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Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
Fri, May 6, 11 at 10:44

This subject has proven popular on the Container Gardening Forum, having reached the maximum number of posts allowed on two previous occasions, so I'll post it for its third go-round. Nutrient supplementation has been discussed frequently, but usually in piecemeal fashion on this and forum and other forums related. Prompted originally by a question about fertilizers in another thread, I decided to collect a few thoughts & present a personal overview.


Fertilizer Program - Containerized Plants III

Let me begin with a brief and hopefully not too technical explanation of how plants absorb water from the soil and how they obtain the nutrients/solutes that are dissolved in that water. Most of us remember from our biology classes that cells have membranes that are semi-permeable. That is, they allow some things to pass through the walls, like water and select elements in ionic form dissolved in the water, while excluding other materials like large organic molecules. Osmosis is a natural phenomenon that is nature's attempt at creating a balance (isotonicity) in the concentration of solutes in water inside and outside of cells. Water and ionic solutes will pass in and out of cell walls until an equilibrium is reached and the level of solutes in the water surrounding the cell is the same as the level of solutes in the cell.

This process begins when the finest roots absorb water molecule by molecule at the cellular level from colloidal surfaces and water vapor in soil gasses, along with the nutrient load dissolved in that water, and distribute water and nutrients throughout the plant. I want to keep this simple, so I'll just say that the best water absorption occurs when the level of solutes in soil water is lowest, and in the presence of good amounts of oxygen (this is where I get to plug a well-aerated and free-draining soil). Deionized (distilled) water contains no solutes, and is easiest for plants to absorb. Of course, since distilled water contains no nutrients, using it alone practically guarantees deficiencies of multiple nutrients as the plant is shorted the building materials (nutrients) it needs to manufacture food, keep its systems orderly, and keep its metabolism running smoothly.

We already learned that if the dissolved solutes in soil water are low, the plant may be well-hydrated, but starving; however, if they are too high, the plant may have a large store of nutrients in the soil but because of osmotic interference the plant may be unable to absorb the water and could die of thirst in a sea of plenty. When this condition occurs, and is severe enough (high concentrations of solutes in soil water), it causes fertilizer burn (plasmolysis), a condition seen when plasma is torn from cell walls as the water inside the cell exits to maintain solute equilibrium with the water surrounding the cell.

Our job, because we cannot depend on an adequate supply of nutrients being supplied by the organic component of a container soil as it breaks down, is to provide a solution of dissolved nutrients in a concentration high enough that the supply remains in the adequate to luxury range, yet still low enough that it remains easy for the plant to take up enough water to be well-hydrated and free of drought stress. Electrical conductivity (EC) of, and the level of TDS (total dissolved solids) in the soil solution is a reliable way to judge the adequacy of solute concentrations and the plant's ability to take up water. There are meters that measure these concentrations, and for most plants the ideal range of conductivity is from 1.5 - 3.5 mS, with some, like tomatoes, being as high as 4.5 mS. This is more technical than I wanted to be, but I added it in case someone wanted to search 'mS' or 'TDS' or 'EC'. Most of us, including me, will have to be satisfied with simply guessing at concentrations, but understanding how plants take up water and fertilizer, as well as the effects of solute concentrations in soil water is an important piece of the fertilizing puzzle.

Now, some disconcerting news - you have listened to all this talk about nutrient concentrations, but what do we supply, when, and how do we supply them? We have to decide what nutrients are appropriate to add to our supplementation program, but how? Most of us are just hobby growers and cannot do tissue analysis to determine what is lacking. We CAN be observant tough, and learn the symptoms of various nutrient deficiencies - and we CAN make some surprising generalizations.

What if I said that the nutritional needs of all plants is basically the same and that one fertilizer could suit almost all the plants we grow in containers - that by increasing/decreasing the dosage as we water, we could even manipulate plants to bloom and fruit more abundantly? It�s really quite logical, so please let me explain.

Tissue analysis of plants will nearly always show NPK %s to be very close to an average ratio of approximately 10:1.5:7. If we assign N the constant of 100, P and K will range from 13-19 and 45-70 respectively. (I'll try to remember to make a chart showing the relative ratios of all the other essential nutrients plants normally take from the soil at the end of what I write.) All we need to do is supply nutrients in approximately the same ratio as plants use them, and at concentrations sufficient to keep them in the adequate to luxury range at all times.

Remember that we can maximize water uptake by keeping the concentrations of solutes low, so a continual supply of a weak solution is best. Nutrients don't often just suddenly appear in large quantities in nature, so the low and continual dose method most closely mimics the nutritional supply Mother Nature offers. If you decide to adopt a "fertilize every time you water" approach, most liquid fertilizers can be applied at 3/4 to 1 tsp per gallon for best results. If you decide that is too much work, try halving the dose recommended & cutting the interval in half. You can work out the math for granular soluble fertilizers and apply at a similar rate.

The system is rather self regulating if fertilizer is applied in low concentrations each time you water, even with houseplants in winter. As the plant's growth slows, so does its need for both water and nutrients. Larger plants and plants that are growing robustly will need more water and nutrients, so linking nutrient supply to the water supply is a win/win situation all around.

Another advantage to supplying a continual low concentration of fertilizer is, it eliminates the tendency of plants to show symptoms of nutrient deficiencies after they have received high doses of fertilizer and then been allowed to return to a more favorable level of soil solute concentrations. Even at perfectly acceptable concentrations of nutrients in the soil, plants previously exposed to high concentrations of nutrients readily display deficiency symptoms, even at normal nutrient loads.

You will still need to guard against watering in sips, and that habit's accompanying tendency to ensure solute (salt) accumulation in soils. Remember that as salts accumulate, both water and nutrient uptake is made more difficult and finally impaired or made impossible in severe cases. Your soils should always allow you to water so that at least 10-15% of the total volume of water applied passes through the soil and out the drain hole to be discarded. This flushes the soil and carries accumulating solutes out the drain hole.

I use a liquid fertilizer with a full compliment of nutrients and micronutrients in a 3:1:2 ratio. Note that 'RATIO' is different than NPK %s. Also note how closely the 3:1:2 ratio fits the average ratio of NPK content in plant tissues, noted above (10:1.5:7). If the P looks a little high at 4, consider that in container soils, P begins to be more tightly held as pH goes from 6.5 to below 6.0, which is on the high side of most container soil's pH, so the manufacturer probably gave this some careful consideration. Also, P and K percentages shown on fertilizer packages are not the actual amount of P or K in the blend. The percentage of P on the package is the percentage of P2O5 (phosphorous pentoxide) and you need to multiply the percentage shown by .43 to get the actual amount of P in the fertilizer. Similarly, the K level percentage shown is actually the level of K2O ( potassium oxide) and must be multiplied by .83 to arrive at the actual amount of K supplied.

To answer the inevitable questions about specialty fertilizers and "special" plant nutritional requirements, let me repeat that plants need nutrients in roughly the same ratio. 'RATIO' is also an entirely a separate consideration from dosage. You�ll need to adjust the dosage to fit the plant and perhaps strike a happy medium in containers that have a diversity of material.

If nutrient availability is unbalanced - if plants are getting more than they need of certain nutrients, but less than they need of others, the nutrient they need the most will be the one that limits growth. There are 6 factors that affect plant growth, vitality and yield; they are: air, water, light, temperature, soil or media and nutrients. Liebig's Law of Limiting Factors states the most deficient factor limits plant growth, and increasing the supply of non-limiting factors will not increase plant growth. Only by increasing most deficient nutrient will the plant growth increase. There is also an optimum combination/ratio of nutrients, and increasing them, individually or in various combinations can lead to toxicities and be as limiting as deficiencies.

When individual nutrients are available in excess, it not only unnecessarily contributes to the total volume of solutes in the soil solution, which makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water and nutrients, it can also create an antagonistic deficiency of other nutrients as toxicity levels block a plant's ability to take them up. E.g., too much Fe (iron) can cause a Mn (manganese) deficiency, with the converse also true, Too much Ca (calcium) can cause a Mg (magnesium) deficiency. Too much P (phosphorous) can cause an insoluble precipitate with Fe and make Fe unavailable. It also interferes with the uptake of several other micro-nutrients. You can see why it is advantageous to supply nutrients in as close to the same ratio in which plants use them and at levels not so high that they interfere with water uptake. I know I'm repeating myself here, but this is an important point.

What about the high-P "Bloom Booster" fertilizers you might ask? To induce more prolific flowering, a reduced N supply will have more and better effect than the high P bloom formulas. When N is reduced, it slows vegetative growth without reducing photosynthesis. Since vegetative growth is limited by a lack of N, and the photosynthetic machinery continues to turn out food, it leaves an expendable surplus for the plant to spend on flowers and fruit. Plants use about 6 times more N than P, so fertilizers that supply more P than N are wasteful and more likely to inhibit blooms (remember that too much P inhibits uptake of Fe and many micro-nutrients - it raises pH unnecessarily as well, which could also be problematic). Popular "bloom-booster" fertilizers like 10-52-10 actually supply about 32x more P than your plant could ever use (in relationship to how much N it uses) and has the potential to wreak all kinds of havoc with your plants.

In a recent conversation with the CEO of Dyna-Gro, he confirmed my long held belief that circumstances would have to be very highly unusual for it to be ever beneficial to use a fertilizer in containers that supplies as much or more P than either N or K. This means that even commonly found 1:1:1 ratios like 20-20-20 or 14-14-14 supply more P than is necessary for best results.

The fact that different species of plants grow in different types of soil where they are naturally found, does not mean that one needs more of a certain nutrient than the other. It just means that the plants have developed strategies to adapt to certain conditions, like excesses and deficiencies of particular nutrients.

Plants that "love" acid soils, e.g., have simply developed strategies to cope with those soils. Their calcium needs are still the same as any other plant and no different from the nutrient requirements of plants that thrive in alkaline soils. The problem for acid-loving plants is that they are unable to adequately limit their calcium uptake, and will absorb too much of it when available, resulting in cellular pH-values that are too high. Some acid-loving plants also have difficulties absorbing Fe, Mn, Cu, or Zn, which is more tightly held in alkaline soils, another reason why they thrive in low pH (acid) soils.

So, If you select a fertilizer that is close in ratio to the concentration of major elements in plant tissues, you are going to be in good shape. Whether the fertilizer is furnished in chemical or organic form matters not a whit to the plant. Ions are ions, but there is one major consideration. Chemical fertilizers are available for immediate uptake while organic fertilizers must be acted on by passing through the gut of micro-organisms to break them down into usable elemental form. Since microorganism populations are affected by cultural conditions like moisture/air levels in the soil, soil pH, fertility levels, temperature, etc., they tend to follow a boom/bust cycle that has an impact on the reliability and timing of delivery of nutrients supplied in organic form, in container culture. Nutrients locked in hydrocarbon chains cannot be relied upon to be available when the plant needs them. This is a particular issue with the immobile nutrients that must be present in the nutrient stream at all times for the plant to grow normally.

What is my approach? I have been very happy with Foliage-Pro 9-3-6 liquid fertilizer. It has all the essential elements in a favorable ratio, and even includes Ca and Mg, which is unusual in soluble fertilizers. Miracle-Gro granular all-purpose fertilizer in 24-8-16 or liquid 12-4-8 are both close seconds and completely soluble, though they do lack Ca and Mg, which you can supply by incorporating lime or by including gypsum and Epsom salts in your fertilizer supplementation program. Ask if you need clarification on this point.

I often incorporate a granular micro-nutrient supplement in my soils when I make them (Micromax) or use a soluble micro-nutrient blend (STEM). I would encourage you to make sure your plants are getting all the micro-nutrients. More readily available than the supplements I use is Earth Juice's 'Microblast'.

When plants are growing robustly, I try to fertilize my plants weakly (pun intended) with a half recommended dose of the concentrate at half the suggested intervals. When plants are growing slowly, I fertilize more often with very weak doses. It is important to realize your soil must drain freely and you must water so a fair amount of water drains from your container each time you water to fertilize this way. Last year, my display containers performed better than they ever have in years past & they were still all looking amazingly attractive at the beginning of Oct when I finally decided to dismantle them because of imminent cold weather. I attribute results primarily to a good soil and a healthy nutrient supplementation program.

