My Plant Leaves Are Turning Yellow
Yellowing leaves is a common problem with houseplants, but it can happen in the garden just as easily. While a plant can suffer some yellow spotting and recover, leaves turning yellow is usually a sign of a problem which needs remedied. For us to help the plant, it is important we know why it is turning yellow in the first place. You can see this problem in good weather and bad. It is important to remember that different plants require different conditions in which to thrive. Not meeting these conditions is often the reason why my plant leaves are turning yellow. Keep reading oneHOWTO to see why this is happening and what you can do to stop it.
Natural cycle of some plants
Although we might see our leaves turning yellow and think the worst, it is not always a problem. There are some plants which go through a natural plant cycle which means they lose their leaves at key points. These plants are known as deciduous plants and usually lose their leaves in the autumn. During this process the leaves turn yellow and fall off.
While we most associate deciduousness with tress, there are other plant types which will shed their leaves. In these cases, you will not need to worry. Green leaves will develop again once the seasons change. Plants which retain their green color year-round are known as evergreen. These plants should not turn yellow at any time of the year.
Perhaps the most common reason why plant leaves turn yellow is due to a lack of water. We can see this when the leaves of the plant start turning yellow at their tips. This is because this is the part of the plant furthest away from the water reserves of a plant. Each plant has specific water needs. When we purchase or inherit a plant, the first thing we need to do is know its species. Once we know this, we can look at its watering needs. We often see plants in need of water with yellow leaves which have a rough texture.
Our article on the best time to water plants will help you learn more.
Insufficient water drainage
Watering a plant too much can be just as bad as not providing enough water. It can lead to the plant rotting at the root or other problems of oversaturation. To prevent this from happening, it is important the plant either only receives the water it requires or that any extra water is sufficiently drained. With houseplants, the latter often occurs when a plant is watered in a plant pot with no holes at the base.
When there is insufficient drainage, a plant's roots will rot. A plant's leaves turning yellow is a sign of this occurrence. If you detect that a plant's pot or substrate does not have sufficient drainage, it means you will need to re-pot the plant. This is more difficult for outdoor plants. Their poor drainage could be due to groundwater or other issues which are difficult to remedy. They may even require the plant to be moved indoors. Again, this will depend on the specific needs of the plant.
Bad location and poor lighting
Some leaves that begin to yellow or brown progressively can be a clear sign the place you have put them is not the most suitable. There are plants that do not support direct exposure to the sun. This is because the sun's rays burn their leaves. Others need more direct sunlight for their survival. There are also those that require being in semi-shade or even in completely shaded environments to grow. The greater or lesser luminosity of the environment can affect the presence of yellow leaves on plants.
Check the needs of the species you have and how much direct sunlight it requires. If necessary, you can move it to a better place so that its leaves stop yellowing and burning. If you don't have much sunlight available, you can take a look at our article on the best indoor plants for low lighting.
Unsuitable soil type
Plants need the pH of the soil where they are planted to be compatible with their needs. Some require alkaline soils (rich in limestone) and others grow better in acidic soils. If you are sure the watering and lighting the plant gets is suitable, you may need to check the pH levels. You can buy pH testing kits for the substrate and water at any good gardening store.
Substrate lacks nutrients
A substrate with adequate nutrients for the type of plant is essential to keep them healthy. A lack of iron, phosphorus or nitrogen in the soil on which the plant feeds be behind the worrying yellowing of the leaves.
Review these concepts with your trusted gardening professional. They will speak about the different types of soil available to you and which is most suitable for your plant.
Infestations and diseases
Attacks from parasites should not be ruled out as a possible trigger for the progressive deterioration of the plant's leave. This won't cause them to turn completely yellow. Instead, it is more likely only the tips of the leaves will turn yellow. The presence of fungi such as mildew, plant diseases or pests can cause plant leaves to turn yellow or spots appear on them.
If this is the case, you can take a look at our article on how to get rid of pests on plants naturally.
Extreme temperatures and drafts
These are also possible causes of plant leaves turning yellow in plants that don't tolerate low temperatures or frost. In indoor, plants located where sudden changes in temperature and drafts are frequent can have their leaves turn yellow. The problem occurs because in these situations the plant suffers stress to adapt to the new environmental change. This causes the plants to weaken and their leaves turn yellow.
If you see that your plant is in a drafty area or very close to an air conditioner or radiator, move it to somewhere more suitable.
How to avoid plant leaves turning yellow
Knowing the characteristics of your plants and detecting the reason why their their leaves turn yellow is essential to restore them to health. Only this way can you keep them beautiful and in good condition. For each specific problem there are effective remedies and tips that you can put into practice, including:
- Control water: it is important to adapt the amount of water you give your plants to the time of year and temperature. During the summer months, higher temperatures can lead to yellowing if you don't increase the frequency of watering. If, on the other hand, you water them daily, they may be receiving an excess of water. In this case, try to alternate days or create a suitable schedule.
- Fertilize: if the problem is a depleted substrate, enrich it by fertilizing according to the specific needs of your plants. A fertilizer that contains iron and phosphorus can help provide the nutrients your plant requires. Here we show you how to make a natural fertilizer if you are in a pinch.
- Fungicidal treatments: as we have indicated, yellow leaves are often the result of the attack of certain fungi. Applying a specific fungicide or even a homemade fungicide is a good solution.
- Change the location: lack of light or, conversely, direct sun may be causing the leaves to turn yellow. Especially in indoor plants, it is easy to change the place of the pot and check if this move to a place with more shade or provide more light. This may manage to stop the process that yellows the leaves of your plants.
If you are having problems with your outdoor plants, take a look at our article on how to decorate a small garden for more information.
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