University of Maryland Extension

Natural Senescence of Older Leaves

Back to Yellowing/Browning of Leaves

yellowing of older leaves
Natural Senescence of Older Leaves

The yellowing of a few lower leaves may be attributed to natural leaf aging. Many plants normally shed lower (older) leaves as the plant grows. Senescence is defined as the normal decline or degeneration of leaf tissue due to a physiological aging process. However, this aging process can be accelerated by environmental stress, disease or insect problems. Look at the plants' growing conditions, overall health and the proportion of leaves that are affected, to determine whether lower leaf yellowing or shedding is normal. Nitrogen deficiency, insufficient light, drought, excess moisture, wilt diseases, mite or insect problems must be investigated when a high proportion of leaves are yellowing. Normal lower leaf drop occurs gradually and sporadically when soil conditions, moisture levels, and light intensity are optimal, and no insect or diseases are present. After removal of the yellow leaves, the overall appearance of the plant should be healthy.

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