What would I recommend to someone who asked what to use as an all-purpose fertilizer for nearly all their container plantings? If you can find it, a 3:1:2 ratio soluble liquid fertilizer (24-8-16, 12-4-8, 9-3-6 are all 3:1:2 ratio fertilizers) that contains all the minor elements would great.

How plants use nutrients - the chart I promised:

I gave Nitrogen, because it is the largest nutrient component, the value of 100. Other nutrients are listed as a weight percentage of N.
N 100
P 13-19 (16) 1/6
K 45-80 (62) 3/5
S 6-9 (8) 1/12
Mg 5-15 (10) 1/10
Ca 5-15 (10) 1/10
Fe 0.7
Mn 0.4
B(oron) 0.2
Zn 0.06
Cu 0.03
Cl 0.03
M(olybden) 0.003
To read the chart: P - plants use 13-19 parts of P or an average of about 16 parts for every 100 parts of N, or 6 times more N than P. Plants use about 45-80 parts of K or an average of about 62 parts for every 100 parts of N, or about 3/5 as much K as N, and so on.

If you're still with me - thanks for reading. It makes me feel like the effort was worth it. ;o) Let me know what you think - please.
AL

Here is a link to the second posting of A Fertilizer Program for Containers

Another link to information about Container Soils- Water Movement and Retention.


Follow-Up Postings:

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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thanks Al. Thank you for taking the time to right this. I find it very interesting and I have learned quite a bit from you. Again thanks.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thanks, Al. That's great info I need to know.

Now about the micro-nutrient, is STEM the name of the micro-nutrient product? Anything else I can use in case I cannot find this one? I am a little hesitate to add lime or gypsum to my soil mix since most of my pots are rather small (4-6") and I am afraid the amount in each pot is either too much or too little. I appreciate any help on this. lily


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, May 6, 11 at 15:15

Thanks MG. Lily - STEM and Micromax are 2 micro-nutrient preparations I used to use religiously, but since I started using the Foliage-Pro 9-3-6, I don't think they're quite as important. I still use Micromax by including it in my soils when I make them, but I really haven't used STEM in a while. STEM is a soluble product and Micromax is insoluble.

If you're making your own bark/peat soils, you would include dolomitic (garden) lime at the rate of 1 tbsp/gallon of soil, or 1/2 cup/cu ft. If you're making the gritty mix and not using FP fertilizer or another soluble fertilizer that has Ca and Mg, include gypsum @ the same rates instead of the dolomite, then include 1/4-1/2 tsp of Epsom salts in your fertilizer solution when you fertilize. If you're using the gritty mix and fertilizing with Foliage-Pro, you can skip adding lime or gypsum, and no need to add the Epsom salts, either.

Did that cover your questions?

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Whenever I cook and am following a recipe, I measure my ingredients pretty precisely as opposed to eyeballing it. It's not as bad as it used to be, but generally I still do. Along those same lines, I'm hoping someone can give me something fairly specific as far as how much fertilizer I should add to my water. I like jodik's idea of fertilizing 3 of 4 times watering and then using plain water for the 4th.

I'm using Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro. The directions say...

Production: 1tsp per gallon applied every week or 2tsp per gallon every 2-4 weeks.

Maintenance: 1/4tsp per gallon applied every watering.

What is production vs maintenance? Is production the growth cycle and maintenance the dormant period? Or is production growing from seed and maintenance post-seedling stage? Or something else? Can someone please give me some specifics on what I should be using based on a 3 of 4 schedule? Any insight would be helpful. Thanks.

Paul


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thanks Al for answering my question. It pretty much covers everything I need to know. My problem is I already repotted some of my plants into gritty mix without the Ca and Mg resource. I really don't want to repot it again recently. I will need to find FoliagePro somewhere.

BTW, most of my plants are succulents, so gritty mix is my favorite now. I have the same question as Waryap about FP usage. For succulent(like jade), how much fertilizer should I apply in each watering? 1/8 of the recommended strength? Does it belong to the maintainance category? Thanks again for any suggestion.

Lily


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hey. I am doing container garden for someone and they want to spend too much. Im using the 5-1-1 mix along with 1 tbl spn of lime per gal. He has MG tomatoe feed 18-18-24. Is there any thing else? Will the MG have all the micro in it?

I dont want to change the subject.

Thanks


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Waryap, I had the same question and called Dyna-Gro. They told me that 'production' was growing new plants, and 'maintainence' was for plants already established. I'm growing mostly tomatoes from seed, and even though I'm 'producing,' I'm using 1/4 strength at every watering, maybe a little heavier during the vigorous growing phase.

On a side note, I think this Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants, especially I, is awesome! I learned more there than anywhere else. I haven't even begun to scratch the surface of the information there. It could be a 3 credit college course.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, May 6, 11 at 22:22

Paul - 'Production' is when you're pushing a crop to hurry it along to a saleable size. Foliage-Pro markets a lot of their product to commercial growers. 'Maintenance' would be closer to the dosage you would use for most houseplants. When mean temperatures are above 60*, I fertilize weekly with about 4 tsp in 2.5 gallons of water, or about 1.5 tsp/gallon, and I never see any evidence that plants are being pushed too hard. You should be able to use about 1/2 tsp/gallon when mean temps are above 60*, and maybe half that when below 60* with no problems if fertilizing on a 3 of 4 basis - with the understanding that you are watering to beyond saturation so at least 10-15% of the fertigation solution exits the drain, carrying any accumulations of solubles with it. For cacti & succulents, you might want to consider reducing that dosage to 1/4 tsp/gallon.

Lily - you can still sprinkle a little gypsum on top of your soil and water it in. Let me know if you need a little - it's cheap & I have 50 lbs to spare. ;-) Epsom salts is easily found at any drug store, so you could be in business by the middle of next week, or sooner if you buy your own gypsum.

Try 1/4 tsp/gallon if you're fertilizing every time you water, and if you're fertilizing weekly, use 1/2 tsp/gallon for succulents. You can probably easily use more (I do), but best to be on the safe side & work your way up if you think you're seeing signs of deficiencies or weak growth.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Al, thanks so much for your clear answer and sweet offer of sharing some gypsum. But I am afraid the shipping will cost more than gypsum itself. I remember seeing a big bag of gypsum in HD for about $3(if my memory does not fail me). However, thanks again for your offering. I really appreciate it.

I will begin working on fertilizer next week, since I just gave them a good drink over the weekend. Right now I am building a rain shelter for my succulents - here in MI it can rain 3-4-5 days in a row. Never realize the spring is so wet here before I am addicted to succulents. :(

Lily


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Before I came on here I was buying my medium/soil at a premium. But after looking into Al's mix's I have found it is more effective. I never looked into the basics like using lime to ballance ph in acidic mediums even though I knew it was in the stuff I was buying. Now I can make my own for half the price. And I always overlooked using gypsum aswell. Thank you and I will try Foliar-Pro it looks very well made.

"Popular "bloom-booster" fertilizers like 10-52-10 actually supply about 32x more P than your plant could ever use (in relationship to how much N it uses) and has the potential to wreak all kinds of havoc with your plants."
I found that today in home depot I believe it was and I could not believe my eyes when it read 10-52-10 lol.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, May 8, 11 at 23:39

Lily - you're very welcome. It IS cheap, but it still wouldn't have been a problem to shovel a little into a sturdy envelope (really small shovel) & mail it to you. Not much need to worry about your plants during rainy periods when they're in the gritty mix. If you ARE concerned, tilting your containers actually changes the shape of the soil mass that can possibly hold perched water, thereby reducing the volume of excess water the soil is capable of holding. That's a good thing to know - especially for those using heavy soils and are plagued by excess water retention when it rains or after they water.

So you're a Michigander too, huh? What large city (or small town) do you live near? Are we neighbors? ;-)

AL


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hey Al,

So I'm planning on taking the plunge and purchasing a fertilizer injector to include on my drip system. I had a question around dosage settings that I was hoping you could help me out with.

As background I'm using gritty mix in combination with Foliage Pro (manually watering now). With the fertilizer injector I would be watering every time.

I was doing some research on different fertilizer injectors and there is a somewhat large degree of variance in the dosage that they use and I'm trying to reconcile this with your recommendations for FP.

Some inject at a ratio of 200:1 and others go all the way up to 15,000:1.

The EZ Flo main line injectors seemed to get good reviews and I was thinking about the EZ003-CX model (http://www.irrigationdirect.com/irrigation-products-and-supplies/ez-flo-fertilizer-injection-systems/ez-flo-fertilizer-injection-main-line-units/ezflo-ez003-cx)

The nice thing with this unit is it gives you four different injection rates. Here is snippet of the different rates and recommendations from the pdf manual:

Photobucket

It seems like for gritty mix, they would recommend more the 15,000:1 (1/20 tsp) ratio, however based on what you have written previously I'm leaning towards using the 2,000:1 or 2/5 tsp setting.

What do you think? Thanks in advance as always for all the help!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

In my experience, those syphon type injectors are unable to maintain the correct fertilizer ratio. I purchased an EZ Flo setup and killed(overfertilized) two citrus trees immediately in the slowest setting. For the amount you are spending for the EZ Flo, you may also consider a Dosatron or Dosmatic injector unit. These injectors are much more accurate than the syphon injectors and are easy to setup and maintain. My personal citrus drip setup uses a Dosatron D14MZ2 Injector feeding Jacks High Performance 25-5-15 fertilizer at a constant rate of 300PPM. My Citrus trees have never been happier.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, May 9, 11 at 6:37

K - I don't have any experience with injectors, but my thought, if you do decide to go with the EZ-Flo, would be to start at the 8,000:1 ratio & work your way up if that proves inadequate. It's easy to fix the effects of under-fertilizing, but tissue damage from cellular collapse is long-lasting ..... forever, technically speaking.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Al, I am living in Northville, MI. It's between Detroit and Lansing closer to Detroit. Looks like you are in middle of MI, so we are neighbor just not so close. :)

About my gritty mix, I am kinda lazy - don't want to water it everyday or other, so I mixed a little of the Turface left-over in(after all they are still larger than peat - forgive me on this please!), hoping it can hold water longer so I can water them once in a week or less. The side effect is it probably doesn't like to be rained on for 3 to 5 days continuously. The rain shelter I am putting togather (pvc pipes and plastic sheet) hopefully can work as frost protector, so I don't have to move all the pots back in house in early spring or late fall. DH already complained I messed our house and blocked the doorway to deck so he cannot go out to enjoy the spring sun as he would like to, so I'd like to keep the pots outside as long as possible.

I do have a question about where to find pine bark fines locally, but don't want to pull the thread off topic too much. Could you send me an email in case you have some ideas about where it could be found? I am chopping down the pine bark nuggets now. It looks like will take forever to come up to enough even for gritty mix. Thanks a lot in advance.

Lily


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, May 9, 11 at 18:21

Stop chopping - you can (at least last year you could) get GREAT PBFs at any of the Bordine's locations. Clear bag - blue label w/white lettering that says "Royal Gardens Landscape Mulch). It's great for the 5:1:1 as is, and you can easily screen it and get a high % of usable product for the gritty mix.

If you have more questions, I'll help you on the "Water Movement ......" thread. ;-) All set for the grit?

AL

Here is a link that might be useful: Prayers answered here


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thanks Al. Find a Bordine's Xpress next to me. Got to check if they have any. All set for the grit, 2 bags each, more than enough for this year.

Thanks for the helps and your willing to help. :)

Lily


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hi Al,
In your initial post you wrote :
"To induce more prolific flowering, a reduced N supply will have more and better effect than the high P bloom formulas. When N is reduced, it slows vegetative growth without reducing photosynthesis. Since vegetative growth is limited by a lack of N, and the photosynthetic machinery continues to turn out food, it leaves an expendable surplus for the plant to spend on flowers and fruit"

I understand the concept you presented, but could you elaborate further. If I'm growing a blooming plant that is currently flowering, what should be the relative range of P to 100N for the N to be considered reduced in relation to the P? Does that make sense? And how can one accomplish this?
Thanks this post (and the water retention one). fascinating reading.
Nathan


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Just pick up a bottle of nutrients. Copy the ratios of that nutrient if you are working with N P K salts alone. You can also try a bloom booster like 0-10-10 (look at gh they make two different boosters for two different stages in the bloom depending on the stage of bloom and type of plant.

