5 Reasons of Rhubarb Leaves Turning Yellow (With Best Solutions)

Rhubarb is a beloved plant for many gardeners, prized for its tart, tangy stalks that make delicious pies and jams. However, yellowing leaves are one common issue with rhubarb plants.

This can be concerning for gardeners, as yellowing leaves can be a sign of various problems, from nutrient deficiencies to disease. Several factors can contribute to rhubarb leaves turning yellow.

One possibility is a lack of nitrogen in the soil, which can cause the leaves to be yellow and stunt the plant’s growth. Another potential cause is overwatering, leading to root rot and yellowing leaves.

Rhubarb leaves turning yellow
Rhubarb leaves turning yellow

In this article, we will explore the various reasons why rhubarb leaves may turn yellow and offer tips and solutions for addressing the issue.

By understanding the underlying causes of yellowing leaves, gardeners can take steps to ensure the health and vitality of their rhubarb plants and continue to enjoy delicious, homegrown rhubarb for years to come.

Why are my rhubarb leaves turning yellow & red?

Rhubarb is a hardy and long-lived plant that produces delicious and tangy stalks commonly used in pies, jams, and other desserts. However, even with proper care and maintenance, rhubarb plants can develop yellowing and reddening leaves, which can signify various problems.

Why are my rhubarb leaves turning yellow and red
Why are my rhubarb leaves turning yellow and red?

This guide will discuss some of the most common reasons why rhubarb leaves may turn yellow and red and offer tips for preventing and treating these issues.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Nutrient deficiencies are among the most common reasons rhubarb leaves may turn yellow and red. Specifically, a lack of nitrogen, iron, magnesium, or sulfur can cause yellowing leaves.

Nitrogen is a vital nutrient for plant growth and is required to produce chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color. Without sufficient nitrogen, the leaves will turn yellow, and the plant may grow poorly.

Nutrient Deficiencies
Nutrient Deficiencies

To address nutrient deficiencies, gardeners should test their soil regularly to determine which nutrients are lacking. Once identified, the soil can be amended with organic matter or fertilizers that contain the missing nutrients. Gardeners can also apply foliar sprays that contain the necessary nutrients directly to the leaves to address nutrient deficiencies.

Pest Infestations

Pest infestations are another common cause of yellowing leaves in rhubarb plants. Several pests, including aphids, spider mites, slugs, and snails, can affect rhubarb. These pests can feed on the leaves, causing yellowing and even wilting. Additionally, pests can transmit diseases that can further damage the plant.

Gardeners can use organic methods to address pest infestations, such as introducing beneficial insects like ladybugs or applying insecticidal soap or neem oil. Chemical treatments may also be used but should be used with caution to avoid harming beneficial insects or pollinators.

Fungal or Bacterial Diseases

Fungal or bacterial diseases can also cause yellowing leaves in rhubarb plants. Common diseases include crown rot, leaf spot, and powdery mildew. These diseases can cause leaves to yellow or wilt or develop spots or patches. In severe cases, the plant may die.

Fungal or Bacterial Diseases
Fungal or Bacterial Diseases

To address fungal or bacterial diseases, gardeners should immediately remove and destroy infected plant material. Preventative measures, such as avoiding overhead watering and maintaining good air circulation around the plants, can also help prevent the spread of disease.

Organic treatments, such as copper fungicides or garlic spray, can effectively treat fungal or bacterial diseases.

Environmental Factors

Environmental factors, such as extreme temperatures, water stress, or improper sunlight exposure, can cause yellowing leaves in rhubarb plants. Overwatering or underwatering can also contribute to yellowing leaves. Additionally, frost or excessive heat exposure can cause leaves to turn yellow.

To address environmental factors, gardeners should ensure that the plants are properly watered, with soil that is well-draining but moist. Mulching around the base of the plant can help retain moisture and regulate soil temperature. Shade cloth or other covers can also protect plants from extreme temperatures.

