Yellow and brown leaves on the otherwise beautiful, green bamboo can have many reasons and causes. These can usually be found in a care error that needs to be tracked down. Because only when the cause is known, the right measures can be taken that can save the plant. The discoloration of the leaves can occur both on indoor bamboo in a tub and on bamboo plants cultivated in the garden.


It depends on the current season, whether it is a natural discoloration of the leaves or whether there could be another cause. Because in autumn it is quite normal for the bamboo to turn yellow. This is how the actually evergreen plant prepares for winter. This is due to the following reasons:

  • less sunlight
  • Photosynthesis becomes more difficult
  • leaf shedding makes it easier for bamboo
  • Leaves that are not needed are discarded
  • beforehand these will turn yellow
  • in spring the plant sprouts again

However, if yellow or brown leaves appear at any other time of the year, action should be taken as quickly as possible and the possible causes found.

Wrong location

The right location should be chosen before planting a new bamboo plant. This is particularly important for outdoor plants, because a tub can still be easily moved. However, if it is in the wrong location and the lighting conditions are not optimal, the bamboo acknowledges this with yellow or brown leaves. Therefore, the location should be checked with regard to your own bamboo variety as follows:

  • Species of bamboo are crucial
  • if sun or shade is desired
  • it is sheltered from the wind at the location
  • the distance to other plants is sufficient
Tip: There are different types of bamboo. These differ primarily in terms of space, winter hardiness and the desired lighting conditions. It is therefore always important to know which type of bamboo has been grown in your own household.


A possible cause for the coloring of the leaves, which unfortunately also occurs frequently with incorrect care, is waterlogging. Because the bamboo does not tolerate this at all. Waterlogging as a cause is also more common in potted plants than is the case with bamboo plants cultivated in the garden. If the waterlogging persists for a long time, this can even lead to the death of the plant. Therefore, the following measures should be taken immediately upon detection:

  • Repot or dig up bamboo immediately
  • remove all old soil from the roots
  • Immediately cut roots that are already rotten
  • dispose of old earth
  • Fill the bucket or planting hole with fresh soil
  • create drainage beforehand
  • to do this, put stones or potsherds on the ground
  • Let the roots dry completely, then plant them
  • plant in the garden on a slight slope
  • Always keep the drainage plate dry in the bucket
Tip: The substrate in which the bamboo is grown is also important. In the case of potted plants, appropriate soil from the trade should be used. In the garden bed, soil is mixed with sand, peat and compost for better permeability.


If yellow and then brown leaves form on the bamboo, a possible cause may be a lack of nutrients. In such a case, the bamboo plants often get sick with chlorosis, which is based on a chlorophyll deficiency and thus leads to the yellow leaves. Usually the young, fresh leaves are the first to be affected, so that a nutritional deficiency can be easily recognized. If the maintenance error was recognized, the following measures should be taken immediately:

  • fertilize immediately
  • use special fertilizers
  • should contain iron, magnesium, calcium and nitrogen
  • too much lime in soil
  • for example through incorrect irrigation water
  • Dig up the plant
  • fill in new substrate
Tip: Despite the yellow leaves, the bamboo should not be fertilized in winter, because it needs hibernation. Due to the lack of sunlight at this time of year, the yellow leaves are quite normal.


In addition to too much moisture, prolonged drought can also be the cause of yellow and brown leaves. Straight brown leaf tips indicate drought damage. This does not happen often, but especially in the case of plants standing outdoors, drought damage can occur in winter when roots are frozen in the ground. If this is the case, you should proceed as follows:

  • water regularly even in winter
  • only a little
  • Soil should always remain slightly moist
  • only on frost-free days
  • use warmer water if the ground is frozen
  • Put a layer of mulch on the soil
  • prevents frost impact
  • keeps soil moist
Tip: If drought damage was found in summer, then the bed or the bucket should be properly soaked with water, after which it must be ensured that it is watered regularly, without waterlogging.

Infestation by pests

Pests can also be responsible for the yellow and brown leaves. Above all, these include mites and various types of louse. These attach themselves to the plant and suck the sap from the leaves so that they lose their color. It is ideal if an infestation is detected right at the beginning, as the pests can multiply and spread very quickly. Attention is required when the following insects are sighted on the plants:

  • Aphids in spring
  • give off sticky secretions
  • Mealybugs and mealybugs
  • sit at the branches
  • Rinse the plant with every louse infestation
  • treat with insecticides
  • Bamboo mites on underside of leaves
  • are mostly imported from China
  • Use predatory mites
  • white flies in May

The use of insecticides is unavoidable against most pests, as these can easily settle between the many leaves. A lot of water from above also helps against the whitefly, so that it does not even come to an infestation.

Fungal attack

The rust fungus, which often also affects the bamboo plants, first creates brown spots on the leaves before they turn completely yellow. Affected leaves should be removed immediately when the first spots appear. However, these do not belong on the compost and should be disposed of in the residual waste, closed. Only the use of fungicides can help against the fungus.

Plant shock

If the bamboo is new and has just been planted, the discolored leaves can also be a plant shock. This means that the plant must first get used to its new environment. In addition, the roots grow and this requires all of the strength of the bamboo. But everything that is put into the roots in terms of strength is also at the expense of the rest of the plant and yellow leaves are formed. Here it helps to support the plant with more water and to remove the stalks that have turned yellow.

First aid cutting

It does not matter which of the named causes is the basis of the yellow and brown leaves and which measures have been taken here, a bamboo should always be cut in such a case. Because the affected branches take away the strength of the plant to recover and sprout again. It is therefore essential to cut the plant after the rescue attempt. You should proceed as follows:

  • remove any yellow or brown leaves
  • the whole shoot is affected, cut at the base
  • Plant also tolerates radical pruning
  • remove all shoots at the base
  • sprouts so healthy again next spring

Even if bamboo is a very resilient plant, various causes can nevertheless contribute to the formation of yellow or brown leaves. If these are found out and remedied quickly, however, the plant has a good chance of sprouting new and strong in the next spring and becoming as decorative as it was before the damage.

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