Thats my thoughts.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, May 12, 11 at 15:28

Grizz - The average P use for every 100 parts of N would be about 17 parts of N (100:17). 1:1:1 fertilizers like 20-20-20 still supply more P than plants will use as a function of N usage. P is reported as the amount of P2O5, so to determine how much P is in a 1:1:1 ratio fertilizer, we need to adjust the 1 part of reported P by a factor of .43, so 1:1:1 ratio fertilizers actually supply NPK at a ratio of 1:.43:.83. Since plants (on average) only need about .17 parts of P for every 1 part of N, 1:1:1 ratio fertilizers can easily be considered high P fertilizers because on average they supply 2.5x more P than the plant will use.

Once the photosynthesizing machinery is in place, reducing the N supplied to 50:15(P), or 100:30(P) would be a good starting point. It is also common in greenhouse applications to start the crop with 3:1:2 ratios and then change to a 2:1:2 ratio to curtail vegetative growth but still allow bloom formation. This is part of the reason you see small, stocky, yet sexually mature plants blooming in tiny cell packs. Switching to a nitrate source of N (I think FP 9-3-3 supplies 60% of its N in nitrate form) also helps keep plants compact and from stretching out.

AL


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

In a greenhouse large enough to hold dozens of flats of cell packs growing vegetable transplants, what is the most practical way to apply liquid fertilizers to the potting mix? It seems impractical to water each and every individual cell. Do small commercial growers place each flat in a solid tray (bottom water) or is foliar spraying the only way?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Just amazing! I never stop learning from information like this!

Thank you Al for the time you spend here to care about us and to see us grow the best way we can.

Lily: You are so RIGHT about the rainy weather! It seems like I am noticing a lot less sun now that my jades are outside! I use a plastic tarp clamped onto my table when I know of any hint of rain, which seems to be just about everyday lately!
Today is nice. I should also note that I tend to fertilize my jades barely, like maybe once a month at 1/4 dosage of FP.
They seem to color up much easier and tend to blossom too.

I also use the gritty mix with all my other plants in which FP has been doing a GREAT job without gypsum and ES!

Mike


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hi Mike, we do have rain everyday this week, but it was all at night time. And the days were so sunny that most of my plants sitting outside got sun-burnt (brown scar-like marks, I assume it comes from over-exposure to sun). Tarp probably is a good idea. I used a piece of plastic sheet (0.7mill, pretty thin and light) and it was blown away so all the plants had a good rain shower. To my surprise, they seem to enjoy the rain so much that all the jade leaves were firmer after that. I do want them to be healthy and strong before I stress them out for nice color, though it's the amazing color draw me to jades. Now about you 1/4 dosage of FP, does that mean you use only 1/16tsp in 1 gallon water and only once per month? Is that for established plant only or also for newly rooted cutting/plantlet? I assume you also keep them on dry side, right? It sounds quite tough to me - maybe not for jades :) Thanks for sharing your experiences.

I got my FP this week from ebay and it looks much lighter in green comparing to Schutz succulent plant food (the 2-7-7 version). The cap seal doesn't have any manufacturer's mark on it. Is it normal?

Lily


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hello. I'm curious if anyone knows what Foliage Pro nutrients are derived from. I'm not looking for their secret formula, :) just would like to know what is in there, and what I would potentially be putting into my plants. I couldn't find anything on the Dyna Grows web site. Maybe I just didn't look in the right place.
A link or a description would be great.

Thank you Al for yet another great thread. Very informative as always.

Rudy


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

It is all petrol based fertilizer. With container I find synthedic fertilizers are best because they are instantly available to plant. But there is no reason to use chemical fertilizer in the ground that is why there are so many people who garden organic.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, May 16, 11 at 17:09

Lily - the color of your fertilizer should be a little deeper green than most spearmint flavored mouthwashes. Was it labeled from the manufacturer, or obviously repackaged?

Rudy - Thank you! ;-) Some of the primary ingredients in FP fertilizers are ammonium, calcium, and potassium nitrates; ammonium and potassium phosphate; cobaltous and magnesium sulfate; molybdic acid; copper, iron, manganese, and zinc compounds.

Personally, I rarely use a synthetic fertilizer on my gardens & beds, but there are many instances in which a synthetic fertilizer will supply needed nutrition faster and more efficiently than organic sources can, so there are plenty of good reasons why someone might choose to supply a nutrient in elemental form or in a compound targeted at supplying one or two elements for their gardens/beds.

Let's try to remember that the focus of the thread is on efficiently delivering nutrients to plants in containers; and that I've been purposeful in trying to keep political and ideological commentary from derailing the conversation.

AL


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lime, gypsum, epsom salts...

Al - Thank you for helping all of us with finding ideal ways to grow our container plants; great information!

I will be making some of your gritty mix for the container planting medium for my Japanese Maple. I hope to get some Dyna-Gro Foliage Pro to use as the fertilizer.

The soil and water here is very alkaline. As I will be watering with alkaline water, do I still need to add gypsum to the gritty mix? (Or, very likely, am I misunderstanding the need for adding gypsum to the mix....) Likewise, what does the Epsom salts add that is not already in the Foliage Pro?

(Sorry, I probably need to read your first post again, Al...)

Holly


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hi oakiris, if I may?

Adding gypsum to the gritty mix barely alters pH, if at all, but lime would and we do not add lime to the gritty mix.

If one is to use gypsum, do to the fact some would not be using FP, it will provide plants with Ca and one will need to add 1/4-1/2 tsp of ES per gallon of water, which will provide the Mg needed for good plant growth.
These two elements are not supplied in most fertilizers, including MG, especially a source of Ca.

Ca and Mg are already provided in the FP and there is no need for ES or Gypsum in your gritty mix

Hope this helps.

Mike


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thank you Mike! For some reason I thought Al was recommending using the FP with added Epsom Salts with each watering.

This will be my first use of a soil-less mix so I am hoping to get the fertilizer program down pat as apparently it will be the only source of nutrition for the plant.

Not sure this is the correct thread for this, but, when you bare-root the plant and place it in a soil-less mixture after they have been grown in soil all or most of their lives, do they tend to go into shock for a while?

Holly


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, May 17, 11 at 21:20

I'll just reinforce what Mike said about the gypsum (and Epsom salts): If you're using the gritty mix AND Foliage-Pro 9-3-6, there is no reason to add the gypsum, but if you're using a fertilizer that doesn't supply Ca/Mg (like MG), you should add the gypsum when you make the soil and then include small amounts of Epsom salts in your fertilizer solution.

Timing is important if you're going to be bare-rooting. If you bare-root maples while dormant/quiescent, they will tolerate it well, but they will rebel strongly if you bare root while the tree is in leaf. If the tree is in leaf, you'll need to cut it back hard if you bare root, and that's probably something best left for experienced growers and/or emergency situations.

AL


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thanks for the info about gypsum and Epsom Salts, Mike and Al - no need for either if you use Foliage-Pro.

On the subject of Dyna-Gro Foliage-Pro - does anyone know of a source for this in the Denver metro area or is this something that will need to be ordered on line? Dyna-Gro does list some local dealers on their site but none of them seem to carry this particular product.

Timing is important if you're going to be bare-rooting. If you bare-root maples while dormant/quiescent, they will tolerate it well, but they will rebel strongly if you bare root while the tree is in leaf. If the tree is in leaf, you'll need to cut it back hard if you bare root, and that's probably something best left for experienced growers and/or emergency situations.

I imagine that the tree will be leafing out when I receive it as it is being sent next week. It is only a gallon size tree so it will be pretty small; hard pruning it doesn't seem to be an option! I am assuming that the tree needs to be bare rooted before placing it in the Gritty Mix, as leaving the root ball in soil would negate the whole point of using the Gritty Mix, wouldn't it??

So, I take it I am not going to be able to use the gritty mix for the tree until next spring? That is most disappointing, but I don't want to kill the tree. :-( Is there some sort of "intermediate" mix that can be used instead?

Holly


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hi Holly
They have a link on their web site where you can see if it is sold in your area.

Here's the link. :-)

JoJo

Here is a link that might be useful: Dyna-gro and Foliage Pro.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hi JoJo - Your link led me to Dyna-Gro's home page; is there somewhere there where you can do a search specifically for dealers that sell Foliage-Pro?

If you are talking about the main dealer link that lists dealers by state, I already checked that out. Unfortunately, as previously stated, several places in my area are Dyna-Gro dealers but none of them sell Foliage-Pro. :-( I have a feeling that I will just have to order it on line.

Holly


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Al, thanks for your reply for the color of FP. Here is a picture of what I got, just for reference in case any one has the same doubt as I do. The FP bottle looks genuine, the seal was tight without any slit or damage. What makes me uncertain is the foam seal was plainly white without any manufacture or brand name printed on it, which makes it much easier to coil in fakes.

The 2 little bottle in the middle is FP.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hi Holly,
I'm sorry about that post. I was in a hurry and didn't see the part that you posted about already contacting them. Yes, I was thinking of the map.

Have you tried to call them about the foliage pro, a dealer near you.?

JoJo


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

That's the proper FP color in the pic above ;-)

Josh


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hi again JoJo - I went to one dealer and they didn't have the FP, just the Neem oil, Grow and Bloom products. I didn't call the other dealers, just checked what they had for offer on their web sites; they too had various other Dyna-Grow products for sale but not the Foliage-Pro. You are right, I should call them just to be sure!

Lily - I may end up going to eBay for my FP as well. Now I am worried about getting the "real thing." All of the sellers of this product are 'top rated sellers' so hopefully they are legit!

Holly


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hi Holly,
Try calling the makers of Dyna/Foliage-pro and ask them if there is a retailer in your area that carries Foliage pro. I don't know if they will be able to tell you , but I have done this a few times with other companies looking for bark.

JoJo


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

If they carry any of the Dyna Grow products, they can order the Foliage Pro.
Whether they will do so, or not, is the question.

Just ask. Either they can and will, or they can and won't ;-)


Josh


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Josh, thanks for your comments. Now I feel much better.

Holly, in case you have to use eBay, the seller from whom I got mine is 'thelandscaperstorecom'. I bought the quart bottle, $21.95 free shipping. But I think Josh's idea is better. You may ask them to special order one for you, if you are not in hurry with it. Good luck finding yours.

Lily


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thank you for the eBay info Lily, but looks as if I will be able to get it locally after all.

As suggested by JoJo (now, why didn't I think of this?!?) I called Dyna-Gro customer service. The nice customer rep gave me the name and number of their local distributor. I called the distributor; they only sell wholesale but have the product in stock and suggested that I call one of their dealer accounts in my area of Denver to have the Foliage-Pro ordered. I did so, and they are going to order it for me, and I should have it early next week!

Note that the dealer I will be getting the FP from isn't even listed on the Dyna-Gro site as a dealer of their product - in fact the distributor gave me the names of at least 4 nurseries/garden centers actually close to where I live that carry Dyna Pro, and none of them were on the Dyna-Gro dealer list - so if anyone else is having problems finding a local seller, I highly recommend following the route I took.

Or, as suggested by Josh, you can just go to one of the listed dealers and ask them to order the FP, but since the place I am getting it from is a lot closer to my house than are the dealers listed by Dyna-Gro, I found it worthwhile to go through the local distributor for dealer locations.

Holly


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hello all, I have learned a huge amount from the 3 threads I just read and I was able to get a grasp of what amounts of nutrients plants are actually desiring. However, I just got a local water report today in the mail and I am having trouble discerning information on how much calcium, magnesium, or other nutrients in the water will be available to my plants, mostly container peppers.

1.) How well can a plant absorb the various nutrients from my water?

2.) If I lower the PH of my tap water (8.4), can my plants absorb the nutrients in the water more efficiently?

Bottom Line--I want to figure out what I should be supplementing my I watering can. On top of the nutrients from my tap, I am using 1tbsp of Dolomite Lime and Osmocote SRF per gallon of 5-1-1 mix using composted pine fines.

