Why Are There Yellow Leaves On Roses? 8 Possible Reasons And How To Fix It

Why Are There Yellow Leaves On Roses 8 Possible Reasons And How To Fix It

Have you noticed yellow leaves on your roses? Maybe you have never had them before and want to know why?

Or are you curious about yellow leaves on your roses and want to know more? Whatever the reason is that brought you here, we have the answer for you! 

Finding out what causes yellow leaves on roses can be tricky, especially if you have never had them before.

You head online for some answers but are met with page after page of confusing and conflicting answers, leaving you frustrated and disappointed.

How are you supposed to know who to trust or how to care for your roses now?

Well, that is where we come in! Today, we are here to tell you the eight possible reasons why your roses have yellow leaves and how you can fix them. Keep reading to become an expert and provide the best care for your roses. 

Why Are There Yellow Leaves On My Roses?

Let’s dive straight into it! There are eight common reasons why you have yellow leaves on your roses. These include: 

  1. Too much fertilizer
  2. Drought stress
  3. Overwatering 
  4. Deficiencies in the soil 
  5. Diseases 
  6. Pests 
  7. Insufficient sunlight 
  8. Dormancy 

Although there are a lot of causes for yellow spots, most of them require an easy fix! The hardest part is figuring out what is the cause of the yellow spots in the first place. We have more information on each of these causes and how you can fix your roses! 

Too Much Fertilizer 

Too much fertilizer can cause your roses to develop yellow leaves, as high levels of salt can burn the leaves. Thankfully, if you have been using too much fertilizer, the solution is simple.

Just reduce the amount of fertilizer you are using or how often you are fertilizing your roses. 

It’s worth opting for a fertilizer that is formulated for roses too. You can check on the label of the fertilizer before you purchase it to ensure you buy one suitable for roses. 

Drought Stress

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Drought stress occurs when your roses are not getting enough water. Your roses will start to wilt, with the leaves turning yellow.

Your roses need to be in soil that is moist but not soggy. You want soil that is moist for eight to twelve inches in depth. 

If you think drought stress is the cause, you need to water your roses more frequently.

You should water your roses frequently and deeply to prevent drought stress from happening. Water your roses deeply once a week, or more in hot and dry weather. 

Use a soaker hose or drip irrigation system to deliver water directly to your roses. This will ensure the water penetrates deeply, providing water to your roses. You can also mulch around your roses to help retain soil moisture.

Make sure you pay extra attention to roses in pots. These are more likely to suffer from drought stress. Check their soil regularly and water as needed.

Where possible, invest in self-watering pots as these will provide your roses with the water they need, even when you are away! 

Over Watering

On the flip side, overwatering is another common cause of yellow leaves on roses! If the leaves are wilting and falling off your roses, chances are you are watering them too frequently. 

You can stop this by cutting back on watering your roses and ensuring that the soil dries between watering. It can be tricky to get this right, as you don’t want your roots to dry out, but you don’t want them to be waterlogged. 

While you find the right balance for your roses, you can use a moisture meter to help keep track of the moisture in your soil and help you see when you should water your roses next. 

You can also improve the drainage in your soil to help with over-watering. If your water does not drain properly, it causes your roots to rot, leaving you with yellow leaves on your roses. 

Add organic matter like manure or compost to your soil. You also need to do this to any soil that is compacted or heavy clay. 

Plant your roses in raised beds or mounds too, as the water will run off instead of pooling around the roots.

This will help to improve drainage and save your roots from rotting. When planting your roses, make sure you use well-draining soil to help with any build-up of water. 

Nutrient Deficiencies 

Nutrient deficiencies are another common cause of yellow leaves on roses. If there are brown or black spots too, a nutrient deficiency is likely the cause.

Several nutrient deficiencies can impact your roses, the most common being iron, nitrogen, magnesium, and pH levels that are too high in your soil. 

Let’s take a closer look at these deficiencies now to help you see if any of these are the cause of your yellow leaves.

To identify which deficiency you have, we recommend testing your soil. It will show you what nutrients are missing and you can adjust the soil as needed. 

Iron Deficiency 

Iron deficiencies or iron chlorosis will cause the leaves on your roses to turn yellow. Iron deficiencies are often confused with nitrogen deficiencies, but with iron deficiencies, your leaves will have green veins. 

Pay attention to the veins when you are inspecting your roses to see which deficiency your roses have. Stunted growth is also another sign of iron deficiency. 

You can use chelated iron products to fix any roses that have an iron deficiency. 

Nitrogen Deficiency 

A nitrogen deficiency is one of the most common and will cause your leaves to turn yellow. The leaves will be yellow and shriveled, with spindly and weak stems. Your roses will also have tiny blossoms if they are lacking in nitrogen. 

Regularly fertilizing your rose bush will help fix roses that are lacking in nitrogen. 

Magnesium Deficiency 

Magnesium deficiencies can also cause yellow leaves on roses. There will be yellowing leaves at the margins, with a green arrowhead pattern in the middle of your roses that have a magnesium deficiency. 

To prevent a magnesium deficiency, apply a quarter cup of Epsom salt or magnesium sulfate to the rose bush. Do this two to three times a year, not repeating more frequently. 

High pH In Soil

Your soil’s pH might also be too high, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow. The roses have not been able to absorb the nutrients they need from the soil, causing the leaves to yellow. 

