Science & Nature

Pay Attention to These Signs That Something’s Wrong in Your Garden

Pay Attention to These Signs That Something’s Wrong in Your Garden

Illustration for article titled Pay Attention to These Signs That Something's Wrong in Your Garden

Photo: Yaroslau Mikheyeu (Shutterstock)

Most longtime gardeners are fluent in the language of plants, knowing how to read the signs and signals that their plants are thriving, or in some type of distress. But those without years of experience may not recognize some of the more subtle ways their garden is trying to tell them something is wrong. Here are some of those signs and what they mean, courtesy of an article by Audrey Stallsmith on

Signs something is wrong in your garden

Sure, if a plant shrivels up and dies then you probably know something is amiss, but plants actually provide more information than this—including what, exactly, is wrong. You just need to know where to look and what certain changes mean. Here are a few examples from Stallsmith’s article:

  • Yellowing leaves with green veins: A condition called iron deficiency chlorosis, meaning that the soil is overly alkaline.
  • Darker foliage with a bronze hue or purple spotting: Overly acidic soil.
  • Stunted leaves with a matte look instead of a glossy sheen: The soil is too dry.
  • Wilted and yellow leaves with rotting brown roots instead of healthy white ones: The soil is too wet.
  • Shrunken, downturned leaves, bleached foliage and flowers and occasional burns in the centers of the leaves: Too much sunlight.
  • Spindly stems that sometimes lose natural variegation or refuse to flower: Not enough sunlight.
  • Grows large, but with few or no blossoms: Plants have been overfed.
  • Lower (older) leaves yellow prematurely: Plants aren’t fed enough and aren’t getting enough nitrogen.
  • Yellowed or reddened distorted foliage and brown spots on their blooms after you’ve sprayed: Herbicide damage.
  • Holes or “windows” in leaves: Bugs are eating the plants.
  • Wholly eaten plants, plants missing pieces, or plants with large chunks removed: Plants are being eaten by vertebrates, like deer, groundhogs and rabbits.
  • Dark sunken spots or powdery films on leaves: There is fungi on the plant.

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