These are the weighted averages for my tap (excluding 0s and radioactive constituents X.X):

PH of 8.4
Hardness - 303ppm

Constituent:________:__PPM/PPB_______
1. Nitrate as NO3 : 13 ppm
2. Potassium : .7 ppm
3. Manganese : 18 ppb
4. Calcium : 34 ppm
5. Magnesium : 54 ppm
6. Selenium : 6.4 ppb
7. Chloride : 51 ppm
8. Sulfate : 80 ppm
9. Boron : 783 ppb
10. Carbonate : 4.5 ppm
11. Sodium : 84 ppm

I am sorry to throw this at you, but I have had horrible luck with the local nurseries giving me contradictory information that I find to be false, usually via reading or posting on these forums.

Thanks a billion!
-Phil


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, May 23, 11 at 21:41

What jumps out at me is the hardness is twice the upper limit of what is considered ideal. Hardness is usually a measure of the amount of Ca and Mg carbonate dissolved in water in CaCO3 equivalency. Your Ca is well within acceptable limits, but your Mg is high.

I think the primary concern would be the same as mine, and that's getting Fe to your plants because of the high water pH. It's going to be important to flush the soil thoroughly when you water or acidify your water so the pH is somewhere near 5.5 for best results. I have too many plants to acidify my water (in summer) w/o an injection system, so I rely on occasional applications of Sprint 138 (an Fe chelate expressly formulated for high pH applications).

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Awesome, thank you Al, maybe I will look into Sprint 138, but acidifyng my tap may be easier.

What amount of white vinegar should I use per gal to aim for 5.5?

I just ran out of water soluble fert, should I invest in some DG Foliage Pro for the micronutes or pick up some cheaper stuff that I can get locally? Are there crucial micronutrients that aren't supplied by my tap and Osmocote Indoor/Outdoor?

Thanks again


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hey, Phil, I'd strongly recommend the Foliage Pro, which I've been using for more than a year now.
Hit up a Hydroponics shop - or any shop that sells Dyna Grow products - and see if they'll order it.
It's about $20 for a 32 oz. container, which will last quite a while.


Josh


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

hey Josh, other than vinegar do you need to add anyhting? or is it all you need to use? i forgot to amend lime into my soil as i made it so should i add more calcium?

Eric


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hey, Eric!
Foliage Pro + a capful of vinegar per gallon of water, and that's all I add when fertilizing.
I always Lime my bark-based mixes, 1 Tablespoon per gallon of soil-mix.

Josh


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

I have a plant that's in the 5-1-1 mix and although it has been growing nicely, there have been occasional browning of leaves and some leaf loss. I just noticed today that I have been over-fertilizing after revisiting this topic. I've been watering my plant with more than the recommended amount of fertilizer each week. Instead of 1/2 tsp/gal. as the label states, I've been using 1tsp/gal.

So that means I'm supposed to use 1/4tp/gal. based on Al's "weakly" recommendation for container plants? Am I right? That explains why I've also had some bud drop and browning of some leaves. Good thing I checked this topic again! Should I flush it out the next time I water and hold off on the fertilizer?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, May 28, 11 at 11:17

I would (flush).

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thanks for the reply Al!


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Put an end to my doubts please

I people,

I don't want ask question already answered, forgive me is if is the case. One month after root prunning I start to notice in my ligustrum (bonsai) new foliage with a very pale green colour and the vase system of the foliage very dark green. Thus, I need to clarify some points in my mind about fertilizer.

1. Using foliage pro every watering with a strength 1/2 tsp/gallon is not too little? If a use miracle grow 24-8-16 should i use 1/4 tsp/gallon?

2. What is better: watering first and use fertilize soon after? or should I watering and after a (long) while use fertilizer?

3. With the symptoms that my bonsai (in a fairly big container) have what is the most probable cause?

Thanks everyone,
Ricardo


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jun 17, 11 at 20:50

1) If you are fertilizing with FP and still seeing interveinal chlorosis, it's possible that you're having a pH issue and are seeing (micro)nutrient deficiencies, or are just not fertilizing with a solution that is strong enough. Another possibility would be watering too frequently or a soil that remains saturated for extended periods. This can inhibit root function and impair uptake of nutrients.

2) Generally, you would only fertilize a well-hydrated plant when using the manufacturer's recommended solution strength, so you would water, then fertilize when you're sure the plant is well-hydrated. When you're using weak fertilizer solutions, you can easily get away with fertilizing an almost dry plant, though I would still try to avoid fertilizing wilted material or material that you suspect as being extremely dry - no sense it tempting fate.

3) It's hard to say what the most probable cause is w/o more input, but we can probably chase down the answer if you want to open a dialog. We can assume you've eliminated insect marauders (scale/mites) as possibilities?

Al


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Ligustrum mystery...muhahahahah

Hi Al,

I notice today that my water company says the pH is 7,26 and I test the soil and water with strips and the result was 7.

After root pruning a moth ago I started to give a much less fertilizer. Right now I blame my problem on this, little fertilizer. After I notice this colour problem 4 days ago I start to give fertilizer (7-7-7 with micro ingredients like miracle grow) in a daily base after flush the soil (weak, 1/2 tsp per gallon).
I read that I need to wait 2 or 3 weeks to see colour improvements, is that true? If this doesn't work I will start to consider a pH problem or something else, like try foliage pro (I already order anyway)

My fertilizer has Fe (0,08%) and Mn (0,06%).

The something else could be light problems. The ligustrum is very near to a window with temperatures between 15 and 24 degrees Celsius. There is sun between 4 am and 12 am. The soil is tesco's cat litter with a pH 7 and 20% grit. Maybe could be a soil problem: too well drain.

Any missing detail just say. No insect problem by the way.

What do you thing?
Ricardo


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

I Al,

I am thinking about something very stupid/dumb i did. can you could tell me if this is the cause of my problem?

When I root pruned and re pot the ligustrum I put like 50/50% cat litter and grit and I put the grit on the bottom and the cat litter on the top. Huge mistake? or is a mistake but it has nothing to do with my problem?

I'm feeling like a detective...but a very inexperienced one.

Thanks,
Ricardo


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The ideal fertilizer?

Al do you think you could double check my numbers here? I took the chart you have above and tried to extrapolate out the %'s as one would find on a fertilizer label. I'm not sure if the weight %'s that you list there for P and K are actually P2O5 or P? I took the mid-range where you provided ranges.

Assuming they are for P2O5 and K2O the ideal fertilizer label would look something like the label below? I compare it to FP on the right. Please let me know if I did this incorrectly or if anything is amiss?



If N is 9% then desired other nutrient %s are:

N: 9 %
P: 1.44 % (maybe 0.6192% if I misunderstood?)
K: 5.58 % (maybe 4.6314% if I misunderstood?)

S: 0.72 %
Mg: 0.9 %
Ca: 0.9 %
Fe: 0.063 %
Mn: 0.036 %
B: 0.018 %
Zn: 0.0054 %
Cu: 0.0027 %
Cl: 0.0027 %
Mo: 0.00027 %

Co: ? %
Ni: ? %
Na: ? %


Foliage Pro %s are:

N: 9 %
P: 3 % (high)
K: 6 % (slightly high)

S: 0.05 % (insufficient, probalems with Ca in solution likely)
Mg: 0.5 %
Ca: 2.0 %
Fe: 0.01 %
Mn: 0.05 %
B: 0.01 %
Zn: 0.05 %
Cu: 0.05 %
Cl: 0.006 %
Mo: 0.0009 %

Co: 0.0005%
Ni: 0.0001%
Na: 0.05%


Have I done that correctly? If so then it looks like 3-1-2 ratio fertilizers are still supplying unnecessary P & K? Particularly high P values. Even at the high end of the ranges you gave it looks like P would only be 1.71% if N was 9%?

I understand that 3-1-2 ratios might be the closest easily available products but would it be the case that a 9-1.5-5.44 product would waste less nutrients? I understand that people prefer these to be in whole number ratios but you get my point?

What are your thoughts on Na, Co, and Ni inclusion in fertilizers? I don't see them in your chart above. My understanding is that Ni is only required to process urea and so a urea-free fertilizer wouldn't need to supply Ni? I've read that Co is necessary in legumes but don't see any information for non-legumes? I assume that the Na content of my muni water will be enough but were it not what levels of Na would your ideal fertilizer contain?

I'm mixing a custom blend with the help of some software and would like to try out your suggested 'ideal' general-purpose fertilizer on a group of my plants. I'd be using it on 5-1-1 plants and gritty mix plants. I can adjust the pH of the fertilizer solution within a range from ~4-8 and still keep the chelates available so if you have preferred pH values as well let me know.

Thanks
redshirt


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Clarification on NPK Values in Plants

This is all inspiring discussion. Thanks to all who have contributed to the thread and, especially, Tapla for his generosity of knowledge and humility.

I have a couple questions that I'm hoping the community can clarify.

First, my interpretation of what's suggested in the original post, is that the fertility recommendations derive from the stated NPK values in plant tissue: 10:1.5:7. What's not clear to me is where these figures come from?

There was a classic study done in the late 1940s (Bear, Toth and Prince, Variation in Mineral Composition of Vegetables) in which the author's studied the mineral composition of plants grown in different parts of the country. Their conclusion, after detailed analysis of tissue samples, was this: It is apparent...that the mineral cation and anion values in plants are an expression of the environment in which the plants were grown. The environmental factors that seem to exert the greatest influence are soil type, fertilizer practice, and climate.

In the paper, they provide detailed charts that clearly show that relative levels of NPK (as well as Ca, Mg, S, etc.) vary dramatically. A significant consistency they noted is that each type of plant seems to have a relative nutrient holding capacity--they went so far as to compare it to a soil's cation exchange capacity. For example, lettuce grown in New York and lettuce grown in Colorado were found to contain roughly the same sum of nutrients. What was different was the relative proportion of each nutrient.

Second, when applying this fertility regimen, how does one take into account the inevitable tie-ups that will occur in the soil and soil solution. If a plant *needs* x amount of nitrogen, y amount of phosphorous and z amount of potassium, it doesn't necessarily follow that providing these in the same amounts will result in uptake and utilization in the same amounts. Some plants are simply better at utilizing some nutrients than others.

Thanks in advance for your comments! If anyone can point me towards further reading related to the "How plants use nutrients" chart in the OP, I'd appreciate it.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Dec 21, 11 at 17:04

For definitive information on plant nutrition, try Horst Marschner's Mineral Nutrition of Higher Plants ISBN #978-0-12-384905-2. The third edition, just out, is copyrighted 2012 and edited by his daughter, Dr. Petra Marschner.

The figures I cited came from a Swedish Study I have in my documents, but don't currently have access to because I recently changed computers and can't open the files, but here is a copy/paste job (below) from another source that shows essentially the same figures:

A more detailed table listing approximate concentrations of nutrient elements required for healthy plant growth is as follows.

Concentration in dry matter

Element--------pm-------%
Hydrogen * 60,000 * 6.0
Carbon * 420,000 * 42.0
Oxygen * 480,000 * 48.0
Nitrogen * 14,000 * 1.4
Potassium * 10,000 * 1.0
Calcium * 5,000 * 0.5
Magnesium * 2,000 * 0.2
Phosphorus * 2,000 * 0.2
Sulfur * 1,000 * 0.1
Chlorine * 100
Iron * 100
Boron * 20
Manganese * 50
Zinc * 20
Copper * 6
Molybdenum * 0.1
Sodium trace
Cobalt trace
Silicon trace

From: Edwards D.G. - Concepts of Essentiality and Function of Nutrients

If we reflect on the comment "It is apparent...that the mineral cation and anion values in plants are an expression of the environment in which the plants were grown. The environmental factors that seem to exert the greatest influence are soil type, fertilizer practice, and climate", we needn't look far to see that the widely varied nutrient content of plants that subsist or survive at a particular site simply do not reflect the same nutrient contents of plants grown under ideal conditions. We are not as interested in what our containerized plants will tolerate, as we are about how to optimize nutritional supplementation. The differences in tolerance levels are huge, but there is only one optimal combination that allows a plant to grow to its potential. Sampling plants from various sites offers much more insight into the plant's ability to tolerate nutritional adversity than it does into what it needs for optimal growth.

