Yellow leaves on vegetable plants are issues that happens naturally as they grow older. This occurs to give way to the newer leaves, thus promoting growth in the plants.Yellow Leaves on Vegetable Plants

Still, if most plant leaves in your vegetable garden are turning yellow, find out why in this article, along with the causes and how to address them.

What Are Common Conditions Why Vegetable Leaves Turn Yellow?

The common causes for vegetable leaves to turn yellow is due to having weak soil health, or the plant is going through nutritional deficiencies. Moreover, due to improper irrigation of the plant, going through stress, shock, and lastly, an infestation of pests or diseases.

– Soil Health

The health of the soil you use in your garden is a huge factor in attaining healthy produce. However, green leafy vegetables turning yellow could disappoint any gardener, especially when everything seemed in good condition. Soil health is a significant consideration because it impacts a lot of other aspects, such as soil pH, soil structure, good water drainage, and air movement, among others.

– Nutrient Deficiency

Another condition that contributes to the yellowing of leaves is due to deficiency of nutrients like nitrogen, magnesium, potassium, phosphorus, and iron, which are the main nutrients that plants need to produce abundant chlorophyll. The yellowing of the leaves is just one of the indicators that your plants lack one or many of these nutrients.

Nitrogen is required to produce chlorophyll, which gives the plant leaves their green coloring. Not having enough nitrogen would make the leaves turn yellow. When it goes through nitrogen deficiency or magnesium deficiency, it would prevent the plants from producing enough chlorophyll, making the plant leaves turn yellow, specifically for older leaves, while their veins remain green in color.Causes of Yellow Leaves on Vegetable Plants

On the other hand, potassium is responsible for the regulation of water movement in the plant, as well as photosynthesis and some enzyme activation. This is why having potassium deficiency would result in poor water movement; it would develop tips of leaves turning yellow and brown, along with the appearance of spots, which commonly happens.

Meanwhile, plants lacking in phosphorous would have slower growth, fewer fruits or flowers, and a yellow and purple tint on the leaves. Iron deficiency among vegetable plants would result in stunted growth and yellowing of leaves that usually starts with the younger leaves.

Like nitrogen and magnesium, iron is also needed for chlorophyll production. In short, your vegetable plants may have one or more of these nutrient deficiencies, so looking closely at the different symptoms or indicators your yellowing leaves may reveal is imperative.

– Improper Irrigation

The most common reason for vegetable plant leaves to turn yellow is under-watering or over-watering because both will agitate the leaves of the vegetation and shift their green color in the short run. The excess or the lack of water, in addition to not following the right watering intervals, can cause stress among vegetable plants.

As the roots become either waterlogged due to overwatering or dried because of watering less than what it requires, their ability to absorb nutrients is also modified. This would result in the turning yellow of leaves and unsatisfactory growth of the plants.

As these conditions cause stress to the plants, and as a response, their leaves turn yellow. So, check the soil now to find out whether your plants are underwatered or overwatered.

– Stress

Different external factors contribute to stress in our vegetable plants. Stress has a significant impact since it does not affect plants’ growth and ability to produce but also makes the plant more vulnerable to diseases.

With today’s climatic conditions, big shifts in weather impact the health of plants, which results in growth disturbances, yellowing of leaves, and inability to produce fruits or flowers.  Too much heat from the sun would cause sunburns–first, a blotch, next a welt, and then yellow and brown spots would take over all the plant leaves.

Heavy rains and hail can also immediately cause physical damage to the plant’s leaves, stems, roots, and other parts, causing them to wilt, turn yellow, or even die when not addressed immediately. The stress on the vegetation would be obvious because they would be damaged and unable to produce better.

– Shock

Most newly transferred plants tend to have their leaves turn yellow as they adjust to their new environment. These yellow leaves may disappear eventually as the plant adapts to its surroundings.

Fertilizer application sometimes causes shock to plants, too. An excessive amount would lead to burns caused by fertilizer, resulting in the appearance of yellow leaves on plants. In short, the plant wouldn’t be able to control its excess nutrients, so the edges start to weaken and turn yellow.

Moreover, exposure to chemical products like pesticides, herbicides, and other harsh substances may cause damage. It may result in the yellowing of plant leaves, especially when the plant is in its early growth stage.

The shock caused by excessive fertilizer is sometimes confused with insect infestations and diseases because of the white scars. Still, one must look at the very tips of leaves turning yellow as one indication of pesticide burn.

– Pests and Diseases

A pest infestation can happen in any vegetable garden despite the constant care you give your plants. Not only will it destroy the physical appearance of your plants, but it will also make your plants susceptible to diseases, so these pests must be taken care of immediately.

