How to Fix Geranium Leaves Turning Yellow?

Image represents the yellow leaves of Geraniums
Wrong care can make Geraniums to turn their leaves yellow.

Geraniums are top-quality plants for florists with colorful and fragrant blooms, but the beauty is incomplete without their attractive and green plate-like leaves.

Even the slightest blemish on the leaves can topple the allure of Geraniums, and if you notice leaves turning yellow, then beware, the plant is seeking help!

Generally, Geranium leaves turning yellow has many causes, including overwatering, under-watering, insufficient nutrients, and root rots. To overcome these problems, provide the plant with adequate fertilizer, control the watering, or change the potting mix.

Image represents the healthy leaves of Geranium
Geranium form healthy and green leaves with the right care.

My mother always scolded me whenever Geraniums at home began receiving yellow leaves,which became an important lesson in my gardening journey. 

If you have a shortage of time to see your Geraniums, your plant is prone to get yellow leaves. So, here is the future guide for you!

Is it Normal for Geranium Leaves to Turn Yellow?

Yellow leaves in your Geraniums are a disappointment to see.

However, it is normal to witness yellow leaves on Geranium if the leaves are at the end of their lifecycle.

Also, you need not wail if you see yellow leaves due to getting improper watering and nutritional care. Once they receive optimum care, they return to their green shade.

Image represents an old Geranium plant turning its leaves yellow
Geraniums turn their leaves yellow and drop them at the end of their lifecycle.

Before losing the leaves, their color fades to yellow, and the leaf lamina turns brown and crisp.

This is the time when you have to give up on the leaves and just wait for them to grow again.

What Causes The Geranium Leaves to Turn Yellow?

Yellow leaves on your Geraniums are because of less care. I have highlighted a few causes along with their possible remedy for the yellow leaves in Geraniums.

1. Improper Watering

An incorrect watering schedule can be a possible culprit behind the yellowing of the leaves in your Geraniums.

Giving them more water can also lead to a number of secondary symptoms, such as root rot and fungal infections.

But, under-watering can make the margins of the leaves turn yellow.

Image represents underwatered leaf of Geranium
Underwatering can cause the margins of the leaves to turn yellow.

By looking at these symptoms, you can learn whether the plant needs water or has had enough of it.

Overwatering the plants makes the roots unable to breathe and devoid of oxygen. Without oxygen, the plant roots cannot deliver the necessary nutrients.

Underwatering has a similar effect. Plants cannot take up necessary nutrients to the upper parts without water.

Immediate Steps of Revival

If the overwatering symptom is evident, follow these steps to revive the leaves.

  • Immediately stop watering the plant.
  • Change the soil or potting mix and repot the plant in a new terracotta container with extra drainage holes.
  • Add components like sand or perlite that can increase the drainage of the soil.
  • Alternatively, you can also add some pebbles at the container’s bottom to increase the drainage.

If you observe the under-watering symptoms, follow these steps to save your Geranium leaves.

  • Use a finger dip test to check the moisture of the soil. Dip a finger in the soil and only water if the top one inch of the soil is dry.
  • Water thoroughly around the root zone of the plant.
  • Make sure that the soil is evenly moist.

Attention! While you water the plant, be careful not to wet the lower leaves. This help prevent the chances of fungal infection.

2. Improper Lighting

Geraniums need a full blast of delicate morning sunlight.

Hence, without light, the plant is unable to prepare its food and cannot maintain its leaves to remain green.

Similarly, the plant will dehydrate faster with too much sunlight, like the afternoon sun, causing the leaves to lose water and turn yellow rapidly.

Although Geraniums can survive a little heat wave, it is weak against the scorching sun.

However, you can revive your plant by managing its placement and controlling the amount of sunlight.

Immediate Steps of Revival

Follow these steps to regress the yellowing of Geranium leaves.

  • If you are growing Geranium indoors, then place the plant in an east-facing window in the morning.
  • While growing Geraniums outside in the garden soil, place a shade over the plant once the clock hits afternoon.
Image represents Geraniums growing in grow lights
Geranium can be grown indoors under grow lights in winter.
  • Maintain ventilation around the plant so that there is proper airflow.
  • You can grow Geraniums under grow lights for 10 to 12 hours if you keep them indoors in winter.

3. Fertilization Issues

Geraniums need fertilizer to maintain their growth and receive additional nutrients they cannot get from the soil alone.

So, over or under-fertilization can mistreat with nutrients, making the plant’s leaves turn yellow.

