Garden Care

The Reason for Holly Leaves Turning Yellow

Are the leaves on your holly leaves turning yellow? You’ve come to the right place if you’re wondering why it is happening.

When it comes to our beloved holly trees, seeing their leaves turn yellow can be quite alarming! 

But before you panic, know that the reasons for this phenomenon can be vast and varied. Finding out the core reasons will make treating them quick and effective.

In my comprehensive guide, we’ll explore why your holly leaves are turning yellow, effective solutions, and preventative measures.

Why Are My Holly Leaves Turning Yellow? 

holly leaves turning yellow

Holly bushes are a popular landscaping choice due to their evergreen foliage and attractive red berries. However, if you notice that your holly leaves are turning yellow, it could be a sign of a larger issue.

The main cause is likely due to chlorosis, scale insects, fungi, watering too much, or others. Explore the various reasons why holly leaves may be yellow and solutions here.



If the leaves of your holly plant turn yellow, it could mean that the plant has a condition called chlorosis. It happens when the plant doesn’t have enough iron.

The soil may be high in pH level. As a result, it is too much alkaline.

The root may, therefore, find it hard to absorb iron. The Holly leaves yellowing will depend on how severe the condition is. In severe cases, the plant may become completely yellow and rot in a season.

Notably, the higher pH is, the more difficult it is for the root to absorb iron. It means the plant is losing chlorophyll. The soil may no longer have enough iron, which can dry up the plant.


To fix this iron deficiency, first, check the soil pH level. It can be done by making a small sample of soil. Then, gardeners usually mix it with water to test the acidity. If the level exceeds 6, you should adjust it to a 5.5 level.

After that, use a good fertilizer that has iron in it. It can be rock phosphate or perlite. The evergreen plants will be able to take in more nutrients, and that returns green color to the foliage.

You’ll need to add the right amount of fertilizer based on your plant’s needs. If the soil isn’t too acidic, but your garden plants still don’t have enough iron, you can consider adding iron chelate.

The Ways For Prevention

Keeping a stable pH level is one of the most critical factors in preventing chlorosis in holly plants. Chlorosis is caused by a lack of nutrients, particularly iron.

It is essential for the plant’s health. Ensure the holly plant has enough iron, manganese, and magnesium in the soil. So, you can help prevent chlorosis from occurring.

To determine whether your soil is deficient in these minerals, it’s essential to check the pH levels regularly. When the pH levels are not at a neutral level, it is crucial to adjust them accordingly.

Beginning a gardening project without knowing the pH levels of the soil or your types of plant’s needs can severely harm plant growth.

Therefore, You should learn and analyze the pH levels of your soil to ensure healthy plant growth.

Watering Problems


Excessive or insufficient watering is another factor contributing to the leaf yellowing. In conditions of low moisture, green leaves often become agitated and dehydrated.

In case the lack of water persists, the leaves could change to yellow and may gradually wither.

Additionally, over-watering can pose problems to the plant’s growth. Typically, excess water trapped in the wet soil hinders the plant’s ability to attain other necessary nutrients.

It could also result in root rot. The plant will be weak and suffer leaf and root ailments.


For a wide range of garden centers, proper watering is crucial to healthy growth. In cases where rainfall is insufficient, certain plants may require more water.

To know exactly how much water your plant needs and develop an appropriate watering schedule, it is crucial to observe it closely.

When you notice Holly yellow leaves after watering, waiting until the soil has completely dried out is essential. Then, you can water the plant again.

To know whether it’s time for watering, insert your fingers into the soil and check the moisture level. When the soil at the top starts to feel rough and dry, it indicates it’s time to water the plant.

The Ways For Prevention

You can use a sprinkler, timer, or other irrigation methods to ensure consistent watering. They will allow for watering at predetermined moments.

Monitoring the soil’s moisture level is essential before you water the plants.

It will enable you to determine if the soil needs more water to maintain the necessary moisture content.

Checking the soil prior to watering is a vital step in ensuring that your plants receive the correct amount of water. It can help prevent both overwatering and underwatering.

Transplant Shock

yellow leaves on holly


Holly plants should remain in the same location for extended periods. When they have not reached a certain level of maturity, they may experience transplant shock.

This stress renders them more vulnerable to the new environment.

When a plant is uprooted to a new site, it often needs time to make the necessary adjustments. This process can be challenging due to a lack of well-developed root systems.

Signs of Holly bushes turning yellow due to transplant shock can start with leaf scorching. Unfortunately, you may not recognize these symptoms until it’s too late and the plant starts dying.


Regarding holly transplantation, waiting until the plant is at least two years old is crucial. Then you can attempt to transplant it.

Should you decide to transplant, ensure the root ball is adequately moistened. It ensures the growth of additional roots to help the plant adapt quickly to its new surroundings.

Taking these measures during transplantation can dramatically increase the plant’s chances of thriving. It will quickly flourish in its new location.

The Ways For Prevention

To avoid the problems associated with transplant shock, gardeners should choose a holly bush that has a small size. The plants need to feature a robust and extensive root system.

You should consider waiting a few years before transplanting the bush. The strong plants will have more time to have vigorous root development.

It helps the bush acclimate more quickly to its new surroundings and reduces the chances of experiencing post-transplant stress.

