Chlorosis in Plants: [How to Detect, Fight and Control It]

What is chlorosis in plants?

In plants, chlorosis is defined as the lack of chlorophyll in a plant organ, which results in the loss of green coloration.

Chlorosis consists of yellowing of the foliar tissue of plants due to iron deficiency and is generally associated with limestone soils, which occupy approximately 30% of the earth’s surface (Chen et al., 1982).

Iron, despite being the fourth most abundant chemical element in the planet’s crust after Oxygen, Silicon and Aluminum, constitutes about 2% of the earth’s mineral soils.

In soils with a high pH, ​​(such as those with a high carbonate content), the concentration of inorganic iron species in the soil solution is around 10-10 M, being the concentration for optimal plant growth. between 10-6 and 10-5M.

There is another type of chlorosis, called interveinal, in which the veins of the leaf remain green, while the intervening tissue turns yellow.

How can it be detected?

There are a number of conditions and symptoms that may indicate that the plant has chlorosis, which vary depending on several factors.

From the alkalinity of the soil. The higher the pH, the more chlorotic the plant will be. Of the time that the plant has suffered from chlorosis. The longer chlorosis lasts in the plant, the more severe it becomes.

Generally, chlorosis in plants begins as a very slight discoloration (light green to lime green) in the interveinal tissue while yellowing indicates a more serious problem. It has been determined that in some cases a single part of the plant becomes chlorotic.

It can also be detected because the plant as a whole or the affected areas are stunted or stop producing flowers and fruits. Other times, chlorotic leaves become diseased or scalded.

When a plant presents severe chlorosis, yellowing of the foliar nerves is observed, followed by necrosis or death of the leaf, then of the branch and, finally, of the plant as a whole.

What causes chlorosis?

Studies carried out indicate that damaged, compacted roots, high alkalinity and nutritional deficiencies of the plant, as well as insufficient drainage are possible causes of chlorosis.

Also nutrient deficiencies can cause chlorosis because the soil is not rich in food or because these are not available due to high pH (alkaline soil).

It is also possible that the absorption and assimilation of water and the nutrients necessary for the plant do not occur optimally. And, within these deficiencies, that of iron is one of the most important and common.

Hence, the chlorosis in plants caused by the absence or lack of iron, magnesium and zinc is fundamentally due to the lack of availability of this element in the soil and that the plant cannot replace it by other means.

Iron is very necessary for the execution of several enzymatic functions that manage the metabolism and respiration of the plant.

Within the process carried out by plants, iron becomes more insoluble as soil pH increases above 6.5 to 6.7 (7.0 is neutral; less than 7.0 is acidic; above 7.0 is alkaline).

Also, in most species, iron can only be absorbed as a free ion (Fe++) when the pH is between 5.0 and 6.5.

There are other elements that can fix iron in the soil such as calcium, zinc, manganese, phosphorus or copper in large quantities and, therefore, the plant cannot have them.

How can we combat chlorosis?

Know the cause that produces chlorosis

To carry out an effective treatment of chlorosis in plants and try to avoid its appearance, action must be taken based on the type of cause that produces it.

For example:The soil can be aerated, tilled, mulch added, etc., when chlorosis is due to soil compaction, insufficient drainage, poor root development or damaged roots.

Also, nutritional deficiencies can be treated in various ways.

Applying foliar nutrients either water soluble or as chelates will correct the problem for a while, but will only affect leaves that are present when the application is made.

Maintaining green foliage will require several treatments each growing season as leaves that develop and grow afterward will not receive the benefits.

Treat the trunk

There is another way to combat chlorosis by applying treatment to the trunk. This method is rapidly absorbed by the plant and can last for several years. But you must wait 30 days before seeing the first results.

New foods or nutrients can be incorporated into the tree through the trunk in two ways by drilling holes in the trunk and the number of holes or holes made in the plant will depend on the diameter of the trunk.

  1. The first method of applying nutrients to the trunk is to tie containers with tubes to the holes. The movement of water in the tree will help carry the nutrients to the trunk and once empty, they are removed and the holes are covered.
  2. The second system consists of sticking plastic capsules into the holes, which are designed to remain on the tree.

