Why Plants Leaves Turn Yellow-Best Fixes

Rich green leaves can brighten up your day and beautify the world, from living rooms to landscapes. Sometimes, however, even with your best efforts, plants can turn yellow. The process of yellowing, also known as chlorosis or chlorosis is when something affects your plant’s photosynthesis — the plant pigment that gives off their green color. Good news is that yellowing leaves can be a sign that your plants need some help. You can prevent yellow leaves from returning by reading the signs and following the correct steps.

These are the main causes of yellow leaves.

  • Inadequate drainage or watering
  • Root damage or compacted root
  • Unstable soil pH
  • Insufficient nutrition


Yellow leaves are often caused by water issues. Roots can’t breathe in wet soil. Roots become suffocated, stop receiving the nutrients and water they need and shut down. Similar effects can be seen when plants are underwatered or in drought. Plants can’t absorb essential nutrients if they don’t have enough water. This results in yellow leaves.

Porous and well-draining soil is the best way to fix or prevent water problems. Containers should have good drainage holes. Saucers should be kept dry. Avoid planting in areas where rainwater and irrigation accumulate. To improve the soil structure and drainage, you can incorporate organic matter such as compost into your soil.

Give soil the “finger-test” before you water. Place your index finger about a meter into the soil. Water should only be applied when the soil feels dry. Water thoroughly and deeply. Wait a few days if the soil feels dry and cool. Before you water again, let the soil dry slightly.


Root damage can occur in many ways. Roots can become ineffective at delivering what your plants need. Compacted roots can occur when container plants outgrow the pots. Compacted soil in landscapes can block water, oxygen, and nutrient movement. These conditions can cause root problems and yellow leaves.

You can check the containers for any damaged or compressed roots by gently removing your plant from its pot. You’ll also be able to see the soil moisture. Healthy roots will be whitish-yellow. Rotting roots are foul-smelling. Roots that are diseased or rotten should be removed. Compaction can be caused by pruning unhealthy roots. Once the roots are removed, repot them in a larger container that has well-draining soil.

Landscape plantings can improve soil compaction by watering your lawn. Your planting areas should include organic matter and organic mulch. Garden gypsum can increase soil compaction in heavy clay soils and keep the leaves green.


Your yellowing leaves may not be due to soil pH if you are growing container plants and using premium fertilizers. If your problem is with landscape plants, however, soil pH could be the answer.

The soil pH can influence whether plants have access to nutrients. As soil pH changes, so does the availability of nutrients. Most plants, including lawngrasses, thrive in soil pH between 6.0 and 7.0. Acid-loving Plants such as rhododendrons and blueberries, prefer soil with a pH of 4.5 to 6.0.

Some nutrients are less accessible to plants if the soil pH is lower than or higher than their optimal range. Even though nutrients may be present, they are not available to plants. Until pH issues are resolved, leaves will turn yellow.

The simple soil test determines the pH of your soil and gives other useful information. Many testing labs will also recommend soil amendments that can restore pH balance. When this happens, nutrients are made available again and green leaves return to normal.


Yellow leaves can occur in areas where the soil pH is optimal. This could indicate a nutrient deficiency. Some nutrients are highly mobile. For example, nitrogen moves easily through soil and then leaches out. If soil nitrogen is not regularly replenished through fertilizer application, nitrogen deficiencies can turn lawns or plant leaves yellowish-pale green.

Proper fertilization and premium food products can be helpful if you suspect that you have nutrient deficiencies. The county extension agent will be able to provide information about the exact nutrients. Common deficiencies 1 can be identified by identifying which leaves turn yellow first. This will help you identify the cause.

  • Yellowing due to a lack of nitrogen The yellowing of inner leaves, especially older ones, is the first. As the yellowing progresses, it spreads outward and eventually reaches young leaves.
  • Potassium deficiency is a condition where the leaf edges turn brightly yellow but the inner leaves remain green. The symptoms are more severe in older leaves, as the leaf edges turn brown quickly.
  • Magnesium deficiencies manifest as yellow spots between the leaf veins of older leaves. As yellow moves away from the leaf center, veins remain green. The leaf edges become yellowed last.
  • Iron deficiency can also be seen as yellowing in leaf veins. However, it affects young leaves first on the tops of plants and at branch tips.
  • The newest leaves are yellowed by a sulfur deficiency.

Complex relationships exist between nutrients in soils and plants. Low potassium can make iron less accessible. 2 However, excess potassium can cause deficiencies in other nutrients. 1 Proper fertilization is crucial for keeping your plants free of yellow leaves.

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