Yel­low­ing leaves re­veal nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency in plants

Pilbara News - - Property - Deryn Thorpe Deryn Thorpe vis­its homes for gar­den con­sul­tan­cies. Email dthorpe@am­ or visit deryn­

I like coloured fo­liage in the gar­den but this does not in­clude the yel­low­ing leaves of plants that are strug­gling to take up the nu­tri­ents they need.

This of­ten oc­curs with plants in con­tain­ers, some grafted plants, and those grown out­side of the soil pH they pre­fer.

The first sign of nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency is re­tarded growth.

Leaves are of­ten yel­low, or yel­low with green veins, but can have red or pur­ple mot­tling or look scorched.

The best ad­vice is to grow plants nat­u­rally suited to your soils.

If, like me, you fail to lis­ten to this ad­vice, mulch dis­tressed plants with com­post and pro­vide nu­tri­ents by spray­ing fo­liage with a trace el­e­ments so­lu­tion.

You can buy in­di­vid­ual trace el­e­ments but I pre­fer the “com­plete” trace el­e­ments mix be­cause with­out a chemical anal­y­sis of the leaves you can only make an ed­u­cated guess about the de­fi­ciency.

All fruit trees should be sprayed with this twice yearly. Fol­low up with a fo­liar feed of a liq­uid fer­tiliser con­tain­ing fish, sea­weed and com­post.

Plants whose nat­u­ral habi­tat is acid soils, like gar­de­nias, aza­leas and camel­lias, are un­able to get enough iron from my al­ka­line sands and their de­fi­ciency shows up as yel­low leaves with green veins.

Some­times it’s so bad the young leaves are to­tally yel­low or white.

To fix this you can spray fo­liage with iron chelates but this lasts only for a few weeks, so last week­end I made iron com­post.

Mix one cup of iron sul­phate (wear old clothes as it stains) into 10 litres of moist com­post or an­i­mal ma­nure.

Dig holes about 20cm deep into the root zone of plants — about three holes for a rose­bush and more for big­ger plants.

Com­pact the or­ganic mat­ter into the holes and wa­ter.

This will work for sev­eral years un­less your ir­ri­ga­tion wa­ter is very al­ka­line.

Pic­ture: Deryn Thorpe

A yel­low­ing gar­de­nia leaf shows the signs of nu­tri­ent de­fi­ciency.

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