Sunday, June 19, 2011

Chlorosis, really ? Ants too. Good Grief !

Chlorosis, is considered a disease in the plant world. Chlorosis is when the leaves of a plant can no longer make chlorophyll and the leaves turn yellow. It is usually associated with an iron deficiency in plants, or when plants are unable to  use the iron in the soil due to poor pH levels (too alkaline), poor drainage or damaged roots. It may also be caused by a lack of manganese or zinc in the soil. To tell the difference between low iron versus low manganese you look to the leaves themselves. Forget that the deficiency creates cool looking designs in the leaves. Look at whether the chlorotic leaves are at the tips of the branches or closer to the center. In other words: old leaves or new leaves?

For the first time ever I am witnessing chlorosis in my garden, on one of my clematis, which happens to share a bed with roses. I believe it is due to a lack of manganese or zinc rather than iron. First have a look at the leaves. Gorgeous aren't they?

However, if you look towards the end or tip of the vine, the leaves are green.

I think because the clematis is in the same bed as some roses I will take the easy route first and apply a low solution of fertilizer that includes all the micro-nutrients. The roses will then get fed (and at an optimum time too since they are only still in bud form) and I might be able to stop the chlorosis from spreading. If that doesn't work I guess I will have to put my thinking hat on in case I have misjudged the culprit. Soil tests, checking the soil for compaction would be other factors to look into.

Ants have been a thorn in my side for years now. They are in the grass and tend to move house from one spring to the next. You discover them when you suddenly trip over a mound that wasn't there before, or find that the edge of your gravel driveway ( a curse and a love both)  has sand along the sides. Huh?

Where'd that sand come from?

We have big ants, little ants, carpenter ants in the house (oh don't get me started), and yellow ants that smell like lemon when you crush them. They turn up in the lawn, the garden beds, the leaf compost pile and the containers. I just planted this container of succulents a few days ago and already there are ants. 

Can you see the holes?

The soil is pushed up in places too.

Now what was my mantra again? Oh yes. I love gardening, I love gardening.


  1. This is a very timely post as I just noticed this developing on one of my clematis and a lilac as well. I guess I know what I'm doing today!

  2. Sorry to hear you have chlorosis too. Hope to hear the clematis and rose are better soon.

  3. Over here we have not only alkaline soils but alkaline water too, so chlorosis is a very well-known problem. Usually, what helps in my garden is annual applications of soil sulphur and frequent small applications of acidifying nitrogen. It is strange that your roses do not show signs of chlorosis whereas the clematis is so badly affected...

  4. My first garden was in a high rainfall area, and wet winters would often bring chlorosis to some of my spring perennials as a result of the rain leaching the clay soils over winter. A dose of chelated iron in early spring as new growth emerged used to do wonders for my anemic plants. I hope your clematis is back to its lush green self soon!

  5. Thanks Masha and Curbstone Valley for your suggestions. I will bear them in mind if my idea fails.

  6. Hi Patty,
    I have never noticed chlorosis in my garden, but would now understand the problem if it does crop up. It certainly gives the leaves a rather interesting appearance.
    Ants on the other hand have been a problem in my garden. I hate ant hills that make a mess of my beds. I am not sure if it is the fault of the ants or not, but I suspect that their hill building has been responsible for killing nearby plants.