Versatile, undemanding, and popular for its evergreen nature, ligustrum (also known as privets) is often used as hedges, shrub borders, patio trees, and foundation plants.
It’s a hardy plant to grow in zones 5 to 8 and reach a height of 10 to 15 feet.
In spite of the ease of growing and adaptability, these plants are susceptible to several factors that can turn their green leaves yellow and ruin the looks of your garden.
Fortunately, these problems are easy to solve with a bit of research.
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Why Do Ligustrum Leaves Turn Yellow?
Yellowing leaves on your ligustrum plants are a warning sign that the plant needs attention. Several factors can cause this, including inadequate sunlight, improper watering, nutrient deficiencies, pest attacks, and fungal problems.
Read on to learn how to identify leaf-yellowing problems in ligustrum and the control measures needed to correct them.
1. Not Enough Sunlight
All plants need some sunlight to make their food. If they don’t have enough, the leaves will eventually turn yellow. Although ligustrum will tolerate some partial shade, they should be getting a daily dose of at least 6 hours of sunlight.
If you notice yellowing and droopy leaves on your ligustrum, the amount of sunlight they’re getting is the first thing you should check.
Move them to a sunnier location, and they should turn to a beautiful green shade in a few days. Adequate sunlight will also help prevent fungal disease, another problem common for ligustrum.
2. Incorrect Watering
Watering your ligustrum correctly can be tricky. We all know water is vital for any plant.
However, the ligustrum doesn’t like too much water. In fact, they can withstand drought with some irrigation when a dry spell occurs.
The tricky part is that both underwatering and overwatering can cause your ligustrum’s leaves to turn yellow.
That’s because if they go without water for too long, the leaves won’t be able to make enough food for themselves. They’ll eventually begin turning yellow and then drop off.
If you water your ligustrum too much, you’ll get the same result. Overwatering damages the roots and the injured roots won’t be able to transport enough nutrients and water to the plant.
Overwatering can also lead to serious fungal diseases.
The solution is to water carefully. A moisture meter can also come in handy to check the soil.
If it’s dry, water your ligustrum lightly. Generally, the frequency should be about every 10 days.
The frequency of watering ligustrum can vary with the size of the plant and the weather. The soil surrounding larger plants will dry out a little more quickly. They’ll need more water in hot weather, and less during winter.
You should also take care not to plant ligustrum in areas with poorly drained soil or where water accumulates.
3. Fungal Disease
Fungal diseases such as leaf spots and root rot can also cause the ligustrum’s leaves to turn yellow. Leaf spot causes the leaves to have yellow spots on them while root rot causes them to turn yellow and wilt.
If severe enough, the leaves will turn black and die.
To determine root rot, you must carefully uproot each plant and check the roots. Any mushy greyish areas with a bad smell indicate root rot.
You can discourage fungal disease by properly spacing the plants so that they get good air circulation in order to allow the foliage to dry more quickly after rainfall.
Plant all varieties of ligustrum between 8 and 15 feet apart.
Already planted them too closely? Improve air circulation by removing every other plant from the hedge.
Watering your ligustrum using a soaker hose or drip irrigation system can also discourage fungal disease. Regularly check for and remove any plant debris underneath your ligustrum.
If you’ve been unsuccessful in preventing fungal disease, both types can be treated with a good fungicide and replanted in disease-free soil.
4. Problems With Pests
Various pests may cause the leaves on the ligustrum to turn yellow. Be on the lookout for tiny, almost microscopic spider mites.
If you examine the leaf closely, you’ll be able to see them. They look like tiny specks around the stem underneath the leaves. If you don’t see them, the webs they weave may be visible.
These pests damage the plant by sucking its juices. The leaves will then eventually become yellow and drop off.
Fortunately, pests can be controlled by spraying ligustrum with insecticidal soap. Dilute at a rate of 6 tablespoons for each gallon of water and spray until the plants are dripping.
Be sure to cover the entire plant. Apply as needed every other week.
5. Nutritional Deficiencies
A lack of certain nutrients such as potassium, phosphorus, nitrogen, and other trace elements like manganese and magnesium can cause the yellowing of ligustrum leaves.
Using soil of poor quality can certainly cause it. The yellowing is often accompanied by stunted growth.
During the spring season, feed your ligustrum plants with well-balanced and high-quality liquid fertilizers. Read the directions and follow them carefully.
Be sure not to overfeed as this will burn the plants and damage the roots. This will cause even more leaf yellowing and browning.
Feed your ligustrum in the cool part of the day and never during the heat of midday. The fertilizers may cause the burning of the leaves.
Mulching with organic materials such as composted manure can also help; however, this may take several seasons.
Frequently Asked Question about Ligustrum Leaves Turning Yellow
Can I prune my ligustrum?
Ligustrum doesn’t require pruning but responds well to it for shaping purposes or removing stray branches. Only prune about two months before your area’s first frost to avoid damaging any new growth.
Can I plant ligustrum in a container?
You can plant ligustrum in a container that is 6-12 inches wider than the root ball. Use good quality soil with pumice to improve its drainage while making sure the container you’ll use has enough drainage holes.
How long should I expect my ligustrum to live?
With the right conditions and proper care, your ligustrum will have a life expectancy of around 30 years.
Conclusion on Ligustrum Yellow Leaves
Ligustrum gets yellow Leaves because of these 5 factors:
- Inadequate sunlight
- Improper watering
- Nutrient deficiencies
- Pest infestations
- Fungal problems
Daniel has been a plant enthusiast for over 20 years. He owns hundreds of houseplants and prepares for the chili growing seasons yearly with great anticipation. His favorite plants are plant species in the Araceae family, such as Monstera, Philodendron, and Anthurium. He also loves gardening and is growing hot peppers, tomatoes, and many more vegetables.