Why Are Rose Leaves Turning Yellow?

The rose leaves turn yellow due to excessive fertilizer, nutrient insufficient soil drought stress, over-saturated soil, insufficient sunlight or due to fungal diseases. Rose leaves change color and fall off in winter as they go into dormancy.

Most often, roses with yellow leaves signify an environmental problem, usually due to of soil nutrients or water and are easily solved.

Continue reading to find out the reason behind the yellow rose petals and the best way to fix the issue…

Too Much Fertilizer Turns Rose Leaves Yellow

The leaves of roses can change color due to fertilizer that is applied too often or at a high amount.

Fertilizer is a source of salts that accumulate after the repeated application of fertilizers in addition to giving your plants a feed.

The salt builds up within the root zone of the soil. It removes moisture from the plants . It also blocks the absorption of moisture, resulting in the appearance of yellow and burns on the leaf.

The excess fertilizer can cause the growth to droop, which is more prone to illness and stop the rose from blooming.

(If your roses aren’t blooming, check out this article and discover the reason and ways to increase the number of blooms).

This underscores the importance of being careful when it comes to fertilizing your roses.

But you must also think about the possibility that other fertilizers are possibly affecting your rose, like run-off from regular lawn fertilizer applications since feed is usually water-soluble and may affect the garden boarders following rains that are heavy.

What can be done to fix it?

The most effective way to prevent this issue is to apply an specifically designed rose fertilizer.

I personally like miracle-gro grated rose feed because it has the perfect amount of nutrition at just the correct level of concentration for roses . Also, the granules release the nutrients gradually, which stops the leaves from turning yellow as well as other issues that come with fertilizers that are too high in content.

Reduce the application of fertilizers at this point If you suspect that it could be the reason why the rose’s leaves becoming yellow.

Reduce any damaged foliage using a pair of pruners . Water the rose regularly over the following weeks on and the rose will recover.

(Read my article on what is the reason my rose falling?)

Soil pH- Iron deficiency Causes Yellow Rose Leaves

If the pH of the soil is too high , this could lead to an iron deficiency that causes the veins on leaves to stay green, but the remainder of the leaf becomes yellow.

Alkaline soils may alter the amount in minerals within the soil, such as magnesium and iron which can cause the appearance of yellowed leaves on your rose bush , which is an indication of stress.

Roses thrive in moderately acidic soil and can thrive in the pH range of 7 to 6-7 with no issues related to the availability of nutrients.

If the soil in your garden is acidic (above the pH of 7) it is most likely the reason for your rose’s leaves becoming yellow.

How to Solve It:

The determination of the pH in your soil could be as simple as asking your garden-savvy neighbors what the pH of your soil is in their neighborhood.

You can also make use of a soil tester available at garden centers or Amazon.

Soil gauges are simple to use and will precisely determine what the soil’s pH is, so you can plan your garden in accordance with your soil’s conditions. They are also accessible at a reasonable cost.

yellow and red rose in sunlight

What can be done to fix it?

If you test the soil and find the pH to be higher than 7, I would recommend moving your rose, if you can, to raised beds or a pot because the soil in your garden isn’t suitable for the cultivation of roses.

If you transfer the rose into the pot, you will can control the soil’s profile and modify the soil using the rose potting mix to ensure that your roses flourish rather than trying to amend your soil by adding sulphur to cause it to become more acidic.

Moving your rose into an elevated bed or pot will also mean that it is not exposed to alkaline soil. The rose will begin to recover and, eventually, the yellow leaves will change into a healthier green color.

Nutrient Deficiency Causes Yellow Leaves

The yellowing of rose leaves is likely to be a sign of stress because of a deficiency of nutrients in the soil.

Rose leaves most commonly turn yellow due to a lack or lack of nitrogen within the soil. The roses are heavy feeders and require nitrogen in order to make chlorophyll in order for the leaves to turn green and for the plant to be able to photosynthesise. The yellow rose leaves are sign of stress caused by an absence of nitrogen within the soil.

But it must be remembered that rose leaves may turn yellow in reaction to the absence of iron and magnesium within the soil.

