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Caring for container plants
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Sometimes, when you are taking care of your container plants, you might see a white or yellowish build up around the edges of the pot, or even on the soil itself. Many people wonder what this is, and want to either repot the plant entirely, or sadly, think that there is something wrong with the plant and just stop trying. The cause of this build up is actually very easy to explain, and easy to remove to be able to keep your plants healthy and looking great.
Here in Barton County; we have what is called hard water. Hard water is caused primarily by calcium and magnesium ions that have been dissolved into the water causing buildup that is left behind. The other cause of the buildup is excess salts from fertilizers. Either way, plant growth can be stalled by root impairment if the buildup reaches certain levels.
To rid your plant of excess build-up, every two or three months, apply enough water to the top of the soil to thoroughly leach all excess salts to the bottom of the pot or out the drainage hole. To do this, apply twice the amount of water you would need to fill the container. For example, a 6 inch pot can hold about 10 cups. So, you leach its soil by applying 20 cups of water. When doing this, go slowly and make sure that you do not spill the water out of the top. This ensures that the soil is fully saturated and also will carry away the dissolved salts for an overall healthier plant. With a little extra tender loving care, and with a little information about a preventable issue, your plants will thrive under your care. This will make for healthier plants and a happier you. If you have any more question about your container gardening, please contact me at 620-793-1910 or stop by the office at 1800 12th Street in Great Bend.
Alicia Boor is the Agriculture and Natural Resources agent for Barton County K-State Research and Extension. You can contact her by e-mail at or calling 620-793-1910