Besides, deficiency of different nutrients can also change the leaf’s color.

To know what nutrient deficiency is troubling your Geraniums, check these symptoms.

Nutrient deficiencyEffect on the leaves
NitrogenLower leaves turn yellow, followed by brown tips of the leaves that spread to the entire lamina
ZincLeaves turn yellow but later, the color fades to purple
MagnesiumLeaf margins of older leaves and veins turn yellow
SulfurNew leaves turn entirely yellow
IronVeins of the young leaves turn yellow

Overfertilization can cause an overload of nutrients, and the plant suffers from fertilizer burn.

You can notice the tips of the leaves turn brown, and the entire leaves turn yellow during fertilizer burn.

Image represents the leaf-tip burn due to overfertilization in Geraniums
Leaf tips become brown in Geraniums due to overfertilization.

However, if you find salt deposition on the soil’s surface, you can learn that the plant is overfed.

Fortunately, these symptoms can also be managed if you correctly feed your plant.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Use Epsom salts to take care of magnesium deficiency. You can directly spray on the leaves or dilute them and add them to the soil.
  • Give slow-releasing fertilizer pellets or use balanced liquid fertilizer if it is a growing season and the plant has passed one month to feed on.
  • If too many fertilizer salts are in the soil, flush it with distilled water at least five times so that all the nutrients leach out.
  • If there is too much salt, you can change the soil.
  • Fertilize the plant in small amounts until it regains the healthy green leaves. After that, you can fertilize in regular dosage.

Pro Tip! You can invest in the soil testing kit to test if the soil lacks nutrients. The kit allows testing the Electrical Conductivity (EC), which should be between 1 and 2 for nutrient-adequate soil.

4. Temperature Stress

Geraniums are drought-tolerant plants and can handle a little hot weather.

It cannot handle the cold snaps or sudden decline in the surrounding temperature.

Geraniums are heliophiles, but they cannot thrive in the cold. During the winter, they lose all their leaves, and what remains behind is a single stem.

Besides, the stem can sprout back to form jolly green leaves in mid-spring.

When the weather is cold and wet from winter to early spring for extended periods of time, Geraniums respond by turning their leaves yellow.

If the temperature in the surroundings drops below zero, water inside the leaves freezes, making the plant unable to prepare food.

No need to worry! If the symptoms are due to a change in temperature, you can easily control it by maintaining the right temperature for Geraniums.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • For Geraniums growing outdoors, stay updated with the weather forecast in early spring.
  • Use frost blankets or shade to cover your Geraniums at night during winter. Insulation can also help provide the proper heat to the plant.
Image represents Geraniums growing under shade
Grow Geraniums under a shade outdoors to protect them from cold.
  • Check the outdoor temperature using a thermometer. If it drops below 10°C, immediately bring the plant inside.
  • If you are growing Geraniums beside a radiator or cooler, take the potted plant and keep it in a warmer place indoors.
  • Sometimes, overwatering the soil can cause the excess vapor to evaporate and heat up the plant, strengthening the leaves.

5. Improper Soil

Improper soil is one of the most common causes of yellow leaves in Geraniums.

Normally, the depletion of nutrients in the soil or an unsuitable mixture of the soil components can severely affect the leaves.

Hence, you have to make sure whether the problem is the soil or the nutrients lacking in the soil.

Soil may lack several things like water or nutrients that may cause the leaves to turn yellow.

Furthermore, if the soil is infected with pests or diseases, it may cause the root to rot, making the plant unable to take enough water to the leaves.

Image represents root rot in Geraniums
Poor soil may cause root rot in Geraniums.

But, if you take immediate action, you can easily take care of the plant and prevent the leaves from turning yellow.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Amend the soil with adequate nutrients promptly if the yellow leaves are due to mineral deficiency.
  • If the soil is overwatered and soggy, change it by adding more drainage components.
  • Keep the plant in a sunny place until the soil’s moisture level is limited.
  • A foul smell from the soil may indicate the growth of molds. So, either apply fungicides or change the soil depending on the severity.
  • Check the dryness of the soil, and change the watering schedule to more frequent if the yellow leaves are due to under-watering.

6. Pest Infestation 

Pests affect the Geranium leaves by sucking out the sap, causing them to dehydrate.

Generally, sawflies, white, green, and sciarid flies love to make lunch out of your Geraniums.

Image represents pests damaging the leaves of Geraniums
Pests damage the leaves of Geraniums.

Even if they directly don’t affect the leaves, they are the indirect cause of the yellow leaves.

