foliar-pro - epsom salt usage

kandhi(z7VA)February 5, 2011

I have been using diluted foliar-pro everytime I water my my tropical plants in 5-1-1mix indoors. Al the plants are doing very well no leaf drop nor chlorosis. Since all the leaves look so green, I did not feel the need to use epsom salt. Does using foliar-pro fertilizer provides enough requiered nutrients to restrich leaves to turn yellow where I do not need to supplement with eposom salt? Before I came to know about foliarpro, I have been using epsom salt to treat chlorosis.

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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

'Clorosis' is a broad term with many potential causes. Many nutrient deficiencies and unfavorable cultural conditions have the potential to cause chlorotic foliage, so reaching for a single element (or in this case, a compound meant to deliver a single element, magnesium) is generally not the best course.

To achieve the optimum fertility level in a soil, several things need to occur (we'll discount pH levels for now). We need to have the 12 essential elements available to plants present in the soil and available for uptake. For container culture, the easiest and surest way of doing this is to use a soluble fertilizer that contains all 12 essentials. Surprisingly, most soluble fertilizers lack two or more of the essentials. The main two they lack are Ca and Mg. We also need to have the nutrients supplied in a ratio that is close to that in which the plant actually uses the nutrients. I'll give an example: If you're building a product that requires 3 bolts of 1 kind, 1 of another kind, and 2 of yet another, what happens if you can only buy boxes of bolts with equal numbers of each bolt in every box? Obviously, you need to buy enough bolts to build the product, so you buy enough to meet the requirements of the most used bolt. That means for every 3 bolts you use, you throw 3 away. The same thing happens with fertilizers. Your plants USE NPK in about a 3:1:2 RATIO, so if you use a 1:1:1 ratio, like 20-20-20, 1/3 of the fertilizer is contributing unnecessarily to the o/a level of soluble salts in the soil.

This leads to the second thing that needs to occur if we are trying to optimize our nutrient supplementation. We need to have all 12 essential nutrients available at the lowest level possible (facilitates water & nutrient uptake) w/o the level being low enough to induce a deficiency. That's not quite realistic, so we usually define 'optimum' as a 'range' between adequacy and luxury levels that is considered favorable; but the principle behind the idea that it's better/easier to keep o/a nutrient levels in a favorable range is sound. The easiest and most effective way to do this is to fertilize with the same amounts of nutrients the plant is actually using. We do this by controlling the RATIO in which we provide the nutrients, AND the dose.

You CAN'T do it with, say a 10-15-10 houseplant fertilizer. The reason is that you're going to end up supplying fertilizer based on the plant's N needs. The plant uses 6X more N than P, so after we factor for the fact that P is actually reported as PO5 (phosphorous pentoxide) we find that 10-15-10 supplies 4X as much P as the plant will or can use in relation to N. The rest adds unnecessarily to the o/a level of salts in the soil solution.

Last, the ratio of nutrients to each other needs to be favorable. This helps prevent build-up of any one nutrient, and prevents antagonistic (one nutrient being present in a quantity great enough to prevent the uptake of another or other nutrients.

So - back to your original question: It's very unlikely that you would need to add Epsom salts if you are fertilizing regularly with FP 9-3-6. It's actually more likely to cause a loss of potential (growth vitality) than it it is to be an improvement.

Many people mistakenly identify greenest with healthiest, but that idea is far from supportable. There are lots of things you can do to make your plants greener that retard growth and have a negative impact on vitality. Oversupplying Mg and Fe are the two most common.

Usually, chlorosis in most forms and from most causes can be 'cured' by regular fertilizer applications, keeping the soil flushed so there is no excess build-up of individual nutrients, or adding an appropriate acid (vinegar or citric acid) to your irrigation water to bring its pH level down into the 5.0-5.8 range.

Whew! ;o)

Al

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 10:13AM
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kandhi(z7VA)

Al, Thanks for explanation. I think I used wrong term for yellowing leaves. Coming to your point where you said 'fertilizing regularly with FP 9-3-6. It's actually more likely to cause a loss of potential (growth vitality) than it it is to be an improvement' Does using FP regularly cause loss of growth vitaility? You are right about growth, my plants look same and I do not see much growth. Do I need to use something else to improve growth vitality in addition to foliar pro? Specially my plants in small containers they always look stunted in growth yet healthy in condition. I might be missing something which is restricting the growth vitality despite providing all other conditions for growth (light, humidity, water and FP).

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 10:49AM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

My question is why are you using Epsom Salts with the 5-1-1?

