Justin White, Landscaping Lesson | Why are plants turning yellow? – Santa Cruz Sentinel
Just as a road sign or traffic light warns you with caution, hints can also appear in your landscaping. Universal warning signs or labels are often colored light yellow to get your attention, and nature is no different. If you notice that plants and green spaces on your property are turning yellow (also known as chlorosis), it could be Mother Nature’s notification that something is out of whack.
Thirsty or Drenched?
The most common stress factors for a plant are water-related – either too much or too little. Starve the plant of moisture to allow the greens to drain off the now crispy, curled limbs. Over-saturation will drown the roots and the leaves will turn yellow and limp while the plant struggles to provide vital nutrients. To the untrained eye, these warning signs may seem very similar, surprising enough that most gardeners tend to douse their plants compared to underwater. Check your property for drainage problems; Do certain areas flood or bundle? Check your sprinklers and irrigation; Leaks or clogs preventing adequate hydration? Many native plants in our area are drought tolerant and do not require additional watering during these spring shower months. However, adjust them as soon as the warm summer weather arrives.
Lighting and temperature
Photosynthesis – in simple terms, it’s the process by which plants use sunlight to produce food. Many plant species starve to death without adequate access to the sun. Give your houseplants a happy hour under the sun every week, or plant outdoor green spaces in areas that aren’t sun-blocked by structures and trees. Repositioning can also help with temperature problems, as both freezing and blistering levels can affect the “homeostasis” of your plant. Avoid placement near heaters or air conditioning systems and watch out for changes in the weather in outdoor systems.
It is spring here in Santa Cruz and many showers have come and gone and hit the ground below us. The environment is crucial for a plant’s survival, but especially for its intimate soil habitat. Too much rain can lead to nutrient loss due to runoff and leaching. Bright yellow plants are an important indicator of a lack of nutrients. Fertilize only six of the 13 essential minerals that plants crave with products containing potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur, and magnesium. Do a soil test to see what nutrients are missing from our plant foods.
Disease and pests
To keep plants healthy and happy, they must also be protected from predators and diseases. Knowing that sunlight, temperature, nutrients, or plenty of water aren’t the problem, this could be a harmful new tenant. In addition to checking the leaves for yellowing, check for tiny holes that insects may have pampered themselves in. If there are no hungry pests, it may be a fungus or a disease. Be sure to manage the soil appropriately to avoid creating fungus-loving moisture, or try a homemade organic pesticide if insects eat your plants.
Plants long for balance. So if the balance sways too far in either direction, pay attention to the clues nature will give to let you know something is wrong. Green means going, yellow means slow!
Justin White is the CEO of K&D Landscaping, headquartered in Watsonville, California, and was named Business of the Year 2020 by the Pajaro Valley Chamber of Commerce. White is also the current president of the local chapter of the California Landscape Contractors Association (CLCA) on the central coast. He is involved in several non-profit organizations across the community. For more information on landscaping, outdoor and gardening requirements, contact K&D Landscaping at kndlandscaping.com.