Gardening Tips:  Why Your Garden Needs Iron to Thrive

Gardening Tips: Why Your Garden Needs Iron to Thrive

little girl in rain boots watering garden

Interested in taking care of your garden without becoming a biochemist? With at least sixteen elements essential to the health and success of a garden, you may become overwhelmed by the science and forget the beauty that awaits you.

There are a few easy ways to keep your soil in peak performance without memorizing the periodic table of elements! It might seem daunting to get up-to-speed on gardening nutrients and which are needed to keep your garden healthy with minimal effort. However, this is when quick gardening tips are precious, providing simple guidance to make your life easier while helping you understand the importance of gardening nutrients.

With your busy life, you want a beautiful garden without putting in a lot of work. With a few gardening tips on iron, an essential nutrient for your plants, you will be maintaining a stunning garden that makes you the envy of all who see it. It really can be as easy as fertilizer and the right amount of water to make you a garden hobbyist; add a little nutrient know-how, and you’ll be enjoying the fruits of your minimal labor. 

What is Iron?

Person up close gardening

Iron is an element that acts in plants much as it does in the human bloodstream. Iron is important in electron transport chains and a constituent of many vital enzymes. In plants, iron is essential for photosynthesis and chlorophyll synthesis.

Chlorophyll is essential in making your plants green and healthy-looking. The amount of iron needed is minimal; however, it is an essential gardening nutrient in that, without chlorophyll, a plant cannot absorb energy from the sun and cannot grow. Nitrogen-fixing, development, and metabolism all depend on iron; without it, the plant will not perform and produce at its best. Iron naturally occurs in most soil and is also present in ferric oxide, which is a chemical in soil that provides a red color, making iron deficiency an unlikely concern in your thriving garden paradise.

How Can I Tell if My Garden Needs Iron?

A simple gardening tip is to watch for any sign of an iron deficiency in your garden by keeping an eye out for sickly, yellow leaves. This will be most pronounced in newer leaves, as iron is an immobile nutrient in plants, being unable to be transported to newer growth suffering from a deficiency. Iron deficiency is called chlorosis. Chlorosis indicates a lack of chlorophyll production in the plant.

If your garden does experience iron deficiency, there are a few reasons this happens, including:

  • soil pH is too high
  • soil has too much clay
  • soil is too wet or compacted
  • soil has too much phosphorus
Grandmother gardening with grandson

Testing soil pH is relatively easy, and plenty of DIY options are available to quickly determine if this is the reason for chlorosis in your garden. If your soil has too much clay, it does not have enough organic material to provide the iron the plant needs to take in through its root system. You can correct this by adding compost or peat moss into the soil, which provides the organic matter needed to encourage iron absorption into the root system. 

Soil that is too wet or compacted needs aeration and better drainage. If you cannot correct either of these conditions, you can improve the gardening nutrients topically by using a liquid iron spray. Soil that has too much phosphorus can block iron absorption through the root system, causing a lack of oxygen, resulting in chlorosis. Phosphorus levels can be adjusted by using a fertilizer that is lower in phosphorus and by allowing time for the soil to restore balance. Fortunately, this gardening nutrient naturally occurs in most soil, so unless you see signs of deficiency, iron will not be high on your list of gardening nutrients to worry about. 

How Do I Apply Iron to My Garden?

Adding iron to your garden can be as simple as not raking your leaves or raking leaves from your lawn and putting them in your garden! This gardening tip encourages the use of compost which naturally contains iron, so allowing dead leaves to provide gardening nutrients to the soil is an easy fix.

If you do not have any leaves to rake, you can also add iron to the soil in other ways, including:

  • liquid iron
  • powder or granulated iron
Woman gardening carrots while squatting

Liquid chelated or complexed iron is a quick fix and can be immediately absorbed into the plant. Spraying liquid iron onto the leaves allows the iron to reach the under-oxygenated leaves of the plant immediately. It can get your plant back to looking good quickly but does not correct the iron deficiency in the soil. Powdered or granulated chelated (complexed) iron can be sprinkled on the soil and watered around the root system. Chelated or complexed iron is used because it is a form of the gardening nutrient that has been chemically altered so that it is easily digestible by the plant and remains soluble in the soil.

How Much Iron Does Your Garden Need?

Even as a garden hobbyist, you will understand what your plants are trying to tell you they need to stay healthy and green after reading through these gardening tips. Plants do not need much iron, but even a small amount is crucial to the health of your garden. For one thousand square feet, dilute two ounces of iron sulfate in three to five gallons of water and apply it to the soil around the roots. 

Achieving a Healthy Garden


Starting your garden in the proper soil prepared with the right fertilizer mix is always the best foundation for any garden. The contents of your soil are particularly easy to control when your garden is in a small area or container. Knowing when to add gardening nutrients is as easy as paying attention to what your plants are telling you.

With the correct fertilizer, a good watering schedule, and attention to basic nutrients, your garden will practically maintain itself and earn you the admiration of your friends, family, and neighbors. Along with solid gardening tips, seeking the advice of experts in lawn care and gardening can go a long way in keeping your efforts to a minimum while maximizing the benefits of your garden.

One last gardening tip – while beautifying your little corner of the world, make sure the products you use are high quality and environmentally friendly; it’s a sure-fire way to make a positive impact and minimize your carbon footprint at the same time!

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