If you’ve cultivated bamboo in your yard or containers, you’d hate to see the bamboo leaves turning yellow giving the plant a sickly appearance.
Unfortunately, this is a common occurrence because the yellow leaves are the default response of bamboo to all sorts of stress and neglect.
While these plants are relatively hardy and quite easy to grow, yellowing or leaf discoloration is often an indication that not everything is quite hunky-dory with the plant. Sometimes, the issue, if left unresolved, could become fatal.
Although the focus of this article is how to revive bamboo leaves turning yellow, there is a wider aspect to it.
The article would also cover how to take care of your bamboo and prevent the leaves from turning yellow to ensure that your well-laid plan on how your bamboo turns out remains on track.
How To Revive Bamboo Leaves Turning Yellow
With over a thousand species belonging to the grass family, bamboo plants (Bambusoideae spp.) are mostly grown outdoors not just for their ornamental value.
They are also cultivated to create private spaces in yards; effectively screening out the yard from the public.
The hollow-stemmed plants, hardy in agric zones 7 – 11, can tower up to 100 feet tall.
However, there are species that top out at just 3 feet with their shrub-like appearance.
Though generally grown outdoors because of their fast growth and spread, they can also be potted successfully in large containers.
Like most ornamental plants that are often easy to grow, neglect can lead to problems that are sometimes irreparable.
Yellow bamboo leaves, most often than not, is a clear sign that the plant is failing.
While it is important to take remedial actions when bamboo leaves turn yellow, effective remedies can only be implemented only after understanding the causes.
Reasons Your Bamboo Plant Leaves Are Turning Yellow
As an evergreen plant, the leaves of the bamboo plant naturally turn yellow and fall off with age.
And this can happen at any time during the year with a peak leaf-shedding period in spring.
Here is the thing though: this only happens to a few leaves at a time and it is not a cause for worry.
Most gardeners simply allow the naturally yellowing leaves to fall off.
But If you want to maintain a uniformly green appearance, you can go ahead and snip off the yellowing leaves.
However, it becomes a problem when all or majority of the bamboo leaves are turning yellow simultaneously.
Some of the reasons for this include:
Low/excess soil nutrients – To be clear, bamboo plants don’t necessarily need fertilizer to thrive as long as the soil is rich in nutrients.
But plant supplements specifically meant for grass would promote growth.
However, the leaves might begin to turn yellow when planted in nutrient-poor soil without fertilization.
The nutrient issue is a double-edged sword that also applies when there is too much fertilization.
If your bamboo leaves start turning yellow after the application of fertilizer, it is fair to conclude you over-did it.
Soggy soil due to overwatering – While soggy soil can be a result of overwatering, it can also be caused by poor-draining soil that retains too much water.
In both cases, the soggy soil creates the perfect environment for soil fungi to thrive and cause root rot.
The yellowing leaves are simply the early warning signs of root rot.
Dry soil due to underwatering – Deprived of soil moisture for too long, bamboo plants can express their displeasure with yellow leaves.
Underwatering is a problem that is easier to deal with than overwatering.
You simply have to stick to the correct watering schedule to revive the plant when the problem is caused by dry soil.
With overwatering and the onset of root rot, you might have to discard the affected bamboo and soil if the bamboo’s root system is overwhelmed by rot.
Even if only parts of the root system are affected by the root rot, there is no guarantee you can still save or revive your bamboo
Water quality – The quality of water used for irrigating bamboo is also complicit when it comes to factors contributing to the proliferation of yellow leaves in bamboo plants.
Tap water for instance may contain fluorides. Bamboos are sensitive to these salts and show that with yellow leaves.
So, if you’ve been using tap water, that could be the reason or one of the reasons the leaves are turning yellow.
Improper growing conditions – Any deviation from the ideal bamboo plant growing conditions can stress the plant enough to cause yellow leaves.
You want to protect them from:
- Direct sunlight
- Very heavy rains
- Windy conditions
And the soil must be nutrient-rich with a yearly application of organic manure if possible.
