Chlorosis is pretty. I wish those dark green veins and yellow margins were an interesting attribute instead of a window into one of the affects of alkaline soil on an acid loving plant. Apparently, I’m not the only one having trouble locating the soil amendment I need to fix my chlorosis problems. June is the month for it. Iron-tone as well as several other products for treating it are flying off the shelves. I never thought I’d write something like that. Then again, I never would have predicted toilet paper’s rise in popularity last year either. Who knew a pandemic could inspire such a movement? Until now, soil amendments have been pretty easy to come by.
But I’m happy to report I finally found Iron-tone. With the price of gas rising by the hour, the phone was the only way to handle it. And once I located a bag, I asked the lady on the other end to hold it for me and to PLEASE not sell it to anyone else. Desperation does funny things. You would have thought this was toilet paper I was begging her to set aside! The attachment you develop to your plants, in this case my panicle hydrangeas, is real.
The only way to know what they need is through a soil test and regular observation. Plants talk through their leaves and in the case of the Little Lime hydrangea (pictured above), what it was trying to tell me couldn’t have been more obvious. I’m just sorry I was slow on the draw.
Results from a soil test done in two different areas of the garden a few months ago revealed very similar pH levels. They were within a tenth of a point of each other and slightly alkaline. No surprise there. But that also means that plants can struggle to pull nutrients from the soil, especially iron which is necessary for the production of chlorophyll. It’s what makes leaves green. If the plant can’t produce chlorophyll, it can’t absorb sunlight and produce the sugars it needs to grow big and beautiful.
Alkaline soil binds up nutrients and makes them unavailable to plant roots. They’re there, just not in a soluble form that plants can absorb. A soil acidifier added several times a year helps to bring down the pH while the addition of Iron-tone gives a chlorotic plant a steady supply of what it needs to make food. It’s a pretty simple fix.
The Little Lime hydrangea wasn’t the only one falling victim. Both the Vanilla Strawberry hydrangeas, a Mini Mauvette smooth hydrangea, a Bobo hydrangea and three Little Henry iteas were looking pretty chlorotic too.
Chlorosis started on the new growth of the Little Lime and has worked its way deep into the older leaves. That’s what happens when you let something go too long. Hopefully it’s not too late. The new growth is emerging green with no signs of chlorosis so I’m feeling pretty good and the iteas are darkening and losing the fluorescent yellow glow. They also flowered well which was huge since all three were rescued from Home Depot’s clearance section in the fall several years ago and have never flowered until now.
At the time, they looked pretty sickly but $2 a pop wasn’t going to break the bank. If I can get this chlorosis issue sorted, this should make a pretty little hedge along the back side of this front yard border. They have the most pleasing bun shape and the flowers are pollinator magnets.
In early spring, all the hydrangeas got a dose of Acid-tone and then I shifted focus to several knew projects in the garden. I tend to bite off a lot at once so it was easy to neglect an otherwise tough plant, until the chlorosis was so bad on the Little Lime that I had to do something. That’s when I started calling around and discovered the run on amendments.
Iron-tone is nice because it’s a slow release amendment that lingers in the soil far longer than foliar applications. Results are fast with the foliar sprays but their affects are short-lived and require more frequent applications. I’m more of a one-and-done sort of gardener. Mostly because I forget the follow-up. It’s that way with fertilizer too. I’m great with feeding everything early in the season, but once things get rolling, everything’s up in the air.
Anyway, it may be several weeks before the leaves reach a suitable green. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking but it seems that the thin green veins in the little lime leaves are thickening up. The yellow margins have become a lime green, so there’s progress. Part of me wishes they’d green up in a blink, while the other part is enjoying the slow transformation. I check them each morning, coffee in hand, looking for confirmation that all is well. And I think it is. Time will tell. But then that’s always the way in the garden.