The 5-1-1 incorporates Dolomitic Garden Lime - not Gypsum.
It is the Gritty Mix, which uses Gypsum, for which Epsom Salts + Foliage Pro is recommended.

Josh

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 12:16PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Sorry for the confusion. That sentence referred to the previous sentence where I'd mentioned supplementing with Epsom salts (more likely to cause harm than improvement).

It's not unusual for plants to grow very slowly at this time of year. Low light and often cool temperatures, plus the genetic tendency of many plants to simply spend the winter taking it easy, all combine to slow things down. As the days lengthen and we get past the vernal equinox so day length is greater than night length, your plants should start thinking seriously about ending their vacation. ;o)

Plus what Josh said. There is more than enough Mg in the dolomite + the fertilizer, so you don't need to supplement it with anything.

Al

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 1:36PM
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kandhi(z7VA)

Al, I re-read your earlier response to understand it better. Thanks for clarification. I might have confused with gritty vs 5:1:1 mix on fertilization needs. My plants are actually doing much better since I moved them into 5:1:1 mix last year and it is all because of valuabled advice from you and other members on this forum. Always learning...

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 1:44PM
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jane__ny(9-10)

Are your plants getting enough light? If your tropicals are not growing, it suggests you need more light not more fertilizer. I would suggest increasing your light and see if you start getting some new growth.

Jane

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 2:32PM
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kandhi(z7VA)

Jane, all the plants are in southfacing sunroom and they get a lot of sunlight. I think I am just greedy expecting a lot on tropicals during wintertime when outside temp is in 20s. As Al said in his email above,my plants should start thinking seriously about ending their vacation soon...

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 4:16PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

That's already been mentioned.

"It's not unusual for plants to grow very slowly at this time of year. Low light and often cool temperatures,
plus the genetic tendency of many plants to simply spend the winter taking it easy, all combine to slow things
down. As the days lengthen and we get past the vernal equinox so day length is greater than night length, your
plants should start thinking seriously about ending their vacation."

Josh

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 4:17PM
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greenman28 NorCal 7b/8a

Sorry Kandhi! We crossposted! ;-)
I didn't want you to think I was being curt with you in my post above!
You are quite correct - your plants will be perking up shortly.

Josh

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 4:22PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Kandhi - your fertilizer program is fine as it is. You've probably read the several discussions that explained why what you're doing works very well with the kind of soil you are using, so I wouldn't be in a hurry to make any changes. It's hard to be patient sometimes, eh? ;o) Most people that use fast soils have found that the practice of applying frequent doses at low levels and flushing the soil offers a considerable advantage over larger doses or withholding fertilizer entirely for extended periods.

I'm watching my GS (9 yrs old) sword fight on the WII. His avatar is a male. When he lost his first match, I said "Uh oh, that's all she wrote, huh?" He replied, "Actually, it's a boy." ...... kids! ;o)

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 4:50PM
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kandhi(z7VA)

Al, patience with plants..hmm.. take care of them more than kids......Glad to hear from you that I am following right fertilizer program.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 5:55PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Al

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 7:04PM
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jane__ny(9-10)

Kandhi, I was trying to think of a reason why you haven't seen any growth. I'm in zone 5-6 which is colder than you. I've been getting a lot of new growth on my tropicals. I don't have a sunroom and I don't fertilize during winter.

What tropicals do you grow?

Jane

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 8:00PM
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kandhi(z7VA)

Jane, I grow plumeria, michelia's all varieties of fragrant jasmines, gardenia's, banana's and citrus. I am more into fragrant tropical plants. Except citrus plants I do not see any new growth on other plants and that is how it is. Plumeria's shed all their leaves in winter as we all know. Michelia skinneriana is full of buds and they are going to bloom anytime soon, jasmines, i do not see growth in winter and that's how they are but once spring/summer is here they just shoot up.

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 9:18PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Kamdhi,

Just wanted to say hello to a fellow Virginian!!!

I remember your beautiful pictures of your Plumeria on your back deck...hope all is well with you...

Take care everyone...

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 10:06PM
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jane__ny(9-10)

Wow, sounds beautiful! I grew Plumerias for years until they became too big to move in and out. I did put them under CFL's in winter to keep them going. I also forced dormancy but found I got better flowering when I kept them in leaf.

You should be seeing some growth soon.

Good luck and please post some pictures of your blooms,

Jane

    Bookmark   February 5, 2011 at 10:22PM
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kandhi(z7VA)

Laura, good to hear from you, everything is well. Hope the same with you. I do visit VB every year and visit Mcdonalds' nursery on the wayback. Please send me an email on any other good nurseries that I can visit for unique tropicals that I can grown in pots or in ground in Va.

