Help.. my babies are turning yellow!!!

I noticed the other day that I was beginning to get a bit of yellow in the leaves of my Martin Frobisher seedlings. Now (a couple days) they are definetly getting more yellow. My first concern was chlorsis (since I read on here about it in some rugosas), but then I noticed some yellowing on a Lilian Austin seedling, which is about two months old.

Wondering if it is lack of nutrients. I mixed potting soil with perlite, vermiculite & noir for starting the seeds in, but maybe they need more food? Any problems with a very diluted watering with food in it? Other ideas? This cross is one of my more important ones, also it looks like others may have the same problem (if it is in the potting mix).

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated!
yellow leaves 2.jpg
yellow leaves 2.jpg
yellow leaves 2.jpg

The dark veins point towards iron chlorosis, which is usually the top cause of such yellowing, in my opinion. Nitrogen deficiency could also be a culprit.

If you’re from Montana (?) you may have highly alkaline well water. This will quickly raise the pH of the soilless media to the point where plants show chlorosis.

For a quick fix, water them with Miracid at about 3/4 T / gallon. If at all possible use distilled, reverse osmosis, or rain water for this treatment so the Miracid isn’t fighting the alkalinity of the water. This will take care of any possible nitrogen deficiencies as well as quickly lower soil pH.

I would recommend ordering some pH test strips and possibly also alkalinity test strips. Most of these are marketed for testing bodily fluids for health reasons. Search around to find a test strip that reads from 4 or 5 up to 9 in at most .5 increments. Use these to test your water. It would also be worthwhile to send in a sample of your water to a state university floriculture department for a test of pH and alkalinity. The alkalinity measurement is of the highest concern…that is the measure of the water’s capacity for raising soil pH.

If your alkalinity readings are indeed high as I suspect, and it is not practical to get another water source, you can add citric acid to your water to neutralize the alkalinity. Once the pH starts to lower (check using your test strips) you’ve neutralized most or all of the alkalinity. If you get to about 6.0, that’s great for everyday watering. You can bring it down to about 5 (maybe lower with caution) to use as a treatment level. You can try to calculate the amount of acid using online alkalinity calculators or just start with 1/2 teaspoon per gallon and adjust using your test strips.

It is possible to send in soil samples to a university floriculture department, but in my opinion not necessary. Chances are very high in my opinion that high pH is the culprit.

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I agree with Joe’s. The groundwater in my area in high in calcium. I never water with tap water,
I bring in snow in a garbage can, melt and filter it and use it on all of my indoor plants and rose seedlings.
In summer I have plastic totes under the downspouts to harvest rainwater.

Thanks guys!
I brought in a couple bins of snow to melt and will use this, hopefully I can keep the next ones from having this problem. I’ll get online and see about ordering some things. We live in the middle of nowhere, so many specialty (or some most would not consider specialty) are not available. It’s a three hour round trip to walmart: so the internet helps a bunch if it can be shipped.

I’m wondering if this happens with the babies because they are little and are in little pots (small amount of soil). We have no issues in our garden with our rugosas, nor have I had issues with the roses I potted up and brought in under lights for the first half of the winter. Maybe larger post would take longer to be effected? Anyway, I’ll stick to melted snow for the time being.
Thanks again!!!

Duan, I don’t how long you have had your roses in the bigger pots.
I started out using soil from my garden as a medium for roses in pots.
I noticed over time that the potted roses became lethargic.
Their flower production went down, and they succumbed after a few years.
My farm agent told me I was actually “poisoning” my potted breeding stock using the local soil and well water.
I now buy better soil, amend it with peat moss and perlite and granite chips.

Whatever issues there might be with the water, it will show up sooner in a soilless mix and small pots.

If you don’t have Miracid, dosing them up with some Miracle-Gro in snow-water would help green them up.

Amazon Prime is great for us rural folks. Fargo and Grand Forks each are about 1 hour and 15 minutes away from us but we make the drive every couple of weeks to go to Costco and sometimes Walmart and a big grocery store, etc.

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I potted the bigger roses up in late Sept. they were in the garden throughout the growing season. If I’m going to keep them in pots long term I’m going to have to learn to take better care of them, so thanks for the info!

I’ll get on amazon to look for miracid and also for tests for both water and soil: yes I should have done that a long time ago, but everything has been growing well in the garden, so lazy me…

How I miss Costco, but wal-mart does fine for monthly supply runs. And, thankfully, we got a tower in for high speed internet… what a blessing that has been. Funny to think how something like the internet effects our rose breeding.

I’m still deciding if I should use a bit of the miracle grow I have in the cabinet in the interim or wait a few days for the other.

Thanks again guys!
oh yeh, today I mixed just a bit more potting soil in the mix and was sure to use melted snow water on the new germinating seeds that I just potted up… hopefully they will do better from the git go.

In my experience, iron (and/or manganese) deficiencies like that can happen even with acidic water simply because of the makeup of the growing medium. With its content of chelated iron and other micronutrients, you should get similar initial results from your regular Miracle-Gro as you would from the acid-loving plants version; in the long run, I also prefer using the “Miracid” form for rose seedlings. I would suggest going very light on any Miracle-Gro fertilization initially, maybe 1/4 strength or less (preferably less) until the seedlings are a bit larger. You won’t see any seedlings die from micronutrient deficiency symptoms too quickly, but you can seriously burn their delicate roots if you apply fertilizer salts at too high of a rate. Browning leaf tips and/or margins is the main signal you’ve used too much, and if you see that happening, you should revert to melted snow water alone for a while.

For whatever it’s worth, I’ve also had unexplained problems with mixes heavy in Perlite; I struggled for a long time to understand what was happening before concluding that there was something about the Perlite product that I was working with that was related to a rash of seedling failures, all of them beginning with what appeared to be micronutrient deficiency symptoms. Adding dilute fertilizer only seemed to exacerbate those problems, and I ultimately lost some interesting seedlings because of it. Hopefully you’re seeing normal deficiency symptoms and nothing like that, but after dealing with enough Perlite-related issues, I’ve resigned myself to using either all-organic media or media containing organic matter plus vermiculite.

I have also observed that some genetically unhappy seedlings were simply unable to absorb and process certain micronutrients like normal rose seedlings, and while that’s probably not the case here, it’s perfectly normal to expect some seedlings to die young for unavoidable reasons.


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Assuming you have ruled out pest damage, such as whitefly larvae (they can create yellow spots similar to what is in photos) the advice on fertilizers is same as I would have suggested. Yours looks more nutrient-related to my comparably inexperienced eye.

If you go dilute enough, I see no harm in going ahead with regular Miracle Gro in the interim. I think I would avoid anything high in phosphates however (i.e., no “bloom builder” types.)

A year ago I had whiteflies get into my seedlings via, I’m guessing, a clearance fuchsia plant which was not yet showing symptoms. I saw the damage long before any adult whiteflies appeared, and was wracking my brain trying to figure out what had gone wrong. I’m not sure when it occurred to me to look at the undersides of leaves… Doh.