Green and yellow leaves of a bamboo plant with the sky as a background

Why Is My Bamboo Plant Turning Yellow?

If you are wondering why your bamboo leaves are turning yellow, don’t panic!

Watching your bamboo plant leaves turn yellow can be alarming, but most of the time, it’s actually a normal occurrence. However, it could be that you don’t give your bamboo the required conditions it needs.

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To clarify, in this post we’re talking about real bamboo plants, but we have written about lucky bamboo as well and you can read about that here!

Let’s have a look at what’s normal yellowing first. Maybe this will already give you peace of mind.

What’s considered normal yellowing of bamboo

Like many other plants, bamboo sheds its leaves and grows new ones. What happens is that the bamboo will cut off the nutrients in the leaves to use it in other places. Due to this lack of nutrients some of the leaves turn yellow and will fall off.

Because bamboo is evergreen, most species lose their leaves very gradually and replace those leaves with new ones. In this respect, bamboo plants have a mixture of green and yellow leaves most of the time. In spring, you may experience a larger yellowing than in other seasons.

With this being said, there are a few species that drop large amounts of leaves at one time, and this can be concerning… Typically a little research into the specific variety you have will give you peace of mind!

If, however, all of the leaves turn yellow and fall out without any green leaves, you very well may have a problem.

Another indicator of an existing problem is when the leaf tips turn brown. This coloration on the leaves can be caused by a lack of water or wind damage.

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Yellow and brown bamboo leaves with the text: Why is my bamboo turning yellow?

What species have more yellow leaves than others

As mentioned above, some species develop more yellow leaves than others. This goes for Phyllostachys aurea (also known as Fish Pole Bamboo or Golden Bamboo) and Phyllostachys edulis Moso (commonly used for bamboo fabrics). Both will lose more leaves in spring.

Golden Bamboo is one of the most common bamboos in the United States. It grows upright and is very strong, as well as useful. Phyllostachys edulis Moso is not as common in the United States but its characteristics are perfect to create bamboo threads from it.

 Fargesia murielae, also known as Umbrella Bamboo, will drop more leaves in fall.

Still Concerned? Let’s do troubleshooting!

If you believe that the yellowing is a problem and not just a natural part of your plants lifecycle it’s time to start troubleshooting the plant.

1. Fresh bamboo leaves are turning yellow

First, take a good look at the newest leaves (if you can distinguish them). If these leaves are turning yellow, it may indicate that the plant is lacking in iron – a common problem in soil that is too acidic.

If you’re concerned about having an alkaline soil, you can purchase a pH testing kit and test the soil around the base of your plant. We would recommend getting one like this.

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If your soil turns out to be alkaline, then you should purchase a fertilizer with Chelate Iron and add this to the soil around your plant. Be careful to not use too much fertilizer, though. Bamboo does not like over-fertilized soil.

2. Older leaves are yellowing

If older leaves are primarily the ones that turn yellow (and you don’t believe it to be natural leaf drop), then you may want to apply a fertilizer with nitrogen. 

Learn more about bamboo fertilizers here!

As we talked about in bamboo plant care, there are times when fertilizers should be applied, and although it can be confusing as to when exactly they need food, watching for the first signs of yellowing can be a good indicator-especially for the nitrogen.

3. Yellow leaves with brown tips

If you spot a lot of yellow-brown leaves and the soil is dry, you are not keeping up the irrigation game. Bamboo plants need a lot of water, so you may need to increase your watering frequency.

If you are too busy to water manually, you should seriously consider a drip irrigation system in order to give your plants what they need.

You also should stop yourself from raking up the leaves on the ground, because they keep the soil moist.

Dry, yellow bamboo leaves at sunset

4. Not well-drained soil

If you water regularly and the soil seems too moist, you should apply organic compost every now and then. It will help to open up heavy clay soil so that it drains better. In addition, it provides more nutrients to the bamboo.

Other reasons why your bamboo plants may have yellow leaves

There still could be more reasons why your bamboo is turning yellow. Because there are so many little factors that could influence your bamboos health, we have to let you determine if one of these could be an issue.

It might be that your bamboo is just planted at the wrong spot. Maybe it is too sunny or the contrary. It also could be too windy for the stems or other chemicals used in the surrounding environment.

Obviously, soggy soil can be amended, but some things like too much sun or not enough can be difficult to remedy and remedies are really only best attempted when nothing else works.

Again, it always depends on the bamboo species you have in your backyard. The trick with the acidic soil may not apply to you because you have Shibatea bamboo. Your Chimonobambusa bamboo may turn yellow because you placed it in direct sunlight, which on the other hand, Phyllostachys bamboo would love.

We hope this will help you to take care of your yellowing bamboo plants!

Let us know in the comments if you could handle the situation or share your trick for dealing with this issue!

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About Us

Woman (Natalie) and man (James) in front of bamboo

We are James and Natalie – newly-weds & nature lovers!

We want to give you the best information possible on bamboo. Get inspired to grow bamboo or to switch to natural bamboo products!

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