Jane, Thanks for you kind words, my plumeria's are also getting too big to store indoors almost 6-7ft tall. I will have to trim them this year. They tend to bloom more and early if I leave then in sunroom than in basement in dormant phase. Below is setup of my jasmines section in my sunroom.

.

.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 8:56AM
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meyermike_1micha(5)

Kandhi!! I remember you from the fragrance forum. NIce to see you!

I LOVE all your plants and especially the plumeria, which Laura knows I have a thing for, and your Jasmines.

How in the world do you avoid or keep mites at bay with such tall jasmines? That is the one thing I am so afraid of battling with if I buy some. I love them, yet know there are so many hiding spots on the leaves. That room must smell so good.

That jasmine with the white flowers, is it one of the best fragrance ones?
Have you ever grown night blooming jasmine? I tried once, and no matter what I did, I could not keep mites off of that 3 years ago. I was told to just cut them back and let them go wild in the spring outdoors. Is this what you do?

I too have the same likes in plants in you if you have not already noticed.
They have to give off a fragrance, flower, or be quite unique in color appearance on the leaves to occupy prime space in my house.

Hello everyone else. I hope you all have a great day!

Mike

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 9:44AM
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jojosplants(9/ Tucson, Az.)

Kandhi~
Your plants are beautiful!

I have a few tropical plants. All are in the 5-1-1 or the Gritty mix, a good sunny window and have the right humidity.

The pineapple refused to slow down. lol! and continued to grow all winter, but the banana's came to almsot a halt. I cut back on the amount of water, but continued to feed them.

They are waking up now, and yesterday I found 3 new leaves!, so yours should be soon too.

You were given some great advice up thread and will do fine.

Patience with plants was the hardest thing I had to learn. ;-) I'm getting there though. :-)

Al~ your Grandson sounds like a cutie! What kids will tell us! LOL!!!

My youngest niece got me with something similar Friday...
It was pajama day at school..I told her it was too cold for jammies. I hear..."Aunt Jo, that's why i'm wearing my winter ones! She's 9 also. :-)
Put me in my place. LOL!

JoJo

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 11:00AM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Lol - you aren't kidding! Talking about pajamas ..... This AM, GS was changing from his pajamas into his clothes before we went to breakfast, and his overnight backpack happened to be in the family room where I was at the 'puter. He said, "Grandpa, turn around while I change. It wouldn't be proper if you saw my junk." I'm thinking I need to have a talk with my #1 son about how kids pick things up ..... (rolling eyes).

Sorry for going OT, Kandhi. I beg a thousand pardons. ;o) I just thought it was cute.

I'm enjoying following your thread, btw.

Al

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 2:00PM
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Loveplants2 8b Virginia Beach, Virginia

Hello Everyone...

Hi Al...Had to laugh at your Grandson too...Just the other day, my 21 year old finally came to ask a personal question...then he finally admittted.."well...since you were the only one who has ever seen me naked..." I had to hold it back...LOL...Then I had to be serious...Love those kids...makes me wonder what are they thinking?..LOL

Thanks Kandhi...I will send you an email to let you know the different places that I enjoy...love to see you if you ever want to stop by...always welcome here!!!

Take care everyone...

Laura in VB

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 3:56PM
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jane__ny(9-10)

What a sunroom, Kandhi. So much sun. I wonder why you let the Plumies go dormant? I would leave them out in all that sunlight. I had a large sunroom but it was unheated. Many plants had to come back in the house when the temps got too low. Even space heaters couldn't keep the space warm.

I would love Jamine. I'm also curious how you deal with spider mites. I would battle them on the Plumerias and shied away from any other mite magnets.

Good growing,
Jane

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 4:13PM
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kandhi(z7VA)

Al, good to hear stories of your grandkids:)..keep sharing

MIke, it's a constant battle with spider mites, I use neemoil that seem to work for me very well and I do maintain good temp/have the ceiling fan on for most of the day and I do wash the plants once a month so it is a big chore to keep them off my plants but they do creep in here and there sometimes.

Jojo, thanks,can't wait for my banana's to grow..

Laura, will lookforward for your email.. thanks for the invite, I will let you know in advance

Jane, I have 1gallon plumies in sunroom but the 7gallon pots take too much space and hubby is not happy having them in the sunroom as he keeps tripping on them. He needs space for his morning tea in that room.

    Bookmark   February 6, 2011 at 8:12PM
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