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Why Are My Rose Leaves Turning Yellow? 7 Reasons & Simple Solutions

Why are my rose leaves turning yellow? This question often troubles gardeners since yellowing leaves signify plant distress. If you’ve recently observed this change in your rose garden, with leaves turning yellow and dropping off, it’s time to give that plant your attention.

But before you can take steps to restore your garden’s vibrant beauty, it’s crucial to understand what is causing this distress. Here are some reasons your rose’s leaves are turning yellow and actionable steps to revive your rose bush.

a white rose with yellowing leaves.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

Why Are My Rose Leaves Turning Yellow?

Yellowing rose leaves can be attributed to various factors, including:

  • nutrient deficiencies like insufficient nitrogen
  • poor drainage from overwatering
  • rose plant diseases such as powdery mildew
  • pests like aphids
  • environmental stressors like extreme temperatures or inadequate sunlight
  • pH imbalances in the soil
  • improper pruning practices
  • drought stress
  • natural aging of leaves.

To address this issue effectively, it’s crucial to identify the specific cause in your garden. Regularly inspect your roses, maintain proper soil pH, provide adequate water, and follow recommended care practices to ensure your roses regain their vibrant foliage. If uncertain, seek guidance from local horticultural experts for personalized advice.

1. Improper watering

One of the main culprits of chlorosis – the scientific name for the discoloration of leaves in plants – is over-watering or under-watering.

While roses enjoy regular watering, they do not like much water around their roots, so make sure you plant them in well-draining soil. Too much water causes the roots to suffocate and renders them unable to take in sufficient nutrients, resulting in yellowing.

Similarly, a lack of water will cause insufficient oxygen and nutrients to reach your plant, making the rose leaves turn yellow.

If your roses are planted in pots or containers, they have likely outgrown the pot, which means there is even less room for the necessary moisture. Or, the pots are heating up quickly, drying out your plants even faster.

Also, no drainage at the bottom of the pots or containers can cause root rot due to too much moisture in the soil.

Either or a combination of these reasons is enough to turn the leaves of the roses yellow in a very short time.

Solution

XLUX T10 Soil Moisture Sensor Meter - Soil Water Monitor, Hydrometer for Gardening, Farming, No Batteries Required

Learn how much water your plant needs. If you still have the care card that came with your plant, read it. If not, the water needs of your rose plants will be primarily determined by the soil condition and climatic zone you are in; ideally, you want to water roses twice a week during the summer.

A simpler method would be to water deeply but infrequently (the recommended depth is anywhere between 8 to 12 inches).

To avoid over-watering, you can either use a moisture meter or keep an eye on it until your rose starts to drop a little before the next watering. And if you struggle with under watering, adding mulch around your plants will significantly help with moisture retention.

To ensure proper irrigation, use a soaker hose or a drip irrigation system: they deliver water straight to the roots. For potted rose plants, we recommend using self-watering pots. These are great as your plants will never run out of water, even when away on vacation.

If you notice that your rose is still yellowing despite all efforts to water it properly, there is a high chance that your soil is not draining as it should. If so, move your plants to another part of the garden, add organic matter to the soil, or move your roses to raised beds.

2. Not enough sunlight

As you know, one of the crucial requirements for photosynthesis is sunlight, and lack of it can cause the plant to weaken and cause leaves to turn yellow.

Your rose could be yellowing because it is not getting enough sunlight, either because it is in a poorly lit location or because it’s surrounded by taller vegetation that shades its leaves.

Solution

For roses to thrive, ensure they get at least 6 hours of direct sunlight per day. If needed, transplant your rose bushes to a sunnier location or prune nearby overhanging branches that might be blocking sunlight.

3. Soil deficiencies

Another possible reason rose leaves turn yellow is a lack of essential nutrients in the soil, such as nitrogen, magnesium, and iron. Lack of these essential nutrients needed for leaf development will result in the leaves turning yellow.

Solution

Luster Leaf 1602 Soil Kit, 20 Tests

The solution here is simple – proper soil fertilization. Get your soil tested to know which nutrients are lacking. Then, purchase and apply a balanced, slow-release fertilizer specifically formulated for roses.

Remember that nitrogen is the most crucial nutrient in promoting healthy leaf growth, so you always want to monitor its levels. A soil test kit will help you know what your soil is deficient in.

