ... I use 1/4 the dosage to make it NPK 2.5 - 13 - 2.5.

I prefer soluble Organics, alfalfa tea and horse manure. Golden Celebration (middle yellow) is fertilized with soluble Organics .... better quality bloom:

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizer salt index

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Fri, Sep 27, 13 at 16:25

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strawchicago(zone 5a)

My soil pH is 7.7 .. I was concerned that the shell lime added by the stable to their horse manure might make my soil more alkaline. I asked the chemist in the soil forum if lime is mobile, he said, "No, lime stays put where applied."

Hydrated Lime in tap water is unstable. It binds with potassium, phosphorus, and iron. When I water roses with pH 8 tap water, roses are pale, and don't bloom. I have to fix my water by adding gypsum (calcium sulfate) which neutralizes the bicarbonates in tap water to releases nutrients.

Hydrated lime quickly raises soil pH. Lime exists in many forms, and the mobility varies. Here's the info. on lime, slow or fast means the rate of pH increase:

Equivalent Calcium Carbonate pH change

Dolomitic Limestone 70-95 **** Slow Has magnesium

Ground limestone 70-95 ***** Slow

Hydrated Lime 140 ****** Fast Hazardous & caustic

Pelletized Limestone 70-95 ***** Fast More expensive.

Hydrated lime is used for its anti-fungal properties. Here's an excerpt from link below: "18.Food preservation. Hydrated lime is also called pickling lime because it can be used in pickling. Furthermore, hydrated lime has great antimicrobial/antifungal and preservative properties.

Hydrated lime is an active ingredient in the Bordeaux mixture used by vineyards to fight fungus.

Here is a link that might be useful: The many uses of lime

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 9:36

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 1:32PM
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one of the reasons I lost a few roses during the past 3 years, I think my 2 cats and cats in the neighbourhood, have over fertilized the backside shady area closer to the fence on the left side, neighbour's 12ft trees also contribute to the shady area which roses need more of Sun time during the day. I do appreciate your insight to the scientific analysis & improvement of soil conditions related to the healthy growth of roses. The alkaline clay soil in the backyard does need gypsum to loose up & it will help me to follow your guideline to balance the nutrients for the roses.

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 4:51PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Hi seaweed: I agree that gypsum is great to break up hard clay in the planting hole, but too much chemicals on the surface can burn roots, and kill beneficial surface soil bacteria, which encourages pathogenic fungal growth.

I planted 2 roses yesterday, bought as band-size end of July. Their roots grew to be solid 2-gallons root ball. They were fertilized with diluted molasses, potassium from banana peels, and a tiny bit of gypsum. I used 1/2 tablespoon per 2 gallons of water.

Gypsum worked great when I diluted a tiny bit of gypsum (calcium sulfate) to lower my pH 8 tap water .... but I get tired of doing that, so I got this clever idea of dumping 1/2 cup of gypsum around each bush .. rust & mildew & black spots breaking out. Too much calcium drives down potassium (necessary for disease-prevention). Plus gypsum is caustic, and kills off beneficial bacteria that suppress pathogenic fungi.

Total disaster: acid burn, and blooms became almost white & faded & lost scent. Salt-index of gypsum is 8, but 1 lb. of gypsum is equivalent to 5.38 lbs. of sulfur (see link below). Knowing that too much calcium drives down potassium, I dumped potassium sulfate (salt index 43) ..... more salt and acid damage.

Luckily I did that to a handful of my roses, and not 55. Lesson well learned: Organics is best, can't overkill on that stuff. Even then I screwed up: Last fall I dumped too much alfalfa meal in the pot of Comte de Chambord .. it gunked up on top, choking Comte into chlorosis. Then we got constant rain, and that acidic & sticky alfalfa hosted pathogenic fungi really well ... enough for giant black spots on Comte.

Last fall I was so disgusted and planted Comte in the ground, with nothing but my alkaline clay, pH 7.7 ... Comte is still clean today, as long as I don't dump stuff on top to mess up my soil's balance of microbes.

Here is a link that might be useful: UCdavis on gypsum and changing soil pH

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 9:42

    Bookmark   September 24, 2013 at 7:38PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

I bought a 25 lbs. bag of dry chicken manure at Menards for $8.99. It's Chickity-Do-Do, with NPK 5 / 3 / 2.5 with 9% calcium. It's stinky. The recommended dose is 1 lb. per 100 sq. feet.

I checked on chicken manure and found this quote in Peter-Beales Rose Forum, by Stephanie: "I had to resurrect a garden where the good owner overdid it and ‘fried’ the roses. That was a spectacular fertilizer burn! She did not give much of the stuff but over time it was just too much for her roses."

Chicken manure has 10% salt, and is the most salty among manures. Fish meal has from 2% salt (Herring), to the Blue Whiting at 4%. Both are stinky. Fresh chicken manure burns. Here's a quote from Farm Forum:

•Posted by carmen_grower_2007 4/5 (My Page)

"Put it in a pile outdoors and let it sit for a year to completely compost with the moisture of snow and rain. I used bedding fresh as a mulch and absolutely nothing grew in that area for over a year. If you took it straight from the chicken coop, there wasn't enough moisture in it to let it compost completely."

Below is an excellent site on chicken manure such as it's alkaline, fresh manure burns, and it's higher in nitrogen than other manures.

