Why do leaves dry out? | Dry, wilted or yellowed leaves

We continue with the common problems in the vegetable garden. Today we will see what are some of the most common causes of dry leaves on plants. There are some more obvious reasons, such as lack of water, but there are other pests and diseases that are less well known that can be the cause of dry leaves on plants. Let’s take a look at them!

Dried leaves due to a mite infestation on the plant 

Spider mites are microscopic bugs of the spider family (yes, they also have eight legs although they are not visible). If you have experience in the orchard you will be familiar with some of these mites such as the red spider mite or the white spider mite, as they are very common pests.

If you see dry and dull leaves, a brownish color, small yellow dots or bites and a kind of fuzz, it is almost certain that you have one of these pests.

Why do leaves dry out? | Dry, wilted or yellowed leaves
Spider mite attack

It is important that the substrate remains moist so that the roots can “drink” the water they need. This does not mean that the soil has to be waterlogged or saturated with water (this is not good and can cause other problems such as suffocation of the roots) but it must have adequate humidity.

You will have to take this into account and, if it is very hot, you should water the plants in the garden more often. And I say more often, not more often, because a single abundant watering will not solve your problem… If you water too much, the excess water will infiltrate deeply (out of reach of the roots) or will go through the holes of your pots or containers, so the extra water you applied will have been wasted…

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Why do leaves dry out? | Dry, wilted or yellowed leaves

If you think the dry leaves are due to heat stress or sunburn, the best thing to do is to water the plants more frequently. Also, if they receive direct sun for several hours – especially if it is in the central hours of the day – it is a good option to protect them from the sun with a parapet (such as a translucent mesh).

Dry leaves due to nematodes in the soil 

I recently bought some aromatic plants in pots at a garden store. They were large and, suspiciously, they were quite discounted… (about 70% off). I was told it was because they were a bit wilted by a heat stroke inside the transport truck, so I didn’t worry too much and I took them… But after a few days the dry leaves started to be more and more….

There were no bugs, no spider webs, no fungus-like spots on the leaves and I was watering them well… I started to think it could be some kind of parasite or disease in the roots so I started my inspection and took them out of the pot. What I found were little balls all over the roots… They were nematodes so there was no solution… I had to throw them out.

If you have a bed or furrow garden you should pull up the plants and disinfect the soil as I told you in the post about nematodes, as these microscopic worms infect the soil and cause incurable diseases in plants…

Yellow spots and dry leaves caused by fungi

There are hundreds of types of fungi that can cause diseases on plants in the garden… Most plant fungi can be identified by the spots on the leaves: white, yellow, brown spots… but another symptom is dry leaves.

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Why do leaves dry out? | Dry, wilted or yellowed leaves
Leaf spots and dry leaves caused by downy mildew on leaves

 Downy mildew, rust, black mold and soil fungi such as “Blight” (of the Phytophtora family) cause, among other things, drying of plant leaves. You can learn more about these diseases in the posts in the category “Pests and diseases” or by searching for them by name in the search engine at the top right.


  • James Jones

    Meet James Jones, a passionate gardening writer whose words bloom with the wisdom of an experienced horticulturist. With a deep-rooted love for all things green, James has dedicated his life to sharing the art and science of gardening with the world. James's words have found their way into countless publications, and his gardening insights have inspired a new generation of green thumbs. His commitment to sustainability and environmental stewardship shines through in every article he crafts.

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