"... most, if not all species of plants grow best with the same levels and proportions of essential nutrients. How can I make this statement? Based on 40 years of study and research this conclusion is firmly supported. Here are but a few of the studies and experiences that support my conclusion." (He then goes on to list.) Dr. Carl Whitcomb Ph.D ~ Plant Production in Containers II

Al



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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

There was a trial done and it found even though the reproductive stage needs a higher level of PK to N, the absent of nitrogen yields did dropped over 50%. They say because PK boosters are recommended for use with regular fertilizer. All in all, the lack of nitrogen in the boosters tip the scales at the same time supply base nutrients. So by adding more they get more.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thanks for the literature recommendations, Al. I'll have to see if I can get them on inter-library loan as I'd be interested in learning more on the subject.

The study I referenced was very old and, as far as I can discern, it doesn't quantify how "ideal" the conditions were. As cultivated farmland, I would expect the conditions to be above "subsistence" but, again, it's impossible to know. That begs the question, what is "ideal" and by what metric is it calculated? As a vegetable grower, I use obvious metrics to determine the relative success of my gardening - specifically fruit quality and yield. By comparison, the landscape surrounding my home "looks" great, but I know for a fact, that the soil conditions are far less than ideal.

Here's a question: It is well-documented that different crops remove nutrients from the soil in significantly different amounts and proportions. How does one square this fact with a "one size fits all" approach to fertility? For example, a tomato plant is going to remove more potassium from the soil than nitrogen. By comparison, grapes need only about 60% the potassium when compared to nitrogen.

I don't doubt that the 10:1.5:7 ratio provides adequate nutrition in most cases, but I'm not convinced it is the silver bullet for all situations. In the final analysis, if it works within your "system" and provides excellent results, that's of primary importance. I'd just like to acquire a better understanding of the science that underlies it.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Dec 23, 11 at 1:04

The chart toward the end of the OP shows a range of individual nutrient usage that covers almost all plants. Of course, supplying nutrients in a 10:1.5:7 ratio in mineral soils (gardens/beds) is little more than a crap shoot unless the results of a soil test indicate that happens to be what is needed. I'm not cracking wise when I say my intent wasn't to provide a silver bullet that fits every single application ..... my intent was to try to provide some easy to understand direction for container growers who could benefit from a little better understanding of fertility and nutritional supplementation.

The benefits of additional K for tomato plants has been discussed frequently on this and other threads - this forum. It's often suggested that growers use a fertilizer in a 2:1:2 ratio, or supplement 3:1:2 ratios with the addition of potash or K supplements like Pro-TeKt 0-0-3 for tomatoes.

I would never suggest that there is a single fertilizer formulation that fits every application perfectly, but I can unequivocally say that if I was limited to the choice of a single formulation for all my plants, it would be in a 3:1:2 ratio.

Al



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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Yes high P fertilizer field tests are done on plants that are in the ground where P is leached thus needing more ( some soils less). When we fertilize in containers dont want that, I could see the 3:1:2 is the BEST ratio and with the added 0-0-3 during fruiting is perfect.

Al, how about some of dyna-gro's bloom boosters? Are they good?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

"Al, how about some of dyna-gro's bloom boosters? Are they good?

He addressed that very question in the original post. This part in particular:

"What about the high-P "Bloom Booster" fertilizers you might ask? To induce more prolific flowering, a reduced N supply will have more and better effect than the high P bloom formulas. When N is reduced, it slows vegetative growth without reducing photosynthesis. Since vegetative growth is limited by a lack of N, and the photosynthetic machinery continues to turn out food, it leaves an expendable surplus for the plant to spend on flowers and fruit. Plants use about 6 times more N than P, so fertilizers that supply more P than N are wasteful and more likely to inhibit blooms (remember that too much P inhibits uptake of Fe and many micro-nutrients - it raises pH unnecessarily as well, which could also be problematic). Popular "bloom-booster" fertilizers like 10-52-10 actually supply about 32x more P than your plant could ever use (in relationship to how much N it uses) and has the potential to wreak all kinds of havoc with your plants.

In a recent conversation with the CEO of Dyna-Gro, he confirmed my long held belief that circumstances would have to be very highly unusual for it to be ever beneficial to use a fertilizer in containers that supplies as much or more P than either N or K. This means that even commonly found 1:1:1 ratios like 20-20-20 or 14-14-14 supply more P than is necessary for best results."


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

A couple random comments.

First, regarding reducing N supply as a means of encouraging blooms. For some plants that might be OK, but for crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc. - blossoming and active growth are concurrent. You'd be toggling back on N precisely when the plant needs it most.

Second, in general plants are inefficient in utilizing P. One multi-year study (of container-grown plants) I reviewed saw utilization rates of between 19% and 45%. So, if you apply x amount of P, the plant is only utilizing a relatively small portion of that. Of note, between 10% and 20% of the applied P ends up in the ground water.

Finally, IMO these high-P fertilizers are not intended for those of us growing house plants or even vegetable crops. Rather, they are marketed primarily to, ahem, herb growers (and we're not talking basil here). I don't know anything about the practice (**disclaimer**) but perhaps herb culture requires ultra-high levels of P. After all, the final "product" is the blossom (i.e. the buds). Perhaps P levels are linked to higher levels of certain substances in the plant. I don't know, but it's something to consider.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

"First, regarding reducing N supply as a means of encouraging blooms. For some plants that might be OK, but for crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, etc. - blossoming and active growth are concurrent. You'd be toggling back on N precisely when the plant needs it most."

Thank you fortyonenorth for bringing up this very true point.

At this point I am cunfused,I am being told that the bloom boosters that even dyna-gro makes are pointless? Thats what I am getting here?

So wait, they would make a "pointless product".

I don't know I have a hard time believing that unless I am not understanding this right.

Again let me bring this up.

"There was a trial done and it found even though the reproductive stage needs a higher level of PK to N, the absent of nitrogen yields did dropped over 50%."

"You'd be toggling back on N precisely when the plant needs it most"


fortyonenorth brought up another good point that shows all plants need different fertilizer ratio's.

"but for crops like tomatoes, peppers, eggplant" "You'd be toggling back on N precisely when the plant needs it most"

I am so glad to see I am on the same page as you fortyonenorth.

I can't say anymore, maybe Al says not to use Bloom boosters just because he wants to keep it simple for people?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

"As a vegetable grower, I use obvious metrics to determine the relative success of my gardening "

"How does one square this fact with a "one size fits all" approach to fertility? For example, a tomato plant is going to remove more potassium from the soil than nitrogen. By comparison, grapes need only about 60% the potassium when compared to nitrogen."

Yes I grow veggie container garden's too and read back and found this a very valid point.

I hope we can clear some things up.

I asked about how much of a slow release fertilizer to use 9-4-12 is not the 3;1;2 ratio but it is BETTER for tomatoes. Someone on here said the 9-4-12 is wrong? So instead of telling me a rule of thumb on how much fertilizer to use I got told that fertilizer won't work because it is not 3;1;2 ratio. I couldnt believe that people are thinking they know more then fertilizer companies. I have a feeling a lot are mislead.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

"At this point I am cunfused,I am being told that the bloom boosters that even dyna-gro makes are pointless? Thats what I am getting here?

So wait, they would make a 'pointless product.'"

Yes.

Read the email from the CEO of Dyna-Gro himself in this thread:

The uselessness of high P fertilizers

He sums it up quite well when he says, "However, it is simpler to give the market what they think they need than to try to reeducate it." At least they offer a very useful product in addition to their not so useful ones.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

So, I was thinking I was missing out on a way to boost yield this whole time. As I stated just a few posts ago...

"I could see the 3:1:2 is the BEST ratio and with the added 0-0-3 during fruiting is perfect."

With those two you can make a 2;1;3 so there really is no point to those boosters!!!!

Hey, thanks penfold2, Al, everyone.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

For Al's 5-1-1 mix, what type of perlite is best? The reason I'm asking is that I began to shop for perlite and discovered that there is course perlite, big and chunky, medium, etc. I don't know the differences between these and was looking for a bit of info.
I was looking at this particular one:
http://www.greenhousemegastore.com/product/coarse-perlite-20-quart-bag/soil-growing-medium
Thanks!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Whatever you do, avoid the fine Perlite.

Optimally, the Perlite will fall into the size-range of 1/8 to 1/4 inch, but screened particles
aren't as critical in the 5-1-1 mix.

I use the course Perlite when I can, as I find it has much less Perlite dust - and it is useful in
bark-based and grittier mixes.


Josh


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Dec 27, 11 at 11:25

Me too.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Coarse perlite is good. There is a big and chunky grade as you mentioned, and I would avoid that. The pieces are around 1/2-3/4".


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thank you all for the answers. Really looking forward to getting started.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Good Evening Al & Everyone!
First time poster here! I'd like to start by saying that finding this thread has been like....how do I say....THANK YOU JESUS!!! Yep, that does it. Next, a bit about me. I'm a rookie gardener in South Florida. I've tried a few things, with limited success, and this thread has identified just about everything that I've done wrong up to this point, not to mention enlightening my mind. My question to you all is regarding fertilization and amendments of the 5-1-1. As I said, I've tried a few things, so I have quite a few bags of organic this and soluble that. I read parts of the thread, and me being me, did first and asked questions later. When I first read about the 5-1-1 methodology I realized that I had basically all of the ingredients, so i just got to work. For better or worse, I added Azomite powder to the mix at the same rate as the lime. I had it handy and figured it would be OK for a micro amendment. Then I realized that not one person on this thread has ever mentioned the use of this product. I now have about 40 gallons of prepared mix. After some further investigation I've noticed that the micro's from the MG 24-8-16 (Again...had it on hand) are duplicated in the Azomite. I'm wondering if I've made a mistake, or will this be ok? If it is ok, do I still need to add a micro source to my soluble formula? If so, I have seaweed emulsion on hand, will this work? If so, ....just kidding..lol, no more if so's....for now. I will go ahead and get the Foliage Pro when the stuff I have runs out, until then I need some advice. In closing, I would like to say that this is a very interesting community...me thinks I'd like to drink more than a few well crafted hoppy beverages with the lot of you. Cheers, and thanks in advance.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Apparently I don't have enough of that fancy book learnin' that I done been needin' to be part of thisa' here fancy conversation.....I say, well I say...good thing I have an extra set of feathas' for just such, I say just such an occasion....


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 7, 12 at 17:32

I'm not sure what happened. I replied to your post, but obviously it never made it to the thread. I don't discriminate against anyone in need of help, regardless of their knowledge or skill level. I'm always happy to help anyone with a good heart and a want to learn.

What I had written is: The Azomite is essentially rock dust. The packager says it's soluble .... but I wonder how soluble rock dust can be? If it IS soluble, it increases the likelihood of issues related to toxicity when combined with fertilizers that have micro-nutrients that overlap.

I would use the soil, but make sure it's damp when you first plant in it. Then, flush the soil thoroughly and repeatedly until the effluent runs perfectly clear to rid the soil of as much of the 'remineralizer' as possible. The second time your planting needs watering, fertigate with half the recommended dose of 24-8-16.

Let us know how that works, and report anything you think is unusual about the appearance or growth of your plants. Don't forget to incorporate the lime. It's value lies in its pH buffering, as well as the fact that it supplies Ca & Mg in a favorable ratio.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Don't take it personally Monkey. Things have been quiet on this forum, but it will pick up soon enough. I'm no expert, but I'm willing to give an opinion. I've never heard of azomite, but from Googling it, I would guess its similar to greensand, a natural source of trace minerals that I added to 5-1-1 mix along with Osmocote Plus and lime at the rate of one tablespoon per gallon. This was the mix I used for vegetables, herbs and annuals in my outdoor summer container garden last summer. Everything did well, so at least it didn't appear to do any harm. I suspect Al would say it wasn't necessary, but old habits die hard.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Haha, yeah sorry about that post. I had a belly full of IPA. Thanks for the info, I'll report back how things are going. The mix I have still has to "cook" until next weekend.

What I had come up with regarding Azomite is that it differs from rock dust, in that, it is volcanic in origin rather that glacial. It's basically a mineralized, compacted volcanic ash. Also, in the "micronized" form, which is what I used, the particles are small enough to behave as a colloid. Al, can you shed some light on this? I'm no Chemistry buff, but wouldn't a mineralized colliod be soluble?

Also, as far as an additional micro source (like the seaweed I mentioned), I'm assuming that I hold off on this until I see how the MG will react with the Azomite? Should I use it at all, at any point?