4. Imbalance  of soil pH

Roses thrive in slightly acidic soil (pH 6-6.5), so if your soil is too alkaline ( beyond 7), your answer lies in why the leaves are yellowing. When the soil has high alkalinity, it prevents the rose from absorbing enough nutrients, hence the chlorosis.

Solution

[Upgraded] Soil Moisture Meter, 4-in-1 Soil pH Tester, Soil Moisture/Light/Nutrients/pH Meter for Gardening, Lawn, Farming, Indoor & Outdoor Plants Use, No Batteries Required

Test and adjust soil pH to prevent leaf discoloration; get your soil tested for soil pH and amend it if necessary. Incorporate organic matter or lime to achieve the ideal pH range.

5. Pests and diseases

green aphids on rose leaves.
Image credit: YAY Images.

Like all other plants, roses are affected by insects like aphids, thrips, and spider mites, as well as diseases such as black spots, rose mosaic virus, and powdery mildew. All of which can cause their leaves to turn yellow and drop.

Solution

Battling pests and diseases can be overwhelming. That’s why you must regularly inspect leaves for early signs of pests or diseases. If you catch these early, you have a higher chance of saving your plant.

That said, start by discarding any affected leaves around the plant. Next, treat your roses with a suitable insecticidal soap or fungicide as needed, and lastly, replace the mulch with a fresh batch to avoid the spread of pests and disease.

6. Dormancy

Sometimes, it’s just that time of the year when roses need to take a break because of the change of seasons. Dormancy is a normal and necessary stage of a plant’s life cycle. This happens during winter when most plants take a break from growing and blooming.

Solution

Give the plant time if the yellowing started during or at the start of winter. In the spring, it will grow back and start to bloom again.

7. Too much (or the wrong) fertilizer

In the excitement of wanting our flowers to grow so fast or trying to cure them from nutrient deficiency, sometimes we give them too much (or the wrong) fertilizer, causing more harm.

Solution

Espoma Organic Rose-Tone 4-3-2 Organic Fertilizer for All Types of Roses and Other Flowering Plants. Promotes Vigorous Green Growth and Abundant Blooms. 4 lb. Bag - Pack of 2

The best solution is to buy a fertilizer specifically formulated for roses.

Of course, you can also learn from a professional what nutrients your roses need to improve and how much of it. Again, a soil test can greatly help since it will show you all the nutrients needed and in what quantities.

Another way to avoid over-fertilizing is to follow the instructions on the packaging label.

Other Preventative Measures For Yellowing Rose Leaves

orange roses.
Image credit: Depositphotos.

Tending to roses isn’t just about addressing problems as they arise but also taking additional preventative measures far beyond the immediate remedies we’ve discussed.

Here are some of those preventive measures you can take to keep your roses healthy and producing beautiful blooms:

  • Apply a layer of organic mulch around the base of your roses to help regulate soil temperature, retain moisture, and suppress weeds.
  • Inspect the roots for any signs of damage, root rot, or other abnormalities and address any issues promptly.
  • Protect your roses during extreme weather conditions by sheltering or covering them.
  • Make it a habit to monitor your rose plants as regularly as possible. You want to observe changes in leaf color, texture, and overall plant health.
  • The right way to water your rose is at the base, not overhead. This helps to minimize humidity.

Seeing yellow rose leaves is no doubt a cause for concern. However, once you understand the underlying causes and implement the remedies we’ve suggested here, it is possible to revive your once-flourishing roses. Also, adopting the preventative measures listed above will go a long way in maintaining a healthy rose bush.

Love Roses? Learn More From These Guides

pink roses draped over a curvy iron fence.
Image credit: Depositphotos.
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Adriana Copaceanu is a passionate nature lover living in the country on her dream property where she grows vegetables, lavender, and wildflowers that she shares with the wildlife they attract. When she's not in the garden, she loves spending time with her chickens and planning her next nature project. Check out her books below:

How to Grow Lavender for Fun and Profit: Lessons Learned from Planting Three Hundred Lavender Plants

How to Raise Chickens for Eggs: A Guide to Raising Happy, Healthy Chickens for Nutritious, Organic Eggs at Home

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