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Plant Care

Iron

An Essential Nutrient for Healthy Hibiscus

When plants have a mineral deficiency, the leaves veins usually stay green while the rest of the leaves slowly turn yellow. This particular type of yellowing leaf is called "chlorosis," and is easy to identify. Chlorotic leaves can have other causes besides mineral deficiency, but iron deficiency is is a very common cause of leaf chlorosis.


Chlorosis at the tips of branches in the youngest leaves
is usually caused by a deficiency of iron
Iron is one of the most important building blocks of chlorophyll in plants. If iron is lacking in the soil, the plant cannot make chlorophyll. So it is crucial that we supply plenty of iron to our plants. All good fertilizers contain iron, and the best fertilizers contain it in high quantities. But sometimes even these high quantities are not enough for hibiscus. Flooding or overwatering can wash minerals out of soil. Contaminants in water can also dissolve and leach minerals out of soil, or bind with them and make them unusable to plants. Using the same soil for too long with too many plants or plants that are too large can deplete minerals to the extent that fertilizers alone can't replenish them rapidly enough to keep plants green and healthy. Some garden soil is just very mineral-poor, and no amount of good fertilizer is enough to provide all the iron needed to produce chlorophyll. In these types of cases, plants can begin to show signs of deficiency.

When a plant is deficient in iron, you will usually see the chlorosis at the tips of the branches, with the newest leaves turning yellow first and older leaves below staying green longer.

There are many iron products on the market, but some soil and water conditions make it difficult or impossible for the plant to absorb and use iron from normal sources. Alkaline soil, hard water, flooding, and high levels of other minerals are all conditions that reduce the ability of the plant to use iron in the soil. So for hibiscus growers, we recommend and use a form of iron that works for all soil, water, and weather conditions, Iron Chelate made with FeEDDHA. Iron Chelate is available in most garden supply stores and agricultural supply stores, or you can buy it here in the HVH Online Store.

Iron Chelate can be used as preventative when there are no signs of chlorosis. It is very difficult to give too much iron to a plant - all green plants seem to have a nearly insatiable need for iron. To help maintain optimum health of your plant, we recommend using Iron Chelate several times per year - as often as once a month.

NOTE: If you use the HVH Houseplant Formula as the main fertilizer for your hibiscus, you do not need to use extra iron. The HVH Houseplant Formula contains high doses of FeEDDHA iron in order to provide the extra nutrition that plants in less-than-optimal growing conditions need.