You will need to have your soil pH tested to see what pH level your soil has. Ideally, you want a pH level of between six and seven.

If the pH is higher than 7.0, it is too alkaline and your rose bush should either be moved to a different location or your soil should be amended. 

It can be tricky to amend the soil to get the right pH level, so you would be better off moving the rose bush. 

If you think your roses are suffering from a deficiency, you can prevent it by using a fertilizer that is designed for roses. A slow-release fertilizer will provide nutrients to your plants over a longer period of time, preventing any deficiencies. 

Rose Diseases

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There are also a few diseases that can cause your leaves to yellow on your roses. The most common are black spots, powdery mildew, and rose mosaic virus.

Let’s take a closer look at each of these now to help you learn more about them and spot the diseases. 

Black Spot

Black spot is a fungal disease. You can identify it by black spots on the leaves of the rose bush. As the disease progresses, your roses’ leaves will turn yellow and brown before falling off.

Rose black spot is pretty common, with most gardeners dealing with it at some point. You can prevent it by watering your roses at the base of the plant early in the morning. This allows the leaves time to dry before night. 

You will need to make sure there is plenty of air circulation around the roses too and that they aren’t too crowded. They should be planted three feet apart or further. 

If you have black spots on your roses, remove any infected leaves. Use sterilized pruners and spray any remaining foliage with a fungicidal spray to treat them and prevent them from returning. 

Powdery Mildew

Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that causes yellow leaves on roses. It appears as white powder on the leaves of your roses and will cause yellowing and wilting leaves. 

You need good air circulation around your rose bush to prevent powdery mildew. You will also want to water your rose bush early in the morning, ensuring that your leaves have time to dry during the day. 

Take care not to overwater your roses, as this can cause powdery mildew. If you already have powdery mildew, remove the infected leaves.

You can spray your roses with a fungicidal spray, but this is best done before powdery mildew becomes an issue. 

Rose Mosaic Virus

Rose mosaic virus is caused by Apple Mosaic Virus (ApMV) and Prunus Necrotic Ringspot Virus (PNRSV). Unfortunately, there is no cure for this virus. If you have rose mosaic virus, it should be destroyed. 

You can spot it thanks to its symptoms. Look out for chlorotic bands, ring spots, yellow vein banding, or wavy lines. The most common symptom is splotches of yellow and green on leaves, known as general mosaics. 

To prevent this, you need a healthy plant. Opt for varieties of roses that are less prone to rose mosaic virus, like knockout roses. These roses are bred to be disease resistant, so you won’t need to worry about it!


There are also a few pests that can cause yellow leaves on roses. The main culprits are spider mites, Japanese beetles, thrips, and aphids. If you spot pests on your rose plant leaves, there are a few methods you can use to treat them. 

First, you can try an insecticidal soap or neem oil. These will help to get rid of pests and can be applied directly to your plant. 

You can also add beneficial insects to your garden. These are insects that prey on the pests wreaking havoc on your plants!

Pests are a common issue for gardeners, but providing that you monitor your roses regularly, you can catch any issues early on. In most cases, the sooner you catch the pests, the more chance you have of saving your plants from them! 

Not Enough Sunlight

If your roses are not getting enough sunlight, their leaves can yellow. Roses need at least six hours of sunlight a day to thrive. If your roses don’t get enough sunlight, their leaves will yellow due to stress. 

Thankfully, there is an easy fix. Move your roses to a sunnier part of your garden. Your roses might also get large, casting a shadow on some of the lower leaves.

Trim your bush to allow light to top the bottom leaves. This will prevent them from yellowing and helps you to have a better view of your entire rose bush! 


Roses are dormant through winter and will not bloom or grow during this time. This is known as dormancy and is a vital part of the rose plant’s life cycle. Your roses need this time to rest and rejuvenate to help them grow again in the spring and summer. 

The leaves on your rose bush might turn yellow and fall off during dormancy. This is completely normal and you don’t need to worry!

Simply sweep up any leaves that fall off and wait. You can also remove any yellow, wilted, or brown leaves from your rose bush during its dormancy period. The leaves will grow back when the plant blooms in the early spring.

If you see any yellow leaves during the winter season on your rose bush, you don’t need to panic.

We do recommend checking the leaves for signs of disease or deficiency, using the symptoms we showed you earlier to be sure there isn’t anything else causing the yellow leaves. 

Final Thoughts

And there you have it, eight common reasons why your roses have yellow leaves. Whether there is a deficiency, too much water in the soil, not enough water, pests, a lack of sunlight, dormancy, or too much fertilizer, there is no need to panic straight away!

All of these causes can be solved. You might need to adjust how you water and care for your roses, move them to a different location, or use a fungicide to protect your plants.

Thankfully, all of these solutions are affordable and easy, allowing you to care for your roses with ease. 

Next time you see yellow leaves on your roses, you don’t need to panic. Simply revisit our article and you can identify the cause of your yellow leaves and treat it with ease. No longer will you need to worry about yellow leaves on roses!

About The Author

Gina Harper grew up dreaming about farms and growing her own food. She began an urban garden to feed herself and turned it into an incredible hobby. Gina is here to teach you everything from raised beds to container gardening, how to keep plants alive and well in a smoggy city, and the works. It’s time that we carve our own piece of green earth and reap what we sow—she’s here to help you with that.