What is Chelated Iron and Why Should I Care?

What is Clorosis?
If you notice yellowing between the veins of the laves or if the leaves appear to be a lighter green than normal, your plant may have chlorosis caused by an iron deficiency.  If a plant cannot take in iron from the soil it cannot for chlorophyll which is what makes healthy leaves look green and strong.
An iron deficient plant will be hightly susceptible to diseases it would normally resist, such as Downy Mildew in July.
Two Eden Climbers.  The plant on the right is showing severe iron deficiency and was treated with both a soil drench and a foliar spray.
The same plants two months after chelated iron treatment.  Notice that the plant on the right has regained its color and vigorous growth.
What is Chelated Iron?
Chelated iron has been treated to make the iron soluble in water and more readily available to a plant for easier uptake after being applied.  In other words, it makes the iron immediately available to the plant and helps the plant form chlorophyll which will create healthy green leaves.  We all like healthy green leaves!

What are the Symptoms of Clorosis?

  1. Yellowing starting between the veins on the leaves (interveinal chlorosis)
  2. Brown edges on the leaves
  3. Poor plant growth and lack of flowering
  4. Tough, brittle leaf texture and marginal curling of the most heavily affected leaves
10 different rose varieties, all showing various degrees and stages of iron deficiency.
Two months after treatment, the dark green color has returned and the roses have begun to flower again.
How Do I Use Chelated Iron?
Applying chelated iron will temporarily reverse the chlorosis but a soil test is the best way to find out why your plant or plants seem to have an iron deficiency.  The underlying causes vary from high pH to over fertilization to waterlogging.  The soil test results will suggest steps that can be taken to improve the soil and prevent iron deficiencies in the future.
Liquid chelated iron my be applied either as a foliar spray or a soil drench around the drip line of the plant.  Foliar sprays will be faster and more effective than soil drenches, especially if the soil is very dry.  One caution – it is important to spray the leaves when the temperatures are cooler, preferably in the mornings, to avoid burning the leaves.  If you decided to apply iron to the soil, add the recommended amount of a gallon of water and apply at the base of the plant.  For severe cases, performing the soil drench AND the foliar spray will provide the benefits of both treatments to the plant.
Foliar Spray
Acts quickly to restore the color in the leaves
Soil Drench
Moves slowly upwards through the plant to provide sustained greening throughout the canes
Now you know what chelated iron is, why you might want to use it, and how to apply it safely to your plants.
Let’s hear a cheer for healthy green leaves!
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An iron deficient plant will be highly susceptible to diseases it would normally resist, such as downy mildew in July.



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