What Causes Yellow Leaves On Ranunculus

Nobody likes to see yellow leaves on ranunculus plants. When you spot a slight discoloration, it’s usually a sign of a problem within the plant. 

The common cause of yellow leaves on ranunculus plants is improper watering, improper lighting, old age, pests, and diseases, among other causes. For most gardeners, it’s not easy to determine the underlying problem, and since that takes time, you will find your plant is dead before you determine what is killing it. 

Let’s look at the causes of yellow leaves on ranunculus and the potential solutions to the problems.

9 major causes of yellow leaves on ranunculus.

Ranunculus plants are known for their vibrant and colorful blooms, making them popular among gardeners. However, when the leaves of these plants turn yellow, it can be a cause for concern. 

Yellowing leaves not only detract from the plant’s overall beauty but may also indicate underlying problems that need to be addressed. 


One of the most common causes of yellow leaves on ranunculus is overwatering. Excessive moisture in the soil can lead to root rot and nutrient deficiencies, resulting in yellowing foliage. 

To prevent overwatering, ensure the soil is well-draining and water the plant only when the top inch of the soil feels dry. Adjusting the watering schedule and reducing the amount of water given to the plant can help resolve this issue.


On the contrary, underwatering can also cause yellowing leaves in ranunculus. Insufficient water supply can lead to dehydration and nutrient imbalances, causing the leaves to lose their healthy green color. It is important to water ranunculus plants adequately, especially during dry periods, ensuring that the soil remains moist but not waterlogged.

Iron Deficiency.

Yellow leaves with green veins may indicate an iron deficiency in ranunculus plants. Iron is essential for producing chlorophyll, the pigment responsible for the plant’s green color. 

To address this issue, apply iron chelate or iron sulfate to the soil, following the manufacturer’s instructions. Additionally, maintaining proper soil pH levels can help improve iron availability to the plant.

Root Rot and Root Bound.

Root rot, caused by fungal pathogens, can result in yellowing leaves, wilting, and stunted growth. This condition occurs when the soil remains consistently wet and lacks proper drainage. 

To prevent root rot, ensure the soil is well-drained, and avoid overwatering. If root rot has already set in, replanting the ranunculus in fresh, sterile soil may be necessary. 

Root binding occurs when the roots become cramped and overcrowded within a pot. This can hinder nutrient uptake and lead to yellow leaves. If the plant has root bound, consider repotting it to a larger container.

Poor Soil Quality.

Yellow leaves can also be a sign of poor soil quality. Ranunculus plants prefer fertile soil with good organic content. If the soil lacks essential nutrients, the plant may exhibit yellowing leaves. Adding organic matter, such as compost or well-rotted manure, can help improve soil quality and provide the nutrients for healthy foliage.

Too Much or Too Little Sunlight.

The amount of sunlight a ranunculus receives can impact leaf color. Insufficient sunlight can cause yellowing, while excessive sun exposure can scorch the leaves, turning them yellow or brown. 

Ensure that the ranunculus is placed in a location with the appropriate amount of sunlight for optimal growth. Most ranunculus varieties thrive in full sun or partial shade.

Insect Infestation.

Certain insects, such as aphids, thrips, or spider mites, can cause yellow spots or discoloration on ranunculus leaves. These pests feed on the plant sap, causing damage and weakening the foliage. 

Regularly inspect the plant for signs of infestation and take appropriate measures to control the pests, such as using insecticidal soaps or natural predators.

Virus and Fungi Infestation.

Yellowing leaves can also be a symptom of viral or fungal infections. Viruses can be transmitted through infected soil or pests, leading to stunted growth and yellowing foliage. Fungal diseases like powdery mildew or botrytis can also cause yellow spots or patches on the leaves. 

If you suspect a viral or fungal infection, remove and destroy affected plant parts to prevent further spread. Consider using fungicides or contacting a local extension service for specific recommendations on managing these diseases.


As ranunculus plants age, it is natural for their lower leaves to turn yellow and eventually die off. The older leaves may not receive sufficient nutrients, causing them to yellow and drop. This is a normal part of the plant’s life cycle, and as long as the upper foliage remains healthy, there is no cause for concern.


The causes of yellow leaves on ranunculus can be attributed to various factors, including overwatering, underwatering, iron deficiency, root rot, poor soil quality, sunlight imbalance, insect infestation, virus, fungi infestation, and natural aging.

Once you have identified the specific cause of yellowing leaves, start implementing the appropriate solutions, such as adjusting watering practices, improving soil quality, providing adequate sunlight, and addressing pest or disease issues, to help restore the health and vibrancy of your ranunculus plants. 

Remember to observe your plants closely, provide them with proper care, and seek professional advice if needed to ensure their optimal growth and beauty.