Ranunculus Leaves Turning Yellow? 6 Most Likely Causes and Solutions

Ranunculus leaves turning yellow is an unwelcome sight to plant enthusiasts. Not only does it spoil the beauty of the plant, but it could also progress to further deterioration.

So, what’s the deal? Why are the Ranunculus leaves turning yellow?

Ranunculus leaves turn yellow because the plant isn’t getting enough nutrients or having a problem processing those nutrients. The most common reasons for this are the wrong amounts of sunlight and water.

There are a few other reasons why Ranunculus leaves could turn yellow. Stick around to learn more. 

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Why Are My Ranunculus Leaves Turning Yellow?

Ranunculus leaves turning yellow is a sign that your plant is in chlorosis. Chlorosis is a state where some leaves turn pale or yellow because they failed to develop chlorophyll.

Chlorophyll is the main reason why green plants are green and it’s also responsible for making the plant’s food. Yellow leaves aren’t just abnormal coloring; they’re a clear sign that the plant is not feeding well. 

Chlorosis could affect large areas of the plant if left untreated but you could easily identify it early if you’re careful.

When your plant has chlorosis, the yellowness starts in the younger leaves away from the stem. As you trace back to the older leaves, you’ll notice how greener they are.

Keep in mind that this selective yellowing is temporary. If you don’t handle the problem, all the green in the plant will turn yellow in no time.

6 Most Common Reasons Behind Chlorosis

There are various reasons for chlorosis. Let’s tackle them one at a time.

  1. Iron Deficiency

One of the most common reasons for yellow leaves is the lack of iron. Ranunculus needs iron to form its food using photosynthesis.

The lack of iron in your Ranunculus plant can come from one of three ways:

High Soil pH

A very common reason for the lack of iron in plants is the high alkalinity of your soil. Ranunculus needs a pH of 6.4 to grow healthily. As a general rule, most plants in North America prefer that slightly acidic soil.

If the pH of your soil is too high, it will bind the minerals, including iron, in the soil and make it much harder for your Ranunculus to absorb them.

Luckily, you don’t need sophisticated equipment to test the pH of your soil. All you’d need is a garden towel, two plastic containers, vinegar, and baking soda. 

Still, let’s assume that you forgot to test the pH of your soil and you did grow your Ranunculus into a highly alkaline soil. Is it too late?

Fortunately, it’s not. There are various soil amendments like sphagnum peat that you could use to bring the soil’s pH to your plant’s taste. You can apply sphagnum peat to your soil even if they already have plants in them.

Image of healthy lawn with dry soil next to it

Insufficient Fertilization

Having a bad quality or a low quantity of fertilizer could deprive your Ranunculus of iron and other important minerals too!

It’s important to use the required amount of high-quality fertilizer to ensure that your Ranunculus has the most nutritious soil.

Ranunculus is a spring-blooming plant that needs additional fertilization if you intend to keep it for a long time. 

Deficient Roots

The main function of plant roots is to absorb the nutrients from the solid and take them up to the plant’s system.

When roots are deficient, they will no longer perform this function adequately. Here’s why your Ranunculus roots could be deficient:

Root Binding

Root-bound plants can’t absorb nutrients from the soil because the roots overlap and prevent each other from functioning correctly.

Small enclosed spaces or planting the bulbs too close to each other could result in root binding of Ranunculus plants. 

Damaged Roots

When a root is damaged, it won’t function as needed. Especially if the damage is enough to cut parts of the root.

Faulty digging and aggressive use of rototillers are examples of how you could accidentally damage your Ranunculus roots.

  1. Too Little or Too Much Sunlight

Ranunculus needs a copious amount of sunlight to thrive. Anywhere between 6 and 8 hours is ideal for Ranunculus. Most problems with Ranunculus leaves happen from under-exposure to the sun’s rays.

This slows down the plant’s biological process, reduces its ability to make its food, and reduces the amount of chlorophyll produced as well.

Reduced chlorophyll automatically means reduced green which if left untreated for too long could result in chlorosis.

But what if we do the opposite? What if we place a Ranunculus in a spot where it receives more than 10 hours of sunlight every day?

It’s not as apparent as under-exposure to sunlight but you may still get some yellow. It happens because too much heat and light will break down the chlorophyll inside the leaves. This is more apparent in hotter areas.

Close-up of a leaf and water drops on it
  1. Too Little or Too Much Water

Water is one of the main requirements for plants to get energy. Along with minerals from the soil and sunlight, water is needed for the chemical processes in plants where it gets to make its good.

Reducing the amount of water, which typically happens when you forget to water your plant, is a big contributing factor to yellow leaves. 

You won’t notice it right away. For example, if you forget to water your Ranunculus a few times, it will tolerate the first few times. However, do this repeatedly and you’ll start to notice the yellow leaves within a few days.

Alternatively, using too much water could lead to the same result. If the soil is constantly filled with more water than your plant can handle, it will soak the roots and prevent them from absorbing water and minerals.

Don’t worry; this doesn’t happen if you over-water your Ranunculus a few times, but constantly giving your plant more water than it needs will lead to root soaking. 

At that point, your only solution would be to dig out your Ranunculus and plant it in less watery soil.

  1. Insect Infestation

Insects, especially sap-sucking ones like aphids and mealybugs, can cause your Ranunculus stems to droop, the leaves to go yellow, and may cause irreversible damage to your plant.

Don’t skip the usage of insecticidal soaps as they could sometimes mean the life of your plant.

  1. Old Age

Ranunculus plants could live and bloom for up to 10 years if the conditions are favorable. As they approach the end of their life, their leaves will get weaker and more yellow.

If that’s the case with your Buttercup, then there’s not much you could do at this point. 

  1. Viral Infection

Viral infections could affect plants and animals alike. When a Ranunculus gets a viral infection, yellow leaves are one of the early manifestations.

In addition to that, discolored or decayed parts of the plant may also be visible. It’s important to understand that viral infections in plants are often not curable and they may endanger their healthy neighbors.

If your Buttercup is beyond saving, you should discard it for the safety of your other plants.

Frequently Asked Questions

My Ranunculus leaves are yellow; is it dying?

If you’ve had your Ranunculus for over 8 years, there’s a pretty good chance that your plant is approaching the end of its life. Otherwise, it’s one of the five other above-listed reasons. 

Should I cut the yellow leaves off my Ranunculus?

If you suspect that some sort of disease is behind the yellow color, you should cut the yellow leaves off. 

Generally, it’s safe to cut off the yellow leaves as long as they are the minority in comparison to the green ones.

Are yellow leaves more common in indoor Ranunculus?

Because of the less exposure to direct sunlight, indoor Ranunculus has more chances of developing yellow leaves.

Final Words

Ranunculus leaves turning yellow is one of the signs you should always be on the lookout for. Whenever you see yellow, then your plant isn’t feeding as it should.

The problem could be from the water amount, the sunlight amount, problems with the root, or the soil. Careful examination is mandatory to determine the origin of the problem to solve it.

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