Remember to prepare the new environment with suitable growing conditions, including pH soil testing and sufficient water.

Scale Insects


Scale insects are a prevalent type of pest that can wreak havoc on your holly plants. They attack the evergreen leaves and cause damage.

These insects typically favor holly leaves as their habitat. They are notorious for their ability to suck the juices from leaves while spreading various diseases. It can cause the plant’s demise.

One of the most noticeable signs of scale insect infestation is the yellow leaves on Holly trees. These pests appear as hard, white, or brown bumps on the plant’s surface.

Around the bumps, there is a sticky residue called honeydew.

Early detection and prompt treatment are crucial when dealing with scale insects. They are challenging to eradicate once they have established themselves on the plant.


Using a systemic insecticide is widely regarded as the most effective approach to address an infestation of scale insects.

This treatment method kills the insects and provides continued protection against future infestations.

Another option is to use insecticidal soaps, which you can produce and use for your plant. It may eliminate the scale insects.

In cases of serious infestations, cut down the infected branches or diseased leaves. Then, dispose of them away from your home.

By taking these steps, you can ensure your holly plant’s long-term health and vitality. It will also minimize the risk of future pest damage.

The Ways For Prevention

Protective sprays containing soaps are an effective way to deter scale insect infestations. The soap in these sprays kills the insects and acts as a repellent to keep them away from the plants.

Removing dead leaves and other affected parts is important if an infestation occurs again. It will help prevent the spread of the infestation to unaffected leaves and other areas.

Meanwhile, the method also reduces the possibility of attracting other pests.



Holly bush turning yellow can also be attributed to the presence of fungi, which tend to be quite prevalent. These fungi are generally small and transparent.

They feature a shiny look. You can see that fungi typically take hold in Holly areas that have been injured or pruned.

It is worth noting that fungi do not affect the root system and tend to target older leaves. The fungi produce spores on these leaves.

By identifying these telltale signs, you can take precautions such as trimming back affected areas.


One possible solution for infected leaves is to remove the entire leaves from the plant as soon as possible to avoid further damage.

It entails cutting off any damaged areas from the branches and properly disposing of them.

Moreover, a fungicide is advisable as a preventive measure to stop the spread of fungi.

The Ways For Prevention

Pruning holly plants in a timely and appropriate manner is essential. It ensures damaged leaves are properly managed and do not pose a risk to the plant’s overall health.

It is important to be mindful of any activities that could potentially create wounds in the plant’s early stages. These can compromise its ability to grow healthily.

You can create a nourishing environment by planting the Holly in optimal conditions and keeping it well-pruned.



Plants, including Holly, are known to be particularly vulnerable to the effects of chemicals.

If Holly plants are situated in an area with high exposure to chemical sprays or residues, Holly bush yellow leaves appear.

This issue may arise when chemicals are used for controlling weeds or for eliminating insects. The substance seeps into the plant’s internal systems, potentially causing damage to the root cell structure.


Several types of chemicals can be applied in various settings to manage pests and other environmental issues. Nevertheless, ensuring that any chemicals used are safe for the plants is vital.

When spraying chemicals, do not proceed in high temperatures. It can lead to damage that may not manifest immediately. Additionally, over-spraying the leaves should be avoided.

The Ways For Prevention

Plant holly at a safe distance from other sprayed plants to minimize the impact of chemicals. In addition, it is advisable to limit chemical use whenever possible.

It can pose a threat to plant, animal, and human health.

Organic matter, although challenging, is an effective solution for insecticides. This method promotes a healthier environment for all.

Individuals can create a safer and more sustainable ecosystem by adopting eco-friendly practices.


why are my holly leaves turning yellow


The weather can make holly leaves turn yellow. Excessive or lack of sun and extreme temperatures can harm holly plants. Holly needs mid-day to late afternoon sun around 90°F (32°C) to grow well.

Take care when the plant is young; too much heat can cause damage. A temperature over 50°C (122°F) for a week or more can lead to phytotoxicity in hollies.

So remember temperature changes and ranges to help your Holly grow healthy.


To ensure the health of plants, gardeners should be aware of the typical weather. Measuring temperature regularly can provide insights into the optimal conditions for plant growth.

When scorching temperatures abound, plants can benefit from restful periods in shaded areas. Making a note of favorable weather conditions can aid in maintaining plant health.

The Ways For Prevention

Select the optimal planting location to protect your holly plant from inclement weather. Ensure that the selected spot is safe from severe weather and does not expose the plant to possible harm.

Adequate sunlight is necessary for Holly to flourish. It must be planted in a location that allows sufficient sunlight.

Water is also vital to maintaining its growth and freshness. If the soil is too dry, you can consider adding mulch to retain water.

Make sure to provide enough water to avoid it becoming dry and dull. These factors will help ensure your holly plant’s healthy growth and longevity.


Holly leaves turning yellow can be the result of various factors, ranging from chlorosis to fungal leaf spot infections.

Weather conditions and chemical exposure can also cause Holly leaves to turn yellow. Holly plants can maintain healthy foliage by identifying the reasons and taking measures.

Samuel Mark

Hello I am Samuel. Samuel's Garden is a garden blog where I share my experiences in garden caring and tree growth. Hope you enjoy it!

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