Rosemary Leaves Turning Yellow

Rosemary Leaves Turning Yellow: 7 Causes, Solutions & Best Growing Tips

Rosemary is a popular herb in many gardens and kitchens. Its fragrant leaves are used to flavor various dishes, and it’s also known for its medicinal properties. However, one common problem that gardeners face when growing rosemary is yellowing leaves. This can be frustrating, especially if you’re not sure what’s causing it.

Understanding the factors that contribute to Rosemary leaves turning yellow is crucial to address the problem. Several factors can cause rosemary leaves to turn yellow, including nutrient deficiencies, over or under-watering, pests, diseases, and environmental stressors.

Identifying the underlying cause is key to reviving your rosemary plant and preventing the problem from recurring in the future.

Key Takeaways on Rosemary Leaves Turning Yellow

  • Yellowing leaves in rosemary can be caused by various factors, including nutrient deficiencies, over or under-watering, pests, diseases, and environmental stressors.
  • Proper sunlight and temperature, soil and drainage, watering practices, and fertilizing are essential to maintain healthy rosemary plants.
  • Reviving yellowing rosemary requires identifying the underlying cause and taking appropriate measures, such as adjusting watering practices, improving soil drainage, or treating pests and diseases promptly.

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Understanding Rosemary

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Rosemary is a popular herb that is native to the Mediterranean region. It’s a woody, perennial plant that is known for its strong aroma and flavor. The plant is often used in cooking, as well as for its medicinal properties.

Rosemary is a member of the mint family, and its leaves are needle-like and evergreen. The plant can grow up to 6 feet tall and has small, blue flowers that bloom in the summer.

One of the reasons why rosemary is so popular is because of its strong aroma. The plant contains essential oils that give it its distinctive scent. These oils are also responsible for the plant’s medicinal properties.

Rosemary is a hardy plant that can grow in a variety of soils. It prefers well-drained soil and full sun, but it can also tolerate partial shade. The plant is drought-resistant, which means it doesn’t require a lot of water to thrive.

If you’re growing rosemary in a pot, it’s important to make sure the soil is well-drained. The plant doesn’t like to sit in wet soil, as this can cause the roots to rot.

Why Do Rosemary Leaves Turn Yellow

Rosemary is a hardy herb that is relatively easy to grow. However, sometimes the leaves of the plant can turn yellow, which can be a sign of a problem. There are several reasons why rosemary leaves may turn yellow.

One of the most common reasons for yellowing leaves is overwatering. Rosemary plants originate from the Mediterranean region of Europe, where they are adapted to full sun, well-draining, often sandy or stony soils with infrequent rainfall.

When the plant is overwatered, it can lead to root rot, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off. It is important to water the plant correctly and ensure that the soil is well-draining.

Another reason for yellowing leaves is a lack of nutrients. If the plant lacks essential nutrients, especially nitrogen, it may begin to turn yellow.

Fertilizing the plant with a general fertilizer, repeating the treatment every one to two months in spring and summer, especially if the plant is grown in a pot or potted plant, can help prevent nutrient deficiencies.

Yellowing leaves can also be a sign of stress. Stress can be caused by a lack of sun, water sensitivity, frost damage, or insect attack. When the plant is stressed, it may not be able to absorb nutrients properly, which can lead to chlorosis, a condition where the leaves turn yellow due to a lack of chlorophyll.

Fungal diseases and pests can also cause yellowing leaves. Spider mites, for example, can attack rosemary and cause the leaves to turn yellow and speckled. It is important to identify the pest or disease and treat it accordingly to prevent further damage to the plant.

Role of Sunlight and Temperature

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Rosemary is a Mediterranean herb that thrives in full sun and warm temperatures. It requires at least six hours of direct sunlight each day to grow properly. Insufficient sunlight can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually die.

On the other hand, extreme heat and high temperatures can also cause the leaves to turn yellow. When exposed to too much sunlight, the tissue of the leaves may become burned, leading to yellowing. Additionally, high temperatures can cause the plant to become stressed, leading to yellowing of the leaves.

It is important to note that rosemary is a hardy plant that can tolerate a wide range of temperatures. However, it is crucial to monitor the plant’s exposure to sunlight and temperature to prevent yellowing of the leaves.