Thanks again!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

I added Azomite to my soil mix last year and I've never had such a good container crop. I didn't do side-by-side comparisons, so I can't attribute the success to any one factor. I wouldn't worry about it hurting your mix. It breaks down slowly - even in micronized form - and could provide benefits in the way of it's spectrum of minerals and trace elements (Azomite="a to z of minerals including trace elements")


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sun, Jan 8, 12 at 16:03

DaM - I think that's where some confusion lies. The mineral fraction of (in this case) a hydrocolloidal suspension differs significantly from a solution. Even though the packagers of Azomite SAY it's soluble, I doubt it is. IF it is (soluble), it would contribute to the EC/TDS of the soil solution and be available for uptake - just like synthetic soluble fertilizers.

That begs the questions, first, "If it IS soluble, would the high % of nonessential elements in the material, which would by default add considerably to TDS/EC, have more potential to be limiting than any essential elements therein contained would have the potential to benefit?" I'd say the answer to that would be 'YES', based on the fact that we're discussing container media; and, that any essential nutrients likely to be deficient in container media are covered in your fertilizer selection and the inclusion of dolomite.

The second question hinges on it being insoluble - "Why use it?" Even bone meal breaks down so slowly in container media it's considered insoluble; that, because of the extremely slow rate at which soil organisms break the molecules down into elemental/usable form. If it's insoluble, it's as likely that it would do no discernible good, as it is it would do no discernible harm.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Al,
Interesting! I love to cook, and your explanation jogged a thought (I hope that it's right, lol). Molecular Gastronomy utilizes hydrocolloids all the time. Like the use of agar agar to thicken or gel a sauce. When too much agar agar is mixed with too little liquid the gelling effect is to great, the fraction of agar agar is too high....the sauce is too thick. Would this be to say that because Azomite behaves as a hydrocolloid that the "mineral fraction" you mentioned would be too high in the suspension left in the soil after watering (the sauce is too thick), much higher than that of a solution, thus making the potential of limitation greater?

This also makes me think that any additional micro-noots (seaweed) would only compound that potential. I will not use the seaweed. I'm assuming that even if a deficiency shows up, it would be more likely a limitation from too much x rather than to little y.

fortyonenorth,
I here alot of people say really good things about Azomite, I hope it works out well for me too! I think it's probably largely dependant on how much you use intially and what else you use with it. Thanks for the input, I'll keep you posted on how it's going for me.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 9, 12 at 15:11

I think we're probably headed off the reservation to find a boogeyman lurking in every corner now. If there was any concern over the aspect of any physical thickening of the soil solution, it would probably go to it's impact on capillarity and the volume of air in the soil, but I don't get the feeling it's worth worrying about ..... unless you really want to chase it to ground.

To address the second part of your comment, limitations are limitations. In the end, it doesn't matter if they come resultant of 'a little extra' or 'not quite enough' .... Liebig's Law of the Minimum is nondiscriminatory. ;-)

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

LOL. Point taken, I'll shut up and leave the obscure analogies for my drinking buddies...hah!

In the end this whole conversation is moot if the Azomite isn't soluble, as advertised. I'll let you know how it works out.

Thanks again for all your help!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 9, 12 at 16:36

;-) Sorry about leaving you hanging - it was inadvertent, not intentional.

Take care.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

When growing in a soilless media, besides micro and macro nutrients it is provin that the addition of humic & fulvic acids and many other types of acids and minerials greatly benifit the plant even in synthetic fertilizer programs.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 10, 12 at 15:57

Humic acid (HA) is formed during the humification process (decaying/composting) as plant and animal matter break down. The main source of HA is lignin, which is the most common bio-compound on earth next to cellulose - it's what makes plants rigid. As organic matter breaks down, it forms several acids called carboxylates and phenoxides.
While there are several acids formed during the breakdown of organic matter, they end up being pretty much the same group of acids in the same proportions. To go even a little further, it's not the acids formed during humification that vary with any significance or offer any intrinsic value, it's the compounds they form with free ions when mixed into (primarily) mineral soils.

It's probably easy to envision why that is true when we consider that all plants are made up of the same building blocks (nutrients/elements) in almost exactly the same ratio. IOW, there is little difference, chemically speaking, between sequoias and snapdragons. Also important to consider is that peat moss and bark are made up of a combination of cellulose, lignins, and humic acids. This fact is probably what would allow any/all container media producers to lay claim to the fact that their product contains HA ...... and many do. Advertisers often tout things their research shows the general public might consider a significant plus, when it's an intrinsic part of all similar products. Shell Oil used to advertise that their gasoline contained lead to guard against spark knock, when in fact all gasoline used to contain lead. If I thought a little, I'm sure I could quickly come up with another dozen examples more current.

Humic acid (and its accompanying fulvic acid) are most often used as an amendment to improve the structural quality of clay soils, sandy soils, and/or other soils organically deficient. Obviously, this doesn't apply to container media, which is often more than 95% organic matter. The primary value of adding humic acid to clay or other compacted soils comes from the resulting structural break-up (increase in friability) of these soils. Obviously, this should not be an issue in the container media we are using. In sandy soils, humic acid's value is in its addition of organic material to soils, which would also, in the end, improved water retention and root function, neither of which are anything we should be lacking in the media use.

I draw a delineation between mineral soils and container media because the immense volume of organic matter in almost all container media. This would even include the gritty mix, which has a 1/3 organic component - roughly 6-10 times what you would find in most natural and garden soils. Hopefully, we have built or are using container media with a suitable structure, but even if we were not, the type of structural improvements usually associated with the use of HA in mineral soils do not apply to container media. Where container media is concerned, if the structure is not there from the beginning, the only way you can add it is by adding enough soil particles of the size required to physically achieve your objective, You cannot change container media structure by adding HA or its associates.

In some soils, humic acid can also play another role in facilitating a plant's ability to assimilate nutrients. Humic acid can lower pH and help unlock otherwise bound nutrients in the soil that might not be unavailable under conditions of higher pH. Again, this should not be an issue for anyone following a soluble fertilizer regimen, unless they are unaware of the effects of pH and are acting in such a manner that promotes high pH. On the flip side, the use of humic/fulvic acid in applications where pH is already appropriate, toxicity issues, particularly of micronutrients can result. Bottom line - you'd better look before you leap.

Finally, humic acid can stimulate soil micro-biology in some soils, increasing the numbers and activity levels of soil micro-populations, the primary function of which are to make available minerals and nutrients which could be stored within the humic acid complex and hopefully available on an 'as needed' basis. Again, not much of a benefit when you consider you're supplying a full compliment of nutrients in a readily available form on a regular and 'as needed' basis ...... and many of us look at increased populations of microorganisms as structural destroyers.

I suppose if I was to sum it up, I would say that a build-up or adequate measures of humic acid in garden soils is to be desired, & most effectively accomplished by the regular addition of organic materials to the soil. How valuable wholesale applications of humic acid are to garden soils is probably highly variable by soil type, soil composition, and the intrinsic quality/value of the individual product in hand. It's value in containers would probably be extremely marginal at best, or go completely unnoticed (as it did when I tried the product for my container plantings several years ago).

There's nothing to stop you from trying it, but the site-wide repetition of these broad, all-encompassing statements and your continued vacillation are damaging your credibility.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

"There's nothing to stop you from trying it, but the site-wide repetition of these broad, all-encompassing statements and your continued vacillation are damaging your credibility. "

I am sorry Al, I like trying new products out. I will give it a go this year and see how it goes. I found Dyna-gro near by me so I am picking that up soon. There really is no fertilizer like it and I thank you for directing to that.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

My water contains 59 ppm calcium, and 62 ppm magnesium (in addition to much sodium). My practice for the last several years has been to add no lime or any other source of calcium and magnesium...assuming the water will supply these 2 nutrients. I use micromax and 3-1-2 NPK fertilizers for all other nutrients. Rain is infrequent (2 days in a row without watering in the summer heat is extraordinary). My container plants grow exceptionally well and show no obvious signs of nutrient deficiency. I am wondering, however, if this is the best method for optimum growth, especially in regards to cal. and mag. Any opinions appreciated.

Jason


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Jan 10, 12 at 21:08

No one can fine tune your growing efforts at a distance, Jason. Take your hint from your offering, "My container plants grow exceptionally well and show no obvious signs of nutrient deficiency." As a bystander, I'd be reluctant to tinker with that.

Are you using a fertilizer that doesn't include Ca & Mg? If so, the only thing I noticed is your Ca:Mg ratio is a little close. If I tried anything different as an experiment, it might be to add just a little gypsum to the soil at planting time to up the Ca a little.

Usually, when I make a suggestion it's with confidence it will make a difference, but not so much here. It sounds like you have things well in hand.

Best luck.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thanks Al! I have not used any fertilizer containing Ca or Mg. The ratio is what I find mildly concerning. 2:1 for Ca:Mg is what I understand to be optimal, my water is 1:1. I have been hesitant, however, to add calcium since more than enough is already being supplied. Your right, this is fine tuning, and a little experiment involving 6-8 plants should clear up whether a little gypsum makes a major difference for me.

Thanks,
Jason


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Quick note about humic and fulvic acids:
Full of natural chelates (which, as Al alluded to, break up hard to dissolve nutrients, especially transition metals i.e. zinc, iron and the likes)
Improves structure of the organic component of your mix
There are others but this is what I use it for. But I also use a slightly diffferent mix than Al.
Just my thoughts, Bob


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Yes bob humic and fulvic acids are used in hydroponics where there is no microbes.

"Adding a humic acid based solution, referred to as "BLACK" in hydroponic preparations, to the nutrient reservoir will increase the efficacy of the nutrients, making both micro and macro nutrients more readily available to the root zone. Humic acid�s high cation capacity serves as a chelator which helps plants better assimilate all the nutrients in the solution. The chelation process helps make and keep nutrients readily available to be used by plants as needed."

Like I said they are chelates.

They are not for only organic lol ;)


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 13, 12 at 14:41

From the same opinion piece you quoted, my emphasis added so you can easily see the bias/agenda:

Ingestion of humic acids through organic [so only organic foods contain humic acid?] foods and clean natural water from unpolluted rivers [no agenda here - right?] is believed [by whom? pretty vague - yes, and leading?] to reduce or block the body's absorption of heavy metals and pesticides. This may [IOW, it sounds good, but we're not sure - leading] help diminish the buildup of cancer-causing toxins and pollutants in the human body. It is believed [by whom?] that humic acid is anti-carcinogenic.

The entire piece is like that, so how can anyone take it seriously?

I'm not sure how humic/fulvic acids can improve the structure of the organic portion of a mix, but I'm thinking that if anyone needs the structure-building benefits offered by the addition of these products, it's a logical step to think it a pretty good bet there was a structural inadequacy from the get go. If there wasn't, it wouldn't be needed.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

As far as the whole organic vs non, I take a pretty practical approach: organic makes nutrients available in the long run and make microbes thrive (you always want them on your side, they are invaluable), but synthetics are specifically designed to be as perfect as they can for plants. Just like container gardening is a mix of regular gardening and hydro (more towards hydro), your nutrition regime should be a mix of organic and synthetic (more towards synthetic). By taking advantage of both you can give you plants a more beneficial environment.
BTW garden master, I have seen that you do a lot of research, and quote a lot of articles, but do you do any research for yourself? I'm not trying to insult you, but there is no replacement for experience, and all the research in the world will not help if there is no application.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Al, it's not matter of bad construction, as much as improving an already good construction. The acids in thes products don't really wash away (they are not simple acids, they are highly complex hydrocarbon chains that are enormous from a particle reference) they make the smaller particle in the mix bond together into more of a colloid than anything else. This makes for a much better aeration in the mix.
This is just what I've seen through my experiments. I will be trying a mix that combines the best parts of yours and mine (2 parts perlite, 1 part vermiculite, 1 part small gravel, and a handful of live, colloidal humus that I make), I'll be using the turface instead of the vermiculite. I'm very excited!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 13, 12 at 15:49

My experience has been that courting the micro-herd in container culture hastens structural collapse of the soil - there's no free lunch, and that I'm able to produce the healthiest plants by focusing on practices that ensure healthy soil structure.

