Plant care, Saving a plant that received too much fertilizer

My mother always had the most amazing flower gardens. She also had a vegetable garden but her flower gardens were her pride and joy. I remember one day when I was young I went downtown with my mother. When we returned my father had decided to help out in the garden. Unknowingly he over fertilized the garden.

My mother took one look and knew this was not going to be beneficial to the garden. Unfortunately many of the plants suffered and died. The strong chemicals in high doses burned the leaves and shocked the plants.

Signs a plant has had too much fertilizer are wilting leaves, brown or yellow spots on the leaves and even death

The most important step is to prevent the problem. Read the directions on any product to select the right amount to use and always water the plant first before apply fertilizer. If you think you have a plant that received too much fertilizer these are the steps to take to save your plant.

If the fertilizer was sprinkled on the leaves or soil remove as much of the powder as possible. The next step is the use of water.

For garden plants you will need to dilute the amount of fertilizer in the soil by leaching the soil with water. Leaching is a process where you run large amounts of water around the roots of the plant to drive the excess fertilizer deep into the soil and past the root zone. Next you will want to allow the water to trickle from the hose at the base of the plant for at least 1/2 hour.

If your plant is in a pot fill the pot with water.  Let the pot drain and repeat the process at least four times. The water will flush the fertilizer past the root zone and out the drainage hole in the pot. 

Now it’s time to remove any damaged or burned-looking foliage.  Injured foliage can’t be revived and it’ best to remove it completely. Leaving it on the plant will just make the plant look sickly plus damaged leaves can attract pests and disease. Use scissors and cut off any injured leaves.

It’s the nitrogen in the fertilizer that damages the roots so that the plant can’t utilize nutrients. Fresh manure in a garden will have the same effect. Plants benefit from fertilizers but precautions must be used.

A final note: always read the directions carefully and when in doubt ask for advice.  Also make sure to put away any chemicals so that children and pets will not get into these toxic products.

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