Why A Geranium Gets Yellow Leaves

By: Nikki Tilley, Author of The Bulb-o-licious Garden

Geraniums are among the most popular bedding plants, mostly due to their drought-tolerant nature and their lovely, bright, pom-pom like flowers. What causes a geranium with yellow leaves and how can it be fixed?

Causes of Geraniums with Yellow Leaves

One of the most common causes of yellowing leaves is too much moisture or overwatering. Generally, on over-watered plants, the bottom portions of geraniums have yellow leaves. They may also develop pale-looking water spots. If this is the case, you should immediately stop watering and allow the plants to dry out. Remember, geraniums are drought-tolerant plants and they do not like too much water.

Water or air temperature that is too cool can also result in geranium yellow leaves. Geraniums are a warm-weather plant and they do not deal with cool weather well. Cold snaps in the spring or extended cool weather, especially cool, wet weather, can cause geraniums with yellow leaves.

In addition, when the geranium leaves become more yellow than green, a nutrient deficiency could be the cause. Geranium plants should be fertilized with a complete, water-soluble fertilizer (preferably one with micro-nutrients) at least every third watering or once monthly. Not only will fertilizer help prevent yellow leaves on geraniums, but it will also help the plant to grow bigger faster with more blooms.

Occasionally, a geranium with yellow leaves is due to some type of disease. For instance, verticillium is a fungal infection that can cause stunted growth, wilting, and bright yellow leaves.

What about geranium leaves with yellow edges? Geranium leaves with yellow edges or yellow-tipped leaves on geraniums are usually attributed to a lack of water or dehydration. While geraniums are drought-tolerant, they do need some water. In these instances, you can feel the soil to determine just how dry the plants may be and water accordingly. It may also help to trim off the yellowing growth.

As you can see, geraniums with yellow leaves typically need just a little TLC to help them recover. Give a geranium what it needs and you will not see your geranium’s leaves turning yellow.

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Read more about Geraniums

What you believe to be rot could actually be rust, a serious geranium problem that should be treated as soon as it is detected. It is often seen on geranium plants raised in greenhouses due to the high humidity and close proximity of other plants.

Geranium rust first appears under leaves as small yellow circles. These then darken to a rusty-brownish color, and the leaves start to fall off. Your geranium plants will likely not survive rust. Prevention is key, so before buying geranium plants, be sure to check the top and underside of the leaves. If you notice anything amiss, don’t purchase the plant.

If the rust develops later, remove the leaves right away. Then, you can treat the plant with a fungicide, which should eliminate the disease. If a plant is heavily infected, it may have to be destroyed to protect nearby plants from the same problem.

Solving Geranium Problems

How To Use This Problems Section
The chart is organized to give you a quick and dirty summary of the possible symptoms that you may encounter. Those problem causes for which we have full files will be linked to those files. Those causes with no link will have a paragraph below the chart helping you deal with that particular problem.

Solving Geranium Problems
Symptom Probable Cause
Small Holes In Unopened Buds Geranium Budworm
No Blossoms Overfeeding Excessive Heat
No Blossoms Indoors Poor Environment
Lower Leaves Have Yellow Edges Needs Fertilizer
Leaves Deformed Mites
Leaves Turn Reddish Nights Too Cold
Spindly Plant Growth Low Light
Buds Dry Up Drop Off High Humidity or Overwatered
Pale or Yellow Spots Leaves Distorted Aphids
Plant Grows Poorly Mealybug
Plant Weakens Leaves Turn Yellow Whitefly
Leaf Spots of Various Sizes Leaves Wilt Stems Rot Leaf Spot or Rot, a fungal disease
Leaves Patched or Coated with White Mildews, fungal disease
Foliage Turns Yellow Root rot, bacterial disease

Small Holes In Unopened Buds Signals Geranium Budworm
Also known as the tobacco budworm, the geranium budworm is a caterpillar that tunnels into unopened buds and eats them from the inside out. Then when they open, the flower petals are riddled with holes. To prevent the spread of the worms into healthy buds remove any buds showing tiny holes and nearby brown specks. Handpick any visible worms, which may be greenish, tan, reddish or black depending somewhat on the color of their host flower. They have 2 pale stripes running parallel to each other the length of their bodies.
For heavy budworm infestations spray Bt (Bacillus thuringiensis) on the bud surfaces where budworms are feeding. They will ingest the bacteria, which only harms caterpillar type pests, sicken, stop eating, and die within days. For chronic budworm problems, cover the soil with landscape fabric to block the larvae (the worms) from entering the soil where they overwinter and become moths. Plant geranium seedlings in holes cut through the fabric. Ivy geraniums are less susceptible than other geranium types.

No Blossoms Due to Overfeeding or Excessive Heat
Overfeeding stimulates lush vegetation but no flowers on geraniums. Water the plants generously so that the ground is thoroughly soaked two or three days in a row so that the excess nutrients will be diluted and carried past the geranium roots deeply into the soil. Do not fertilize for the rest of the growing season.
While zonal types of geraniums thrive on sun and hear, ivy and regal types of geraniums stop blooming when subjected to the extremely high temperatures typical of hot sunny afternoons in warm climates. Try to local them where they will get some shade in the afternoon. No Blossoms Indoors Due to Poor Environment
There are three reasons why geraniums may be reluctant bloomers indoors in the winter: 1). too much nitrogen, 2). too little light, 3). too little difference between day and night temperature. Stop feeding the plants for awhile and find a better location for them. It may be necessary to place them under lights to encourage blooming in the winter.

Lower Leaves Have Yellow Edges Signals Low Nutrition
If their bottom leaves have yellow edges, geraniums probably need some food. Spray their foliage with liquid fertilizer, but do not exceed the dilution prescribed on the container. Feed them every two weeks until the symptoms disappear.

Leaves Turn Reddish When Nights are Too Cold
Leaves of geraniums placed outside too early in the spring may redden when the plants are first planted or set outside. This is caused by a sudden chill, usually at night. Delay moving your plants outside until nighttime temperatures remain reliably above 40°F.

Spindly Plant Growth Is Due To Low Light
Geraniums become spindly because of a number of environmental problems. Insufficient light is a common cause. Failure to pinch back long stems, excessive feeding and watering and overcrowding will also cause geraniums to look leggy and to fail to thrive.

