5 Over Fertilization Symptoms To Look Out for In Your Garden

Over Fertilization Garden Symptoms
5 Over Fertilization Symptoms To Look Out In Your Garden – plantsheaven.com

Plants receiving the right amount of fertilizer thrive beautifully, making it tempting for gardeners to give them more fertilizer (in dose, frequency, or both), which is generally a big mistake. Below are the five over fertilization symptoms to look out for in your garden and help you determine if you are providing your plants with too much fertilizer:

Here are the most common over fertilization symptoms to look out for in your garden:

  • Wilting and yellowing of lower leaves of the plants.
  • Browning leaf tips and margins.
  • Blackened or Browned limp roots.
  • Very slow or no growth.
  • A crust of fertilizer on your soil surface.

See also: Here’s How You Can Successfully Turn Granular Fertilizer Into Liquid.

What Are The Causes Of Over Fertilization?

  • Suddenly adding excessive amounts of liquid fertilizer 
  • Applying soluble fertilizer many times with little or no leaching.
  • Using excessive amounts of slow-release fertilizers.
  • Improper use of slow-release fertilizer in combination with soluble fertilizer.
  • Poor drainage of growing medium, for example, excessive steaming of potting mix (too long or too hot)
  • Growing plants under moisture conditions are too dry for the fertilization rates used.
  • Moving plants from high fertilization, high watering, and fast-growing conditions to less rapid growing conditions without first leaching fertilizer that the plant in the new environment will not need.

Over-Fertilization Garden Symptoms And How To Fix Them

When you get carried away with fertilizer or just have a build-up of fertilizer in your potted plants, you can take some steps to save your plants.

Over Fertilization SymptomsHow to Fix it
Wilting and yellowing of plants’ lower leaves– Remove the visible layer of fertilizer on the topsoil.
– Remove any plant matter or dead leaves.
– Water thoroughly and wait at least a month before fertilizing.
Get your soil tested to determine soil pH and nutrient levels.
Browning leaf margins and tips– You can flush the ground with a lot of water to push salts out and restore normal balance around roots.
– You can also place your plant pot in the tub or sink and water it until the soil is soaked.
– Ensure you repeat the process many times to flush the soil thoroughly.
Browned or blackened limp roots– Remove your plants from their pot and wash the old soil from the roots.
– Cut all the infected roots from the plant with sterile pruners, and keep only the healthy roots.
– Repot your plants in sterile pots with well-draining soil fresh, and avoid overwatering.
– Do not fertilize your plants until they are healthy again because unhealthy roots won’t deliver nutrients properly.
Very slow or no growth– Apply fertilizer only if needed to keep your plants strong and healthy. If you notice slow to no growth, try to identify the issue before deciding to apply fertilizer.
Stop fertilizing your plants and rethink the quantity and the type of fertilizer you are using.
– Leach the fertilizer out of your soil with a deep watering to take the fertilizer out of the plant’s root zone or out the pot’s bottom.
A crust of fertilizer on your soil surface– As soon as you notice a crust of fertilizer on the soil’s surface, try to remove it carefully.
– Ensure you don’t remove more than ¼ of the soil with the crust of fertilizer.
– To remove a crust of fertilizer on your soil surface, use plenty of tap water so that it flushes out the bottom of the pot. 
– Water your plants once more 2-3 hours later or the next day.
– Leach excess fertilizer from plants before moving them to environments with a slower growth rate or drier conditions.
– Avoid mixing slow-release fertilizer with liquid fertilizer.
5 Over Fertilization Symptoms To Look Out In Your Garden – plantsheaven.com

Tips For Properly Applying Fertilizer

  • Walk around your garden at least once a week and examine your plants and lawn for early signs of slow growth.
  • Apply fertilizer only if required to keep your plants healthy. If you notice any issues, including wilting and yellowing of lower leaves of the plants, browning leaf tips and margins, blackened or Browned limp roots, very slow or no growth, and crust of fertilizer on your soil surface, try to identify the issue before deciding to apply fertilizer.
  • When applying, avoid exceeding the rate of 1 pound (0.453 kg) of nitrogen per 1,000 square feet per application.
  • Whenever possible, use slow-release fertilizers containing 50% or more of the nitrogen in slow-release forms.

What Happens If You Fertilize Your Plants Too Much?

