The Relentless Gardener

This Week's Editorial | 10/19/2016 |

Iron and its importance in trees and plants

By Linda Langelo, CSU horticulture associate

What does iron do for our trees and plants? Plants in general need macronutrients and micronutrients. Iron is a micronutrient that is essential for the formation of chlorophyll in the leaves. Chlorophyll is a green pigment in the leaf of any plant, not just trees. The absence of chlorophyll in tree leaves shows as yellowing between green veins of the leaves.

With an absence of chlorophyll, the plant is unable to capture the radiant energy of the sun to transfer into sugars and starches. When you see this condition, the tree or plant is no longer feeding itself, especially if it is showing all over the tree or plant.

What are some of the possible causes for iron deficiency in trees or plants? When the soil becomes too wet and stays too wet or saturated for some reason, then you will see this condition. Compacted soils can be the cause of this condition. Both compacted soils and oversaturated soils are lacking oxygen in the soil. Plants need a balance of oxygen and water in the soil.

Another obvious reason for iron deficiency is an alkaline soil with a pH starting at 7.2, and some soils stay at 7.5 in northeastern Colorado. The pH factor alone makes iron in the soil insoluble. Hence, we need to add iron.

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