Bachelor’s buttons are generally carefree plants with a capacity to delight that far exceeds the effort they require. That’s why gardeners are surprised when something goes wrong with these summer garden staples. Find out what to do when your bachelor’s button leaves are turning yellow in this article.
Why Do Plant Leaves Turn Yellow?
Bachelor’s button plants seldom have trouble with insects or disease, so what can cause the leaves to turn yellow? Improper watering or sunlight are the most common causes of yellowing leaves. Though less likely, insects and nutrient deficiencies can also be a problem. Let’s take a look at some possibilities and solutions.
Both over- and under-watering can cause yellowing leaves, and when it comes to bachelor’s buttons, overwatering is far more likely. Bachelor’s buttons tolerate dry soil well, and they won’t need supplemental watering except during prolonged dry spells. Of course, you can’t control the weather, but you can take steps to prevent the soil around your bachelor’s buttons from becoming waterlogged.
Don’t plant bachelor’s buttons in low areas where water tends to collect. Choose a location where the soil remains evenly moist, even after heavy rains. You often see instructions to plant in well-drained soil, but what does this really mean? You can perform a simple test to determine whether your soil is well draining.
Dig a hole about a foot deep and fill it with water. Allow the water to drain completely and then refill the hole with water. Well-drained soil will drain at a rate of two inches per hour or more. If your soil isn’t well drained, you can improve the drainage by working in plenty of organic matter such as compost, shredded leaves or leaf mold. It’s nearly impossible to overdo it, so work in as much as you can.
Poor sunlight is another possibility. Bachelor’s buttons need at least six hours a day of bright, full sunlight, and they won’t make do with less. When you measure the amount of sunlight an area receives, make sure you measure during the growing season. There is a big difference between the sunlight that filters through in early spring and in late summer after all of the trees and shrubs have leafed out. There are also some subtle variations in sun direction through the seasons.
Now let’s look at some of the less likely possibilities.
Caring for Yellowing Bachelor’s Buttons
Bachelor buttons don’t need a lot of nutrients and usually grow just fine without the addition of fertilizer. Even so, if you notice patterns in the yellowing, like leaves yellowing only on the top or bottom of the plant or green leaf veins with yellow tissue in between, it’s possible that you have a nutrient deficiency. You’ll see the deficiency in all plants growing in the immediate area. You can try adding a small amount of plant food that includes micronutrients. Be careful with nitrogen fertilizers, as they can prevent bachelor’s buttons from blooming.
Bachelor’s button problems seldom include insects, but in cases where the area is too moist or too shady, you may have trouble keeping your plants free of pests. Correcting sunlight and moisture problems are the best solutions. Check the leaves, paying particular attention to the undersides of leaves and the crotch between the leaves and stems. Treat by pruning out severe problems and using insect remedies such as insecticidal soap and neem oil spray.
Summer eventually comes to an end, and unless you live in a frost-free area, yellow leaves on bachelor’s button plants may mean that they’ve been touched by frost. These summer annuals should be removed at the end of the season. They often reseed themselves so you may see them again next year. If not, they are certainly worth the trouble of replanting in the spring.