Buds dry up, drop off Due to High Humidity, Overwatering
Sometimes, especially on potted geraniums, the unopened buds dry up and drop off before they have a chance to open. This may be because they are too moist. Try to provide a drier climate for them. Wait a bit longer between watering, especially if they are in containers.

Root rot is caused by fungi that live in the soil. Typically, these rots attack geranium stems at or near the soil level. Plant foliage turns yellow, wilts, and dies. Root systems rot, causing the geraniums to topple over. Remove and discard infected plants, or cut away affected plant parts with a clean, sharp knife or razor blade. Disinfect tools after use. Keep the garden clear of old plant debris and keep mulch away from stem bases. For long term prevention, lighten heavy soil with a mixture of perlite, vermiculite or peat moss to improve its drainage. Avoid overwatering. Space plants further apart to prevent crowding. Use sterile commercial soilless potting mix in containers.

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Features - Growing Media

Crops in tree-based substrates may need additional sulfur in their diet.

Fig. 1: Sulfur deficiency has been observed in many species grown in bark and wood-based substrates.

Growers most often do not like to change the fertility programs that they are using and have used for years. Some new crops require some minor tweaking of dosage, fertilizer formulations, frequency of fertility, etc., but for the most part the fertility requirements (plus optimal substrate pH ranges) are pretty well dialed in. Then along comes wood fiber in growing media and the game changes a bit!

As noted over the past decade by growers and researchers alike, the most frequent and noticeable changes in cultural practices when switching to a mix that contains wood products are 1) irrigation management, 2) pH management and 3) fertility. Now, not all growers see changes or face challenges in all of those areas but many do see some. Not on that list is green wood toxicity (phytotoxicity) that can be present in freshly harvested/processed pine tree substrate (PTS hammer milled product). Despite some changes to growing practices, growers are rapidly trialing and adopting wood in their mixes due to the many positives of using them. One “trend” that we are seeing across North America and some in Europe is the increase of wood product percentages in various greenhouse substrates. At this time, the “typical” and most common wood amendment rate is between 20 and 40% (by volume). Above this threshold, the changes in growing practices can change substantially. For the purpose of this article, we want to focus on one nutritional challenge that we have seen in a few growing operations this year: sulfur-deficient plants.

Fortunately, there is a decent amount of research trial data on the issues and potential solutions when growing greenhouse crops in high-percentage wood materials. As we and others have written before, the initial research on wood substrates in the U.S. started in 2004 and at that time most of the focus was on figuring out if and how we could grow crops in 100% engineered wood. Even though all research from 2004-2015 focused on hammer-milled PTS materials, those trials and data can (and do) still apply to the commercial wood products on the market today that are made with different manufacturing equipment and processes.

Fig. 2: Multiple species including geranium, marigold, poinsettia and mums have been grown in experimental bark and wood-based substrate trials to document sulfur deficiency and determine sulfur application types and rates.

As it relates specifically to sulfur nutrition in greenhouse crops, we do not know everything about when, how, to what extent and at what exact percentages of wood deficiency occurs, but we do know that crops grown in substrates with a high percentage of wood products can exhibit sulfur-related growth deficiencies.

Sulfur is one of the essential nutrients needed in the growth of plants, however, at a lower concentration compared to many other nutrients. Sulfur is often found inherently in peat and other organic substrates at high enough levels to supply plants with all they need with no/low additional supplement via the fertility program. Sulfur deficiency symptoms can include chlorosis and necrosis of the youngest leaves, branchless roots, reduction in chlorophyll content (Fig. 1), reduced stomatal conductance, transpiration and photosynthesis, as well as overall reduced plant growth.

Back in 2004-2005, when the early work was being done on wood substrates, it was initially thought that nitrogen was the only (or at least the main) limiting nutrient affecting plant growth and causing yellowing of foliage and stunted growth. It is well known that nitrogen is immobilized (tied up) by microbes in the degradation of organic substrates and therefore plant available nitrogen can be limited (and cause severe yellowing and stunting) when fresh wood is in a substrate. Thanks to many years of previous research on sulfur nutrition of nursery crops in pine bark substrates, Dr. Robert Wright at Virginia Tech was instrumental in suggesting, and later discovering, that sulfur was also a limiting factor in plants grown in 100% pine wood. Over the next decade, trials were initiated on several crops including geraniums, marigold, poinsettia and mums to evaluate their response to various sulfur nutrition treatments, sulfur types and amendment rates (Fig. 2). Sulfur deficiencies in wood-based substrates can be exacerbated by the inherently low concentrations of sulfur in pine wood (also bark) and also by the microbial immobilization of sulfur (and phosphorus) that does occur in organic substrates, just to a lesser extent than nitrogen.

Fig. 3: Marigold shoot dry weights of plants grown in a peatlite control (no sulfur) and 100% PTS with varying sulfur sources

One of the trials conducted evaluated the growth of marigolds grown in a peatlite substrate (80:20 peat perlite) and in 100% PTS with various applications of sulfur. The treatments included no sulfur addition, 1 pound/yard3 calcium sulfate (gypsum), 2 pounds/yard3 calcium sulfate, and 1.5 pounds/yard3 of elemental sulfur, iron sulfate, magnesium sulfate and Micromax. Plants were grown for four weeks with 200 ppm nitrogen and harvested for dry weights at the end.

Data from this experiment showed that plants grown in 100% PTS were approximately 40% smaller than the control plants grown in peatlite. However, with the addition of any sulfur source the plant growth was similar in all PTS treatments (Figs. 3 and 4). These data were repeated and observed multiple times with various species. With different sulfur types there are differing costs, release rates, longevity, substrate pH adjustments/changes, etc. Calcium sulfate was chosen to be the best supply of sulfur due to its low cost, availability, available particle sizes and neutral (no) change to substrate pH.

Fig. 4: Marigold shoots (top row) and roots (bottom row) when grown in 100% PTS with different supplements of sulfur Fig. 5: Marigolds grown in peatlite (PL) with no added sulfur show no deficiency symptoms compared to plants in 100% pine tree substrate (PTS A). The addition of 1.5 lbs/yd3 calcium sulfate to 100% PTS (CONT) lessens the deficiency and improves growth of marigold (B) and geranium (C) equal to that of plants grown in peatlite.