When you look at the soil and see the white build-up, it means there is an excess of salt. This is a sign of over-fertilization and also insufficient access to water.

When you over-fertilize your plants, you might expose them to insect and disease problems and even force excessive growth.

If you fertilize your plant more than they need, they will end up with fertilizer burn. When the plants go through fertilizer burn, they change their color from green to yellow and then brown. They start burning from the edges and then the whole leaf. After some time, they drop down when they are completely dead.

See also: What Are The Difference Between Fertilizer And Plant Food?

Can You Over-Fertilize Your Vegetable Garden?

When growing vegetables in well-drained and porous soil, you can over-fertilize a vegetable garden, according to the University of Florida. In general, you can apply a balanced fertilizer every three to four weeks during the growing season.

It is good to fertilize your vegetable garden. Regular fertilization keeps the plants healthy and productive. But when you fertilize them too much, it will lead to insect and disease problems.

Fruits like beans and tomatoes produce more foliage and less fruit. Fertilizer applications keep plants vigorous and productive. Tomatoes and beans with too much fertilizer grow lots of foliage but little fruit. Well-drained soil with frequent use of fertilizer is needed for the growth of vegetables.

Vegetables grown in sandy soils will need more fertilizer than those grown in clay soils. Generally, fertilizing vegetables once every four to six weeks after planting is enough.

When you see over-fertilization symptoms in your vegetable garden, it’s time to be alert. It can harm vegetables, and even the plants can die. This happens because fertilizer is salt. When too much salt dissolves in soil, it becomes hard for plants to absorb water as they need water for their survival. 

See also: Can Tomatoes Actually Grow In Indirect Sunlight (Let’s Find Out The Truth!)

How To Reverse Over Fertilization?

By following these steps, you can reverse your over-fertilized garden

1- Inspect The Damage

The first part is to evaluate the damaged part by checking the plants’ roots from different segments of your garden.

Usually, when you inspect the damaged part you get to know which roots have grown weaker. Then you just need to water your garden enough and the plants will automatically bounce back. If the roots seem dead, you will need to replant your lawn or the plants. 

2- Remove Surface Fertilizer

If you are using slow-release granular fertilizer, and you see some pellets on the ground you have to remove them first with the help of a broom.

Before removing the fertilizer you don’t need to start watering because it will add more salt to the soil. 

3- Water The Lawn

Watering is always the best and easy way to get rid of over-fertilization. It helps the plants’ roots to flush out all excessive salt but this solution is useful only when you notice your burned grass early.

You have to apply enough water to the damaged part as well as the part of plants that looks healthy until the soil can’t absorb water anymore.

4- Check Your Roots Again

After 7 to 14 days of watering, check your roots again. If you see new growth it means you can fix your over-fertilized lawn only by water. If you see no change then it means you have to replant your lawn.

5- Prepare Your Ground For New Crops

Take off all dead and burned grass and water your lawn sufficiently. Wait for at least a week before planting new grass. It helps you to get rid of excess salt from the soil 

6- Plant New Plants

Replant the new grass on your lawn. When you are reseeding your lawn, you should always cover your seed with a thin layer of straw to protect or keep them away from critters. 

The most important thing after planting is to water your new grass regularly until the roots are established properly. Make sure to fertilize rightly to keep away from over-fertilization.

Wrapping Up

Overfertilization is a serious issue most gardeners face; remember these 5 over-fertilization symptoms to help you keep your plants healthy and strong.

Regularly inspect your garden at least once per week and look for any of the following over fertilization symptoms:

  • Wilting and yellowing of lower leaves of the plants.
  • Browning leaf tips and margins.
  • Blackened or Browned limp roots.
  • Slow or no growth.
  • A crust of fertilizer on your ground surface.


Hello friends, I am Altiné. I am SO excited you are here! I am the guy behind Plantsheaven.com. Plants Heaven is a blog that shares information about preparing, creating, and maintaining gardens in and out of your home, regardless of where you live. My goal is to help you learn to love gardening and reap the benefits that come with it. I am still learning; therefore, the information I share on this site may not always be “expert” advice or information. But, I do my VERY best to make sure the information shared on this blog is both accurate and helpful.

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Here are the five over fertilization symptoms to look out for in your garden and help you determine if you are providing your plants with too much fertilizer.`