Yellowing rose leaves are usually attributed to improper plant care and environmental factors such as searing heat or torrential rain storms. In this article, I’ll look at 10 of the most common reasons for yellowing rose leaves and how to fix them.
10 Common Reasons for Yellowing Rose Leaves
The most common cause of rose leaves turning yellow is overwatering. Roses like moist, well-draining soils but hate being waterlogged. Overwatering usually occurs if the soil doesn’t provide enough drainage and can lead to severe problems like root rot.
Drooping or yellowing leaves are a common symptom of overwatering. Overwatering is more common if your rose is growing in dense clay soils. Improve the soil drainage by mixing in some fine grit, perlite, or sand. Then let your rose dry out a bit more before watering it again.
Underwatering is another common reason why roses develop yellowing leaves. Roses need consistently moist soils and will struggle if they dry out. Underwatering is a big concern during hot, dry summers and periods of drought.
Roses that are suffering from underwatering will have wilting or yellowing leaves. The soil around the base of the rose may also be dry and cracked. To improve water retention for loose, sandy soils, mix some organic matter into the soil. During hot, dry summers water your roses every three or four days during hot, dry summers.
3) Not Enough Sunlight
Roses may also develop yellow leaves if they don’t get enough sunlight. Roses need approximately six hours of full sun daily, preferably in the morning. Without plenty of sunlight, roses will struggle to produce beautiful flowers or healthy growth.
Roses that aren’t getting enough sunlight typically have weak, floppy, or leggy stems. Affected roses will also have stunted growth. Some roses may not produce flowers if they don’t get enough sunlight. Plant your roses in a sheltered spot with plenty of full sun in the morning. Climbing roses and thornless climbers can often have particular challenges if large sections are shaded throughout the day.
4) Incorrect Temperature
Most roses are reasonably hardy and can grow in USDA Hardiness Zones 4 to 11. However, some roses don’t cope well with heat. Some roses may develop yellow leaves in hot or dry conditions in Zones 9 to 11.
Rose plants that are getting overheated may develop yellow leaves that start to wilt. In hot climates, plant your roses in a sheltered spot that receives shade in the afternoon. You can also apply a layer of mulch to help your rose conserve water in hot conditions.
5) Lack of Nutrients
Roses can also suffer from yellowing leaves if they aren’t getting enough nutrients. Roses need rich soils that provide plenty of nitrogen and phosphorus. Without sufficient nutrients, roses will produce weak or stunted growth and yellow leaves.
Enrich loose, sandy soils by mixing in plenty of compost and organic matter. Loam and clay-based soils provide plenty of nutrients. However, clay soils will need to be mixed with grit, sand, or perlite to improve drainage. Fertilize your roses once leaves emerge and then after each round of blooms finishes.
6) Too Much Fertilizer
While fertilizing your roses regularly helps them produce lots of flowers, over-fertilizing them can cause problems. Fertilizers contain strong ingredients, especially synthetic fertilizers. If these chemicals and salts build up too much in the soil, your rose’s leaves may get burned and turn yellow.
Always water your rose before you apply a dose of fertilizer. Always dilute liquid fertilizers according to the packet instructions. Most roses should only be fertilized a couple of times a year. Repeat-blooming roses need a dose of fertilizer after each round of flowers finishes.
7) Incorrect Soil pH
Roses can also suffer from yellow leaves if the soil conditions aren’t quite right. Roses like neutral to slightly acidic soils with pH levels between 6.0 and 7.0. Soils that are too acidic or too alkaline aren’t suitable for roses and may cause the leaves to turn yellow.
Use a soil testing kit to determine whether the pH levels of your soil are suitable for roses. If the soil pH isn’t quite right, you can adjust it. Mix in some sulfur or ericaceous compost to make the soil more acidic. To make the soil more alkaline, mix in some lime.
8) Diseases or Fungal Infections
Roses are vulnerable to several diseases that can turn the leaves yellow. Fungal infections like black spot and rose mosaic virus are some of the most common culprits. Some diseases aren’t strong enough to kill your roses, while others can be fatal.
Prevent diseases by giving your roses plenty of space away from other plants. This improves air circulation and reduces the risk of disease transmission. Water your rose at the base rather than above, as splashing water on the leaves can lead to fungal infections.
9) Pest Infestations
Roses can also fall prey to numerous pests, such as aphids and spider mites. If your rose is suffering from a pest infestation, yellow leaves can be one of the main symptoms. Other symptoms include drooping leaves and visible concentrations of insects.
Eliminate pests using insecticidal soap or horticultural oils like neem oil. You can also dislodge aphids and insects using quick hose blasts. Strong, healthy roses should be able to weather minor pest infestations as long as you provide the right growing conditions.
10) Seasonal Conditions
Seasonal factors can also cause your roses to develop yellow leaves. Roses are deciduous perennials that lose their leaves during the fall and winter. As such, rose leaves can start to turn yellow in the fall just before dropping off.
It may be a seasonal thing if you can’t see any symptoms of other common causes of rose leaves turning yellow. However, if your rose’s leaves turn yellow during spring or summer, it could be due to other problems.
Yellow Leaves on Roses FAQs:
What Causes Rose Leaves to Turn Yellow?
Rose leaves can turn yellow for several reasons. The most common causes are overwatering or underwatering. However, rose leaves can also turn yellow due to nutrient deficiency, incorrect pH levels, or diseases and pests.
How Do You Fix Yellow Leaves On Roses?
If overwatering is turning your rose’s leaves yellow, improve the soil drainage and let the plant dry out a bit. If underwatering is turning the leaves yellow, water your rose more frequently. Prevent rose leaves from turning yellow by providing the right conditions.
What Does An Overwatered Rose Look Like?
Roses that are suffering from overwatering typically have drooping, yellowing leaves. The soil will also be waterlogged for several days. Overwatering is usually caused by poor soil drainage.
Why Are My Rose Bush Leaves Turning Yellow With Black Spots?
Roses that have yellowing leaves with black spots are likely suffering from black spots. This fungal disease thrives in moist, cool conditions. Prevent black spot by providing good air circulation and ideal growing conditions.
Should I Cut Yellow Leaves Off Roses?
If your rose has some yellow leaves, they won’t turn green again. Remove any yellow leaves, especially if your rose suffers from a disease.
Yellowing Rose Leaves – Wrapping Up
Roses have attractive leaves that can turn yellow for a variety of reasons. Common causes of rose leaves turning yellow include overwatering, underwatering, a lack of sunlight or nutrients, and over-fertilizing. Many of these problems can be prevented by giving roses the best possible conditions and care.
For more, see our in-depth guide to drying and preserving roses, how to press roses, whether roses will bloom indoors, amazing uses and benefits of roses, the best types of species roses, the best types of edible roses, and how to make fresh roses last longer in a vase.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.