Why Do Bamboo Plants Turn Yellow?


The bamboo plant is a grass and is grown for its foliage. It is in the subfamily Bambusoideae of the family Gramineae. It is classified as clumping or running. The running variety of bamboo can be invasive as it spreads by rhizomes. Some bamboos can grow 2 inches to a foot per day in ideal conditions. These plants are generally very hardy and make beautiful screens or borders and also do well in groves.

General Care

Bamboo is pretty happy as long as it has moderate sun, loamy soil, adequate water and protection from competitive weeds. They can be planted almost any time in temperate climates but should be delayed if the weather is icy.As a forest plant, they do best when the base and rhizomes are covered in mulch or other rich, organic material.


Water needs are high especially if in hot climates. a 5-gallon plant needs more than a gallon of water per day, but care should be exercised to not over water and flood newly planted or baby plants.This will cause yellowing of the leaves and drop off. Once they are established a large bamboo can tolerate less watering but to encourage maximum growth, adequate moisture and fertilizer must be applied.


Yellowing is a common sign in plants that they are getting too much or too little nutrition. Bamboo is no different. It needs a high-nitrogen fertilizer to keep it healthy. A palm fertilizer will work. Since the bamboo is a grass it is often grown for its foliage and regular fertilizing on a monthly cycle will keep the leaves from yellowing and encourage new foliage emergence. Care must be taken to water in fertilizer well, or it can burn roots and rhizomes and cause fading in the leaves.

Container Bamboo

Due to its spreading habit, potting bamboo is a way to grow it without the invasiveness commonly experienced. The size and drainage of the pot are important considerations. If the bamboo is yellowing, it could be due to lack of drainage and overly wet roots. Conversely, the plant needs water and pots often dry out quicker than grounded plants. The plant will need a bit more water than one in soil. The container also needs to be large enough to accommodate the rhizomes in a running bamboo, to avoid crowding and associated fungal problems that can cause leaf and stem discoloration.

Spider Mites

Spider mites are a common plant problem and can be identified by searching for webbing on the leaves. The mites will create yellow spots or streaks on the leaves. Mites are difficult to see with the naked eye and can be very difficult to get rid of. A mild insecticidal soap can be applied. Mites spread easily, however, so it may be best to try a systemic insecticide.

Growth Pattern

Bamboo loses old leaves to make way for new growth. If yellowed leaves occur, it may just be a natural part of the growth process for the plant, especially if there are no other signs of distress. Let spent leaves stay around the plant as a mulch.


In rare instances where yellow leaves are a chronic problem. Pruning out the yellow leaves can keep the problem from spreading to green leaves. Always use clean, sharp pruners or a plant knife. Repeat the process if new yellowing occurs. Wash the cutting implement after each use to avoid spreading disease to other plants.

Keywords: Bamboo Problems, Bamboo Care, Plant Stress

About this Author

Bonnie Grant began writing professionally in 1990. She has been published on Web sites like GardenGuide and eHow. Grant recently earned a Bachelor of Arts in business management with a hospitality focus from South Seattle Community College.