The Q&A Archives: Yellowing Leaves on Annuals

Question: I have a newly planted African Daisy plant in my front yard and a Dianthus in my back yard that both have yellowing leaves and stems at the base of the plants. It looks as if both plants are dying from the base up. The African Daisy in the front yard is in full sun all the time and watered automatically by our sprinkler/drip system. There are actually two of the same plant (not immediately next to each other) that were planted the same day and only one is having the problem. The Dianthus in the back yard is in a raised flower bed in a row of Dianthus between a row of Petunias and a row of white Alyssum. Only one Dianthus plant is having this problem. Both the Daisy and Dianthus plants seem to have the same problem.

I also have two strawberry plants that I thought were not going to make it after transplanting them into the raised bed. After about a week of being in the ground, the first one I planted started to look as if the leaves were burning from the edges into the middle. I was watering regularly. The second strawberry plant (planted about a week after the first) started having the same problem, but is now recovering quite nicely and has even flowered while the first seems to be staying the same.

I prepared the soil for both the flowers and the strawberries with Miracle Gro Garden soil for flowers and vegetables. I also added some plant food around the whole raised beds for both the flowers and the vegetables/fruits. I am only having problems with 3 of the more than 30 plants that have been either grown from seed or transplanted. What do you think the problem is, and is there something I need to do with the yellowing leaves? A soil additive maybe? Please advise.


Answer: Since most of your plants seem to be fine, there is probably nothing wrong with the soil or the care you are providing. After transplanting, plants experience a setback from the shock, which shows up as yellowing leaves. It's likely they'll bounce back, just a little slower than the others. Occasionally, some plants just aren't vigorous after transplanting, and even though they are the same species and their growing conditions seem the same, they just don't thrive. This happens to even experienced gardeners! My suggestion is to monitor soil moisture carefully. Your drip should soak deeply through the root system, and be applied as infrequently as possible to maintain moisture. In other words, it shouldn't turn off for 10 minutes every day. Desert soil and water both contain salts, which can accumulate in the root zone over time. This salt buildup forms where the water stops penetrating. Short periods of watering cause salts to build up in the top layers of soil and damage or kill your plant. Salt burn shows up as yellowing, browning along leaf edges, and leaf drop. Deep watering?or leaching?prevents this by flushing the salts past the root zone. Always water slowly, deeply and as infrequently as possible. Also, apply a layer of organic mulch to help maintain soil moisture and keep roots cool. I hope this info helps

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