The Q&A Archives: What Should I Do With My Mandevilla

Question: I bought this beautiful plant last year. It did really well in the original container. Some of the leaves have turned yellow. Should I cut it back? Should I re-pot it? It has grown to about 8'.

Answer: Yellow leaves can be caused by many things including lack of nitrogen, insufficient light, water-logged soil (plant roots need oxygen to thrive), dry soil, or iron deficiency. If the older bottom leaves are yellow, but new growth is green, it's usually a lack of nitrogen. If new leaves are yellow, with green veins, it's usually a lack of iron. (Lack of nitrogen is a more common problem than lack of iron.) Soil should be kept moderately moist (but not wet). You didn't mention whether you fertilized. If not, I'd suggest starting with a balanced all-purpose fertilizer. Water well before and after applying to help prevent burn. If your plant did well originally and the other conditions haven't changed, it's likely that it has depleted the soil nutrients. If the roots are growing out of the bottom of the container, or the plant appears rootbound, it would be good to repot it.

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