The Q&A Archives: Brown, Crisp Edges On Leaves Of 'Montgomery Astilbe"

Question: What am I doing wrong with my Astible? I planted this new plant in the spring and it was doing well until the last several weeks. I think perhaps it's a watering problem but I'm not sure exactly what.

Answer: It does sound like a watering problem. When you water, ensure that it is reaching through the entire root zone. If you use drip irrigation, this can take awhile, depending on how many emitters are around the plant, and the gallons per hour flow rate. Remember the 1-2-3 rule when watering. Water should reach 1 foot deep for smaller plants, annuals, cacti and succulents; 2 feet for shrubs and 3 feet for trees. Water should extend out past the plant's dripline, or canopy edge, which is where the feeder roots that uptake water and nutrient are actively growing. When leaves brown around the edges, the problem is often salt burn. Salts in the water and in fertilizer build up over time. Browning usually occurs on the old leaves first. This excess salt accumulates in the leaf edges, where it kills the tissue and the leaf dries out and turns brown. It's important to water deeply and slowly. At least once a month, water deeply enough to "leach" or push salts well below the root zone. Frequent, light "sprinklings" allow salts to accumulate in the top layers of soil, where the roots are, which is bad news. Similar symptoms occur when too much fertilizer has been applied.

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