Aging or Overcrowding Plants

As rhubarb plants age or become overcrowded, they may also develop yellowing leaves. This can occur as the plant becomes less productive or outgrows its allotted space. Yellowing leaves can also be a sign of competition for resources between plants.

Aging or Overcrowding Plants
Aging or Overcrowding Plants

To address aging or overcrowding plants, gardeners should divide and replant rhubarb plants every 4-5 years. This will help rejuvenate the plant and prevent yellowing leaves. Additionally, gardeners should ensure that plants are spaced properly and not competing for resources.

How do you fix yellow leaves?

Yellow leaves are a common issue that many gardeners face with their plants. While it can be frustrating to see your plants struggling, the good news is that you can take steps to fix yellow leaves and restore your plants to health. In this guide, we will outline some of the steps you can take to address yellow leaves.

  • Identify the Cause of Yellow Leaves: The first step in fixing yellow leaves is to identify the cause of the issue. Various factors, including nutrient deficiencies, pests, diseases, and environmental factors, can cause yellow leaves. Once you have identified the cause, you can take steps to address the underlying problem.
  • Adjust Watering and Drainage: In many cases, yellow leaves are caused by improper watering or drainage. Overwatering or underwatering can cause leaves to turn yellow, as can poorly draining soil. Adjusting your watering schedule or improving drainage can help prevent yellow leaves.
  • Address Nutrient Deficiencies: If nutrient deficiencies cause yellow leaves, you can address the issue by fertilizing your plants with the necessary nutrients. A soil test can help you determine which nutrients your plants lack, and you can choose a fertilizer that contains those nutrients.
  • Treat Pests and Diseases: If pests or diseases cause yellow leaves, you must take steps to treat the issue. Depending on the type of pest or disease, this may involve using organic or chemical treatments, removing infected plant material, or taking steps to prevent the further spread of the issue.
  • Adjust Environmental Conditions: Environmental factors like extreme temperatures, poor air circulation, or inadequate sunlight can also cause yellow leaves. Adjusting environmental conditions, such as providing shade or increasing airflow, can help prevent yellow leaves.
  • Prune and Remove Affected Leaves: Finally, if yellow leaves are severely damaged, you may need to prune affected leaves or remove them entirely. This can help prevent the issue from spreading and allow the plant to focus its resources on healthy growth.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Should I remove yellow leaves from rhubarb?

Answer: Yes, removing yellow leaves from rhubarb is recommended as they can be a sign of a larger issue affecting the plant. Removing the affected leaves can help prevent the spread of the issue and encourage healthy growth.

Can you overwater rhubarb?

Answer: Yes, overwatering can be a common issue with rhubarb plants. It is important to ensure the soil is well-draining and to avoid watering too frequently, as this can lead to root rot and other issues.

Do yellow leaves always mean overwatering?

Answer: No, yellow leaves can be caused by a range of issues, including nutrient deficiencies, pest infestations, diseases, and environmental factors. Identifying the underlying cause of yellow leaves is important to address the issue effectively.

Can yellow leaves turn green again?

Answer: In some cases, yellow leaves can turn green again if the underlying issue is addressed and the plant can recover. However, in other cases, the damage may be irreversible, and affected leaves may need removal.

How do you tell if yellow leaves are from overwatering or underwatering?

Answer: It can be difficult to tell whether yellow leaves are from overwatering or underwatering without additional information. However, overwatering is more likely to cause leaves to become mushy and yellow, while underwatering can cause leaves to become dry and brittle. Checking the soil moisture levels can also help determine the cause of yellow leaves.


In conclusion, yellowing leaves on rhubarb plants can indicate various issues, including nutrient deficiencies, pest infestations, diseases, environmental factors, or simply aging or overcrowding plants. 

Identifying the underlying cause of the issue is important to address it effectively and promote healthy growth. By following the steps outlined in this guide, gardeners can help ensure that their rhubarb plants remain healthy and productive.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top