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Causes of Yellow Leaves on Geraniums and How to Care for Them

Geraniums are a popular and beautiful plant to put in your front garden for all to see, but less so if yellow leaves on your geranium make it unsightly.

It is no wonder that this plant is very drought-tolerant and easy to care for, since it is, after all, a native of Africa. Geraniums have lovely blooms that come in clusters 4-5 inches big if cared for properly and different varieties can bloom at any time of the year.

What Causes Yellow Leaves on Geraniums?

Perhaps one of the most common problems that cause yellow leaves on geraniums is overwatering. You must remember that these plants lean more towards being drought resistant.

A couple of the signs that overwatering might be the culprit are that the yellow leaves seem to be mostly at the bottom of the plant and that a few of the leaves might have pale water spots on them.

Another common reason that can cause your geranium leaves to start turning yellow is too much cold. Geraniums thrive in the warmer climates and having a cold snap or frost can damage a geranium if not cared for.

Not enough light can also cause a yellowing of leaves if there is too much shade. However, there is a limit of the amount of light and heat a geranium can handle and, if the temperature at night is staying above seventy degrees during the summer, your geranium might start to wilt.

While geraniums are drought tolerant and are more likely to complain about too much water than too little, they still do need to be watered on occasion. Too little water can also be a cause of geranium leaves turning yellow.

If you have been growing your geranium in a small pot, or if it has been growing in the same place for a few years, the leaves might start to turn a pale-green sort of yellow. The most likely cause of this is that it is lacking in the nutrients it needs.

There are also a few different kinds of wilts and rots that can affect your plant by making the leaves on the geranium to turn yellow. These can be caused by bacteria and funguses, one of the more common ones being rust.

Rust causes the geranium leaves to turn yellow and brown and the underside of the leaves to have a powdery substance that looks like rust.

Ways to Fix and Prevent Yellow Leaves on Geraniums

A couple of the best ways to prevent your geranium leaves from turning yellow is simply to not over or under water your plant and to bring your plant inside or protect it during cold weather.

When you bring your plant inside, or if you are keeping your plant inside year round, then you need to make sure that you give it enough sun by placing it in a sunny window.

To prevent your geranium leaves from turning yellow due to too much sun and heat, shade your plant during the hottest part of the day and give the soil around the plant an extra-thick layer of mulch.

Also, remove any leaves that get infected by rust fungi and any other fungi or bacteria as quickly as you see them. This will help prevent the disease from spreading to the rest of your plant.

Fertilize your plant regularly in small amounts to help it replenish the nutrients it uses up to make its blooms. However, beware of spraying herbicides near your geranium since they are sensitive to herbicides and can die right along with the weeds.

If you think that your plant has a bacterial infection and you have tried everything else, then you might have a case of verticillium wilt. This is a nasty disease that can cause the whole plant to wilt or only seem to affect a part of it. It lives in the soil and enters the plant by its roots, resulting in yellow, red, and brown leaves on your geranium as the plant dies.

Most plants with that have been infected with verticillium wilt die, but by pruning off all the dead and dying parts, fertilizing, and building up your plant as much possible you can increase your geraniums chance of living.

Transplanting your plant and carefully rinsing all the dirt off of the roots is also an option, killing the wilt in the soil by solarization after the plant has been moved.

Other Tips for Your Geranium Plant

In order to get the maximum amount of blooms from your plant, pinch off the blossoms as soon as they start to noticeably wilt. Also, geraniums like sun in the morning much better than having sun in the evening, so try to plan for your plants to be on the east side of the house or garden.

When winter comes around it is not necessary to bring the whole pot in or to replant your geranium in a pot so you can bring it indoors, you can simply take a cutting from it to plant come spring.

Sarah Byrd


Friday 15th of November 2019

What happens during the winter with indoor geraniums? I live in a cold climate and have indoor geraniums... the leaves are turning yellow. I am wondering if that is a sign of over-wintering. My house also is slightly shady and especially during the winter, there is not a ton of light. Does this matter during the winter? Should I be concerned about the yellow leaves?