Iron Deficiency in Plants

Iron Plays a Crucial Role in the Health of Plants

Although they only need a small amount of it, iron helps give plants oxygen to keep them thriving and to keep their healthy green color. When a plant lacks oxygen, its green color fades and its health quickly declines, causing an iron deficiency in the plant. In a desert climate like Arizona, sometimes it can be tricky to maintain that green color.

What is Chlorosis?

Chlorosis is a condition where plant leaves begin to turn yellow, white-yellow, or pale, indicating a lack of chlorophyll (the green pigment found in plants responsible for photosynthesis). Chlorosis is caused by iron being “bound up” and unable to access the plant roots. A few causes of chlorosis include:

Overwatering: Soil that is overly wet or dry predisposes plants to chlorosis.

Compacted Soil: Conditions that limit soil air-filtration, such as compaction, limit the effective rooting area and soil oxygen levels which typically lead to chlorosis.

Planting too deep: Planting trees too deep can result in trunk-girdling roots, which is an early symptom of chlorosis.

Excessive organic matter in the soil: While the organic matter is typically the key to healthy plants, too much can aggravate iron problems.

Extreme salt levels: High salt levels affect the water and nutrient uptake of plants.

Treatment Options

Plants affected by chlorosis have little chance of survival since they have little to no ability to produce carbohydrates through photosynthesis. Affected plants, however, do have a chance of survival if treated sufficiently.

Iron chelates (Granular)

  • Usually applied after February
  • Slower uptake by the plant

Injection (Mauget)

  • A hole is drilled into the trunk
  • Sap activity moves the Iron directly into the tree/shrub system

Treating or controlling chlorosis is not a simple task and can be quite expensive, so preventing it is a much better treatment. A few ways you can prevent chlorosis include…

  • Not planting chlorosis-susceptible trees in soils with a high Ph or low in organic matter.
  • Planting trees tolerant of chlorosis.
  • Reducing the watering or installing a drainage system.

If your trees have been affected by chlorosis and you still aren’t sure where to start, contact Green Keeper Tree Care today and we can come to get your trees back to their healthy selves again.