If the plant is grown indoors, it is important to place it near a window that receives ample sunlight. Alternatively, artificial light can be used to provide the necessary amount of sunlight. In outdoor settings, rosemary should be planted in a location that receives full sun.

Importance of Soil and Drainage

One of the most important factors to consider when growing healthy rosemary plants is the quality of the soil and the drainage. Rosemary thrives in well-draining soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0.

If the soil is too heavy and clay-like, it can cause water to accumulate around the roots, leading to root rot and other fungal diseases. On the other hand, if the soil is too sandy, it can dry out too quickly, causing the plant to wilt and turn yellow due to underwatering.

To ensure proper drainage, it’s recommended to mix sand, perlite, or compost into the potting soil. This will help create a well-draining soil that allows excess water to flow away from the roots.

It’s also important to note that rosemary prefers a low to medium nutrient environment. Adding too much organic matter or fertilizer to the soil can cause the plant to produce excessive foliage at the expense of the essential oils that give rosemary its distinct flavor and aroma.

In addition to soil quality, the pH of the soil can also affect the growth of rosemary. Rosemary prefers a slightly acidic to neutral soil pH. If the soil is too alkaline, it can cause the plant to develop yellow leaves due to nutrient deficiencies.

Watering Practices for Rosemary

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Rosemary plants thrive in well-drained soil that is kept moderately moist. Overwatering or underwatering can cause yellowing of rosemary leaves. It is important to maintain a consistent watering schedule to prevent the plant from experiencing water stress.

Rosemary plants are sensitive to water and can be easily affected by overwatering or underwatering. The plant should be watered when the top inch of soil is dry to the touch.

A moisture meter can be used to monitor the moisture level of the soil. If the soil is too dry, water the plant until the excess water drains out of the bottom of the pot. If the soil is too wet, allow it to dry out before watering again.

In high humidity areas, rosemary plants may require less frequent watering as the moisture in the air can help keep the soil moist. However, in low humidity areas, the soil may dry out more quickly and require more frequent watering. It is important to consider the environment when determining the watering schedule for rosemary plants.

Evaporation and transpiration can also affect the moisture level of the soil. If the plant is located in a sunny area, it may require more frequent watering as the water can evaporate more quickly. Similarly, if the plant is located in a windy area, the water can be transpired more quickly, resulting in a dryer soil.

Fertilizing Rosemary

Rosemary is a hardy plant that does not require much fertilization. However, it is important to provide it with the right nutrients to ensure healthy growth and prevent yellowing of the leaves.

When fertilizing rosemary, it is important to keep in mind that it prefers a nutrient-poor environment. Over-fertilizing with nitrogen-rich fertilizers can lead to excess growth and yellowing of the leaves. Therefore, it is recommended to use a low-nitrogen fertilizer or a herb-specific fertilizer that is balanced in nutrients.

One way to fertilize rosemary is by using manure. However, it is important to use well-aged manure that has been composted for at least six months to prevent burning the roots. A mixture of manure and compost can also be used to provide the plant with a slow-release source of nutrients.

Another way to fertilize rosemary is by using a high-quality herb fertilizer. These fertilizers are specifically designed for herbs and provide the necessary nutrients in the right amounts. When using a herb fertilizer, it is important to follow the instructions on the package and not to over-fertilize.

It is also important to ensure that the soil is not too fertile. Rosemary prefers well-draining, sandy soil with a pH between 6.0 and 7.0. If the soil is too fertile, it can lead to excess growth and yellowing of the leaves.

Dealing with Pests and Diseases

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Yellowing of rosemary leaves may also be caused by pests and diseases. It is important to identify the problem early and take appropriate measures to prevent further damage.


Common pests that affect rosemary plants include aphids, spider mites, and whiteflies. These pests can be controlled by using insecticides, horticultural oils, or organic fungicides. Neem oil is a preferred organic option as it is a natural repellent and pest control. It contains azadirachtin, which is effective in getting rid of many pests.

Regularly inspecting the plants for pests and removing any infected leaves can prevent the spread of the infestation. In severe cases, it may be necessary to remove the entire plant to prevent the spread of the infestation to other plants.