While I agree completely that biotic soil life is critically essential to a healthy mineral soil, it's unnecessary to a healthy (for roots/plants) container substrate. Using the example of hydroponics or my own plants, we can see that plants do very nicely w/o being married to soil life. Since container culture is essentially a form of hydroponics, with a little different substrate, it's not illogical to think we can do at least as well in our containers as we can in hydroponics without additional fuss/muss.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

I'm not saying your wrong. If anything, I believe you to be right. The only organic matter I use in my media is microbe laden "humus", just like the only organic component of yours it bark. And if we are talking hydroponics, there are hydro setups that use microbes.
As gardeners all we can do is try to replicate the plants optimum environment to the best of our abilities, in doing so, I feel that the benefits of microbes out way the risks (soil compaction), just as you feel that the bark will add its benefits even though it too will enevitably compact. I have a feeling that you keep your plants potted longer than I do (bark will brake down after several years, by which time you will have repotted), I grow mainly annuals or biennials, in my rose container I do not include any organic material (it will be years before I repot and I don't want any compaction, which will happen if I use my humus). In short we differ because of our experiences and preferences: I don't let plants sit in the same media for more than a year, in which time there is no compaction of my "humus", you probably keep your plants in the same media for several years, in that case I would never use the "humus".
Whatever our differences, at least we arrived at them through our own trial and error, and our own research, unlike others.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

BTW Al, I was going to shake things up this season. Now keep in mind that I live in Orlando Fl, (it gets hot, and humidity fluctuates), I usually use pea gravel, perlite, vermiculite, and the debated "humus". This season I have access to turface MVP and I was going to try a mix similar to yours, I was thinking one part each perlite, vermiculite, and turface, plus the little bit of humus. Any thoughts (will the turface and vermiculite create to high a water level?), concerns, or ideas.
Thanks


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Yea Bob I used a product that dramatically improved my plants metabolism.

Honestly, I learned a lot from Al, keep it simple and you get better results. I find this can be true in a lot of subjects. There really is no need as you can see that a basic fertilizer grows plants well. Potassium silicate is somthing that would be better to introduce in a container then humic and fulvic.


"My experience has been that courting the micro-herd in container culture hastens structural collapse of the soil - there's no free lunch, and that I'm able to produce the healthiest plants by focusing on practices that ensure healthy soil structure. "

Brilliant!!!

I just can't buy these commercial mix's that they add microbes and compost. I just want to use in-organic in pots not organics.

Thanks everyone.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 13, 12 at 17:57

Only for clarity and not to fuel disagreement, because of my bonsai background I'm a stickler about repotting. I only occasionally keep anything in the bark-based mixes for more than a single growth cycle. Because the composition of the gritty mix ensures structural stability for much longer than it would be prudent to go between repots, I reserve that for plantings I expect to be in the same soil for more than one growth cycle. I repot perennials (including bonsai and pre-bonsai) when the root/soil mass can be lifted from the pot intact, or sooner, though occasionally I purposely use the stress of tight roots to achieve a particular end.

I think that even though we're on divergent paths, our destination is the same. Through my offerings on soils and nutritional supplementation, I try to provide an entry level understanding and a place where any container gardener can easily jump in with both feet and become successful overnight. There is no hidden inference when I say that over the years I have seen many hundreds of gardeners embrace a fast draining, well-aerated soil and a synthetic nutritional supplementation program, and surpass the abilities of other gardeners on a variety of other courses and with many times the experience, simply as a result of that change in direction.

Thank you for your astute offerings.

Take care.

Al


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Fertilizer for Containerized Plants III

One of my foliar sprays (I only use two) has potassium silicate in it. Love it! I just use compost to add microbes to a CMPB (composted milled pine bark) and greensand mix. I live in an apartment, on the third floor, so the compostable trash just goes into a bin and here come the microbes!
Honestly I like how it works for me, it took several seasons to figure out that potting soil is crap. Then I did a few seasons of hydro, I like the balance I have, about 70/30 hydro to regular and it works, but would like to experiment more with out throwing away what I've learned.


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Sorry Al

Al, please understand that I did not mean to offend you, or to seem arrogant. These were not my intentions, in fact I respect your opinion very much because I have not seen many people use a fast draining coarse mix for regular containers, and the independent genises of the idea proves that it is a logical conclusion (although they may be different, the intentions are the same; as you said). I asked your opinion because I value your advise.
And I accidentally assumed, which I'm sure you know what that means (an ASS of U and ME), that you did not repot often due to my lack of knowing your bonsai background.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

"...occasionally I purposely use the stress of tight roots to achieve a particular end."

What would that end purpose be, Al? I'm guessing that the stress increases blooms.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

"...occasionally I purposely use the stress of tight roots to achieve a particular end."

Yes. I was thinking of the same thing today!!!

When a plant gets root bound it starts to bloom more.

So if you plant right you will end up with the right size plant full of fruits/blooms.

This is what I think it meant anyway.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Jan 14, 12 at 13:55

Bob - I'm not easily offended or moved to ire unless I think someone's agenda includes intentional personal effrontery. You've been polite & given no indication of anything other than honest intentions, so I'm fine with our exchange - no bad or sour note as you hoped against on another thread you recently initiated. All's well.

JD - Tight roots can to some degree be a bonsai practitioner's friend, if they are managed judiciously. Other growers can employ the strategy for the same reason a bonsai artist might. Tight roots slow growth; cause reduced branch extension, which means shorter internodes; and reduce leaf size. Because tight roots also affect vitality and have a tendency to cause the shedding of foliage proximal to meristematic regions (branch tips), you can easily end up with a weak plant and the poodle look resultant from tufts of foliage only near branch ends.

If I want to maximize growth and o/a vitality, I'll grow in a large soil volume & repot every other year. I actually make an educated guess about how much soil volume I'll need to keep the roots from getting compacted to the degree that I can lift the root/soil mass from the pot intact. An excellent guideline is, once that state of root congestion is reached, the plant will be negatively affected in growth (as measured by the increase in o/a mass) and vitality, permanently, unless the root congestion in the original root ball is corrected.

A plant can regain lost vitality, but it can never regain lost growth potential, something particularly important when growth:time is a consideration.

..... and yes, tight roots can induce a more prolific bloom period in many plants. It's important to recognize though, that the result of the stress of tight roots pleases the grower, and not the plant. Stress always carries danger with it because it indicates an organism operating under energy drain or life processes operating at/near the limits for which they were programmed. Unchecked, stress always leads to strain, which is a permanently injurious condition that can lead to death of the organism.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thank you for understanding Al, it is not the first (and unoftunately, probably not the last) time my tone has come across as offensive.
I am interested in getting your opinion on the other topic i started (I didn't want to overrun your fertilizer thread with a soil question). Thanks for the help.
Also is the art of bonsai hard to get started in? I have always wanted to try but never got around to it.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Was doing a study on specific acids on plants and they are NOT amino acids. Can I confirm one more time that there really is no reason for them or they dont do anything?

Thanks.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Just looked up the ingredients of dyna-gro and found it has Indole-3-Butyric Acid. It seems it enhances the growth of plants. It says it's uses "Growth enhancer to increase both yield and quality."

Not sure which one it was.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

MG - IBA (indole-3-butyric acid) is a plant hormone in the auxin family, it is very commonly found in rooting powders and the like. Auxins are produced in the buds on a plant, and are responsible for many of the plants activities: fruit development, branching and elongating roots, elongation of other cells, and quite a few others that I can't remember. If you choose enlist this powerful force, be careful, because an imbalance of phytochemicals can cause many irreversable growth defects. If a fertilizer you have includes any of these it is probably ok to use, just be aware that they are there. If you want be more adventurous and try your hand at dosing out these chems yourself, know that you should keep constant balance between auxins, cytokinins, and gibberellins. It can yeild amazing results if you dose them yourself (and it's a great learning experience), but I honestly don't think it is worth the trouble for my small gardening, if I had a greenhouse the that would be a different story.
Sorry to ramble, just thought it might be useful info if you have never heard some of these terms, Bob


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

"Sorry to ramble, just thought it might be useful info if you have never heard some of these terms, Bob"

Ramble? Yea right, you have a lot of very good information. Thanks.

Yea that must of been their rooting compound.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Just out of curiousity, are you a certified MG, I always wondered if it was worth it?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

On the note about tight roots, I have another example as well. I have several young plum trees in my yard. One of them got accidentally girdled by a whipper. The next year, it flowered and fruited like crazy, but not a lot of vegetative growth. Meanwhile, the plum trees that did not get girdled doubled in size, but had fewer flowers and no fruit. I would assume the girdling would be an equivalent to tight roots in a pot.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

I looked high and low for foliage pro but my local retailer only has grow 7-9-5. I know the p level is way high but it says it is a good fertilizer to use all the time on all plants. What do you think about grow?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Jan 25, 12 at 17:47

You answered your own question.

In a conversation with Dave Neal, the CEO of Dyna-Gro, he mentioned that virtually everyone using 7-9-5 SHOULD be using 9-3-6.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Well in that case, I will try to get them to order it. So glad you take the time to teach this, I would not know these things. Thanks Al. : )


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

I am catching up as quickly as possible, but the amount of information provided here is amazing! I may have found the issue to my problem is the need for gypsum, but am not sure. I have become a "Taplite" if you will and have been transferring my plants to the Gritty Mix as well as using Foliage Pro 9-3-6. I am growing several tropical bonsai under a 400w metal halide lamp and have begun running into problems. My Schefflera loves it and can't seem to get enough, but two ficus microcarpa have been showing signs of what I believed to be iron deficiency. The new growth slowly turns yellow and falls of while the old growth remains and appears healthy. All of these plants are in my old soil mix which does include more fines, so is more water retentive. Also, all of the plants showed signs of general fertilizer deficiency and became a pale green. I doubled the fertilizer dose, as recommended on the package, and the plants greened back up. Only the ficus are having problems at this point, but are slowly dropping 3-5 new growth leaves a week. If gypsum is the answer, where can I find it? Thank you in advance for any advice, and in the mean time I will also be trying to digest all of the information on these forum threads!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Okay maybe no gypsum. I almost forgot to mention my very hard tap water has a pH of 8.5 or higher. Way to high! The double dose of foliage pro, recommended for deficiencies, lowers the pH to 6.o. Sorry for the additional post, but I thought the information might be helpful.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Would I be better off just staying with MG all purpose fertilizer rather then dyna gro grow 7-9-5, considering it is like a 3;1;2 ratio? And added gypsum. I have MG tomatoe fertilizer on hand too.

Thanks.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

A photos of the leaf progression from bottom to top; old growth, new growth beginning to yellow, new growth very yellow just before falling from tree, and a dead leaf after falling and drying.

Here is a link that might be useful: Bonsaisite forum thread


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 27, 12 at 16:39

So you're fertilizing with 9-3-6 at double the recommended dose & your tree is dying ..... or at least leaves are abscising (being shed)?

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Yes, but only on my ficus microcarpa. The rest of the plants under the light are doing great. Well my ficus benjamina does show yellowing in the new leaves but then it fades back to green. My brazilian rain tree has stopped growing but is not loosing leaves, and the schefflera has been thriving.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Jan 27, 12 at 20:25

Ok - how about describing how you're fertilizing - a double dose how often? My first thought right off the bat, if I understand you correctly, is that you're dealing with a very high level of EC/TDS, which is essentially the level of dissolved solids & salt) in the soil, leaving your plant unable to take up water properly, dying of thirst in a sea of plenty.

How recently was the plant moved under the lights, and what was the light level like where they were formerly sited?

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

I am thinking you are on the money with the dying of thirst in a sea of plenty. I water once or twice a week if needed and have been using the double dose for about a 3 weeks every time I water. The plants were moved under the light about three months ago and really became pale and washed out with the normal fertilizer dose about three weeks ago. The light they were moved from is a southern exposure with direct light four to five hours a day and a very high level of reflected light all day. I was not exactly clear before that it is two ficus microcarpa dealing with these issues. Thanks for the replies and let me know what other information I can give you.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Today was watering day, and before I did anything I took some time to research the signs of over fertilizing. Thick leathery leaves with a bluish tinge on older growth, as well as yellowing and abscessing leaves on new growth. Both signs were apparent on my plants. Even if I am misreading the signs I felt giving my plants a good flush couldn't do any harm. I watered with luke warm tap water and made sure to really flood and drain the soil multiple times. I then let the plants to sit for fifteen minutes and watered again with distilled water. My thinking is that the luke warm water would help to loosen up the mineral deposits during the fifteen minute delay between watering and ending with distilled water would help to flush everything possible out. There is still a very week dose of pelleted Bougain fertilizer on the soil surface, but it is very week and most likely predominately micro nutrients at this point.

