Iron feeding regimen?

daniel

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Anyone know how often bonsai should be fed iron? Is this on an as-needed basis, or something that needs to be done by itself? Do you put it in your organic fert cakes? I've just found that this can be important to plants and have been reading up on it. I purchased some Actino-Iron and used to to help some trees that are showing signs of chlorosis (pyracantha and boug).

I appreciate any thoughts you guys may have.

Daniel
 

Smoke

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I have a few pyracantha's. I feed them only once a year in April. They do not need any other fertilizer now that they are looking fairly good. Fertilizer just makes them explode and adds so much green growth. If the fert. is balanced you shouldn't need any iron to make them look good. If you have drastic yellowing you may be watering too much or have a root problem. Yellowing is not always an iron deficiency.

Always backwards engineer your bonsai. Think back to the point it last looked good. What did you do that may have changed that? Did you repot? did you heavily root prune? Did you try something new in fertlizer? Change watering habits? Is it getting enough sun?

Sometimes in answering these questions the ole lightbulb will flicker on....
Al
 

bonhe

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Extra iron is used as needed. The tree is as same as human body. However, bougainvillea needs lots of iron to produce massive bracts. Bonhe
 

daniel

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I have a few pyracantha's. I feed them only once a year in April. They do not need any other fertilizer now that they are looking fairly good. Fertilizer just makes them explode and adds so much green growth. If the fert. is balanced you shouldn't need any iron to make them look good. If you have drastic yellowing you may be watering too much or have a root problem. Yellowing is not always an iron deficiency.

Always backwards engineer your bonsai. Think back to the point it last looked good. What did you do that may have changed that? Did you repot? did you heavily root prune? Did you try something new in fertlizer? Change watering habits? Is it getting enough sun?

Sometimes in answering these questions the ole lightbulb will flicker on....
Al

Thanks again, Al. I was trying to back-engineer this stuff, but I couldn't find a pattern (I'm a mathematician by training...) to it. Nothing really cahnged. Maybe I watered a little too much, but I don't think that to be the case. I used the ol' pick 'er up and feel her method for watering. When it was quite light (not to the point of being dried out), I watered it. I've heard that bougs don't like a lot of water-logged soil, so I didn't want to kill 'er. Also, the research I had done in regards to chlorosis showed pics that looked exactly like my boug.

The pyracantha is another story. It was absolutely neglected and needed some love in a bad way. They just needed all sorts of food. Now that they're fed, I'll slow down on it. Both of 'em are putting out profuse growth (this is their first few months with me) and the new growth looks much healthier than the previous growth.

Thanks also, Bohne. I remember you saying something about bougs and iron to me before. I appreciate it! I'll try and get some pics up this weekend.

Daniel
 

amkhalid

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agree with all of the above... any decent fertilizer should contain iron.

Nevertheless, as Bonhe mentioned, bougies are iron pigs and I still find that sometimes mine tend towards being chlorotic now and then.

When this happens, I foliar feed with a spray of chelated iron as per manufacturers direction. This clears up chlorosis in a couple of days. Anyone who says plants don't take up micronutrients through their leaves has never tried foliar feeding of iron!
 

Glider

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I agree. Even 'iron pigs' only need a little. My azaleas used to get a drench once a year, just as they started showing signs of good growth, with an ericacious tonic (chelated iron, magnesium and manganese). That's enough for a year.

However, I came across an article a while ago that showed that such tonics are only really necessary for garden azaleas and rhodos in the ground (i.e. plants that don't get regular feeding). In pots, and particularly in bonsai (where inert neutral/acid media like kanuma or akadama is used), it's not really necessarry because they're being fed so regularly and they get more than enough from the standard fertilizers (e.g. miracle gro etc.). I stopped using the tonic drench and I haven't noticed any difference in growth rate or foliage colour.
 
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daniel

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I agree. Even 'iron pigs' only need a little. My azaleas used to get a drench once a year, just as they started showing signs of good growth, with an ericacious tonic (chelated iron, magnesium and manganese). That's enough for a year.

However, I came across an article a while ago that showed that such tonics are only really necessary for garden azaleas and rhodos in the ground (i.e. plants that don't get regular feeding). In pots, and particularly in bonsai (where inert neutral/acid media like kanuma or akadama is used), it's not really necessarry because they're being fed so regularly and they get more than enough from the standard fertilizers (e.g. miracle gro etc.). I stopped using the tonic drench and I haven't noticed any difference in growth rate or foliage colour.

But, in the case where foliage color is lacking (yellowing), wouldn't this indicate iron feeding? That's what I was going on.

What I was thinking of doing was adding some iron to the fertilizer cakes I make. I guess most think it useless?