Further trials examined calcium sulfate rates, and it was determined that 1.5 pounds/yard3 was sufficient in preventing sulfur deficiencies in the crops tested.

In subsequent trials, data and visual observations were collected to suggest (support the hypothesis and other published reports) that 100% pine bark substrates also can be inherently low in sulfur and thereby result in sulfur-deficient herbaceous greenhouse crops when grown in 100%. In other trials also with marigold and geranium, the growth reduction can be seen in plants grown in 100% PTS compared to plants in peatlite (Fig. 5). The addition of 1.5 pounds/yard3 of calcium sulfate improved growth equal to those in traditional peat substrates. It should be noted that nitrogen supply must also be sufficient (not limiting) in addition to the supply of sulfur to crops.

It is recommended that growers who choose to grow in mixes containing higher (likely more 50%) wood be vigilant in monitoring their crops for nutritional needs and remember that sulfur is important! Sulfur (gypsum) addition to substrates can be a proactive way to prevent sulfur deficiency but sulfur application during crop production can also correct existing sulfur needs. Research at North Carolina State University continues to investigate the nutritional needs, thresholds and management strategies for crops grown in wood substrates.

Why Are My Geranium Leaves So Small And How To Fix It?

For flower lovers out there, Geranium is truly a heaven sent. With its vibrant and lavish blooms, it can definitely make any garden to look for enticing. You may also opt to grow it indoors and add some pop of colors to your bedroom or home office.

However, despite geranium being known for its colorful blooms, its leaves are just as important. So, if you observe that your geranium is starting to produce smaller leaves, waste no time and immediately take action.

If your Geranium plant started to grow smaller leaves it could be because Mealybugs, Lack of fertilizer, Excessive or lack of water supply, Insufficient sunlight exposure or other geranium diseases that we are going to cover. See below the described symptoms that fit your geranium to grow smaller leaves and how to fix it.

Here are some of the possible factors causing the production of small geranium leaves as well as the ways on how to fix them.

Why Are My Geranium Leaves So Small And How To Fix It

Causes of small geranium leaves

  1. Mealybugs

What to look out for

Distorted leaves, small plant, yellow leaves

Mealybugs are usually characterized as small soft-bodied insects surrounded by silky, white covers that usually feast on plant stems and leaf nodes.

When infested, your geranium leaves will turn to yellow and eventually drop. Mealybugs also distort new buds that result in your geranium producing smaller leaves than normal.

You can create your own organic plant spray against mealybugs by making a paste out of some cloves of garlic, a small bulb of onion, and a teaspoon of cayenne pepper. Mix the paste with water.

After an hour, strain the mixture and add some soap. Transfer into a spray bottle and apply it onto your geranium leaves.

Lack of fertilizer

What to look out for

Small leaves with yellowish edges

If you happen to notice the bottom edges of your geranium leaves turning yellow and the leaves are thin, then it simply means that your plant lacks proper nutrition.

To be able to fix this, feed your plants with prescribed amounts of liquid fertilizer by spraying directly onto the foliage.

Do this regularly for every two weeks until the manifestations disappear and your plant starts to develop average to huge sized leaves.

Excessive or lack of water supply

What to look out for

Dried/thin leaves, soggy soil

Especially when the humidity level is high, it is essential that you provide your geranium plants with a sufficient amount of water supply, or else it won’t be able to generate enough energy that is essential in getting the nutrients that it needs to produce healthy, large leaves.

Make sure to not leave the soil too dry, but careful enough to not overwater your plant. Just keep the soil moist and water when deemed necessary.
Insufficient sunlight exposure

What to look out for

Small leaves, weak plant, yellowish leaves

Another reason why your geranium plant fails to produce larger leaves is that it does not receive adequate amounts of sunlight. Geranium is known to be a sun-loving plant that requires about 6 hours of full sun exposure every day.

When neglected, this can cause your plant not only to produce smaller and unhealthy leaves but also to leggy stems. There is also a huge possibility that your entire plant will not thrive longer than you expect.

Other growing problems and diseases

What’s great about growing geraniums is that they are considerably hardy so they are perfect for beginners, but that does not make them a hundred percent resistant to pests and diseases.

As a matter of fact, below are some of the growing problems and diseases that usually prey on geraniums.

Read on the following so you will be fully equipped with knowledge on how to manage these kinds of growing problems.

Bacterial blight can be quite tricky to detect as the symptoms may show in different ways.

For instance, it can appear as wedge-shaped whose wider area is commonly seen along the leaf margin while the narrower part is near the leaf vein.

Alternatively, bacterial blight may also look like some circular or irregular shape soaked spots that are usually brown in color.

This bacterial disease rapidly spreads from one leaf to another, primarily attacking the vascular system of the plant via the veins and petioles.

Once infected, the entire plant will have a greater chance of wilting and eventually dying. To avoid bacterial blight from spreading, immediately eliminate the infected plants and sanitize the gardening tools that have been used for your infected geranium as they may still carry some bacterial residue.

Backleg is a fungal disease primarily brought by Phoma lingam.

This disease may strike at any stage of the plant’s development but typically starts from the seedlings, about three weeks after the transplantation.

While this disease usually appears on cole crops like cabbage and broccoli, as well as in potatoes, it may also affect geranium leaves due to stem cuttings which are used in propagating the plant.

Once backleg manifests in your geranium, it is important that you immediately get rid of the stem cuttings.

Meanwhile, in order to avoid this disease from taking over your plant, proper sanitation of gardening tools is required and avoid overwatering your geranium as a moist environment can greatly contribute to this fungal disease.

When you notice that the unopened buds of your geranium have small holes, it could be a sign of budworm infestation.

These budworms are caterpillars, whose colors may vary according to their host flower and have two faded lines running parallel to their body, that specifically strike on a geranium plant’s unopened buds and feed on them from the inside out, causing the small holes.

Once you see your plant’s unopened buds manifesting the signs of budworm infestation, immediately pick them out as well as the visible budworms feasting on your plant. In cases where heavy infestation occurs, you may opt for a spray.
Leaves turn red

Aside from pests, bacteria, and fungi, inappropriately low temperatures can also adversely affect the growth and quality of your geranium.

