Q. I went and bought the iron chelate stuff you recommended however the instructions were not really clear. This was for the lemon tree in the whiskey barrel with yellowing and not too many leaves. Anyway I put about three teaspoons in the barrel and applied water. I did not know this was going to turn the water red. It all drained out red. Hopefully enough stayed in to help the tree. When should I do this again?
A. Well the water coming out all red is not a good indicator of good soil health. It also means that any fertilizer applied is going to run through it as well. I would go to foliar fertilizer applications until you can improve the soil.
This EDDHA iron chelate that I recommend is not a good iron fertilizer for a liquid application to the leaves. Sorry. But it will be great once you improve the soil and it holds nutrients again and you apply it at the right time.
Another method you could use would be to lift out the whole rootball out of the container if it will come out easily for you and in one piece. You can cut around the tree with a shovel and see if you can lift it out of the container. If the rootball wants to fall apart and not come out in one piece, then I would forget lifting it out and replace the soil a bit each year.
If the tree can be lifted out, dump the excess soil left in the container, wash some of the soil from the roots and replant it in the container again after sanitizing it.
You can inspect the roots and cut off any unhealthy roots when it is out of the container. Do not let the roots dry out when you are doing this. Before you replant it, put the tree rootball in a container full of cool but not cold water and let it soak for a couple of hours.
Replant the tree. Stake it for a couple of months and repot the whole thing. Then apply the iron fertilizer you bought to that soil. But you will get very limited results from that iron without improving the soil. If this doesn’t make sense, email me with questions so I know what you understand and don’t understand.