Dorothy Collins column: Iron chlorosis in leaves becoming area problem

If the leaves on some of your trees or other plants are becoming pale and unhealthy looking, the problem may be iron chlorosis, a cultural condition.

If the leaves on some of your trees or other plants are becoming pale and unhealthy looking, the problem may be iron chlorosis, a cultural condition.

If all of the leaves are pale, particularly near the bottom of the plant, the plant may need fertilizer. But only if the veins of the leaves are green and the rest is pale. In bad cases, all the leaf surface is light and dead tissue may be present.

It isn't that the soil does not contain iron, but that our alkaline soil keeps the iron from being absorbed by plants. The problem is worse in wet weather, such as some gardeners have been experiencing.

It particularly affects trees, such as apples and maples; shrubs, such as cotoneaster; and perennials, such as peonies.

It doesn't bother plants that do well in alkaline soil, such as lilacs.


Can you do anything about this? Yes. There is a compound called iron chelate, which you can buy at the nursery and comes in liquid or dry form. The material will not combine with the soil and remain available to the plant.

If you are using liquid, follow the directions on the container and spray it on the leaves.

The dry material is applied at the outer zone of the plant into the ground.

According to Dave DeCock, Cass County horticulturist, the liquid gives a relatively quick response, but lasts a limited time. The dry material is slower to provide any results, but gives a longer response.

Honeycrisp apple

In response to a recent column on apples and apple varieties, Nina Borgen says in a e-mail:

"We have a Honeycrisp tree and find it to be a superior tasting and storing apple. It's our favorite apple of the varieties we have planted -- Honeycrisp, Haralred, Northwest Greening and Hazen. The Haralred apples are quite small, but it does help if we try to pick off some of the extra apples early in the summer. We live south of Hankinson, just into Roberts County, S.D.

"Each fall, we individually wrap the apples in newspapers and store them in a cold room in the basement. We still have a few of the Haralred and Greening apples that have kept this long (May 20) and end up finding their way into pies or some other type of apple dessert."


Thank you, Nina. You and your family must really know how to grow apples. It's good to know about the Honeycrisp.

What's new

A new lawn utility vehicle has been manufactured by the CartCraft Co., 765 Allens Ave., Providence, R.I., called the LUV-cart.

It is a motorized lawn vehicle that is a three-wheeled, self-propelled cart that hauls up to 200 pounds, has 5 cubic feet carrying capacity and moves along at 2 mph by pushing the pad at the operator's fingertips, says the company.

Each cart comes with a 12-volt maintenance-free rechargeable battery, a battery charger and built-in tool storage tray and cup holder. It retails at about $300.

For more information, call the company at (401) 461-9922, or go on the Internet at .

Collins is The Forum's garden columnist. Write to her by mail at The Forum, Box 2020, Fargo ND 58107, or direct e-mail to her at

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