Especially when you leave your plant outside in winter or too early in the spring, they do not respond well to the chilling nighttime breeze. As a result, the leaves of the geranium turn red.

To avoid this from happening in the future, wait until the nighttime temperature is favorable to your plant, ideally at 40°F, before you move it outdoors.
Alternaria Leaf Spot

Once Alternaria Leaf Spot infestation begins, you will initially see some dark circular spots on the surface of the infected leaves, usually ¼ to ½ inch in diameter.

As the fungal disease spreads, these spots may change in color from dark to gray or brown plus yellow rings around the edges. An application of fungicide can help alleviate the disease from spreading.

Tips on growing geranium properly

With a plant this gorgeous, you’d really have to invest more time knowing how to properly take good care of a geranium plant.

Whether you are growing your geranium indoors or outdoors, here are some of the essential tips that you might want to take note of to make sure that you provide a good growing condition for your plant.

You don’t want to kill your plant due to overwatering so it is important that you allow the soil to dry, but not too much, before watering it again.

Especially during the winter, take time to examine the dampness of the soil first by using a moisture meter.

If you do not have any, you can simply stick your finger 1 in deep into the soil and check if it is dry enough to receive water again.

Additionally, avoid overhead watering as this can lead to pests or disease issues.
Apply fertilizer during the growing season

When your geranium is at its most active stage, make this an opportunity to feed them with fertilizers.

Applying fertilizers during the months when geranium is actively growing will encourage the plant to grow more vigorously.

Preferably, you can use water-soluble fertilizers and apply them every two weeks but be cautious not to use fertilizers in winter.

    Deadhead your geraniums

    To be able to fully maximize the growth of your geranium, you can start by deadheading the plant.

    This means that you remove the older blooms to give way to the new ones.

    But, to do this effectively, you must not only remove the top flowers, instead, but you also have to make the cut from the bottom of the stem that holds the older blooms.

    While you are at it, you can also take this time to remove the yellow leaves off of the plant.

    They are usually found near the base of the plant since that is the part that gets less light.
    Spray on some pesticides

    Protect your geranium from unwanted pests and insects, particularly worms and caterpillars by spraying some pesticides.

    Preferably, use one that contains Bacillus Thuricide. This bacteria, when ingested by caterpillars and worms, aggressively attack their digestive system that eventually causes their death.

    Don’t worry because this kind of pesticide is deemed safe for pets and humans.

Benefits of geranium leaves

Aside from making your garden or your indoor office even brighter and more colorful than ever, geranium can also be a good choice of medicinal resources.

Essentially, you can make oil out of geranium leaves and these organic oils contain antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant, astringent, and antimicrobial properties that help ease some conditions.

Here are some of the diseases and conditions in which geranium leaf extract can be of huge help.

  • Neurodegenerative disease
  • Diabetes
  • Wounds and allergies
  • Menopause and perimenopause
  • Infection
  • Nasal vestibulitis
  • Swelling

Additionally, geranium leaves can also be a good herbal tea. You can use either fresh or dried geranium leaves. Just pour some hot water and let the leaf diffuse. After that, you can simply strain the leaves out and drink your tea.


Hi, my red geranium over the last month have been blooming pink and smaller. The leaves are a variegated yellow/green rather than plain green and crinkled. They are located on a east facing balcony so mostly shaded. In Melbourne Australia, and summer has been mild. In self-watering pots and recent fertilisation (manure and liquid seaweed). They have been going well in previous two years except when possums get to them.

It sounds as though they are struggling a bit. Regular feeding is very important if you are to keep them on active growth all year round, but you will need to give them time to respond to any fertiliser that you have given them. Try to get into a routine of feeding them once a month so that they have a continuous supply.
Also Pelargoniums do best with 4-6 hours of sunlight a day so you may want to consider giving them a brighter spot.
Hope this helps

Hello. I have just brought in a large pot of geraniums to over-winter in a cool porch. Every day there are 6 – 8 really chunky large caterpillar poos on the shelf under the plant. They are usually dark brown occasionally pink showing that they have been having a go at the flowers as well as the leaves which are looking rather raggedy now. The thing is, every day I give the plants a thorough examination (including the underside of the leaves) and I see no evidence of caterpillars or anything else for that matter! Could there be something that just comes out at night and hides in the soil during daylight?

Caterpillars are extremely good at camouflaging themselves. Be sure to check the whole porch, as well as just the plant itself. If necessary, a systemic pesticide will help to prevent them increasing in numbers, but I would suggest that you have a really thorough search for the culprits. (Worth lifting the pot as well in case someone is hiding underneath!).
All the best

Can you tell me what this is on my Pelargonium please… Very stunted growth in places. I’ve been told of Greening Virus but couldn’t find anything.

It really is impossible to tell without more information I’m afraid. Stunting of growth can be caused by so many different factors!

At first I though my geraniums were suffering with rust as they had the characteristic brown patches underneath and yellow on top. This was in August, I used a fungicide and picked off all the affected leaves. New leaves have grown back but now I’m inclined to think they are being attacked by insects…possibly white fly. (I have photos) The leaves look unsightly, I am though hoping to overwinter them – I normally leave them in a frost free spot outdoors, my question is will these insects die off when it gets cold or would you recommend an insecticide? TIA

Unfortunately you will need to use an insecticide. If you think that they are suffering from a pest then I would advise not bringing them into the greenhouse until you are sure that they are clean again. Otherwise you will end up spreading the problem further still.
All the best

I have just dug up my Pelargoniums to over-winter as I have done for a number of years. Several have not been doing so well recently and I found large white growths all over the roots. In the worst affected part of the border there were white lumps attached to roots all over the place. Is it fungal? What should I do? I have taken some photos if of any use.

It’s very hard to say, as there are so many different fungi present in the soil. If your Pelargoniums aren’t looking great anyway then i would suggest taking cuttings at this stage. As soon as the cuttings are rooted, you can ditch the parent plants. Sometimes its better to start from scratch as Pelargoniums will start to look a bit tatty after a few years anyway.
All the best

I just brought my geraniums inside since it is getting cold. They did great inside last year and I hope they will do the same this year. One of my four plants though, I noticed, has these tiny little bugs weaving in and out of the dirt. They resemble very small millipedes(centipedes?) They are very (shudder) gross. I’ve examined my other three plants and it doesn’t seem like these little wormy thingies are in them. HELP! What are these and what do I do about them??

