How to Correct Iron Chlorosis in Photinia Shrubs

The red-tip photinia is a striking plant when kept healthy.
The red-tip photinia is a striking plant when kept healthy. (Image: Ryan McVay/Photodisc/Getty Images)

The red-tip photinia is a widely cultivated landscaping shrub, with deep green mature leaves, bright red new growth and white flowers. It's often used as a privacy hedge, as it grows very thick and to a height of 12 feet if left unpruned. Red-tip photinia is prone to yellowing of the leaves in between the leaf veins, a condition called chlorosis, which is caused by iron deficiency. Chlorosis is particularly likely in alkaline soil, which is common in the western part of the United States.

Things You'll Need

  • Chelated iron
  • Peat moss
  • Mulch or compost
  • Fertilizer low in phosphorus

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Inspect the plant for iron chlorosis symptoms. The leaves will yellow in a distinctive pattern, leaving the leaf veins green. Iron deficiency chlorosis will start in the new foliage, working through older leaves if left untreated.

Apply chelated iron to the plant in the form of foliage spray or granular supplements, following package directions. These can be found in any garden center or nursery.

Work peat moss into the soil for long-term treatment of chlorosis. This acidic supplement balances the alkaline soil, improving the ability of the plant to absorb iron.

Improve soil drainage to increase resistance to chlorosis. Wet soil prevents plant roots from absorbing enough oxygen, leaving them unable to take up iron. Working mulch or compost into the soil can improve drainage.

Apply only low-phosphorous fertilizer. Excess phosphorous can block iron uptake by the plant. Phosphorus content is indicated on the fertilizer package by the middle number in the three-number indicator of fertilizer grade.


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