Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  coh on Sun Sep 18, 2011 3:41 pm

This is all very interesting. I've seen some of these leaf problems on some of my plants - mainly ones that I'm "growing out" in bark mixes, not those in bonsai soil. As Jay noted, it's not just the end of season thing, as some of these problems show up much earlier in the growing season. Most severely affected have been a couple of tilia and a euonymus, and some maples. So I'm going to have to think about this whole fertilization/water quality thing over the winter.

Paul, I may have missed this somewhere in the thread - will have to go back and re-read later, but did you ever say what nitrogen component you favor? Obviously not urea, right? I've been using an alternating pair of fertilizers - miracid (made by miracle grow) and some old peters fertilizer that I used to use for orchids. I think it now goes under then name "Jacks Classic" (20-20-20) and it looks like most of the nitrogen also comes from urea.

Chris

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:09 pm

I actually saved some of those photos to my desktop for future reference those were very helpful.

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Sun Sep 18, 2011 5:20 pm

I'm also curious as to your recommendation for a nitrogen source.

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  63pmp on Mon Sep 19, 2011 4:41 am

Hi Chris, Jay

It's geting harder and harder to find products that don't contain Urea, simply because ammonium nitrate is heavily regulated now. I noticed the other day that osmocote for pots and plants now has urea in it, whereas it used to be ammonium nitrate.

Another very important point is that the majority of these products are for garden use, not bonsai use. Urea is fine on the ground, miracid would be fine on the ground, once you move to pots though it's a different story.

I used to use a product made in Australia by Yates, called Thrive, 15:4:26 + traces., N Nitrate 8.8%, ammonium 3.6% and 2.6% Urea. I would then mix in epsom salts, and spread crushed gypsum on the top of my pots for Ca and Mg. Worked well, but decided it was too expensive, so moved to buying bulk ingrediants and now blend my own. I have a lot of plants, it takes about 200-300L of fertilizer solution to do them all (depends on how slow I'm moving in the morning), so cost was something that was very important. Bulk fertiliser is relatively cheap, a 25kg bag of calcium nitrate was $30, last week. I use about 400g in a 1000L so it costs about 48 cents a batch of fertiliser for CaNO3, a batch would usually last about 4days. All up it only costs me several dollars for a mix of my fertiliser. Prior to this I was using fish emulsion and it was just too expensive, I then move to packet mixes (Thrive), still too expensive, then onto my own blend.

Plants prefer nitrate-N, though some picea prefer ammonium, so I've read. It's been found that 5-10% ammonium increases nitrate uptake by the plant. My current mix is about 25% ammonium-which is the general rule of thumb for hydroponics nutrient solutions, the reason is that 25% ammonium counteracts the pH increase of 75% nitrate.

I've also looked at osmocote slow relase fertilisers, but find they lack calcium and magnesium. There a whole different ball game so I'll move on from them.

Paul

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Mon Sep 19, 2011 5:09 am

so far one of the only fertilizers that doesn't use Urea as its primary source of nitrogen is Jacks, which is basically Peters now that he bought the company back again, and in that only the Bloom booster and classic cote is without it.
http://www.jrpeters.com/Products/Jack-s-Classic/Blossom-Booster.html

I would have to look further as to which chemicals are the make up of the fertilizer but I'll say this Peters was always the good stuff when I was growing up.

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  coh on Mon Sep 19, 2011 3:55 pm

Hmm, Paul's mention of hydroponics got me thinking about whether fertilizers intended for that use might be appropriate. Did a little research last night, and it does appear that the hydroponic fertilizers do not use urea. The only one that I'm familiar with by name is dyna-gro (I remember endless debates about it when I used to grow orchids, never tried it though). The dyna-gro 7-7-7 fertilizer lists 4.9% nitrate and 2.1% ammoniacal nitrogen and no urea. So they are out there - question is, would one of these types of fertilizers be a potential compromise/test for those who might not want to mix up their own from the raw ingredients?

There is a hydroponics store in town that I am planning to check out this week, just to see what's available.

Chris

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Mon Sep 19, 2011 7:37 pm

Last night on "jacks" website I ran into a bunch of ferts specially formulated for hydro..

He has a few regular granulated fertilizers that are without Urea and the website states that there is no chlorine in any of his stuff. (Its Jack Peter of "Peter's 20-20-20 fame) He has to call it Jacks now do to legalities with Scotts.
http://www.jrpeters.com/Home.html

I was thinking of trying his stuff out next year. I actually think his bloom booster might be a good choice for bonsai. I'd be curious as to opinions of his products. Check the website out Chris and tell me what you think. Also I'd be curious to hear what a dedicated Hydro shop would recommend for Bonsai. Its been my experience with Paul that these "hydro-guys" know their stuff.
-jay


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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  63pmp on Tue Sep 20, 2011 12:19 am

Talking about what products are available got me thinking as well, and I remembered Frank talking about MSU orchid fertiliser. Looking at:-

http://myorchidcare.com/orchid-fertilizer/FEED-ME-Orchid-Fertilizer.html

I was very impressed with the 5 part article there. HIGHLY RECOMMENDED as it summarizes just about everything we've been discusing, but so much more eloquently then I could ever do.

