Magazine article Sunset

What to Do When Leaves Turn Yellow with Chlorosis

Magazine article Sunset

What to Do When Leaves Turn Yellow with Chlorosis

Article excerpt

What to do when leaves turn yellow with chlorosis

It's not always easy to cure iron chlorosis --a common ailment of many garden plants that causes leaf tissue between the veins to turn yellow. Iron may be lacking in the soil, but more often--especially in alkaline soils--it is present but unavailable to plant roots because it is insoluble. Cold, wet, or poorly drained soil aggravates a chlorotic condition.

There are several methods available to treat iron chlorosis. Some are only temporary, others are long-lasting.

Sprinkling and spraying. Chelated iron sprinkled within the drip line will usually green up the leaves in two to three weeks (apply it to bare soil, since a lawn will tie most of it up). On a tree, this treatment may last a couple of years.

Or, if the tree is not too large and you have an adequate spraying system, spray chelated iron directly onto the foliage (this will last only about one season). In both cases, follow package directions.

Improving the soil. The longest-lasting solution is to correct watering practices (if necessary) or to acidify the soil with sulfur. First, check soil moisture by digging down which a trowel. If the soil is too wet, reduce watering and wait to see if the plant greens up in late spring.

If you can't reduce watering because the plant is growing in a lawn, or if it doesn't green up as the soil dries out, you probably need to acidify the soil. You also need to do this if the soil is simply too alkaline. To find out, have its pH tested at a soil-testing lab (look in the yellow pages under Laboratories--Testing).

Depending on how alkaline the soil is and whether the soil is sandy or clayey, adjust the pH by applying 2 to 4 pounds of soil sulfur per 100 square feet to the soil within the plant's drip line (use lower amounts in sandy soil). …

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