If you’re looking for an excellent cold weather plant then beetroot is a nice option. It’s grown underground and much like onions, sprouts up with a bulb just before harvest. Although growing them is fairly simple, sometimes the foliage can encounter options such as discoloration. Yellow beetroot leaves are a common problem actually, but what causes it?
Beetroot leaves turn yellow when they lack adequate amounts of water. Some other common diseases that cause yellowing in beet leaves include Verticillium wilt, beet mosaic virus, black root rot, or Cercospora. Also, beet room leaves can sometimes turn yellow when they are simply shedding their lower leaves.
When beetroot leaves turn yellow, it’s a clear sign something is off with the plant. Thankfully most of these problems are easy to fix if it’s caught in time. Let’s hop into the facts so you can feel more comfortable dealing with your beetroot plant if it starts to show signs of yellow leaves.
Additional Causes Of Yellow Beet Leaves
Even though lack of watering is one of the primary causes of yellow leaves on your beetroot plants, there are several others that you may want to consider.
Lack Of Water
First, we’ll talk about the lack of water.
This one is usually easy to spot. Simply think about the weather conditions in your garden lately. Was it extremely hot? Did your plants get watered the correct amount? Did you water daily? Are your plants in a container that dries out quickly?
When it comes to yellowing, this is more seen as the beetroot matures. It’ll need more and more water, so you can’t just stick with the same old watering habits or the plant will become stressed.
Typically the warmer the climate, the more water the beet plant will need. Cooler climates may require less water, and the soil will have better water retention because of this.
Lack of water means stressed roots. Because there’s not enough water to pull in the rest of the plant suffers. The plants will have a ton of issues as a result; not just the leaves yellowing.
Ultimately, if you want to help your plant avoid watering issues, you should mulch the soil. Even adding some peat moss to the top can do wonders for the plant, helping it to never dry out even when things get well above normal temperatures.
Most beet plants need at least 1 to 1.5 inches of water per week. If it’s in a container, be prepared to give it at least double this amount of water each week when temperatures get really hot.
Much like underwatering causing beetroot leaves to turn yellow, overwatering can have that same impact.
Too much water or soil that doesn’t drain well is a nightmare for beets. They won’t be able to soak up all of that moisture, and sometimes that can lead to waterlogged roots that begin to rot.
Some symptoms of overwatering include:
- yellow discoloration of the leaves
- beets that sag
- browning of the leaves
- darker soil color
- soil that appears constantly soaked
An easy way to combat overwatering is to simply water less. You can also test the soil by placing your finger about an inch deep a few days after watering to see if it’s too moist. Sometimes that can be a sign of bad drainage.
Check the drainage holes if you’re using a container. If the plant is in the ground, then you want to check the thickness of the soil. Perhaps the soil has become too dense, so adding some vermiculite or perlite can help with the drainage.
If you have mulched the area already, it may be helpful to remove some of it so the sun has a chance to penetrate the soil and help it dry out more quickly.
Wilt And Mosaic Virus
When beets have too much water, they can start to experience wilting. With wilting comes the yellowing of the leaves. Other environmental stresses can lead to this as well, such as humid temperatures, high winds, and cold weather.
Verticulum wilt is one to keep an eye on as the plant also dries out while wilting. You’ll also notice deformities happening towards the center of the plant. While preventatives such as fungicide can help, once your beet plant experiences this, it can’t really recover.
Mosaic virus isn’t often discussed with discoloration of a plant’s leaves, but it’s something to keep in mind if you see your beets changing color.
This symptom seems to attack beetroot leaves while they are younger. It causes chlorosis, and you’ll notice the leaves will have an almost pale color to them. It starts at the tips of the leaves and eventually the yellowing works it’s way down towards the base.
When a plant is struggling with root rot, all sorts of problems can occur.