I would be inclined to repot this plant. Try to gently shake away any existing soil from the roots and provide fresh, clean compost. It may sulk for a while so give it time to settle into its new pot. I would also suggest that you isolate it from the other plants just in case. This will help to prevent them spreading to the other plants if you do happen to miss any whilst repotting.
Hope that helps

2 out of 10 of my geranium’s leaves suddenly seem to be fading to a lighter green than the other geraniums.Flowers seem ok for the time being.

The oldest leaves will gradually deteriorate as they age. if you are noticing this from the younger leaves then you may need to give your plants a feed.
All the best

My geraniums have some sort of insect damage… evidenced by little holes in the bud…and the blossom within eaten… previous years I noticed some type of tiny grub…what is it and how do I treat for this insect

Hello. It could be Geranium Sawfly. The little grubs will nibble holes in the foliage and buds. Check the plants over regularly and remove any grubs that you see. If the problem is intolerable then you can use a pesticide to kill them. Spray the plants at dusk for the best results. However, if your plants are in flower then this route should be avoided if possible as the pesticide will also harm bees and other insects which may be visiting your plants.
All the best

Interesting question…and reply. I have had the same problem both this year and also last couple of years – tiny holes in the buds I’ve come to the conclusion that it might be a geranium budworm. I noticed on another forum that someone else had posted the same problem and the reply was ‘are you in the USA because this isn’t a problem in the UK’ to which the original questioner said ‘I’m in Cambridgeshire’! I’m on Merseyside …but the damage doesn’t seen consistent with sawfly so although I’m no expert I’m assuming we’ve imported Geranium Budworm from the USA along with chlorinated chicken! From US gardening help videos it seems to be a case of keeping an eye open and picking off the caterpillars when they emerge to try to break the lifecycle.

My geranium looked like a mouse had torn the leaves and flowers. I cut the plants back and netted the whole pot. It has occured again with the stems torn off.

Something is eating holes into the leaves of my geraniums and begonias. I’ve inspected them thoroughly and know it is not Caterpillars. I did however find bugs but I’m not sure what they are. I have a photo I can send. Whatever it is has attacked with a vengeance and destruction is unbelievable. One evening they were great and the next thing they were not. Can you please help? Thank you very much!!

Hello! I’ve sent you a private email so that you can send me your photo. It’s always a lot easier to identify pests with an image.
All the best

I have had a lovely shocking pink zonal geranium out in the garden for about 3 years. Recently I have noticed browny red spots on the underside of the leaves and blemishes on the top. No signs of green or black fly. The leaves are dying. What do you think it is? I have taken a couple of photos but am unsure how to send them to you. Many thanks.

Hello. It’s always hard to tell without a picture, but my best guess from your description would be Pelargonium Rust, which is a fungal infection. Remove the affected foliage and then spray with a fungicide and this should help to clear it. Like most fungal infections, it is present mainly during cool, wet and breezy periods of weather, being spread by wind and water splashes. You can improve ventilation around the plant by giving it plenty of space. Avoid watering over the foliage too.
Hope it recovers for you.
All the best

Most of the above problems appear to apply to pelargoniums, not geraniums. I have an annual infestation on my Rozanne geranium which very quickly makes all the leaves on a large plant, approximately half metre spread, to look like lace because there are so many tiny holes. I have examined them for caterpillars but have never actually seen one, so could this be something else?

There are a few possible culprits such as slugs and snails, but the most likely candidate from your description is the larvae of Geranium sawfly. These little green caterpillars nibble small holes all over the foliage. They tend to hatch out in May/ June and again around September. If you see them then pick them off by hand and dispose of them – but you may need to turn to a pesticide to eradicate them completely.
All the best

My Geraniums are in pots on a balcony facing the sea (Med).Theywere flowering beautifully but the leaves suddenly started sticking together and looking like there i a cobweb and I saw one little green worm and also tiny black dots can you help please

There are lots of little larvae that will create webs on their host plants but most can be easily eliminated with a blast of pesticide. If you prefer then you could remove them by hand.
All the best

My geranium leaves and stems are covered in little white fuzzy dots. The plants are not looking healthy. This started at the beginning of summer and has gotten worse. Any idea what is causing this and the remedy? I took a picture but don’t know how to send it to you.

Hi Diana. It’s hard to make a guess without a photo. If you would like to send an image to [email protected] then I can take a look.
Best wishes

My Mrs. Pollock geranium has lost all it leaves and blooms.

Hi Kim
Oh dear – that doesn’t sound good. Has it had any obvious signs of pests or diseases? Or maybe its environment has somehow changed. Sudden defoliation is usually a sign of extreme plant stress. Take a close look and see if there are any clues as to what that might be.
Hope you get to the bottom of the problem
Best wishes

my geraniums boughtblossom so beautiful but now their leaves start to dry and curl up the stems also dry please advice the reason

Hello. Its hard to say without seeing them. I would always suggest discounting any cultural issues first – such as insufficient/ too much water, adverse changes in temperature etc. Don’t be too disheartened if they don’t make it. Overwintering Pelargoniums can be a little tricky. Think of it as an opportunity to try some new varieties – there are so many to choose from!

what are the tiny dark bugs stuck all over my geranium stems?They already killed one whole plant and i see them now on another one.What are they and how do i get rid of them? please help me save my beautiful plants.

Hi Graham, unsure type of scented geranium, leaves appear to be getting half eaten, with Brown areas, and tiny areas of brownish thinning leaf, also new growth vanishes leaving just stump of stem. No creatures to be seen, roots are white but seem a bit sparse for plant size. Any ideas please?

Greetings, I seem to have a different problem with my geraniums. They are planted in the ground with tan bark around them. The leaves are very crinkly and deformed. Otherwise they flower well. They have had caterpillers but I believe I have sorted that problem out. Could it be the tan bark?

