Tuesday, September 16, 2014

What is Chelated Iron and Why Should I Care?

What is Clorosis?
If you notice yellowing between the veins of the laves or if the leaves appear to be a lighter green than normal, your plant may have chlorosis caused by an iron deficiency.  If a plant cannot take in iron from the soil it cannot for chlorophyll which is what makes healthy leaves look green and strong.

An iron deficient plant will be hightly susceptible to diseases it would normally resist, such as Downy Mildew in July.
Two Eden Climbers.  The plant on the right is showing severe iron deficiency and was treated with both a soil drench and a foliar spray.
The same plants two months after chelated iron treatment.  Notice that the plant on the right has regained its color and vigorous growth.
What is Chelated Iron?
Chelated iron has been treated to make the iron soluble in water and more readily available to a plant for easier uptake after being applied.  In other words, it makes the iron immediately available to the plant and helps the plant form chlorophyll which will create healthy green leaves.  We all like healthy green leaves!

What are the Symptoms of Clorosis?

  1. Yellowing starting between the veins on the leaves (interveinal chlorosis)
  2. Brown edges on the leaves
  3. Poor plant growth and lack of flowering
  4. Tough, brittle leaf texture and marginal curling of the most heavily affected leaves
10 different rose varieties, all showing various degrees and stages of iron deficiency.

Two months after treatment, the dark green color has returned and the roses have begun to flower again.
How Do I Use Chelated Iron?
Applying chelated iron will temporarily reverse the chlorosis but a soil test is the best way to find out why your plant or plants seem to have an iron deficiency.  The underlying causes vary from high pH to over fertilization to waterlogging.  The soil test results will suggest steps that can be taken to improve the soil and prevent iron deficiencies in the future.

Liquid chelated iron my be applied either as a foliar spray or a soil drench around the drip line of the plant.  Foliar sprays will be faster and more effective than soil drenches, especially if the soil is very dry.  One caution - it is important to spray the leaves when the temperatures are cooler, preferably in the mornings, to avoid burning the leaves.  If you decided to apply iron to the soil, add the recommended amount of a gallon of water and apply at the base of the plant.  For severe cases, performing the soil drench AND the foliar spray will provide the benefits of both treatments to the plant.

Foliar Spray 
Acts quickly to restore the color in the leaves 

Soil Drench
Moves slowly upwards through the plant to provide sustained greening throughout the canes

Now you know what chelated iron is, why you might want to use it, and how to apply it safely to your plants.

Let's hear a cheer for healthy green leaves!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Celebrate the Rose

Celebrate the Rose

As we mature, our lives take on different meaning. We become more attune to our surroundings and our appreciation for life changes. Some of us might continue to challenge the status quo, while others become steeped in tradition. I think gardening helps us discover which path our heart desires.

Specifically, I think growing roses hold us in a more traditional mindset.

Bee in a sunflower
Think back to the plants your grandmother grew.  Geraniums, Zinnias, Sunflowers, and Roses... gorgeous roses! These coveted memories of our grandmothers' garden roses become the impetus to carry on a desire to have beautiful roses just like she had.

The classic favorites are timeless and they have become the gold standard in our rose gardens. We speak of them as we would an old friend for they've become a permanent part of our collection. When these roses have finally become tired and less productive, we hold onto them for as long as possible until we can no longer fight the good fight. Eventually we give in to their aged status and decide to finally replace them. We ceremoniously dig them up and give them a proper burial. We ruefully scour the catalogs for suitable replacements thinking maybe this is the year we will "try something different."

But wait! What delightful new surprises grace the catalogs filling my mailbox!  

Suddenly, the desire to act with predictable decision making is uncontrollably thrown out the window.

Climbing Westerland
I regularly pay close attention to what comes out of the breeding program at Weeks Roses. The roses rarely fail to impress me. The new Climbing Above All™ is one that I'm excited to see because it's being promoted as a modern version of the Climbing Westerland. Having blooms as salmon-orange as it's predecessor but with a higher petal count and greater flower production.

Another rose that has piqued my interest is called Anna's Promise™.  

Named for Anna, a character in the British television show Downton Abby, it apparently symbolized the heart and integrity of her personality. There are golden petals blushed in pink with a bronze reverse which look absolutely stunning. It boasts a spicy, fruit fragrance to boot. Sounds delish... is this a rose or a new dessert?

The Wake Forest University Rose
In its parentage is About Face™, which I have always admired. Its glossy green leaves have never looked worn or faded and the growth always seems to be strong and vigorous. Good as Gold™ (a 2014 Introduction) come from About Face™ and has been an impressive hybrid tea so far this year.

Another new introduction from About Face™ that we are quite proud of here at Witherspoon is The Wake Forest University Rose. 

This grandiflora has good disease resistance and a light apple fragrance on golden blossoms that deepen with cooler temperatures. We are honored to have a hand in producing and promoting this exclusive rose to the market with $10 from every sale going to the general scholarship fund and Wake Forest University.

I feel like this article would not be complete unless I mentioned some of the old favorites. These roses are tried and true, so we go to them time and time again. Peace is for sure one of those on my list. And, let's be honest, so are the others in the Peace family. I believe the Peace rose is one hybrid that will remain in the hearts of rose lovers across the country. To add to this list, I would include Queen Elizabeth. This tall, pink beauty blooms in clusters and is a sight to behold! Did I mention she's nearly thornless? Certainly my list is not complete without mentioning Tiffany. How can you not love the tall pointed buds?

These roses were introduced around the 1950's when America was full of high spirit and optimism after World War II. The garden was a victory, family togetherness was time well spent and roses were in the hearts and yards of smiling gardeners.

Queen Elizabeth