Plants can be damaged if you fertilize too much or if nutrients are left in the soil while the water has evaporated. Don't worry, most overfertilized plants can be saved with a few simple steps. Remove any visible fertilizer residue from the plants and soil, and remove the fertilizer by allowing the water to run through the roots. After that, remove any damaged foliage and wait for about a month before fertilizing it again.
Part 1 of 3: Identifying Plants That Are Excess Fertilizer
Step 1. Observe weak or dying plants
If the plant gets sufficient exposure to sunlight and water, too many nutrients can cause the plant or sapling to look weak, stunted, or dying. Check for limp, wilted, shriveled, brittle, or very small roots, stems, and leaves.
Step 2. Check if the leaves are discolored
Observe the top and bottom of the leaf and see if there is any discoloration or irregularity. Spots, pale coloration, brown, or reddish leaves, and yellowing of the veins indicate the plant is getting too much fertilizer.
Step 3. Check for deformed leaves
Leaves that look deformed indicate the plant is not getting the right amount and mix of nutrients. Observe the curved and asymmetrical leaves, as well as the wilting.
Step 4. Pay attention to plants with dense leaves, but few flowers
Plants that have an excess of fertilizer may have heavy leaves but very little flower. Because it's bushy, you might think the plant is fine. But apparently, plants can not flower.
Step 5. Observe the soil to check for fertilizer buildup
Look for white deposits or crusts on the soil surface. This sediment is the residue of fertilizer that is too much or left after the water evaporates.
Part 2 of 3: Removing Excess Fertilizer
Step 1. Remove any visible fertilizer residue
If the fertilizer is in powder form, you can see it on the plants or on the soil surface. Remove them to prevent the plant from further over-nutrition. In addition, if the salt content in the fertilizer leaves a crust (usually white), this must also be removed.
Be careful when removing fertilizer residue so that you don't make it worse or damage the plant or its roots further
Step 2. Soak the soil with water
Soaking will remove fertilizer from root tissue, prevent further nutrient overload, and help restore roots.
Use room temperature distilled water to drain the fertilizer from the soil, if possible
Step 3. Flood the root network
If the plant is in the garden, flood the soil around the root tissue for 30 minutes before finally allowing the water to drain down.
The easiest way to flood root tissue is to use a water hose that can supply water continuously
Step 4. Let the water dry
If the plant is in a pot, fill the pot with water and allow the water to drain to the bottom. Repeat this step four times to make sure all the fertilizer has been drained or out of the plant's roots.
Part 3 of 3: Saving Plants
Step 1. Remove damaged foliage
Use scissors and cut off any damaged, deformed, or wilted leaves. While you can save overfertilized plants, damaged foliage cannot be revived. Removing them is an important step to ensure future plant health. If the leaves are left alone, the plant can become a victim of pests or disease.
Step 2. Move the plant if possible
If the condition of the plant is very severe, transfer it to new soil after the soaking process is complete so that the plant and roots recover. Choose a new spot in the garden away from the original area or move the plant into a pot filled with new soil.
If the plant is too big to move and you don't have any space left, add new soil to the pot or plot where the plant is growing
Step 3. Do not fertilize the plant for several weeks
If the plant has excess nutrients, do not fertilize it again until it looks healthy again (about 3-4 weeks). Give the plant and roots time to recover from the stress of excessive fertilizer.
Step 4. Choose a fertilizer without nitrogen
When the time comes to re-fertilize your plants, you can prevent many of the negative effects of overfertilizing by using a nitrogen-free fertilizer. Use only or of the amount of fertilizer recommended on the package.
- Contact a professional gardener if you have additional concerns or questions about how much-or what kind of fertilizer to use for a particular crop. This will help you avoid excess fertilizer in the future.
- You're better off using less fertilizer than too much.