The leaves of roses tend to turn yellow when your soil has been drained and nutrients low, as this is in contrast the soil shape.

Sandy soils don’t hold moisture or water-soluble minerals (such such as nitrogen) therefore the application of fertilizer every year is crucial.

How to Solve It:

To turn back the yellowing of leaves caused by the lack of nutrients, apply a balanced fertilizer specifically designed to be used on roses (there are a variety of products available however I have had good results using miracle-gro) and then apply a 1 inches layer of mulch on the surface of the soil surrounding the foundation of the flower.

Utilize materials like leaf mould, compost or well-rotted manure to mulch your garden. These three materials are excellent in their capacity to hold water and adding nutrients to the soil in the course of time.

Apply the mulch one time in the spring and then it should be applied again before the winter months (to aid in insulating the roots from cold and keep in order to enhance the condition of your soil).

If you apply fertilizer consistently and mulch, the rose will be able to recover in the coming weeks.

It is important to note that fertilizer should be applied to the soil during Spring once the danger of frost has gone away. don’t apply it again after August 15th because fertilizer encourages fragile growth that is more susceptible to damage from frost during the coming Winter.

The leaves of roses can change color due to an iron deficiency that is caused by soils that are alkaline…

Drought Stress can Cause Rose Leaves to Turn Yellow

The soil for roses must remain moist for an average depth of 8-12 inches. If the soil is dry for too long , rose’s leaves will change color as a result of stress due to drought.

The yellow rose leaves caused by drought stress may occur due to:

  • It is sandy, or deficient in organic matter and isn’t able to hold enough moisture.
  • The sun and heat are right at the bottom of the rose, which can increase the rate of evaporation away from the soil.
  • The heat waves and the absence of rain due to seasonal variations in the weather.
  • If roses are grown in containers or pots, the pots are smaller in capacity for soil, and consequently less room for moisture. Pots are prone to heating up in the sun, and then dry out , causing stress from drought and yellow leaves.

In most conditions and climates you can water your roses at least once every week with a good soak will allow your roses to flourish and prevent dryness.

The frequency of watering should be adjusted according to the soil’s conditions and climate so that your soil remains damp (but not completely saturated) to avoid yellow leaves.

How to Solve It:

One of the most effective ways to avoid stress from drought and bring back your rose with yellow leaves is to apply mulching around your rose’s base.

Apply a 1-inch layer of compost on the soil’s surface at the top of the rose to conserve water and increase the soil’s capacity to hold moisture. Mulch can also help shade the soil and help keep your roots cool.

A soaker hose is beneficial for preserving soil moisture in hot climates.

If you keep watering your roses regularly and make mulching time, your rose’s leaves will be able to recover from their yellow appearance in the coming weeks.

Overwatering or Saturated Soils

The leaves of roses can change color due to the fact of their roots being deficient in oxygen because of the soil being saturated.

The soil of roses must be always moist, yet is light and friable, aerated soil structure to let the roots breathe.

When the soil becomes sloppy and is not draining well, this could prevent oxygen from reaching the roots, which causes the leaves to change color to yellow.

Three reasons that are common for the soil being over-saturated around your roses include:

  1. Overwatering.
  2. The roses are planted on slow-draining dirt (such like clay) or in boggy areas naturally found in the garden.
  3. Roses that are planted in pots and containers that do not have drainage at the base.

To prevent over-watering and depriving the rose’s roots of oxygen, it is essential to water your roses in a manner that is appropriate to your soil and climate conditions.

The ideal soil moisture balance for roses is that the soil is always damp (but not wet) to an 8-12 inch depth.

This can be achieved by planting roses with lots of natural matter (compost and leaf mould) placing mulch on the ground and then watering them with a good soak every week in the summer and spring months, with extra watering in the heatwaves.

If you’re constantly watering your rose it is not enough and could result in leaves turning yellow. Scale back your watering to every week, and only water in the summer and spring months.

When the ground is sloppy and constantly damp because it’s low lying or drains slowly, it is probable that the leaves will not just change color but also the rose may develop disease known as root and rot and eventually die.

Transplant roses in more draining soil, or maybe an elevated bed. In raised beds, it is much easier to create the soil shape suitable for roses as opposed to changing the soil in your boggy garden.

