What does "burn" mean in relation to plants?

Asked June 13, 2013, 5:19 PM EDT

What does it mean to "burn your plants"? I have been doing some reading and in some places it talks about burning your plants. For example, lots of web sites say that llama manure will not burn your plants. Some of these go on to say that llama manure will not burn your plants because it contains less organic matter than other manures. Some web sites talk about not using fresh manure because it is "hot" and will burn your plants. Other web sites talk about "root burn" due to too high a concentration of salts, such as fertilizers that contain urea. What exactly is it? Is it too much organic matter or too much salts or just what? Thank you.

Gunnison County Colorado

1 Response

Unless you actually burn them with fire, Burn relates to salts. Nitrogen in the manure can be tied up in a salt like urea. This is why when a dog or deer urinate in your yard it leaves a yellow spot. When the salt in the soil leaches from watering the area, the grass comes back really healthy. Salts whether sodium, calcium, nitrogen, or other types of salt levels are high they act on the plant in a few different ways, mostly osmotic competition with the plant and sucks water away from the plant or won't let water move up the plant stems. Or it can actually tie up needed elements so the plant doesn't do as well. Organic matter has nothing to do with salt level, or the term burn. hope this helps.--Eric