Why do plants need iron?
Iron is considered an essential plant nutrient. Plants need iron to grow and remain healthy, but what exactly does this powerhouse element do inside a plant? Let’s take a few minutes to answer the question, “Why do plants need iron?”
What is iron?
First and foremost, what is iron? Well, iron is an element that is found within the Earth’s crust, and as you probably know, it’s widely used to build things! On top of this, the human body uses (and very much needs) iron, as well — people who are iron-deficient are considered anemic. On the other hand, iron deficiency in plants is known as chlorosis.
Many times iron is present in the soil, however, it is not available to the plants due to the PH of the soil. If the PH is too high, (alkaline) or too low (acidic), the iron is bound up. If the soil is brought to neutral (7 on the PH scale) , iron is then unbound and more available to the plants, in addition, it is important for there to be microorganisms present in the soil as they further break the iron (and other elements) down for optimum plant absorption.
But what about plants? How do plants use iron?
Why is iron important for plants?
Just as iron is vital to the human body, iron is also vital to plants. Without iron, plants would not be able to produce chlorophyll, which gives plants oxygen and its healthy green color. Without iron, the plant can go into a state of chlorosis (lack of chlorophyll, plant is less green), where the leaves will have a sickly yellow color.
But iron goes above and beyond chlorophyll. Similar to other essential plant nutrients, iron plays multiple roles within a plant. Here are a few more reasons plants need iron:
- Iron maintains chloroplasts
- Iron is involved in photosynthesis
- Iron is involved in respiration
- Iron is essential for enzyme functions
- Iron aids in nitrogen-fixing
- Iron helps move oxygen through the plants system
How do I know if my plants need more iron?
If you’re wondering, “How do I know if my plants need more iron?” the answer can be found one of two ways.
The first way is to take a look at the plant itself. The physical appearance of a plant can often help you determine what nutrient(s) it’s missing. In the case of iron, the leaves will start to yellow (chlorosis). But as we’ve discussed before, this can also be a sign of other deficiencies (like with sulfur and nitrogen). So practice caution when you’re trying to determine what is actually causing your leaves to yellow. This can usually be accomplished by figuring out where the yellowing starts — but this can quickly get confusing.
The second way to check for an iron deficiency is to perform a soil test. However, soil tests can be tricky, and they aren’t always accurate.
While a soil test is designed to help you determine what your soil might be lacking, it doesn’t test all of your soil — only one part of it. In other words, the results for one small section of your soil may not be accurate for the rest of your soil. If you add amendments to your soil based on one test result from one section, you could end up damaging the other sections of your soil.
Secondly, soil tests are designed to tell you what nutrients are in the soil, but it won’t tell you what (or how much) nutrients are in a plant-available form. It would be something like the difference between cows and hamburgers. We eat hamburgers — not cows. This same concept holds true with the nutrients in your soil. Many can be in a form that plants simply can’t absorb. Needless to say, soil tests don’t always give us the information we are looking for.
What if my plant is not iron-deficient but it still looks bad?
Iron is only one of the 16 essential plant nutrients, and your plant needs all 16 nutrients to remain healthy. If your plant is not lacking iron but still looks to be in bad shape, then your plant might be deficient in a different nutrient.
If you want to learn more about these nutrients, take a look at the following articles:
- Why do plants need phosphorus?
- Why do plants need nitrogen?
- Why do plants need magnesium?
- Why do plants need calcium?
- Why do plants need sulfur?
But if you don’t want to get a PhD in chemistry, we recommend using a soil treatment like GardenMAX or TurfMAX. Not only do these treatments contain all 16 essential plant nutrients, but they also have a ton of other great benefits. For example, they can correct pH imbalances, add beneficial microbes to the soil, and slow-release fertilizer. Even better, they’re super easy to use — apply on top and water in.
Iron is essential for plants, so if you think your plant is missing this nutrient, you need to act fast. Unfortunately, testing for nutrient deficiencies in plants isn’t the clearest thing to do. But luckily, there’s another way to overcome this hurdle.
With a soil treatment from Green As It Gets, you can easily transform your soil into a place where plants love to grow. These soil treatments work fast to correct pH imbalances and supply your soil with any missing nutrients. It’s intelligent, advanced, and ready to go to work for your soil.