It can be possible to alter clay soils by adding organic matter to improve their drainage and structure to make it suitable for the cultivation of roses.

Container roses or pot roses must be able to drain through holes at the bottom of the pot in order to let excess water out to ensure that the soil doesn’t get over-watered.

(Read my article on selecting the most suitable post to show your the roses).

Rose Leaves Can Turn Yellow In Winter

The majority of roses are deciduous, and consequently shed their leaves and enter an inactive state prior to winter. In the leaf-shedding process, the leaves can change color before dropping off.

If you notice that the frigid Winter season is associated with the rose’s leaves turning yellow, then rest sure that the rose isn’t dying, but is simply getting ready for Winter by shedding its leaves, and then re-growing in the spring.

Not Enough Light

The leaves of roses can turn yellow due to the absence in direct sun.

The roses need at least six hours of sunshine to develop and bloom in their prime. If they are in shade they will not flower as well and, often, the leaves change color as a result of stress.

When your flower is located in an area that is shaded, I suggest to either plant the flower or trimming back any plant that is putting shade over the rose, like a branch of a tree that has grown in a significant way and shady over an area that was once sun-drenched in your garden, or the surrounding plants and shrubs.

Alternately, you can move the rose into a more sunny spot within your yard.

This will not just solve the issue of leaves turning yellow, but will also encourage flowering and improve the overall health of the rose.

The lower leaves on the bush start changing colour, whereas the top leaves are healthy green.

This is due to the fact that the upper leaves are in the sun and receive optimal exposure to light, whereas leaves near the bottom or in shade on the plant may be yellow due to the lack of sunlight.

Leaves in the shade are more likely to become yellow and fall off, as the rose shifts its energy to healthier leaves in the sunlight.

Pruning back the leaves that are becoming yellow may help reduce the strain on the plant, ensuring that it blooms in summertime.

The fungal disease that causes roses to turn yellow to turn yellow

Rose leaves can turn yellow as a consequence of fungal disease with black spot being the most common reason why rose leaves turn yellow around areas of black.

The leaves, which are black and yellow, fall off eventually and negatively affects the health and blooming of the rose.

Black spot is an all-too-common rose disease but it is treatable and the rose may be cured.

How to remove the black spot:

  • Remove the affected leaves using the use of a sterilized pair of pruners. Make use of a cloth that has been soaked in alcohol disinfectant to clean the blades after each cut to avoid spreading the spores of fungus to healthy growing plants.
  • Burn the leaves or dispose of them, and then place them in the compost pile as the fungus could lie dormant in the compost heap and infect other plants.
  • Make use of a spray for fungicides on roses to spray on the rose’s leaves (available at garden centers and Amazon).

The black spot can be avoided by following good practices in the care of roses, for example:

  • The water should be poured at the base of the rose, rather than over the top to reduce the humidity.
  • Plant roses about 3 feet apart to allow for airflow.
  • Maintain the regular watering of the rose and mulch it regularly to keep the soil’s water.
  • Apply a fertilizer prior to the beginning of the season to ensure that the rose is nourished with all the nutrients it needs to remain fit and healthy. It is also disease-resistant.

A healthy rose is more immune to fungal diseases that make the leaves of roses yellow, so good methods of care are vital to ensure the well-being and longevity of the roses.

(Read my article on what is the reason my rose dying?)

Key Takeaways:

  • The leaves of roses turn yellow as a result an environmental cause, such as soils that are deficient in nutrients or due to too much or not enough water at the root. A lot of shade or fungal diseases can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off.
  • The leaves of roses often turn yellow in winter because they are deciduous. They naturally change to yellow and fall into a state of winter dormancy.
  • Rose leaves that are in excessive shade may become yellow and fall off and need to be moved to a sunny area in the gardens.
  • A pH of the soil that is high can cause chlorosis when certain nutrients like magnesium and iron are not able to be absorbed by the rose’s root.
  • The application of fertilizer too often or at a high level could result in the accumulation of salts that cause the rose’s leaves to lose moisture, become dry and burnt. They will also change color to yellow.


Went from a bad gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)