Stepswide Guide: How To Revive Bamboo Leaves Turning Yellow
First, do keep in mind that reviving bamboo leaves turning yellow depends largely on the causative factor.
It is very critical that you get your diagnosis right. This makes it easier to decide on the appropriate step(s) to take when trying to resolve the problem.
- Growing conditions
The first place to look in trying to reverse or halt the yellowing leaves is to ensure that the growing conditions are right.
For starters, you need to make sure the soil is well-draining. You may have to amend the soil with some compost and a bit of sand for garden bamboo.
For potted bamboo, you could mix in perlite to improve drainage, or simply repot the plant in higher quality potting soil.
The location of your bamboo plant is also an important aspect of the growing conditions.
You want to provide enough shade if the location is too sunny for your outdoor bamboo. For potted bamboo, simply move it to a shadier but bright location.
Also, whether potted or grown in garden beds, ensure the bamboo plants are protected from strong winds.
It would likewise be awesome if the area is exposed to minimal animal and human traffic.
- Water correctly
If watering was the catalyst for the yellow leaves, you’d want to make some adjustments as quickly as possible.
When it comes to watering, you not only need to water at the right time but also use water of the right quality.
That means watering the plant only when the top couple of inches of the soil is dry.
The frequency would depend on conditions such as temperature, humidity, and the season.
For instance, you get to water less often in the rainy season. But on hot, windy days, you’d have to water your bamboo more often.
No matter the season though, the soil has to be dry before watering again. The implication is that you may not have to water yard bamboo in the rainy season.
In terms of water quality, the recommendation is to use water from natural sources such as rainwater or spring water to irrigate the plants.
But if tap water is the only choice available to you, consider storing the water in a large container for at least 24 hours before using it to irrigate your bamboo.
This simple strategy helps to eliminate most of the fluorides in the water.
When it comes to the actual watering, avoid letting water touch the leaves as these could encourage the growth of harmful fungi.
Carefully water the base of the plant and do this only when the soil is dry to avoid overwatering.
You can test the moisture level by sticking a finger into the soil. If the top two inches come up dry, that is your cue to water the soil again.
- Fertilize appropriately
Bamboo experts believe the plants are fine with just the annual fertilization using organic compost.
Apply some to the soil at the beginning of the spring growing season. Organic compost, in addition to adding the much-needed nutrients, also helps boost drainage if the soil is heavy.
If you don’t have access to compost, the next best option is to purchase and apply organic fertilizer.
Any product specifically formulated for grasses is your best bet.
Remember to follow the instructions and stick to the yearly application at the beginning of the growing season schedule.
Finally, consider leaving any fallen yellow leaves on the ground to decompose.
The decomposition adds more vital organic nutrients to the soil over time.
Bamboo Growing & Care Tips
It’s better to cultivate clumping bamboo instead of runner bamboo in yards because the latter can easily grow and spread beyond their allotted space.
If you have to grow runner bamboo, vertically bury a thick plastic sheet about 1 foot into the ground around the bamboo patch.
This acts as a ‘root barrier’ to prevent the plant from spreading out of bounds.
Weed control is important since the shallow roots are sensitive to weeds.
Use your hands to remove the weeds to avoid damaging the roots.
Mulch, mulch, mulch. Use shredded bark or straw that is free from weeds up to about 3 inches thick.
Fallen leaves should be left alone to act as mulch too.
While growing bamboo can be fun and easy, you’d have to come to terms with a fussy trait that throws up yellow leaves when something isn’t right.
Though the yellow leaves can be due to aging, excessive yellowing of the leaves occurring at the same time is an indication of a clear and present problem that needs to be dealt with.
Fortunately, learning or knowing how to revive bamboo leaves turning yellow is pretty straightforward.
Frequently, the solutions are mostly about ensuring that growing and care issues such as watering, fertilization, location, and the condition of the soil match the ideal conditions required for a healthy and thriving bamboo plant.