Unless a plant is supposed to have yellow coloring (i.e. Gold Dust Plant, Variegated Yucca), yellow is a signal to gardeners that something bad is going on. Yellowing of the leaves is technically called chlorosis and it can point to a variety of health problems. The pattern of yellowing offers clues to what is actually going on with the plant. The infographic by Safer Brand below will show you what to look for and better yet, what to do about it.
Chlorosis is a visible result of not enough chlorophyll, which the plant uses in photosynthesis. Chlorophyll gives the plants their green coloring, not enough turns the leaves pale or yellow. Because it is important to the plant’s food making ability, not enough of it for an extended period of time is a big deal.
A few variables in how the chlorosis develops may offer some important clues as to the source of the issues.
Garden Plants Need Nutrients
The first thing to consider with chlorotic plants is, “Is the plant getting enough nutrients?” Most gardeners know that plants require hydrogen, carbon and oxygen but did you know the plants also require more than twelve other nutrients to not only thrive, but to just survive. A soil test is the best way to determine which nutrients are missing but certain deficiencies also show up in distinct yellowing patterns. For instance, a nitrogen deficiency is recognizable by green veins with yellowing between them.
Some nutrient deficiencies are notable by older leaves turning yellow before younger leaves. This has to do with how mobile the nutrients may be within a plant. For instance, phosphorus and potassium are considered mobile whereas sulfur and copper are not.
Whereas nutrient issues are recognizable by patterns, pest symptoms are not. Insect or disease problems may show up on one part of a problem but not another. Insect and fungal damage may show up as chlorotic and then it is important to determine just which pest is causing the damage in order to determine a solution. An insecticide or insecticidal soap may work for Lacebugs on Azaleas but will certainly not work on fungal leafspot.
As we all know, water and light are essential for life. But, too much of a good thing, at least in the case of water, can also be a bad thing.
Too much water and not enough water can lead to yellowing leaves. Under watered plants are usually brittle and the soil around them is dry. Over watered plants tend to be limp and mush, and the soil is spongy.
All the nutrients and well-meaning in the world are of no use if a plant does not get the light it requires. Not enough light causes plants to fade and look droopy. The key is to know how much light your particular plant needs.
Use the infographic from Safer Brands below to diagnose why your plants are turning yellow. Happy gardening!
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