What Causes Oleander Leaves To Turn Yellow?

Oleander Leaves To Turn Yellow

Oleander leaves turning yellow is a common problem that affects this plant. However, most gardeners don’t take the seriousness of this issue because of the color change. 

Most plant problems show themselves by plant leaves changing color. So, when oleander leaves turn yellow, that means there is a problem within the plant.

Close inspection lets you determine what causes oleander leaves to turn yellow. The common causes include excessive watering, poor soil drainage, improper fertilization, pests, diseases, and improper lighting.

Understanding the causes behind oleander leaves turning yellow is crucial for identifying the problem, implementing appropriate remedies, and ensuring the plant’s overall health and vitality. 

This article will explore the primary factors contributing to oleander leaf yellowing. By gaining insights into these causes, gardeners can take proactive measures to prevent or treat leaf yellowing, promoting the long-term well-being of their oleander plants.

Oleander Leaves To Turn Yellow

Why do Oleander leaves turn yellow?

Excessive watering

Excessive watering can cause oleander leaves to turn yellow. While water is essential for plant growth, providing too much can disrupt the delicate balance of nutrients and oxygen uptake in the root zone, resulting in various physiological problems.

When oleander plants receive excessive water, their root systems become saturated, reducing oxygen availability. This condition, known as waterlogged or poorly drained soil, hampers the roots’ ability to respire and absorb nutrients effectively. Consequently, the plant may exhibit signs of stress, including yellowing leaves.

What to look for.

Examine the lower leaves first, as they tend to show symptoms of stress earlier. If the leaves turn yellow, especially from the base of the plant upwards, excessive watering might be the culprit.

On the other hand, overwatered plants may exhibit wilting symptoms. This is because the roots become deprived of oxygen and cannot uptake water efficiently, resulting in wilting even when the soil is moist.

Also, you can examine the root system of the oleander plant. If it appears dark, mushy and has a foul odor, it indicates root rot, which can be caused by overwatering.

How to fix overwatering.

First, you must adjust the watering schedule. Water the plant only when the top inch of soil feels dry. Allow the soil to partially dry out between watering sessions.

If the soil is consistently waterlogged, consider improving the drainage in the planting area. You can achieve this by amending the soil with organic matter such as compost, creating raised beds, or using containers with drainage holes.

If the oleander is in a container and suffering from excessive watering, repot the plant into a well-draining potting mix that allows excess water to drain quickly.

Also, ensure that you prune the affected parts to encourage new growth and prevent spreading to other parts of the plant.

Poor soil drainage.

Poor soil drainage is another common factor that can lead to the yellowing of oleander leaves. When the soil does not drain well, excess water accumulates around the root zone, leading to oxygen deprivation and nutrient imbalances. This condition can cause stress and subsequent yellowing of the leaves.

When the soil drainage is poor, water tends to remain stagnant around the roots, creating a suffocating environment. This wet condition prevents the roots from accessing the necessary oxygen for respiration and nutrient uptake. As a result, the plant’s health deteriorates, leading to yellowing leaves.

What to look for.

Check the soil around the base of the plant. If it feels consistently damp or soggy, even days after watering or rainfall, it indicates poor drainage.

A foul smell emanating from the soil or plant roots clearly indicates waterlogged conditions and poor soil drainage.

If the oleander plant is not growing as vigorously as expected, it could be due to poor soil drainage affecting nutrient uptake. 

How to fix.

  • Improve the soil structure and drainage by incorporating organic matter such as compost or well-rotted manure. This helps to break up heavy soils and enhance drainage capabilities.
  • If the soil drainage remains a persistent issue, consider creating raised beds or mounds where oleanders can be planted. This allows for better control over the soil composition and drainage.
  • In severe drainage problems, installing drainage systems such as French drains or perforated pipes can help channel excess water away from the root zone.
  • When choosing a spot for planting oleanders, opt for areas with naturally well-draining soil. Avoid low-lying areas or heavy clay soils that tend to retain water.

Improper lighting. 

Being a sun-loving plant, oleanders require adequate sunlight for photosynthesis and maintaining healthy green foliage. Insufficient or excessive lighting conditions can disrupt this process, leading to leaf discoloration and yellowing.

When oleanders do not receive enough light, they may struggle to produce enough energy through photosynthesis. This can result in reduced chlorophyll production, causing the leaves to appear pale or yellowish. On the other hand, if oleanders are exposed to excessive direct sunlight or intense heat without proper protection, they can experience leaf scorching and subsequent yellowing or browning of the leaves. 

What to look for.

If the leaves appear pale or yellow, especially in the lower or inner parts of the plant, it may indicate insufficient light reaching the foliage.

If the leaves show signs of brown or yellow patches, browning along the leaf edges, or overall leaf wilting, it suggests excessive sunlight exposure or heat stress.

Sparse or leggy growth with elongated stem nodes can indicate the plant stretching towards a light source in an attempt to receive more light.

How to fix.

If the oleander receives inadequate light, consider relocating it to a spot with more direct sunlight. Ensure the plant receives at least 6 to 8 hours of direct sunlight daily.

If the oleander is exposed to intense sunlight or extreme heat, create shade by using umbrellas, shade cloth or by planting taller companion plants nearby to provide some protection during the hottest parts of the day.

Regularly prune and shape the oleander to maintain an open and balanced structure. This encourages better light penetration and airflow throughout the plant, reducing the risk of yellowing leaves due to poor lighting.