I believe my my metal halide growing expectations have been unrealistic. I felt with the abundance of new light my fertilizer program had to go through the roof. I am starting over with a much more diluted fertilizer program. I will start with my pre lamp winter fertilizer program, which was half recommended strength twice a month. Thanks again for all of the help and please correct me if any of this is incorrect.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Mon, Jan 30, 12 at 2:34

I think your plan is well-considered and very realistic, and pretty much coincides with what I might have done. Great job on the research too, btw.

Take care.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Any recommendations on how to add Ca during fertilization, rather than mixing gypsum or lime into the potting medium beforehand?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hard water usually has a decent amount of Ca. I take my old egg shells and dissolve them In lemon juice or vinegar, just be carefully of the amounts you use: you want to make sure you nurtralize the acetic acid, either use a pH test, or simply keep adding eggshells until they stop dissolving. This is very strong, so you really don't need much at all, plus if you use cider vinegar you will give the plants a lot of extra trace minerals and some other useful compounds (vitamins and such).
I use this method because it gets rid of garbage and makes almost free fertilizer. You could also use pickling lime or many other common substances, but calcium acetate and calcium citrate are some of the most soluble forms of calcium.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Feb 17, 12 at 19:11

WF - First, let's visit why you think you need an extra measure of Ca, or why you don't wish to use dolomite as a Ca/Mg source.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Curiosity I guess. When you add dolomite, what form is it in?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

It's generally prilled or in a fine powder form. It is the cheapest and easiest step in the process, there is absolutley no reason to skip it.

I use the prilled form, by Espoma. I have noticed that, at least with this brand, it is best to let the lime react for a few days, or even a week or more. Watering too soon after mixing, for me anyways, has resulted in grey runoff laden with lime. I also use landscape fabric at the bottom of my pots, and the lime runoff does not play nice with this product, it seems to clog up the pores. I tested this a number of times in a number of pots by immediately watering a fresh mix with no lime, and the runoff drained freely and was clear every time. I'm not sure how much you actually lose, but it's enough to make me simply mix it a week or two before I actually use it.

PJ


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

"Hard water usually has a decent amount of Ca. I take my old egg shells and dissolve them In lemon juice or vinegar, just be carefully of the amounts you use: you want to make sure you nurtralize the acetic acid, either use a pH test, or simply keep adding eggshells until they stop dissolving. This is very strong, so you really don't need much at all, plus if you use cider vinegar you will give the plants a lot of extra trace minerals and some other useful compounds (vitamins and such).
I use this method because it gets rid of garbage and makes almost free fertilizer. You could also use pickling lime or many other common substances, but calcium acetate and calcium citrate are some of the most soluble forms of calcium."

Wow!!!!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

I have a question concerning the weak fertilizing method with Foliage Pro. I apologize if this has already been answered. I read through most of the forum, but just wanted to clarify. I noticed most of the users speak about using the gritty mix with this method. I'm a beginner gardener so I was looking to pick up a potting mix from a local nursery. I've read that most commercials don't aerate and drain well so I figured I would have better luck from someone local where I could discuss the recipe and get a better idea of texture. Would I still have success with this method if using a sphagnum peat moss recipe? I'm growing a variety of vegetables in large containers and I like the idea of a basic fertilizer that I can use for all of them. I've already worked out companion plants, spacing, and successive planting plan so right now it's really a matter of proper water and fertilizing.

Also, can someone point me in the direction (or link) of where I might find more information about using a wick for gauging moisture? I've read about testing the soil using your finger up to your knuckle but not the wick and would like to learn more about it.

Thanks!


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Tue, Feb 28, 12 at 10:50

Your plant's preference would be that you fertilize in such a way that insures that all the essential nutrients plant normally take from the soil are present and available for uptake at all times, in the ratio at which the plant uses the nutrients, and at a concentration high enough to ensure no deficiencies yet low enough to ensure the plant has no difficulty taking up water and by default, the nutrients dissolved in that water (a high level of fertility makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water).

It's easiest to achieve that through regular applications of a soluble fertilizer that closely matches the plants uptake ratio and with a dosage in a range that keeps the level of fertility in the favorable range. In order to use this strategy, your soil must be open enough that you can flush it to rid it of accumulating salts when you water.

How successful you might be depends on whether you can get accumulating salts out of the soil w/o impeding root function. There are ways you can do that with wicks and techniques that are variations of pot-in-pot or pot-in-trench, so you're on the right track in that regard if you intend to use a heavier soil. There is really nothing wrong with a program that's based on 1-2-3-4 .... week intervals between applications if you're diligent. I think the 'low dose/frequent application' method is better, but other methods sure won't bring the sky crashing down around your shoulders. ;-)

When using water retentive soils, a wick used correctly is very helpful for removing excess water. When the planting matures so you need a longer interval between waterings, simply pull the wick out. To determine when water retentive soils need to be watered when a wick is in place, feel the wick where it exits the soil. If damp - withhold water unless you're sure the plant will be (drought) stressed before your next opportunity to water.

You can also use a long wood skewer stuck deep into the soil as a 'tell'. If it comes out damp/dirty/cool on your cheek or inside of wrist, don't water. If it comes out clean/dry - water.

Best to you!

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

AL.

I will be receiving 1 yr old blueberry cuttings in a couple of weeks,I will be using the 5-1-1 mix which has a 4.4ph. on some of them I will use the foliage pro and to make up for the lack of ammo nitrogen I would like to use urea as ammo sulphate would lower the ph. My question is how much urea would I mix with the foliage pro if I watered every week?
I really appreciate all you do AL. You are a God sent for your knowledge, and your willingness to educate us.
Thank you very much


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Paul - FP wouldn't be my first choice for fertilizing blueberries. As you've suggested, most of it's nitrogen is in the nitrate form. Why not choose another, more appropriate, fertilizer?


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Thu, Mar 1, 12 at 22:09

..... like MG 24-8-16 or 30-10-10 ..... or other fertilizers that derive their N from urea.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Yes I am agreeing with Al. If your medium for your blueberry plants are adjusted to the right ph the fertilizer is only to give nutrition.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

There was a time in the recent past, when I would spend my too-scarce money on gardening books. No more. Now the "book-money" gets converted to "plant-buying money"...and I just read all of Al's postings on how to grow plants, and why certain things work...all backed up by science, and scholarship.

I stripped all my gardening products to the barest minimum, and I am much better off with fewer mediums/fertilizers/supplements/ macro-micro tonics that WORK!

Thanks, Al for the Botany Class on the Forum. We are all in your debt...and we're better growers because of your shared knowledge, and postings.

Thanks a million.

BronxFigs/Frank DV


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 10, 12 at 10:33

MG - That's not something I would say because I understand the impact fertilizers have on media pH and how difficult it is for the hobby grower to adjust to, or maintain pH at a particular level. Neither would I say fertilizers are used to provide nutrition because it's so obvious, or that they are ONLY used as a nutritional source w/o qualifying that statement. It's always nice to have someone agree with you, but please make sure you're agreeing with something I said, to avoid putting words in my mouth. Also, my request doesn't require an explanation or a lengthy back and forth exchange, so I would appreciate having this as the last word on the matter - please?

Thank you.

Al


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Thank you

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 10, 12 at 10:39

Thank you, Frank. That was a wonderful compliment & I sincerely appreciate it. No need to feel indebted. I get a lot of satisfaction from helping where I can; so much so I guess I probably feel like I get much more than I give. In that light, I suppose you could say it's sort of in the light of selfishness that I post. At any rate, I enjoy nurturing plants, so why not add nurturing people who nurture plants as a way to broaden the scope of my interest?

Thanks again.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Good morning, Al!

I just purchased my first bottle of Pro-TeKt, and I want to make sure I'm using it correctly.
The label says add Pro-Tekt to water first, then my fertilizer. Anyhow, that's what I'm about
to do, and thought this might be helpful to others.

Also, got a fairly decent price on the Pro-TeKt ($13) and another bottle of Foliage Pro 9-3-6 ($17).
The Hydro store owner is making me a happy return customer :-)


Josh


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Al,

"That's not something I would say because I understand the impact fertilizers have on media pH and how difficult it is for the hobby grower to adjust to"

That says it all right there. Ok thanks. I enjoyed reading about the fertilizer program.


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Sat, Mar 10, 12 at 16:08

Josh - if you add the Pro-TeKt to undiluted fertilizer, one or more of the nutrients precipitate and you end up with material that won't go back into solution when you dilute it. It doesn't matter which you add (to the water) first, only that you don't mix the two together before you add to water. Sort of like it's ok to add really concentrated acids to water, but adding water to concentrated acids is sure to make you blink when it erupts.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hehe...thanks, Al ;-)

Josh


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hey Josh,

I have been been using Pro-Tekt with my Foliage Pro all winter and i can say that my plants have definately been happier than in the past...

When i take my rain water and place it in my watering cans, i add the Pro Tekt first to all of the water and then stir it in. (1/4 tsp per gallon) Then i go back and add my Foliage Pro to the water. I keep it upstairs and let it warm to room temperature and then water.

The combination of the two will definately help your plants and im so happy to have found my Pro Tekt. My Hydroponics dealer had to order it for me. I still can't find or he wont (says he cant..) order it for me. He looked it up and says its not available. Hmm? I still order my Foliage Pro from Ebay. They have free shipping anyway.

Have fun with your Pro Tekt!!!

Hope you are feeling better!!!

Happy Spring AL!!!

Take Care,

Laura


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Thanks, Laura!

I am much recovered, and I think that only allergies are plaguing me now ;-)

I gave all my citrus, my avocado, and my potted Hungarian wax pepper the Pro-TeKt treatment
on Saturday, and now I'll see how they all react. It will take some time before I can tell, of course.

I'll start my Hoyas soon, too, since they seem to attract pests more than my other plants.

Are you adding Pro-TeKt with every watering?


Josh


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hi Josh!!!

I do add Pro-Tekt at every watering (1/4 tsp) as well as (1/4 tsp) of Foliage Pro during the winter. Once summer arrives and my trees/plants are placed outside, i will raise to 1/2 tsp of Foliage Pro. I use this on all of my trees, C & S , Citrus etc.

Today i placed about 60+ Plumeria outside. We are expected to have temps all week in the mid 70's and the lows in the mid 50's. So... i decided to pull them out to enjoy the temps. Since i did this... We will have a blizzard next week! : ) They are all doing well and i have about 6-7 inflos already!

Hope your Allergies calm down..i also have the same problem. Definitely isnt fun. So glad to hear that you are feeling better tho!

My Hydro dealer can order the Pro-Tekt, but for some reason he cant order the Foliage Pro.. HUH?

Take care,

Laura


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

Hello,

I am thinking about adding silicon (i.e., Pro-TeKt) to my fertilizer regimen and have a question: will it benefit all container plants, or just deciduous plants? Don't know why it crossed my mind that there might be a difference, but I was wondering whether or not it would be beneficial to conifers in particular.

Alex


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Wed, Mar 21, 12 at 21:51

I've noticed a difference in my plants since I started using the Pro-TeKt several years ago. I have less issues with insects & fungal infections, and my plants seem to tolerate heat much better. I have at least 100 conifers in containers, and they seem to benefit as much as the other plants.

Al


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RE: Fertilizer Program for Containerized Plants III

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 6, 12 at 16:33

I had to look up this thread so I could post a link to it, when I did, I noted it was about to top out at the maximum number of posts allowed. In order that I might link to the new thread, I'll take the liberty of using up the last couple of posts so there is an easy to find link at the end. See you at the new thread (see next post).

Al


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Link to New Thread

  • Posted by tapla z5b-6a mid-MI (My Page) on
    Fri, Apr 6, 12 at 16:36

Hopefully, this will close out the thread & provide an easy link to the new one.

Thanks for your participation and the good fellowship!

Al

Here is a link that might be useful: Fertilizing Containerized Plants IV


 o Post a Follow-Up

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