Just as a street sign or traffic light signal alerts you to heed with caution, cues can present themselves in your landscaping too. Universal warning signs or labels are often colored bright yellow in order to catch your eye, and nature is no different. If you’re finding that plants and greenery on your property are turning yellow, (also known as chlorosis,) it could be mother nature’s notification that something is off balance.

Thirsty or Waterlogged?

The most common stressors for a plant are water related – either too much or too little. Starve the plant of moisture it will drain the green out of its now crunchy, curled limbs. Drown the roots by over-saturating and the leaves will become yellow and limp while the plant struggles to deliver vital nutrients. Check your property for drainage issues; are certain areas flooding or pooling? Inspect your sprinklers and irrigation; any leaks or blockages preventing adequate hydration? Many native plants in our area are drought-tolerant and won’t require additional watering during these spring shower months but be sure to adjust once summer’s warm weather arrives.

Lighting & Temperature

Photosynthesis – in simple terms, it’s the process by which plants utilize sunlight to generate food. Without enough access to sun, many species of plants will starve. Consider giving your indoor plants a happy hour every week under the sun, or transplant outdoor greenery to areas not sun-blocked by structures and trees.  Re-positioning may also help with temperature problems, as both freezing and blistering degrees can affect your plant’s “homeostasis”. Avoid placements near heaters or air conditioners and be aware of weather changes for outside plants.

Soil Conditions

Its early spring here in Santa Cruz and many rain showers have already come and went, impacting the ground beneath us. Environment is crucial for a plant’s survival, but more specifically, its intimate soil habitat. Too much rain can lead to nutrient loss due to water runoff and leaching. Bright yellow plants are a key indication of nutritional deficiency. Fertilize with products that contain potassium, nitrogen, phosphorus, calcium, sulfur and magnesium, just 6 of the 13 essential minerals craved by plants. Conduct a soil test to determine which nutrients are missing out of our plant diet.

Disease & Pests

Keeping plants healthy and happy also requires protecting them from predators and disease. If you know sunlight, temperature, nutrients or ample water aren’t the issue, it could be a harmful new tenant. In addition to yellowing, check the leaves for tiny holes where insects may have indulged. If no hungry pests are present, it could be a fungus or disease. Be sure to manage the soil appropriately to avoid creating fungus-loving moisture or try a DIY organic pesticide if insects are eating away at your plants.

Plants crave balance, so when the equilibrium sways too far in either direction, watch for the hints that nature will provide to let you know something is awry. Green means go, yellow means slow!