Fungal diseases are a common cause of yellowing leaves in rosemary plants. Root rot is another disease that can cause yellowing of leaves. It is caused by overwatering and poorly drained soil.

To prevent fungal diseases, avoid overwatering and ensure the soil is well-draining. Applying an organic fungicide can also help prevent fungal diseases.

In the case of root rot, it is important to remove the plant from the soil and remove any affected roots. The plant can then be repotted in fresh, well-draining soil.

Potting and Repotting Rosemary

Potted rosemary requires a well-draining potting mix that is rich in organic matter. When the plant becomes pot bound, it may need to be repotted into a larger container.

The potting mix should contain horticultural sand or grit to improve drainage and prevent waterlogging. A good rule of thumb is to add one-third sand or grit to the potting mix.

It is important to choose the right size pot for the plant. A pot that is too small can cause the plant to become root bound, leading to stunted growth and yellowing leaves. On the other hand, a pot that is too large can hold too much water, causing root rot and yellowing leaves.

When repotting, choose a pot that is one size larger than the current pot. Gently remove the plant from the old pot and loosen any tangled roots. Place the plant in the new pot and fill with fresh potting mix. Water the plant thoroughly and allow excess water to drain away.

Reviving Yellowing Rosemary

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Yellowing rosemary leaves can be an indication of several problems, including improper watering, nutrient deficiency, pest infestation, or inadequate light. However, reviving a yellowing rosemary plant is possible with proper care and attention.

The first step in reviving yellowing rosemary is to identify the underlying cause of the problem. If the plant is overwatered, it is important to reduce watering frequency and ensure the soil has proper drainage.

On the other hand, if the plant is underwatered, it is important to increase watering frequency and ensure the soil is moist but not waterlogged.

Pruning is another effective method for reviving yellowing rosemary. Pruning can help remove any diseased or damaged parts of the plant, which can prevent further spread of the problem. Additionally, pruning can help stimulate new growth and improve the plant’s overall appearance.

Rosemary is a resilient plant, and with proper care, it can recover from yellowing leaves. Regular fertilization with a balanced fertilizer can provide the plant with the necessary nutrients for healthy growth. Adding organic matter to the soil can also help improve its nutrient content.

It is important to note that rosemary prefers well-draining soil and full sunlight. If the plant is not receiving enough light, it may be necessary to move it to a sunnier location.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the signs of underwatering rosemary?

Underwatering rosemary can cause the leaves to turn yellow and dry out. The plant may also wilt and become brittle. In severe cases, the plant may start to shed leaves and die. To prevent underwatering, make sure to water the plant regularly and check the soil moisture level frequently.

Can rosemary recover from overwatering?

Rosemary can recover from overwatering if caught early enough. Signs of overwatering include yellowing leaves, wilting, and root rot.

To save an overwatered plant, stop watering it immediately and let the soil dry out completely. Once the soil has dried, you can resume watering but be sure to water less frequently and in smaller amounts.

Can you water rosemary too much?

Yes, you can water rosemary too much. Overwatering can cause root rot, which can lead to yellowing leaves and plant death. To avoid overwatering, make sure to water the plant only when the soil has dried out completely.

Also, be sure to use well-draining soil and a pot with drainage holes.

Why is my rosemary water not turning red?

Rosemary water does not turn red because rosemary leaves do not contain pigments that change color in water. However, rosemary water can have a yellow or green tint depending on the concentration of the essential oils in the leaves.

Why is my rosemary plant leaves turning yellow?

Rosemary leaves can turn yellow due to a variety of reasons, including overwatering, underwatering, nutrient deficiencies, and pest infestations. To determine the cause of yellowing leaves, check the soil moisture level, inspect the plant for pests, and consider fertilizing the plant with a balanced fertilizer.

Why are there yellow spots on my rosemary leaves?

Yellow spots on rosemary leaves can be a sign of fungal or bacterial infections. These infections can be caused by overwatering, poor air circulation, and high humidity.

To prevent yellow spots, make sure to water the plant properly, provide adequate air circulation, and avoid getting water on the leaves. If the infection is severe, consider using a fungicide or removing the affected leaves.

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