Trouble Shooting Potted Patio Plants
an awful lot of time talking about the in-ground problems that plants
experience and focusing on diseases and insects of these plants, but
containerized plantings have often a unique set of issues.Below are some common issues that can be
encountered, with some tips on how to correct them.
You may be
able to proactively recognize and correct some of the issues you may have been
experiencing—and additionally evaluate those permanent containerized plantings
or new edible landscape containers.
Pot bound roots growing through drainage hole (may also see roots
appearing on surface). If this happens for small or medium plants, repot them.
If plants too large to easily do this, loosen surface soil and remove top two
inches.Add fresh soil to replace the 2
inches you removed.
Sudden death of seedlings in container. This may be due to pots
with no drainage, or damping off or root rots.
Sudden yellowing of leaves, leaf
drop: This can be caused by sudden temperature change; may also be a
sign of root rot.
Leaves turn dull green to yellow
and bottom leaves drop off, new leaves are weak and stunted.This may be a potential nutrient
deficiency.Containerized plants need to
be fed lightly and frequently due to porous media and frequent watering.Change fertility practices and step up the number
and frequency of fertilizations, but with lower quantities of fertilizer.
Top leaves stunted. Rapid
growth but no maturity means too heavy a hand with the water soluble fertilizer
delivered in a single dose so the part that was absorbed causes the spurt but
the rest washes through so there is nothing to sustain the spurt.This can also result in excess salts, and
salts can cause problems such as yellowing and marginal burns…leach to wash
Leaf tips turn brown. First
look to see if leaves and stems appear to be broken or bent… if so, this
indicates physical damage and bruising which can result in disruption of food
and water conducting pipes.Brown tips
with yellowing leaves are also a strong indicator of pot bound plants or root
rot so check drainage and roots.Trim
Tall, spindly stems with pale leaves. If
plant seems to be leaning in one direction or another this can be an indicator
of insufficient light.Trim branches
back that hang over container or move container so more sunlight is
achieved.You can also install a
decorative landscape mirror to increase the amount of reflected light.When growth begins to normalize you can pinch
or trim back the leggy stems to make plants even more bushy.
Brown or yellow opaque “window
panes”. In certain plants these spots, very different looking from disease
spots, are caused by excess sun exposure… they literally have a sun burn.Peppers, for example, may have patches on the
fruit like this (called sunscald).Bark
can also develop this problem, especially apples and mountain ash on a south or
southwestern exposure.Move the plants
or plan for other plants or physical barriers to be placed nearby as a
screen.Heavy pruning during water
stress can also increase plant susceptibility to sunburn.
Wilting or curling of leaf edges. Insufficient
water, excess heat, excess fertilizer (salts), low humidity, or a combination
may lead to this condition.Leaves that
display this symptom may then become brittle and/or develop brown spots
followed by leaf drop.Humidity is
easily increased by your containers on a shallow tray filled with pebbles and
water to the top of the tray.If it is
very hot, even a well-watered plant may not be able to keep up with water
demands midday and will visibly wilt only to recover as the temperatures drop
and the sun moves later in the day.
Yellowing of cactus and succulents. Yeah,
they don’t need much water but when you underwater either of these you may
notice that they literally turn pale and begin to yellow.Try the pebble tray for these types of plants
Lower leaves begin to yellow. Transplant
shock is a common cause of yellowing on lower leaves and even leaf drop of
lower leaves.However, if leaf yellowing
and drop is accompanied by stem softening plus boggy media, drainage/over
watering may be affecting the plant.You
can try drying out the container for several days to see if this improves the
problem (the soil should dry a bit).If
no drying occurs, repot with more porous soil mix and replace drainage shards
to facilitate water movement
Cactus and succulents become
“mushy”. Classic overwatering!Stop
Last updated July 13, 2021