Bamboo is a popular tropical grass grown for many different uses. There are more than 1000 varieties which all have slightly different requirements for optimum health and growth. In this article, we will be looking at the main answers to “why is my bamboo turning yellow?”
What You'll Learn Today
- Why are the Tips of My Bamboo Turning Yellow?
- How Do You Save Yellowing Bamboo?
- How to Revive Bamboo Leaves Turning Yellow?
- Can Bamboo Turn From Yellow to Green Again?
Why are the Tips of My Bamboo Turning Yellow?
One of the best things about bamboo is that it’s evergreen. But just like deciduous plants, evergreen plants still lose their leaves; they just don’t do it all at the same time.
Leaf replacement is just a natural process for bamboo and continues throughout the year, although most leaves are shed in the spring.
Don’t worry if some of your bamboo leaves become yellow, as this is probably just normal leaf loss. If, however, a lot of your plant is going yellow, this is not so normal, and it might be time to start looking for a cause.
There is a wide variety of reasons why your bamboo leaves might be turning yellow, it could be due to:
- Poor soil
- Low level of nutrient availability
- Lack of water
- Too much water
- Plant stress
- Poor drainage
- Dry soil
Because bamboo often grows in warm climates, people naturally assume it is drought tolerant. This is actually not the case, and bamboo needs lots of water with good drainage.
If you live in an arid area, and you don’t want to be watering your bamboo by hand every day, you’ll need to set up a basic irrigation system to take care of it for you.
This doesn’t mean you can just forget about it altogether, as it will require checking and maintenance from time to time to ensure the plants are getting all the water they need.
Bamboo spreads out wider each year, so check if the irrigation system you use can accommodate this.
The soil should be nutrient-rich, acidic, and loamy. This can be improved by allowing the old bamboo leaf litter to accumulate and rot down, adding to soil humus. Additional organic compost can also be added. This will help retain more water in the soil.
One of the advantages of adding compost over a plant feed is that the nutrients are released gradually over time. It can also help refine heavy clay soil, making it drain more efficiently for your bamboo.
Plant stress can be caused by too much wind, heat, pollution, salt air, etc. Think carefully about where you will grow your bamboo and keep it in a location that fits its needs best.
How Do You Save Yellowing Bamboo?
If your bamboo is turning yellow, there are a few things you need to check:
- Cause = Is it getting enough or too much? Try to use unchlorinated water as bamboo is sensitive to chemicals.
- Remedy = Adjust water level and type accordingly.
In this video, you will see why water is so necessary for healthy bamboo:
- Cause = Is the location of your plant someplace where the temperature stays pretty even throughout the day? This is particularly important for indoor “lucky” bamboo.
- Remedy = Move your bamboo to a better location with an equal temperature balance.
- Cause = Bamboo prefers organic compost type fertilizers instead of chemical ones that can be too strong and cause excessive leaf yellowing or burning.
- Remedy = Don’t use chemical fertilizers.
- Cause = If the soil is too alkaline or easily waterlogged, this can affect your bamboo.
- Remedy = Balance the pH of your soil by adding naturally acidic fertilizers or simply by sprinkling some coffee grounds around the base of the plant, as these are naturally acidic.
How to Revive Bamboo Leaves Turning Yellow?
It is perfectly normal for your bamboo to renew its leaves, and as part of this process, they will turn yellow before dropping off. If you’ve noticed your bamboo has more yellow leaves and culms than usual, you may need to look into the possible reasons why this is occurring.
As old leaves need replacing, the plant cuts off the nutrient supply to them. The leaves then go yellow before dropping off. You won’t always notice this process as usually most of the plant is still green.
During the spring, more leaves will be shed as the bamboo starts to grow again. Some varieties shed a far higher number of leaves all at once. Although this can be alarming, it may be entirely normal for the plant, so check what is natural for your variety.
If the leaves fall off and no new green ones follow, then you’ve probably got a problem. Another sign may be if the tips of the leaves turn brown. This generally indicates one of two things – lack of water or damage from wind.
It can be easy to make a simple mistake too. Some bamboo species start with culms that are green but become yellow over time as they mature.
Young shoots may also yellow and die if exposed to a hard frost or a significant temperature drop.
If you think there is definitely something wrong with your plant, then it could be due to something else. Let’s see why your bamboo is turning yellow.
New Bamboo Leaves Are Yellow
If the newer leaves on your plant are yellow, it could indicate that your soil is too alkaline and that the plant has insufficient iron.
Bamboo prefers slightly acidic soil, and you can test this with a soil pH testing kit. Simply test the ground at the base of your plant.
To remedy alkaline soil, you can add ericaceous compost you make yourself using coffee grounds. Simply mix them in with a little of the existing soil.
You could also add a small quantity of fertilizer with chelated iron. Be careful not to add too much, however, as Bamboo hates being over-fertilized.
Or you may find adding a little organic sulfur to the soil will help. This can be found online or at your garden store.
Old Bamboo Leaves Are Turning Yellow
If the older leaves are yellowing and it isn’t due to the natural leaf renewal process, then adding nitrogen might be necessary.
A straightforward way of doing this is by using gelatine. A couple of packets of gelatine dissolved in two cups of water, with a further 4 cups of water added then poured around your bamboo, will likely do the trick!
You could choose to use a commercial fertilizer, but be aware that they can be pretty intense and are not always well tolerated by bamboo.
Yellow Bamboo leaves with Brown Tips
Bamboo requires a lot of water, and brown tips on yellow leaves are good indicators that your plants are thirsty.
If watering by hand is too time-consuming or difficult, install a simple irrigation system to take the strain.
Add extra plant matter such as grass clippings to the base of the plants to help retain additional moisture.
Yellow Spotted Bamboo Leaves
It could be that rather than your bamboo being deficient in something, that a mite infestation is actually attacking it.
Mites can be difficult to detect as they are so tiny, but one telltale sign is the spotting of leaves.
To get rid of mites, you can spray on a mixture of water and insecticidal soap. Alternatively, use neem oil diluted in hot water with a few drops of dish soap. Once cold, spray it on the plants.
Yellow Culms and Leaves on Your Bamboo
Although underwatering is more common, your bamboo can also become sick due to overwatering. Sometimes heavy clay soils can keep the roots of the plant too moist.
To address this, you need to apply plenty of organic compost to open up the soil to drain better. The added bonus is, it will also feed your bamboo.
Other Reasons for Yellow Bamboo
There are more reasons your bamboo might not be happy. These include:
- Too much wind
- Too many chemicals
- Not enough sun
- Too much sun
These are all remedied by finding the right location for your bamboo. But if your planting places are limited, look for bamboo species best suited to the environment in which you will be planting them.
Lucky Bamboo Going Yellow
Lucky bamboo doesn’t like too much sunlight or chlorinated water. For best results, place it in a location that receives plenty of light, but not direct sun. Water only with filtered water.
Artificial lights are also acceptable for lucky bamboo, and it is better not to water the shoots but just around the base of the plant.
Can Bamboo Turn From Yellow to Green Again?
Once bamboo has turned yellow, you cannot turn it green again. Only new growth that replaces the old will be green. Simply remove the yellow leaves, or stalk.
With lucky bamboo, you can use a yellow stalk to propagate new ones, providing it still has some green parts.
As with any plant, bamboo needs the right conditions to grow at its best. Overall, it is a very hardy plant and often thrives under a wide variety of circumstances.
The main issues experienced with bamboo are usually down to water, nutrients, and location. Get those things right, and you’ll probably be very successful at growing vigorous, healthy plants. Good luck!
There are more articles about bamboo available on our site. Here is our guide on how to start a bamboo farm.