When natural light is limited or unavailable, consider using supplemental artificial lighting, such as grow lights or fluorescent tubes, to provide the necessary light spectrum for oleanders.

Improper fertilization.

Improper fertilization can contribute to the yellowing of oleander leaves. When the plant does not receive adequate or balanced nutrients, it can suffer from nutrient deficiencies or toxicities, leading to leaf discoloration and overall poor health.

Insufficient fertilization can result in nutrient deficiencies, where the plant lacks essential elements necessary for its growth and development. This can manifest as yellowing of the leaves, as certain nutrients are crucial in chlorophyll production and leaf health.

On the other hand, excessive fertilization or inappropriate fertilizers can lead to nutrient toxicity. When the concentration of certain nutrients exceeds the plant’s tolerance levels, it can disrupt nutrient uptake and cause physiological imbalances, resulting in yellowing or browning of the leaves.

What to look for.

Nutrient deficiencies often exhibit distinct patterns on the leaves. For example, nitrogen deficiency may cause uniform yellowing of older leaves, while iron deficiency can result in yellowing between the veins, leaving green veins intact.

If the yellowing is not accompanied by signs of pests or diseases, it suggests a nutrient-related issue.

If the yellowing is accompanied by leaf burn, wilting, or stunted growth, it indicates potential nutrient toxicity due to excessive fertilization.

How to fix.

Conduct a soil test to determine the nutrient levels and pH of the soil. This will help identify any deficiencies or imbalances and guide you in selecting the appropriate fertilizers.

Use a balanced fertilizer formulated specifically for flowering shrubs like oleanders. Follow the instructions on the fertilizer package regarding application rates and frequency.

If a specific nutrient deficiency is identified through soil testing or leaf symptoms, use a fertilizer or supplement specifically designed to address that particular deficiency. For example, applying a nitrogen-rich fertilizer for nitrogen deficiency or using an iron chelate for iron deficiency.

Apply fertilizers evenly and avoid over-application. Water the plants thoroughly after fertilizing to ensure proper nutrient absorption and to prevent nutrient burn.

Establish a regular fertilization schedule based on the specific needs of oleanders. This will provide a consistent supply of nutrients without overloading the plant.


Pests can be a significant cause of yellowing leaves in oleander. When insects or other pests infest the plant, they can cause damage to the foliage, disrupt nutrient uptake, and induce stress responses that lead to leaf yellowing.

Several common pests, including aphids, scale insects, spider mites, and whiteflies, can affect oleanders. These pests feed on the plant’s sap, depleting its resources and weakening its health. As a result, the leaves may turn yellow as the plant struggles to maintain its normal physiological functions.

What to look for.

Look closely at the undersides of leaves, along stems, and in the plant’s crevices for signs of pests. You may spot insects, their eggs, or other evidence such as sticky honeydew secretions or webbing.

Some pests, like aphids and spider mites, can cause leaves to become distorted, curled, or puckered.

Pests that secrete honeydew, such as aphids or scale insects, can attract sooty mold fungus. This fungus appears as a black, powdery coating on the leaves, further indicating the presence of pests.

How to fix.

Regularly inspect your oleander plants for signs of pests. Identify the specific pest species to determine the appropriate treatment methods.

Encourage natural predators of pests, such as ladybugs or lacewings, to establish a balance in the ecosystem. Planting nectar-rich flowers nearby can attract these beneficial insects.

For more minor infestations, manually remove pests by spraying the affected leaves with a strong jet of water or by using a soft brush to dislodge them.

If the pest infestation is moderate, consider using insecticidal soaps or oils labeled for use on oleanders. Follow the instructions carefully and apply the treatment to the affected areas.

Systemic insecticides may be necessary for severe infestations. The plant absorbs these products and kills pests when they feed on the foliage. However, exercise caution and follow the instructions on the product label to minimize any potential adverse effects on beneficial insects or the environment.


Diseases can contribute to the yellowing of oleander leaves. Fungal, bacterial, or viral infections can weaken the plant’s immune system, disrupt its physiological processes, and result in yellow or discolored foliage. Some common diseases that affect oleanders include leaf spot, powdery mildew, and bacterial leaf scorch.

Fungal diseases often manifest as spots or lesions on the leaves, causing them to turn yellow or brown. Powdery mildew, for example, forms a white, powdery coating on the leaves, while bacterial leaf scorch can cause a gradual browning or yellowing of the leaf margins.

What to look for.

Look for irregular spots, lesions, or discoloration on the leaves. Depending on the specific disease, these may vary in size, color, or shape.

Some diseases, like powdery mildew, can be identified by the presence of a white or gray powdery growth on the leaf surfaces.

In advanced stages of disease infection, oleander leaves may wilt, wither, or show signs of dieback, indicating severe damage.

How to fix.

Remove and destroy infected leaves or branches to prevent the spread of the disease. Make clean cuts using sterile pruning tools and adequately dispose of the pruned material.

Increase air circulation around the oleander plant by pruning and thinning out dense foliage. This helps reduce humidity levels and create an environment less favorable for disease development.

Fungicidal treatments may be necessary in cases of severe or persistent fungal infections. Select a fungicide labeled for use on oleanders and apply it according to the instructions. Be sure to follow proper safety precautions and timing guidelines.

When planting oleanders, consider selecting disease-resistant varieties less susceptible to common diseases in your area.