This article is really a continuation of the mail order roses article.  Whilst my rose selection was meticulously considered before laying out cash via the mail order system, I had not considered a lesser known aspect to rose health that is common in this part of the world.  Lime induced chlorosis sounds rather nasty, doesn’t it?  Well, to put it simply, roses like soil that is a little on the acid side.  Here in our part of the world in beautiful Port Elliot, we have alkaline soils on our one acre, thanks to a general presence of limestone in the subsoil.  Lime induced chlorosis means the alkalinity of the soil stops the plant from being able to access and absorb the full spectrum of minerals in the soil.  This condition is evident on the rose bush I have photographed here – David Austin’s “Radio Times”.


Look at the leaf close up and you can see the dark green veining present in a leaf that looks positively pale.  What this colouring means is the plant is not able to feed on what it needs in the soil so the plant is slowly starving.  Ignore this condition and the plant can die over a short period of time.  You will also notice that the leaves become lighter and lighter and smaller in size if this condition is left unchecked.  This bush looks very ill.

The solution is a simple one though it will take approximately five to six weeks to see the improvement in this bush.  Buy yourself some iron chelates.  Follow the package instructions and mix up the required quantity in a watering can.  I had to put twelve small scoops of iron chelates in a 10 litre watering can as this is what the instructions advised me to do.  Water the soil around the roots only and then follow up with some more water.  I did this but added some seaweed extract in the follow up watering. I made sure I poured the seaweed extract laced water all over the leaves to assist with rapid take up of nutrients.
This is the same rose bush, photographed four weeks after the initial iron chelates/seaweed extract treatment.  The bush showed a marked improvement in growth rate, greening up and large, healthy blooms that were full of perfume.


As you can see, the lime induced chlorosis has abated as the iron chelates have unlocked the necessary minerals in the soil, thus ensuring the plants have been able to feed on the full spectrum of nutrients essential to their healthy growth.  I also had some other roses turn yellow like this and found the culprit to be the proximity of their root system to relatively new concrete (full of lime). I am also sure there are varying pockets of alkaline soil in this garden.  At the end of the day, it pays to remember that roses like a steady diet of food if they are to perform at their best.  I feed my roses at the start of every month from early spring until early autumn because our climate means we have roses blooming for approximately eight months of the year.

Remember too that lime induced chlorosis can manifest itself in Australian native plants.  I have to constantly look out for natives which are showing the same symptoms of the roses – yellowing off and stunted growth.  There is a Grevillia “Ivanhoe” shrub in our front garden which looked terrible, until I actually put on my glasses (amazing stories …..) and had a good close up inspection.  Iron chelate treatment was applied, along with my “plan B” of seaweed laced water.  Within a year, the two foot tall bush had transformed into a dark green 8 foot bush, full of toothbrush style flowers that are daily visited by Wattle Birds and New Holland Honeyeaters.

Make sure you only pour the iron chelate laced water around a damp root zone; never on dry soil as you are asking for trouble by being lazy in watering. Also make sure you follow the instructions on the packet!

Copyright:  Persephone Design

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