Hi Valerie
Its hard to say without seeing them. It could be a plant response to a virus, or pest damage. Fluctuations in temperature can often cause leaf deformities too. Glad to hear they are flowering well though!
All the best

What causes enlarged white growth on flower stems?? Young plants….thanks

Hi Kathy – its hard to say without seeing it but I’d guess that it may be some kind of fungal infection perhaps. Young plants can be susceptible to this, particularly if over-watered. Allow the compost to dry out slightly in between waterings to help reduce the risk.
All the best

Can you tell me what it is that causes a dramatic shortening of stem growth between leaf nodes? Some deficiency perhaps? The Internode length has reduced from inches to millimetres. On some, the nodes are so tightly packed that it is dwarfing the leaves. They seem otherwise ok, in fact they are flowering at an almost shocking rate, but I’d be happier if they’d put that effort into their foliage instead.

Potassium deficiency can cause this in Geraniums resulting in a dwarfed appearance. It also often causes the leaves to curl downwards at the edges. The heavy flowering that you describe is often the result of plant stress. It sounds as though your plant is definitely in need of a little help. Try applying a dose of High Potash fertiliser https://www.thompson-morgan.com/p/chempakreg-high-potash-feed-formula-4/kww2324TM.
You might also want to review the growing conditions. Does it need repotting? If it is extremely potbound then this will also create drought conditions for the plant which can cause growth dificulties, particularly if they are growing in hot, direct sun.
Hope that helps.
All the best

My usual tactic with our geraniums–they winter in the garage and get scant watering from October through April and do fine. We are in souther RI. We have one large geranium in a pot that wintered and bloomed in my office this year. In early May we put it on the front porch where got about 3-4 hours of sun and it seemed to be flourishing but stopped flowering. Two weeks ago we moved it to a spot where it got about 6 hours of sun. Now the leaves are going limp a few hours after being watered. My husband has been giving it water 2X a day. He says it seems to pick up after it is watered. I have checked for mold, critters, discoloration and have found nothing. I don’t know if it’s over-watered, needs a larger pot or has something else going on. Thanks for your thoughts.

Hi, i have red geraniums potted in big planters in our front porch where they are in sgade till 2:00 pm and after that receive direct sunlight till 8:00 pm…they are flowering extremely well with big clusters of flowers…but recently i noticed that half of the flower clusters looks water soaked. Newly grown are okay but as they age 4-5 days old they develope a water soaked appreance…Is it a kind of dieases or am i overwatering? I water them twice..morning and evening.Please advice.

hi i have a small slug at base of plants that seems to slowly killing them
what can i do to get rid of them please

Hi Thelma
there are a number of both chemical and organic slug pellets available that will kill off these unwanted plant pests. Alternatively, put sharp grit around the base of your plants, or crushed eggshells work well too!
I hope this works well

I also have geraniums that are forming flower buds that then come to nothing. It looks remarkably like the problems I had with geranium moth when living in the south of France. Does the moth exist here and could that be the problem?

The flower buds are forming on my geraniums then going brown and dry and not opening at all.

Hi Sue
Sorry to hear of you problems. is it possible that the plants are suffering from a potassium deficiency that might cause the plant to get rid of the buds as they haven’t got the energy to carry them through to fruition?
Try giving them some tomato feed and see if that helps, also allow the plants to dry out before you water them again, if it’s a bit too moist then the flower stems might suffer too.
I hope this helps
All the best

I’ve have been cultivating one particular Geranium for about 5-6 years, it has always been healthy until now. I recently moved all the plants that I winter indoors back outside, some I repotted into bigger pots but this plant is in a relatively big pot so I left it. All the other plants are happily growing although not necessarily flowering but my prized Geranium is not happy. I have just taken it out of its pot to find several small white grubs (about 5-7mm long) between 2=5 cm down in the compost. I’ve emptied the pot and left the root ball open to the air, thinking of taking all the compost off the roots to repot it.

Hi Julian,
I’d definitely clean off as much compost as possible and re-pot in fresh. The grubs were probably attacking the roots and doing countless damage. Your plant will not be happy for a little while but keep at it – don’t be tempted to over-water it though! Best of luck with it all.

I have geraniums that I winter in my sunroom over the winter. Some of them are 12+ years old and have been doing great. I put them outside a few days ago and after the first night outside, I noticed that some of the leaves have turned white and curled up. Since they are so heavy to move back inside, I covered then with a tarp at night and then have taken the tarp off during the day. The nights here on Cape Cod have dropped into the 40’s with the day’s reaching mid to high 60’s to low 70’s. Is this a case of putting them out too early? Yikes!

Hi Jan,
it does sound like it, but they’re usually fairly tough so keep them protected as you are and they will recover, I’m sure!
All the best

I have geranium that I have in my kitchen. They have not been outside in two years. They are doing very well, they keep blooming. I noticed, today, on one of the plants (I have 4 Geranium) that there was a red dot, it looked like a tiny bug of some kind, on the leaves. I thought it was odd since, like I said, these plants have been inside for two years. The other plants I have around it are aloe vera and two African Violets all indoor plants. What could the red thing be?

Hi Linda,
it sounds like it could be Red Spider Mite, they do tend to like plants in greenhouses and indoors too, remove the leaves affected and throw them in the outside bin!
I hope this helps

I have milky white spots. When you touch the spot on the leaf it turns into a hole. No sign of insects ??

Hi Betty,
it sounds like some kind of fungal problem, a bit of early rust or similar, give the plants a feed to boost them up , remove the leaves with the infection and possibly even try a weak fungicide on them and see what happens – I hope it all turns out well!
All the best

I have a number of geraniums in pots. They are watered three times a week for ten minutes, by automatic reticulation, as they are around my fruit trees. All develop a brownish, dead area on some leaves, about a third of the leaf, which eventually dies off. Many also eventually develop stems which are dried out and hollow. Apart from this, they flower well and their new growth is healthy! (They are clearly very forgiving of my ignorance in their care!) I am loathe to use chemical in my garden as I have frog breeding ponds. Thank you for your help.

Hi Lynnley,
to be honest, the sparse watering will not be a problem for the geraniums as they’ll happily tolerate dry conditions. I’d definitely suggest giving them a feed though, water on a feed that will soak into the leaves in the evening, so as to prevent sun scorch, any well balanced plant food will be fine for geraniums. Hopefully it will give the plants a bit more strength to grow even stronger!
I hope this helps
All the best

My indoor geraniums develop spots on the leaves which become holes filled with a l lacey interior which then become complete holes.
It starts in one leaf then spreads to others on the plant/s.
Any ideas please?

