Sunday, August 9, 2009

The Truth Behind The Yellowed Plants

By Keith Markensen

Iron is necessary to the nutrition of plants. It plays an important role in the synthesis of carbohydrates in the plants. When iron is lacking in the soil for plant nutrition, the leaves begin to turn yellow. In extreme cases the leaves show no green color at all. This is an important problem in many parts of this region.

Plants especially susceptible to iron chlorosis, as the condition is called, are members of the rose or apple family including raspberries, strawberries, plums, apples, roses, mountain ash and a host of other plants. The problem in this region is not so much a lack of iron, for most soils in the west are abundantly supplied with iron, but a question of availability. The large amounts of calcium (or lime) in many western soils, and other factors, serve to tie up the iron in an unavailable form so that plants cannot utilize it.

Scientists have worked a long time to overcome the problem. Suggestions in correcting iron chlorosis in fruit trees and garden plants have ranged from treating the soil with acid reacting chemicals to help reduce the alkalinity, supplying large amounts of iron in a form that the plant can use (such as ferrous sulphate), and maintaining a high organic content in the soil. All of these have had some success in control of iron chlorosis or lime-induced chlorosis.

In recent years, some new organic chemicals with unusual chemical properties were introduced and used in improving houseplant care. They are known as chelated compounds, and are sometimes referred to as Sequestrenes. Some of these contain iron in a form that the plant readily utilizes. Special formulations have been prepared by the manufacturers for alkaline soils. Follow the manufacturers directions in the use of these chemicals in correcting for iron chlorosis. Properly used, they have been very successful.

Growers often supply chelated iron when making liquid fertilizer applications to container grown plants, plants in the garden and also trees, plants and palms in the landscape.

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