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When house plants get salt burn.

With house plants, dead brown tissue on the edges of leaves can signify a buildup of harmful salts in the plant and the soil it's growing in. White, crusty material accumulating on the outside of a clay pot or over the soil's surface is another sign.

Overfertilizing, along with incorrect watering, is usually to blame. Common victims are popular house plants, such as philodendrons, prayer plants, spider plants, and some ferns.

Water-soluble salts enter a plant through its roots. They concentrate at the ends of leaf veins as water evaporates from there, killing leaf tissue. In soil where salt concentrations are high, roots are also likely to suffer damage.

If you let water stand in a pot's saucer, concentrations of salt increase as water evaporates from the saucer; the soil absorbs some of this saltier water. Pouring the salty water back through the soil only compounds the problem.

The best cure is prevention. Every time you water, keep irrigating the entire soil surface until water flows out the drain holes. If a plant shows signs of salt damage, put it outside or in a bathtub where you can let the water run freely out the bottom. Fill the pot to the rim, let drain, then flush again. If damage is severe, or the tap water where you live is high in salts, better use distilled water.

If the plant is hard to move, use a poultry baster to drain water from its saucer. Plants in sal-crusted pots should be transplanted; thoroughly clean and rinse salt from pots before reusing them.
COPYRIGHT 1985 Sunset Publishing Corp.
No portion of this article can be reproduced without the express written permission from the copyright holder.
Copyright 1985 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.

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Publication:Sunset
Date:Nov 1, 1985
Words:260
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