Yellowing Leaves - A Common Summer Problem

Yellowing Leaves - A Common Summer Problem

For most species, a good dark green color is a sign of a tree with good vitality and normal functioning.   When a normally green leaved tree starts to have yellow leaves, it is the beginning signs of trouble.  The scientific term for this yellowing is chlorosis.  The yellowing results due to a lack of chlorophyll in the leaves.  The causes of chlorosis are varied, but the most common causes include nutrient deficiencies due to alkalinity of soil, drought, poor drainage and compaction of the soil.  In the Milwaukee area chlorosis symptoms are most often found on red maple, white oak, white pine and river

Symptoms of Chlorosis

Yellowing chlorotic plants may only show symptoms on isolated branches or the whole plant may be affected.  Typically signs of problems occur in early to mid-summer and worsen as the season progresses.  Mild cases may only show a slight discoloration and the leave veins remain green.  In moderate cases the tissue between the leaf veins is bright yellow.  In more advanced cases, the entire leaf surface is bright yellow and leaf size is stunted and can have a scorched look on the edges. 


Prevention is always the easiest method.  Keep trees healthy by performing proper care.  Become knowledgeable of the specific needs of your trees.  An example of this is the river birch tree.  These trees have higher than normal moisture demands and often become chlorotic due to drought stress.  Regular fertilization or root system amendments such as organic matter can keep root systems vibrant.  Avoid compaction to root systems. 

There are many different ways to treat trees with chlorosis symptoms.  Our certified arborists develop a tree care regime based upon the severity of the yellowing.  The following methods listed below are all ways that we can aid a tree with chlorosis.

·         Foliar spray leaf surfaces with chelated iron during mid season.  (short term approach)

·         Fertilization of root system with acidifying agents. (long term strategy)

·         Root system aeration with possible addition of organic matter.  (long term strategy)

·         Direct trunk injections of necessary micronutrients such as iron.  (mid range strategy)

If you feel your tree is exhibiting signs of chlorosis, please don’t wait until it’s too late.  Our arborists can help.

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