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Yellowing and dying plants

Discussion in 'Fertilizer Application' started by stevenf, Oct 2, 2012.

  1. stevenf

    stevenf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,612

    I take care of a commercial property that I started maintaining when the landscape was first installed a year ago. 92 of the plants looked bad when first installed and progressively went down hill. When they died the store had me replace them. The new ones are still alive but have started to yellow in alot of areas. The same thing happened to a different group of plants in different bed and they were replaced. A few weeks later they are beginning to yellow. Another group of plants are doing the same thing and gradually losing all of there leaves until death(stem is brittle with no moisture but plenty of irrigation).
    This was the first time I had a soil sample done for any property. I brought the sample to a chemical dealer. She suggested this copper/magnesium spray to green them up quickly. Two months later that did nothing....
    The soil sample suggested a generic fertilizer mix of 8-8-8 or 13-13-13. I applied the 8-8-8 and noticed some greening in the healthy plants but nothing in the yellowed plants. I am in desperate need of a quick fix. I do not have time to try something only to find it didnt work. The only chemical dealer around here cant really give me a straight answer on what to do.
    The levels are these values: PH 6.97, Phosphorus 27.17, Potassium 111.33,Calcium 1,360, magnesium 166.56, sodium 111.33, sulfer 28.23, copper 1.85, zinc 2.93.
    Irrigation has been set at 3 times per week for 15 minutes for the past few months . Prior to that it was 5 days a week at 10 minutes but noticed some areas holding to much water after light digging.

    Any suggestion is highly appreciated!
  2. fl-landscapes

    fl-landscapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,542

    Could be any number of things. Talk to your local extension agent, they would probably come out and take a look in person and be able to point you in the right direction. That's what they are there for.
  3. macgyver_GA

    macgyver_GA LawnSite Senior Member
    Posts: 826

    Is that "plenty" of irrigation... Too much irrigation? Rotting the roots? Inadequate drainage?
  4. fl-landscapes

    fl-landscapes LawnSite Silver Member
    Posts: 2,542

    Could very well be too much irrigation, or not enough, or too much sun, too much shade, insects, disease, contaminated soil, compacted soil, planted too deep etc etc.....have the extension agent or a local hort specialist come take a look. By the time you run around with all the lawn site guesses your plants will be dead, you will be out money, and maybe lose a client.
  5. turfmd101

    turfmd101 LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,289

    could be a lot of things, that's for sure. Are the plants root bound? Properly installed? Pictures would definitely help.
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  6. SRT8

    SRT8 LawnSite Bronze Member
    from CA
    Posts: 1,294

    When plants or potted plants are over watered the following happens:

    •The soil becomes supersaturated and oxygen (trapped in pore spaces in the soil) is forced out of the soil.
    •Plants absorb most of their oxygen requirements from the soil, the lack of oxygen causes the cells to die, starting with the root hairs and moving on to the roots themselves.
    •As the root hairs are dead or damaged the plant is no longer able to absorb water - this results in the plant wilting; in most cases the person caring for the plant sees the wilting as a sign of insufficient watering and waters the plant more - compounding the problem.
    •As the root system is compromised osmosis cannot occur, in fact reverse osmosis starts to take place, this causes the mobile elements in the plant to start leaching from the plant and into the soil. This causes yellowing of the leaves, most notably the basal leaves (or those closest to the soil) are first effected.

    The two symptoms combined are always a clear indication of over watering or root damage (basal leaves yellowing and the plant wilting).
  7. stevenf

    stevenf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,612

    The roots were bound from improper planting. Everything I replaced was done properly. Because all of the dead plants were root bound, I can only assume the ones that I haven't replaced are that way as well.
    At first I believed the cause was indeed over watering because irrigation was set at 7 days a week, 20 minutes per day when I first started maintaining the property. Thats when I cut back significantly and noticed some areas had poor drainage. Thats when I cut it back to 3-4 days a week at 10-15 minutes.
    How much do those guys usually charge?
  8. Smallaxe

    Smallaxe LawnSite Fanatic
    Posts: 10,081

    A light digging helped you to decide that too much water was being held... a further digging would save you time and materials, by allowing you to see that the problem was not chemical or nutritional nor pH, but has everything to do with water/air ratio around the roots...

    The biggest mistake that people make is assuming that irrigation is watering the roots... ignore those who mock the idea of checking the effective root zone, for moisture, drainage and tilth, and solve the problem immediately... save the soil test for real problems... :)

    Sprinklers are good for lawns but near useless for individual plantings, and should never be run together on one zone...
  9. jvanvliet

    jvanvliet LawnSite Gold Member
    Posts: 3,939

    I agree!

    If this guys location in Louisiana has had as much rain as we have in S. Florida, "plenty" too much irrigation would be my primary suspect too since it's clearly not a nutritional issue, and the OP hasn't mention scale or other pests on the surface of the plantings.
  10. stevenf

    stevenf LawnSite Bronze Member
    Posts: 1,612

    There are no signs of pest or disease. What is the industry standard for irrigation timing? 3 days a week at 10 minutes does not seem like much to me.

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