What to do when African milk tree leaves turn yellow & fall off
The leaves of african milk trees can turn yellow and brown for reasons within or beyond your control. Here are the most common causes and steps you can take to make the foliage of the african milk tree look green and healthy again.
Underwatering or overwatering is bad for African milk trees
Improper watering is usually the main culprit when yellow or brown leaves start to develop on African milk trees. As drought tolerant plants that originate from Central Africa, African milk trees only need to be watered once the soil dries out completely. They aren’t very good at tolerating soggy or wet soil. Exposure to damp conditions can lead to the development of yellow leaves. How often you will need to water the African milk tree will depend on a number of factors such as whether you are growing it indoors or outdoors and the general humidity, temperature, and sunlight intensity.
On the flip side, too little watering can also cause African milk trees to develop yellow leaves. Lack of water can cause interference to the chlorophyll (the pigment that gives leaves their green color) and, in turn, start the discoloration process.
As a general rule of thumb, it should be okay to water African milk trees once a week. Adjust the watering accordingly when the season changes.
Proper drainage of water from soil
You won’t be able to properly gauge the frequency of watering the african milk tree needs if it is being grown in soil that doesn’t drain well. Compacted soil can cause a number of issues for african milk trees such as preventing root growth, reducing nutrient absorption, and preventing oxygen absorption. All of this can cause leaves to turn yellow and fall off. you will know if the soil is waterlogged by creating a tiny hole on the soil surface and filling it with water. If the water hasn’t drained after a few hours then you are dealing with clogged soil problems.
To stop more leaves from turning yellow, you will most likely need to transplant the african milk tree into soil that drains well. One way of doing this is by mixing the soil with material like perlite, compost, and shredded leaves.
Excessive sunlight or lack of sunlight
Yellow leaves can also form on african milk trees due to changes in sunlight conditions. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, for example, can harm plants because it can result in sunburn and the scorching of leaves. Lack of sunlight could have the same negative effect on african milk trees as it would result in the leaves not getting enough light to drive photosynthesis. Lack of energy would then cause the leaves to wilt and gradually become discolored.
Try to position the african milk tree or provide it enough cover or exposure so that it receives an optimal amount of sunlight, which is about 4 hours of indirect sunlight per day.
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