University of Maryland Extension

Fertilizer Toxicity or High Soluble Salts from Excessive Fertilizer - Houseplants

fertilizer damage houseplant

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High soluble salt levels are caused by the excessive use of fertilizers, frequent applications of fertilizer, and the incorrect use of fertilizer concentrates.

Symptoms: The typical symptoms are browning or dieback of the leaf tips and margins. Sometimes yellowing or stunting may occur. The root systems will also show dieback and decay. Fertilizer salts may also accumulate on the surface of the potting media as a white crust, especially if bottom watered, and cause stem collapse at the soil line. Salt deposits may be visible on the outsides of clay pots.

Management: Use the proper fertilizer analysis at the correct rate and frequency. Large pots with growing media that have excessive salts can be flushed or leached by irrigating with clear water. Allow the water to run out the bottom of the pot and repeat the several irrigations with a volume at least that of the pot size. Smaller pots with media high in salts should have the growing media replaced.

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