Look at the table to learn about these pests and how they turn the leaves yellow.

PestsHow they harm the leaves?
SawfliesGrayish-green colored larvae eat lamina of the leaves turning them yellow
White fliesAdult flies suck the sap from the leaves, making them to lose color
Green fliesAdult flies suck out the sap from the leaves turning them distorted at first and then the yellowing starts
Sciarid fliesLarvae of these black flies attack the roots and indirectly damage the leaves

Immediate Steps of Revival

Once you notice these nasty pests on your Geranium, immediately follow these steps to revive the yellow leaves.

  • Hand-pick the larvae of sawflies. If you lack the nerves to do so, use Q-tips dipped in isopropyl alcohol to remove them.
  • If the infestation of pests is very active, spray the plant leaves with Neem oil twice a week.
  • Deter the fliers with Pyrethrin-based insecticides. Apply them to the leaves twice a week under serious infestations only.

7. Attack of Diseases

Geranium is susceptible to diseases, affecting the plant’s leaves to turn them yellow.

Most of the horticultural diseases that affect the leaves in Geraniums are fungal or bacterial in origin.

Image represents the leaf rust in Geraniums
Leaf rust in Geranium is caused by a fungal pathogen.

Thus, you can prevent the diseases if the soil is dry, preventing the conditions of overwatering.

But, before, you need to understand the cause of these diseases and the effect they show on the leaves. Take a look at the table below.

DiseasesEffect on the Leaves
Botrytis BlightYellowing of the leaves with black or brown spots on the surface
Bacterial Leaf SpotYellow spots on the surface of the leaves that later form water-soaked lesions
Geranium RustLeaves become initially yellow and then brown spots develop on the lamina
Southern Bacterial WiltLeaves present at the bottom of the plant turn yellow and wilt

Immediate Steps of Revival

Once there is an incidence of diseases, it becomes very difficult to save the plant, let alone the yellowing of the leaves.

However, you can follow these steps to stop the progression of diseases.

  • Increase the gaps between the plants to maintain air circulation.
  • Isolate the most affected plant from the rest of the group to prevent the spread of infection.
  • Remove the damaged leaves using sterilized pruners.
  • Use tree bark or mulch cover on the soil surface to prevent the splashing of fungal spores during the watering sessions.
  • Combat the fungal infection using copper-based fungicides and Clorox.

Should I Cut off Geranium Yellow Leaves?

Usually, it is a good idea to remove the yellow leaves of the Geraniums to encourage the plant to grow new leaves.

If the yellow leaves are the carrier of diseases, removing them also helps prevent the spread of diseases to nearby plants.

Image represents removing the yellow and diseased leaves of Geraniums
Remove the diseased and yellow leaves of Geraniums to prevent the spread of diseases.

You can also cut the yellow leaves if the entire lamina becomes yellow, not before.

The plant may drop its yellow leaves naturally. But, if the yellow leaves stay on the plant, remove them in early spring before the new growth starts.

Follow these steps to remove the leaves.

  • Grab sterilized the pruners, and wear gloves for protection.
  • Select the yellow leaves on your plant.
  • Using pruners, cut at the base, where the petiole joins the main stem.
  • Cut out all the damaged or yellow leaves from the plant. Be careful not to remove the healthy leaves in this process.

How to Prevent Yellow Leaves on Geraniums?

Here are some proven tips you can do to prevent the yellowing leaves in your Geraniums.

  • Maintain the surrounding temperature between 7 and 20°C.
  • Water 1 to 2 times per week when the top 1 inch of the soil is dry to touch.
  • Use the balanced fertilizer with an NPK ratio of 20-20-20 during the growing seasons.
  • Place the Geranium plant in an area that receives at least 4 to 6 hours of daily morning light.
Image represents keeping Geranium plant under morning sunlight
Geranium requires daily morning sunlight for leaf growth.
  • Repot your plant during spring after it awakens from dormancy.
  • Always use well-draining soil with optimum pH between 6 and 6.5.
  • Prune the infected parts once a year or if there is a high disease incidence.
  • Sustain the humidity levels of around 80% while keeping them indoors or outdoors.

Conclusion

Geraniums are robust plants to combat drought, but they can not resist producing yellow leaves if the care schedule goes wrong. 

Yellow leaves have multiple causes, which I have already explained with their fixes.

It is not late if you do the right thing at the right time!

Tired of having ill plants at your home? Learn about treating overwatered pothos and yellow leaves of Calathea.

Happy Gardening!

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