Hi John,
it sounds like you’ve got a leaf borer at work, try and remove any damaged leaves at the first sign of trouble. you can also use an insecticide, but please do do carefully – we still have to look after the beneficial insects!
All the best

I’m so my wit’s end with the tiny white grubs which are damaging my geraniums. Can you help. I’ve tried normal greenfly spray and vine weevil killer but still they are there. I thought the vine weevil stuff had done the trick but no! The grubs are tiny and crawling on surface of the compost.

Hi Liz,
I’m afraid the best course of action is to tip the plant out onto some newspaper, shake off all the compost and then gently wash the roots in some lukewarm water, to make sure there are no eggs stuck anywhere and then repot the geranium in brand new compost. Dispose of the compost with the grubs in by wrapping it up in the newspaper and putting it in the brown bin (if you have one) … don’t compost it yourself or throw it on the garden as you’ll only spread the problem too!
I hope this helps
All the best

Thanks. I as beginning to think that might be the only answer!

I have recently moved my geraniums indoors and have noticed that the window sill and window (where one leaf was in contact with the glass) has a film of tiny, pin-head sized black ‘blobs’. Some of the leaves are yellowing and are developing holes. Nothing seems to be moving but something seems to be devouring them and perhaps leaving ‘waste’ but I can’t see anything. They were beautifully healthy a short time ago and the flowers don’t seem to be affected, yet.

Hi Gill,
the yellowing could just be natural die back at this time of year as the plant is trying to enter into a dormant stage to have a rest. Where the leaf has come into contact with the glass sounds like a fungus has developed – I would remove all affected leaves and dispose of asap, to see if it slows down the problem. Keep an eye out for any die back on the stems too and cut them away into healthy areas with very clean and sharp secatueurs!
All the best

Why do some of my geraniums have very poor root systems

Hi David,
It’s quite possible that the plants put too much energy into producing top growth and not enough into looking after their root systems, phosphorus based feed would help them in that regard although the use of any balanced feed (20:20:20) will help too.
All the best

I have potted up some geraniums and I am storing them in my conservatory,I keep the water to a minimum but I have noticed some little mushrooms growing in the soil.What is happening.?

Hi Joyce,
probably the combination of temperature and humidity (and the time of year) mean that it’s perfect for the mushrooms to grow. Remove them carefully – gloves and minimal disturbance to them – and dispose of them so that they can produce more spores and spread!
All the best

Something is eating the buds on one of my geraniums. I cannot see any insects. can you suggest any remedy?

Hi Gay,
it could be a small caterpillar that then hides under leaves and is very well camouflaged, have a close look and hopefully you’ll find the culprit!
All the best

I looked with magnifying glass and found no critters on undersides of leaves. I sprayed a couple times with soapy water and that seems to do the trick at least for now. maybe it discourages snails or earwigs. Who knows?

Cheers and thanks for your quick response.

My Geraniums are very healthy looking but as soon as a blossoms form they die. Have 15 3 in a pot and they are all doing the same. Can you advise me??

That sounds very frustrating! Pelargonium flowers do sometimes rot off and this is generally associated with growing conditions. They enjoy warm temperatures and soils which are damp but never cold and wet. I suspect that this may be part of the issue. We have had quite a cold spring and if they have had a little too much water then this might not suit them very well. Allow the compost to dry out slightly, especially while temperatures are still a cool. Snip off the failed flowers as this will encourage the plants to keep producing new blooms. I think that you will find that as the summer progresses then they will probably start flowering normally.
Hope this helps you
All the best

I have now found dozens of caterpillars under the leaves of my geraniums making holes. There are 2 sorts, one green, one black. I believe they come from Moths? Can you verify for me please?
Thank you

Hi Heather, it does sound like these could be the caterpillars of Winter Moths, pick them off(or the whole leaf that they’re on) and dispose of accordingly!
All the best

My geraniums have brown spots on the back of the leaves,they are flowering well.

All my geraniums are suddenly dying.After being very prolific ,now when I deadhead the top of plant,instead of being green with new shoots are now brown and dead looking.Inhave watered and fed regularly and the problem is all around my garden in around 20/30 pots.Any idea what has caused this?

Hi Roger,
we suspect that the plants have become over wet – possibly through the deluges we have had recently. Are the stalks wet and mushy? The only chance you have is to raise the pots to allow them to drain almost completely – leave the compost until it is barely damp, and them maintain that moisture level until the plants recover. Unfortunately, if the plants have been prolific up to now then there will be an awful lot of young, soft growth, which can be prone to bacterial stem-rot. I hope that they do recover, fingers crossed!
All the best

hi i have 3 hanging baskets with geraniums in 2 are ok but the other is getting decimated by something,eating all leaves an tops off the storks of flower, have checked 4 caterpillars but cant see any, did see an kill a little brown grub. do u think spraying with washing up liquid will help or can u advise on something else. cheers

Hi Boyce,
spraying with very very diluted soapy water might well help, failing that an insectacide, although please be careful when using as we don’t want to affect any other insects – It might pay to “quarantine” the plant for a short while while you treat it.

I live in Spain and have holes in the stems when i break open they are grubs inside. One plant in a pot has nearly been completely eaten. Now there are lots big fat grums left in the earth.

Hi Jan,
Borers can be a real nuisance on many plants unfortunately. The best way to get rid of them is to use a pesticide, obviously very carefully to avoid hurting beneficial insects. Keep an eye out for eggs on the undersides of leaves too, these can then be removes to help prevent further problems!
I hope this helps

How do i solve the problem of black bore holes in the stems of otherwise healthy geranium plants?