Here is a link that might be useful: Royal Horticultural Society on Chicken manure

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Thu, Oct 24, 13 at 11:48

    Bookmark   October 24, 2013 at 11:00AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Since my clay soil is tested less available in phosphorus due to high pH 7.7, I use Jobes' Organic Tomato Fertilizer inside the planting hole, once the pH is brought down. Its NPK is 2-7-4. Info for Jobes' organic tomato fertilizer:

Derived from: Feather Meal, Bone Meal, Composted Poultry, Manure, Sulfate of Potash. Also Contains Non-Plant Food Ingredients:

Bacteria (CFU's/ lb.) : Contains 12,606 colony forming units (CFU's) of: Arthrobacter Globiformis, Arthrobacter simplex, azotobacter Chroococcum, Azobacter paspali, Azosprillum lipoferum, Strepomyces griseoflavis and Pseudomonas fluorescens.

*** compare to Epsoma tomatoe-tone, with NPK 3-4-6:

Feather meal, poultry manure, cocoa meal, bone meal, alfalfa meal, green sand, humates, sulfate of potash, and gypsum. It has a different set of microbes than Jobes', see below for Epsoma's list of microbes:

I once had a Heirloom hybrid tea (grafted on Dr. Huey), inside a composted pine fines potting soil, with 1 cup of Epsoma Holly-tone (with sulfur) ... the color was deep purple, very gaudy. I find that the trace elements of composted pine fines shift the color to the blue range, and the trace elements in bone meal made the color deep and vibrant.

I tested SOLUBLE triple-superphosphate, NPK 0-52-0, on a few roses. I didn't see any improvement in color like with bone meal, but superphosphate turned my Stephen Big Purple into gaudy red, see below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Epsoma Tomatoe-Tone NPK 3-4-6

    Bookmark   November 18, 2013 at 6:15PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Less chemical fertilizer also means less watering. I found a great blog by Carolyn Parker in CA. Here's an excerpt on her page about drought-tolerant roses:

"They found that the sturdy once-blooming Gallicas, Albas and Centifolias did very well in drought conditions. However they were more interested in rebloomers like Old Blush.

They discovered that other China roses ��" Cramoisi Superieur, Hermosa, Matteo's Silk Butterflies ��" did very well with little water. They found that Tea roses ��" such as Duchesse de Brabant and Georgetown Tea ��" survived harsh conditions as well.

Dr. Steven George, an Extension horticulturist at Texas A&M University, took the search for hardy, drought-resistant roses a few steps further. In 1996, he began a scientific study that subjected 468 roses to extreme conditions. The roses were never fertilized, never sprayed, received no supplemental watering after the first year and were never pruned, other than to remove deadwood.

The winners

Eleven roses emerged as spectacular performers. They were introduced in 2002 as EarthKind roses. The first group included Sea Foam, Marie Daly, the Fairy, Caldwell Pink, Red Knock Out, Perle d'Or, Belinda's Dream, Else Poulsen, Carefree Beauty, Mutabilis and Climbing Pinkie."

Here is a link that might be useful: Roses and drought by Carolyn Parker in CA

This post was edited by Strawberryhill on Sun, May 4, 14 at 11:19

    Bookmark   November 19, 2013 at 7:19PM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

There's a severe drought in CA right now, and Las Vegas next. Found great suggestions in the Drought Forum, such as skip spring fertilizer (lush growth requires more water to support), plus use efficient drip-hose. See link below:

Here is a link that might be useful: Getting roses through a drought - Drought forum

    Bookmark   February 2, 2014 at 10:30PM
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in this hot weather, good to cut off fresh roses early morning, here is today's roses from the top;
Tiffany, Double Delight, 2 Rainbow Sorbet, pink Cymbeline
next row, Tournament of Roses (3rd day in the vase), Gemini, Rock & Roll, 3 William Shakespeare 2000, big red Liebeszauber, 3rd row, coral Passionate Kisses, Donna Darlin' and last row, 2 red Lasting Love and big Liebeszauber, I raise 3 chicks, they give me endless supply of their manure, very diluted in the tab water, sure has been a rewarding experience for me & my roses.

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 12:52AM
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strawchicago(zone 5a)

Thank you, Seaweed, for the best bouquet of roses ever !! Thanks for identify the names of them. I love the big blooms like your Gemini, and the bi-color ones like Double Delight, Rainbow Sorbet, and Rock & Roll.

This past winter in my zone 5a was harsh. Most of my roses died down to 4", so I had to prune drastically. The roses in the low-land with the most water survived the winter well. The roses in the high-land, less water, will be late in sprouting, perhaps mid-June.

Less chemicals mean less salt, and better winter-survival. One rose-grower in zone 4 remarked that it's not the cold that kill roses, it's the drying out that kills. Two of my rhododendrons died this past winter, due to the salt used to de-ice my front walk.

Potassium chloride is used to de-ice frozen walkway. It has a high salt index of 116.2. That's the same stuff sold as Epsoma Potash, or Muriate of Potash, used in many commercial fertilizers. More chemical fertilizers mean less winter-survival for roses. The below link listed potassium chloride at an even higher salt-index of 120.

Here is a link that might be useful: Calculating salt index of chemical fertilizers

    Bookmark   May 4, 2014 at 11:33AM
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