To apply treatments against chlorosis, it is recommended to hire a professional to do the work on the trunks.

treat the soil

Another method of treating chlorosis is through soil treatment. Soil testing should first be done to determine pH as well as nutrient availability.

With soil testing, the pH can be corrected and the necessary nutrients applied by drilling holes in the soil at a 45-degree angle starting three to five feet from the trunk and reaching the full height of the tree.

What is necrosis in plants?

As its name refers, necrosis is the death of the tissue, produced by the drying and discoloration of the plant’s organs.

Necrosis is the result of an advanced stage of chlorosis that begins at the apex and edge of old leaves.

Products to treat chlorosis

Discount! COMPO Iron chelate, Greening antichlorosis, EDDHA 13% Water-soluble iron, Incl. Measuring spoon, 250 g

  • EDDHA iron chelate 13% soluble in water for the prevention and correction of iron chlorosis, High purity and…
  • Prevents the yellowing of the leaves due to lack of chlorophyll and favors a healthier and more vigorous development of the plant
  • Read the instructions on the packaging carefully before using the product, How to use: always dilute in water and apply…
  • Respect the dose indicated on the package according to the type of plant, Use the measuring spoon (5 g)

€7.75 −€0.55 €7.20 View on Amazon Prices with VAT without transport

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CULIVERS Iron Chelate Ecological Fertilizer 1 Kg. Regreening antichlorosis. Fundamental Nutrient for Plants (6% Fe-EDDHA ortho ortho 4.8 %). Force Faith

  • Iron chelate of high dissolution, which does not cause clogging problems in irrigation systems.
  • Fundamental nutrient for plants that intervenes in numerous vital functions, among which the synthesis…
  • Iron deficiency corrector. Prevents and cures iron deficiency (iron chlorosis) in horticultural crops,…
  • Ecological product designed for all types of plants and trees. COMPOSITION 6%Fe-EDDHA, 4.8 ISOMER ORTHO-ORTHO.

€17.99 View on Amazon Prices with VAT without transport

Last updated on 2022-07-27 / Affiliate Links / Affiliate API Images

COMPO Liquid Iron, Greening to prevent yellowing of leaves, For ornamental and fruit plants, 500 ml

  • High-quality iron chelate solution with immediate effect designed to prevent and treat foliar yellowing…
  • Formula designed to provide the necessary dose of the nutrient to all types of plants, especially fruit and ornamental trees.
  • Shake the product and apply it following the instructions on the package, Easy and clean use thanks to the dosing cap
  • COMPO Quality: raw materials selected according to the original COMPO recipe, Strict quality controls by…

€7.75 View on Amazon Prices with VAT without transport

Last updated on 2022-07-27 / Affiliate Links / Affiliate API Images

How can chlorosis be controlled?

At present, almost 100 years after the first studies that began in the 20th century, the problem of chlorosis is still not fully understood and the means available to control it are not entirely satisfactory.

What all researchers agree on is that iron deficiency affects the yield and quality of many species.

The economic losses are difficult to estimate considering that it is a widespread problem throughout the world. It covers from the soils of the north of China, to the south of the United States, passing through all the countries of the Mediterranean Sea.

Many iron sources and methods have been tested over the years, however, the technology that is completely effective has not yet been found.

Hagstrom (1984) classified the materials for the correction of iron chlorosis:

  1. Inorganic iron compounds.
  2. Synthetic iron chelates.
  3. Organic compounds.
  4. Soil acidifying amendments.
  5. Industrial by-products and garbage.

For his part, Mortvedt (1991) classified the fertilizers used to correct deficiencies according to the form of application:

  • Soil applications.
  • foliar applications.
  • Direct injections to the trunk.
  • Seed treatments.

Bibliography and references

  • Diaz, Javier. Article on chlorosis. Innovative Engineering Magazine. September 2017. Volume I, No. 3 Mexico. (PDF)
  • Special work on Iron Chlorosis. (PDF).
  • Focus: Plants and diseases. University of Illinois. 2020. Reproduced from:
  • Ecured. Chlorosis. Reproduced from:

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