Hi Jane,
Borers can be a real nuisance on many plants unfortunately. The best way to get rid of them is to use a pesticide, obviously very carefully to avoid hurting beneficial insects. Keep an eye out for eggs on the undersides of leaves too, these can then be removes to help prevent further problems!
I hope this helps

Some of my geraniums accumulate a very small, black granular/tubular type of substance on the leaves. I notice it about every 2-3 days. I just flick the leaves and it fall/rolls off the leaves. These geraniums tended to having yellowish leaves when I got them and no matter how much you pick off the yellow leaves, they continue to turn yellow. What do you think is going on? Thank you,

Hi Pam,
the yellowing of the leaves sounds like the plants are lacking in nutrients slightly. I would suggest a fully balances liquid feed, with trace elements such as magnesium in it too, this will help the leafy growth to come back and also improve the colour too!
I hope this help

I recently purchased a Crocodile Ivy leaf geranium. I am continually having to cut the leaves off as they turn a tan/brown color. What is causing this?

Hi Donna,
is it possible that the plants are getting too much water? this is quite common with geraniums of all types. also a lack of nitrogen in the soil will cause poor leaf growth too. a balanced feed will help out in both cases.
All the best

I have a tiny caterpillar on the underside of leaves, it appears to have tine yellow mrkings, it is slowly eating my geranium and begonias I find them on the underside of leaves I am not sure how to deal with them, I have always shied away from insecticides because of the bees any advice please I am not sure what these are.

Hi Lucy, is there any chance you could send me a photograph of the offending caterpillar and we can take a look for you!? e-mail me direct at [email protected]
Many thanks

I have several containers with Geraniums and all are thriving apart from one. Out if five plants in the container only one is thriving, two have completely disappeared! We had been away and this happened while we weren’t there. When I came to investigate I found that the tub has hundreds of what look like yellow ants or spiders. I have bought more plants but am nervous of planting them in case these insects eat them. I’m not a very experienced gardener so am at a loss. What is your advice? Thanks in anticipation

Hi Judith , is there any chance you could send me a photograph of the offending bugs and we can take a look for you!? e-mail me direct at [email protected]

My Geraniums have what looks like white powderlike areas on the top of the leaves. These areas wipe off easily. Any idea?

Hi Sharon, is it from evaporation of water, possibly with liquid feed in it? , leaving a residue on the leaves? It’s a common question we get here when plants are sent out as we often see marks on the leaves that will wipe off that are exactly that.
I hope this helps

When I break off the dead flowers, little dry “clouds” puff up from the geranium?! I’m afraid it might be some kind of mould that’s dried out and becomes airborne? The weather’s been wet but the geraniums are otherwise flourishing.

Hi Val, it’s probably the dust form the deaf lowers, or old pollen etc, as long as the leaves etc on the leaves look healthy then it’s probably nothing to worry about.
I hope this helps

Why are my plants going purple on my balcony? Geraniums money plant

Hi Christine, this will be because the cooler temperatures at night are meaning that the plants are not yet fully active and suffering a lit bit from phosphorus deficiency as a result of that. When we get more constant temperatures, the plants will perk up, give them a fully balanced feed for now to help them along.
I hope this helps

I have white like spots on the tops of the leaves.cannot see any black fly or green fly.what could it be.have just planted them out into runs.

Hi Susan, are they on the leaves (so that they wipe off) or are they actual blemishes in the leaves themselves?

I have something similar to this I think. It’s as if the top layer of the leaf has been removed, and sometimes underneath too so that it looks like a bit of nearly transparent leaf. Then the leaf gradually curls and goes soft and dies. At first I thought it was spots where they had been watered and been burned through the conservatory glass but now I don’t think so.
I’d like help too please.

It sounds like you might have a tiny bug called a “leaf miner” there Ann, they burrow into the leave and actually eat the flesh of it between the top and bottom layer, making the leaf look transparent, which eventually dies, try a general purpose bug spray, or keep an eye out for early signs and pick the little blighters off!

Thank you for your prompt reply. I have been picking off the diseased leaves and shall watch out for new infections and hopefully get rid of them – before there are no leaves left!

Yellow leaves on geraniums

The bottom leaves on my geraniums begin to wilt and then turn yellow and then die. Why is this happening? I only water when the soil dries out and fertilizer once a week. I pinch off the leaves and other leaf develops the same symptoms. Any help would be appreciated. Thanks.

Yellowing leaves are often a sign of a watering issue. There are other possibilities, but watering problems is one of the more common ones so I would always start by ruling that out first.

My guess is too much water--when you say you only water when the soil dries out, are you just looking at the surface of the soil? The surface will dry out fairly quickly, but if you stick your finger an inch or so into the soil you'll probably find it's still quite wet. You need to wait until it's drying out a couple inches down before you water again, otherwise the roots are staying a lot wetter than they want to be. Also if your pot doesn't have a drainage hole, or if you have it in a saucer and let water sit in the saucer after you've watered those can contribute to overwatering as well.

Underwatering also has similar symptoms, although many more people kill their plants with too much water, that's why I suggested it first. But if your plant is a bit too big for the pot it's in, then there might not be enough soil to hold water so it may be spending most of its time too dry.

One other possibility would be too much fertilizer, once a week could be fine or it could be too much, depends on what the package directions are. My guess is if you're using it at the max concentration that's probably a bit much, but if you're diluting it a lot then it may be fine. However, over time fertilizer salts and other salts from hard water, etc can build up in the soil, so if it's been a while since you changed your potting mix that's also possible. Especially if you water by "topping it off" rather than by letting a lot of water flush through the pot, that can make the salts build up faster.

Hopefully that gives you a few places to start. It would also help if you could post a picture, preferably one that shows the wilting/yellowing leaves as well as giving us a sense of the size of the plant relative to the pot.

Just realized that I'd jumped to a conclusion that you had these in a pot. if they're planted in the ground then I still think it's probably a watering issue, but obviously some of the things I said about pots and saucers, etc would not be relevant.

What specific type of geraniums are you talking about ?

I agree with Ecrane as far as the watering and fertilising goes, the problem may be that you are also allowing water to get onto the foliage and this causes them to go yellow and die off, these plants normally like baked sunlight and the soil to get quite dry before they need watering again, also IF as Ecrane has suggested and they are in pots, have you got a saucer under the pot where the pot then sits in water for long periods as the compost will act like a sponge and stay wet for ages too, good tip also from her is about the compost, has it been renewed before planting as these plants will need new compost every year as the roots will deplete any nutrients that were in the compost after a year of growing. hope all this helps but as Jasperdale has said too, let us know which kind of geraniums are you growing as there are so many, then we could help you further,
good luck. WeeNel.


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