For instance, the ones responsible can be pests like aphids, the tiny insects that would absorb the green sap from the leaves, are what would cause them to turn yellow and curl. They also release a sticky liquid called honeydew, which can attract pests like ants. Like aphids, whiteflies also suck sap from the leaves, which results in them becoming yellow and wilt; with this, they can transmit viruses from plant to plant.

Another plant-sucking pest, spider mites, can overwhelm your plant in no time if left unattended. It will occupy large spaces on the leaves, making it unhealthy; thus, it would turn yellow. Immediate help must be given to prevent further infestations.

On another note, fungal and bacterial diseases often result in black, brown, and yellow blotches on vegetable plants’ leaves, also known as leaf spots. If you have, for instance, some tomatoes, along with other plants, are prone to early blights, another type of fungal disease. It is best to detect these diseases early so as not to worsen the problem and prevent any further damage it may bring to the whole crop.

Finding out how these diseases are transferred from one plant to another would also be a big help. The usual way for fungi and bacteria to reach our plants is through the infected tools that we use and the insects that travel from one infected plant to another. Meanwhile, other diseases are airborne.

What Are Solutions to Combat the Yellowing Leaves of Vegetables

The solutions to combat the yellowing leaves of vegetables would be to apply the right amount of fertilizer, check the soil conditions, and try to tidy up the garden. In addition, you must water the plant regularly, and aim to tackle pests with natural insecticides.

Yellow leaves on vegetable plants can be temporary, but if you have noticed that your plants don’t seem to have their green colors anymore, worry no more as we have gathered here five solutions to combat yellow leaves on vegetable plants.

– Apply Fertilizer

Identify which nutrient your plant lacks and then apply the appropriate fertilizer. There are ones that can be readily bought from your local garden shop so that you can buy them with all ease.

If you wish to have different solutions, try to use a homemade treatment made of one teaspoon of Epsom salt per one tablespoon of general-purpose fertilizer to two liters of water is effective for magnesium deficiency. Remember to fertilize when the sun is not high to avoid fertilizer burn that can further increase the damage to the plant.Remedies for Yellow Leaves on Vegetable Plants

– Check the Soil Condition

As simple as it may sound, prevention is always better than cure. At the start of your planting season, always be keen that you inspect the quality of your garden soil.

To achieve healthy soil, ensure that there is the right pH of the soil and a healthy soil structure for the vegetable plant. Usually, a soil pH of 6.0 to 7.5 is considered generally good for any vegetable gardening. Checking the pH balance of the soil can be done with a ready-made pH meter that is widely available, and this way, you would balance it out.

Instead of guessing whether your garden soil is best for planting, it is best that you have the soil checked by your local garden shop. With your gardening activities, will save you from further trouble in the long run.

A good draining with good aeration would ensure that waterlogging and root rot will not occur. To avoid second-guessing, let your local gardening shop check if you have the best soil for gardening.

– Tidy the Garden

Cleaning your plants and vegetable garden by removing any old leaves, stems, and other yellowing parts of the plant and nearby surroundings would help maintain cleanliness and prevent the spread of pests, fungi, and other viruses from accumulating in your plants. You can go ahead and prune the dead leaves, and clean out the rottings of any companion plants, to save the garden’s vegetation. Also, new growth will be encouraged in its younger stems or branches.

– Regulate Water and Provide Shade

Keep your vegetables from being without water for a long period of time, and let them sit in water for far too long. Regular watering will yield a more positive result. Also, protect the plants from too much heat from the sun to prevent them from being sunburned, so the leaves wouldn’t look dull anymore, but they would get the right amount of sunlight instead.Solving Yellow Leaves on Vegetable Plants

– Tackle with Natural Insecticides

Look for any signs of pests and fungal or bacterial diseases that may be present in your plant. Neem oil and other insecticidal soaps can be applied immediately for any signs of infestations to avoid further damage to your plants so. That you can spray them around any issues, and the vegetable will recover.


Knowing that vegetable leaves that have turned yellow may not be simply because of old age but also several other factors can help gardeners be more confident in addressing these problems; so, to sum up:

  • Unhealthy soil, nutrient deficiency, stress, pest infestations, and the presence of diseases may cause the vegetable leaves to turn yellow.
  • Checking soil quality at the onset will help reduce the chance of having yellow leaves in your vegetable plants.
  • A lack of nutrients is one of the common reasons you would have yellow leaves in plants, and this can be solved by applying the appropriate fertilizer.

Growing your own vegetables can be challenging, but knowing how to treat yellowing leaves on plants can make the tasks lighter, and now you can go on and enjoy gardening and have green veggies.

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