I also think the orchid fertiliser would be good product to use.

Reading I have been doing lately is that low phosphorous concentration in the fertiliser solution can control plant growth, reducing the tendency to "legginess" often found in heavily fertilized plants. My reading was talking about phosphorous in the 3-6 ppm range.

Hydroponics fertilisers are quite good, though also expensive. Once again EC of solution has to be monitored, as well as any pH changes that may occur over time.

European nurseries are becoming heavily regulated to reduce fertiliser run off from their production areas. They are now recommending only adding enough fertiliser solution to satisfy the water holding capacity of the pot, using low EC solutions, doing this for 5 days (or however long you can live with the fear of salinity killing your plants) and then a heavy flush of clean water to remove salt buid up. In small 10cm diameter plastic pot this is only about 60 or 70 ml of solution.

This of course is the exact opposite to what a lot of bonsai growers do and heartily recommend (and defend, no need for hydroponic rubbish here! We DO BONSAI!). But it does spread out your fertiliser costs, as you use much less.

Read those articles on the orchid website, excellent articles.

Paul



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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  coh on Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:20 am

Thanks for posting the link, Paul. Have skimmed the articles once and will be giving them a much closer read.

Stopped at the hydroponic shop for a brief chat...they mentioned that the municipal water locally is usually around pH 7.2 with TDS under 200 ppm. However, they did note that the pH does occasionally fluctuate for a number of reasons, and recommended periodic testing of the water and the fertilizer solution. Also they commented that urea is best avoided as a source of nitrogren, if possible.

Lots to consider this winter!

Chris

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:38 am

Chris-
did they make any recommendations as to a suitable Bonsai fertilizer? I have an e-mail into Jack Peter asking about chlorine, carbonates and suitable bonsai fertilizers from their line I'll let you know what he gets back to me with if your interested.
-Jay

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  coh on Wed Sep 21, 2011 2:53 am

Jay, I don't think they deal with too many bonsai growers...lots of orchid growers and people who raise "specialty" trees like Japanese Maples (but not as bonsai). The impression I got was that the particular brand/type of fertilizer doesn't matter too much, as long as (1) you keep the pH in the desired range, and (2) you avoid fertilizers that have urea as the dominant nitrogen source. Of course, that is for someone using the local municipal water. If you have an excess of a particular mineral (or minerals - high TDS) in your water (sulfur, calcium, etc) - then you might want to choose a fertilizer that doesn't have any additional amount of that item, or you might have to change water source (to rainwater, as you're doing, or RO) - depending on the severity of the problem.

Personally, I'm probably going to get some of the dyna-gro for testing next season, though I will look into "Jacks" as well (and yes, I'd like to know what they have to say). Probably going to have a more complete water analysis done as well - the water authority only provides basic information.

Chris

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Thu Sep 22, 2011 2:35 am

Paul
can you take a look at this fertilizer's break down and tell us what you think. Chris and I are both "eyeing" this stuff as a possibility. I expressed reservations when I saw chlorine and sodium in the list but It may be no big deal we don't know? Thats Dyna-grow 7-9-5 I'm running into a lot as recommended for Bonsai.
-jay


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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  coh on Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:09 am

All I know is that the dyna-gro is widely used in hydroponics and by orchid growers. I used to grow orchids (stopped about 10 years ago), and I seem to remember that dyna-gro was a hot/controversial issue, somewhat like superthrive. Seem to remember many claiming "miraculous" results when they switched to it. I never did try it on the orchids.

I'm not concerned about the small amounts of chlorine and sodium (which I think come out to about 1 ppm each in a typical dilution) and will probably give it a try next spring. Will definitely be paying more attention to pH.

Chris

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:13 am

All I would want to do is UP the majors a bit maybe at least into the 20's But I'm seriously looking at this stuff too. The other thing I have found is this:
http://www.clanorchids.com/store/osg07.html
Its missing a few minors but I like the majors better. I laughed to myself thinking that all I had to do to add calcium and Mg to this fertilizer was just to use my hose water once a month Laughing

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Thu Sep 22, 2011 3:21 am

Now that were in the world of Orchid fertilizers we should try and rope Iris into this thread, she grows orchids....

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  63pmp on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:04 pm

Hi Jay,

The simple answer is; the fert that you put up would be suitable for a summer fertiliser, but I would recomend the MSU as a spring and autumn fertliser.

I think the fert you posted has low N and K, which is why I think it is good for summer feeding. This is because during high transpiration rates in summer, N and K are easily taken up in the transpiration stream, while phosphate tends to bind to soil particles or precipitate out as calcium salt, so plants have to work a bit harder to get it (though still easier than in garden soil). The reason 20:20:20 fertilisers exist is because of the high immobilisation of P, approx only 15% of P added to soil will be utilizable by plants that year, the rest is fixed, this is why P is often high in garden fertiisers. In liquid feed for bonsai, the P is much more accessible so it doesn't have to be so high. only 15-50 ppm in solution, depending on species.