Has anyone used Actino-iron? It is supposed to contain beneficial fungi (don't think it was mycorrhizae) and other "great" stuff. Just curious.
 

bonhe

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Hi Daniel, if you have some trees with sign of Fe deficiency and you are using frequent fertilizer as most of us here, it may be due to your tap water which may have too much alkaline. Alkaline will suppress the absorption of Fe, Mg, Bo, Cu and Zn (when pH >6.5). So, chlorosis is an indication that pH is too high. Generally speaking, most of trees desire a pH of 5.5 to 6.2 for optimum growth. You may get a pH paper or whatever kit available in your area to test your water. If your water is alkaline, you may consider to use some things to adjust the pH of soil such as: pine bark, humic acid granule, peat moss (I don't like it) or diluted vinegar. You can add more iron to the fertilizer, but if the water is still alkaline, then the problem is not resolved yet. I hope it makes sense. Bonhe
 

daniel

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Hi Daniel, if you have some trees with sign of Fe deficiency and you are using frequent fertilizer as most of us here, it may be due to your tap water which may have too much alkaline. Alkaline will suppress the absorption of Fe, Mg, Bo, Cu and Zn (when pH >6.5). So, chlorosis is an indication that pH is too high. Generally speaking, most of trees desire a pH of 5.5 to 6.2 for optimum growth. You may get a pH paper or whatever kit available in your area to test your water. If your water is alkaline, you may consider to use some things to adjust the pH of soil such as: pine bark, humic acid granule, peat moss (I don't like it) or diluted vinegar. You can add more iron to the fertilizer, but if the water is still alkaline, then the problem is not resolved yet. I hope it makes sense. Bonhe

Absolutely it makes sense, Bonhe. In Louisville, we have lots o' limestone around here, which causes the water to be very, very hard. This, I would imagine (if my chemistry serves me right) would make the water pH very high (relatively). I'll check it and see. If that's the case, then I'll try some of the tricks you suggested to get the pH down. Thanks!
 

bonhe

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Wow, you must collect limestone if you can. Limestone is one of the best stones for miniature landscape (Vietnamese or Chinese art). Because it is much softer than other stones, so it is easy to carve it to interesting shape. I love miniature landscape. It is one of the link for miniature landscape: www.members.tripod.com/lit_phan/mini.htm
Lit Phan is one of Vietnamese miniature landscape artists who living in San Dieago, CA.
Bonhe
 
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daniel

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Wow, you must collect limestone if you can. Limestone is one of the best stones for miniature landscape (Vietnamese or Chinese art). Because it is much softer than other stones, so it is easy to carve it to interesting shape. I love miniature landscape. It is one of the link for miniature landscape: www.members.tripod.com/lit_phan/mini.htm
Lit Phan is one of Vietnamese miniature landscape artists who living in San Dieago, CA.
Bonhe

Collect it? Heck, it's the *only* rock around here...no joke. Well, maybe a little sand stone, but not much. That's why Kentucky has huge caves around here...

I just tested the water's pH--you won't believe it, but it's 8.0. Yikes! No wonder! Now, the question is how to acidify the water? I don't want to add miracid every time...do i? Isn't there something else (and better) like Humic acid that i can add to the water to lower the pH?

Daniel
 

bonhe

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Your water pH is as same as mine. The right one shows my tap water pH. The left one shows humic acid granules soaked water pH. You can see the difference, right? In my case, I select the plants that grow well in alkaline soils (tamarix, pomegranates, California juniper). Some other plants: JBP, bougainvillea, elm are also doing well here, but I have been using more pine bark (organic material). Now I'm doing a trial with humic acid granules on black pine. I will post the result in another thread next year. So, you may use more organic material which I prefer pine bark because its pH range of 4-5, and may try humic acid as well (I'm using humic acid granule sprinkled on the soil surface, so far so good). Another thing, you may try to use water softener also. Good luck. Bonhe
 

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Glider

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But, in the case where foliage color is lacking (yellowing), wouldn't this indicate iron feeding? That's what I was going on.
Yes, if there are already signs of chlorosis, then a tonic drench (e.g. sequestrene) would be indicated.

The problem is that iron deficiency is not necessarily due to a lack of iron in the growing medium. In azaleas for example, a common cause is manganese deficiency, which makes the plant incapable of taking up and metabolising iron. However, most of these ericacious plant tonic drenches contain iron, magnesium and manganese, so that should be ideal.

What I was thinking of doing was adding some iron to the fertilizer cakes I make. I guess most think it useless?
I don't think it's useless. A trick commonly used by azalea growers in Japan to prevent iron chlorosis is to place a couple of iron nails on the soil surface of each plant. They've been doing that for a very long time with no problems.

Has anyone used Actino-iron? It is supposed to contain beneficial fungi (don't think it was mycorrhizae) and other "great" stuff. Just curious.
Nope, never heard of that.
 

daniel

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I don't think it's useless. A trick commonly used by azalea growers in Japan to prevent iron chlorosis is to place a couple of iron nails on the soil surface of each plant. They've been doing that for a very long time with no problems.

How clever! Something as simple as placing nails on the soil surface. Fascinating.

Thanks for the info, Glider. It's much appreciated.

Daniel
 

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