The Q&A Archives: Effects of Over-Fertilizing Marigolds

Question: I am doing an experiment for class about marigolds and Miracle-gro. I am adding different amounts of Miracle-gro to seedlings to see how they grow. What is the Latin name for marigolds and what happens to plants that get too much fertilizer? Thank you. Jessica (age 10) Wexford PA

Answer: The Latin name for the common marigold is Tagetes patula. When you give a plant too much fertilizer, several things can happen. With a little extra fertilizer, you will get a flush of new growth. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but one problem can be that this new growth is very tender and succulent and can be very attractive to insects and disease. An overdose of fertilizer, especially a concentrated type, can "burn" plant roots, damaging them and even killing the plant. In addition, in the garden, high doses of concentrated fertilizers will kill soil microbes. Though there are some pathogenic (disease-causing) organisms in the soil, there are many, many beneficial and necessary ones, so killing these off with strong fertilizers harms soil.

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