Usually, root rot looks like this:
- Declined production
- Stunted growth
- Lack of leaf size
- Pale colors on the leaves
- Wilted leaves, and browning
- Thinning of the plant
Beets in particular can suffer from black root rot. This disease actually turns the roots black, and you’ll see the plant die from the bottom up. It’ll be inedible at this point, not to mention the yellow leaves.
Cercospora Leaf Spot
Although this disease causes yellowing, it causes wilting and dead leaves.
The leaf will show some spots, with yellow and brown colors. The spots are circular and sometimes have red/purple outlining to them. This eventually spreads from leaf to leaf; consuming it and causing it to yellow.
Pests can absolutely ruin your beets.
The specific ones you should look out for include:
- Beet Leafhoppers
- Blister Beetles
- Flea Beetles
Of the pests in that list, the main culprit for yellow leaves will be aphids. They are the tiniest of them all, but they can cause some serious damage. Aphids love to attack leaves, often leaving a sticky residue behind. They can cause the beetroot leaves to twist in addition to yellow.
They do this by depriving the leaves of their essential nutrients. This can mess up the entire photosynthesis process, and ultimately, you’ll be left with a plant that eventually starts to have stunted growth.
Thankfully, aphids are fairly easy to remove. You can spray them off, or even wipe them off with a rag. I personally like to use an insecticide.
Spinosad mixed with water and added to a spray water works really well. You want to not only spray the tops of the leaves but underneath them as well as in between the centers of the beet plant.
If you want something a bit simpler and ready to go out of the bottle, try neem oil.
Lack Of Sunlight
Beets need plenty of sun to thrive and produce a healthy harvest.
However, if you live in a shaded area, or your beets are not getting enough sun, the process of photosynthesis won’t work as well.
Insufficient sunlight can cause the yellowing of the leaves. Below is a helpful chart to help you know if your beets are getting enough sun or not.
|Amount Of Sunlight For Beets||Sufficient Or Not?||Notes|
|8 hours||Sufficient||Healthy bulb and root development|
|6 hours||Sufficient||Healthy bulb and root development|
|4 hours||Mildly Sufficient||Loss of flavor upon harvest|
|2 hours||Insufficient||Wilting And Yellowing, poor root development|
In general, make sure that your beets get sunlight in the morning hours, usually, between the hours of 10 am – 1 pm is when it’ll get the best amount. If you have the beets in a location that’s frequently shaded, then you may want to look into artificial grow lights to help your plant along.
Missing Essential Nutrients
Like all plants, without the essential nutrients, a host of issues can arise. For example, if beetroot doesn’t have enough sulfur then that’ll cause leaf problems. Lack of nitrogen is also a problem. And of course, fertilizing too late in the growing season can adversely affect the leaves and cause yellowing as well.
Also, keep in mind sulfur that its role is important in your beetroot’s ability to absorb other nutrients. Without it, you can experience yellow mishapen leaves.
Considering beets are a root vegetable, you’ll want to use a fertilizer that easily reaches it. Water soluble fertilizers are great for this, but it’s best to use something that’s slow-releasing.
I recommend a 10-10-10 balanced fertilizer in the early stages; even before you plant the first seed. As your beetroot matures, consider moving to something high in potassium and phosphorus, particularly when it starts fruiting.
Compost is also really helpful, so if you have some spare laying around, definitely add it to your soil.
Although beet leaves turning yellow is super annoying, it’s mostly preventable. Ideally, you want to keep your beetroot well-fertilized, watered, and sprayed regularly. Prevention is the best course of action before things turn bad.
If you’re seeing some yellowing now, check your beet for deformities and issues with the roots. If you see nothing there, chances are it’s just a water issue. It may also help to put some sticky traps around the plant to see if you catch any pests (that’s the simplest way to rule them out).
Hi there, my name is Allie and welcome to my blog; GareningWithAllie!
Much of what you see written here is just our personal experiences with gardening. Along with the content I write here, there is also a unique collection of gardening topics covered by some of our close friends. I hope you find everything you read here to be helpful, informative, and something that can make your gardening journey the most lovely experience ever! With that said, Happy Gardening!