I’m not talking about needing therapy or a plant whisperer. Although talking to your plants does help. We exhale CO2 (carbon dioxide) and plants take in CO2. What I’m talking about is stress. One of the first signs of stress that show up is called “marginal leaf burn”. Marginal leaf burn is the outer edge (the margin) of a leaf that is dead or dying with the center of the leaf looking normal. This is a normal function of plant metabolism and Mother Nature’s way of keeping the plant alive. It’s also her way of telling us something is wrong. These signs should not be ignored.
The main culprits are too little water, not enough shade, too much sun and heat and also chemical damage. Chemical damage occurs by overspray and wind drift of herbicides. But the number one reason for such a reaction is not enough water. Hard to think there is plant in our area that didn’t get enough water this spring. By the way, too much water forces oxygen away from the roots causing other symptoms that will be discussed in another newsletter. Marginal leaf burn has a look (almost) all to itself. The vast majority of leaf diseases occur in the leaf body not the margins. Because insects eat the margins you can pretty much eliminate them as the culprit.
Treating marginal leaf burn will require you to make a determination on the cause. The first step is to evaluate the amount of water the plant is getting and adjust accordingly. The amount of sunlight is next on the list. Not too much we can do if we’re talking about a tree but container plants are easily moved. Did you notice that I didn’t say add fertilizer. Bottom line is that marginal leaf burn is a symptom of environmental stress that can be corrected.