Another thing to consider is that plants are doing different things in summer than to spring. Summer is about beating the heat (still talking hornbeam, J maple and beech) and making carbohydrates for wood and synthesis of luxury proteins for general health, and seeds if left on plant. The need for a lot of N is over as there is not large scale cellular growth going on.

In spring, rapid growth of leaves and stems requires a lot of N P K Ca Mg and traces as there is a lot of cellular structure being built, rapid growth requires all these elements. But transpiration rates are low so plant has to take them up from soil solution based on concentration gradients until transpiration stream kicks in. Also flowering plants need more K so they can "pump" up those fleshy showy things called petals.

You can get some idea of how much fertiliser strength can be decreased by looking at how much water is needed in spring; watering maybe once every two days, or once a day . While summer trees are watered 2x day. So plants could be taking up 4 times the volume of water in summer compared to spring. If fertiliser was to remain the same, there would 4 times NPK, the plant has to deal with.

Trident maple still grow, so do some J maple like shindeshojo and Shidava Gold, throughout summer, so they would require more N and K, than a non growing plant.

In autumn plants are getting ready for winter, and so are storing Nitrate in roots. Autumn feeding is very important so that there is plenty of N available for a good bud burst. Research has shown that the nutrients needed for bud burst is stored in the plant over winter, plants do not take up N from the soil until leaves are starting to produce their own carbohydrate.

So varying fertiliser strength and compositon overt the growing period is an important aspect of obtaining optimum plant health and growth.

Regards

Paul


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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:12 pm

No concerns about 1% chlorine or Na in the fertilizer Paul?

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  63pmp on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:22 pm

Only 0.1% Na Cl.

Believe it or not these are considered essential trace elements in the hydroponic world. And so is nickel??

Depending on dilution it might cause grief. Depends a lot on your water qaulity.

What are the recomemneded dilutions? This is for orchids? They may have high Cl needs.

Nothing is ever just right with commercial mixes. What company produces them, I'll have a look at there website.

Paul

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Thu Sep 22, 2011 4:35 pm

Paul its a company called Dyna-grow and they actually specialize in and are used by hydroponics growers. I would greatly appreciate your looking at their products and offering us your opinion.
thank you
-jay

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  63pmp on Fri Sep 23, 2011 2:28 pm

Hi Jay,

I've got a headache from working with gallons and whatever "tspns" are, I was thinking they are tablespoons, but I think there something else now. Interesting that most comments on the WWW for dyna grow are from hydroponic hippie lettuce growers.

Even so, their products are impressive, I'm not sure how they pack in so much nutrient into one small bottle without it setting like cement. I looked at the 7 9 5 product and worked out that one litre of concentrate would make about 2000 litres of nutrient solution with 20mg/l of P. which is quite good. Na and Cl worked out to be less than 1mg/l for that strength of solution.

I like that it has all the nutrients in one pack.

Thats the good, I still think the N is low, and since looking at the website I can see that the solution is designed for indoor growing plants, which require less N than outdoor plants.

I still think it would make a better summer fertiliser than spring and autumn, but I don't think it would be hard to up the Mg and nitrate levels to make it a usable spring fertilizer. Sulfur also seems a little low, but you can only squeeze so much into a bottle before something precipitates out.

EC would be a determining factor, and whatever you have in your water.

Its difficult to say what exactlythe nutrient requirements are for fagus and carpinus species, there is simply nothing available. But having said that, its definietly worthwhile trying the dynagrow product and seeing what happens, I really don't know what the ideal NPK ratios are for these plants So far I know they don't mind solution NPK of 74 mg/l N, 16 mg/l P and 65 mg/l K. Fine tuning this will take some time, so far my experience this spring has been good, with strong bud burst on all my maples and hornbeams, beech are still asleep.

Regards

Paul


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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  drgonzo on Fri Sep 23, 2011 3:48 pm

Thank you for looking at that for me Paul. one Table spoon is 3 teaspoons. I think I'm going to try an orchid fertilizer (Grow-more urea free 20-10-20)) that I found AND the Dyna-grow, one would be a spring fertilizer then switch to Dyna for summer. Maybe I'll do some other trees with just Dyna and some with just the Grow-more orchid and compare.

As fall approaches here its a sad time for me as all my trees are changing colors soon to go to bed for the winter, so I'm happy to now have YOUR Beeches to enjoy throughout winter.
-Jay

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

Post  63pmp on Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:36 am

Teaspoons! I thought it might have been, makes more sense as this brings phosphate to 25mg/l for 1/2 teaspoon per gallon. If I've got the right gallons, I took a gallon to equal 3.75 litres.

Would be happy to show you my beech, but they are only babies, only a few years old, so not much to see. I'll post up some photos when they are out in leaf. Buds are only just starting to lengthen.

Good luck with your ferts,

Paul


Last edited by 63pmp on Mon Sep 26, 2011 11:38 am; edited 1 time in total (Reason for editing : typo's)

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Re: Help with Beech Leaves (fertilizer, water quality, pH)

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