Spinach is one of the most common plants grown in vegetable gardens across the world. If you are a Popeye fan, you are probably a lover of spinach too, and why shouldn’t you be?
After all, you have all the right reasons to fall in love with this delicious, packed-with-nutrients leafy vegetable. In this write-up you’ll learn about why spinach leaves turning yellow?
Having this extremely delicious leafy vegetable available in your own backyard, ready to be tossed into salads, stuffed inside sandwiches, sautéed, put in a smoothie, cooked with mushrooms, or used in other delicious recipes is definitely one of the best incentives that would make you want to start off your own spinach garden.
Spinach makes the perfect start for vegetable gardens as they are among the most satisfying crops to grow.
However, just like any other crop cultivating spinach is not completely hurdle free. This plant is susceptible to a number of diseases and pests which can make inexperienced gardeners gout of control.
One such problem is that of discoloration of the spinach leaves which often turn yellow or white. This makes gardener wonder why spinach leaves turning yellow.
If you too have faced this problem, are fed up and want a solution you are at the right place. In this article we are going to examine this issue, discussing the symptoms and causes in details and providing effective suggestions.
Therefore to put an end to the tiresome and disheartening task of handpicking affected leaves and discarding them, read on and learn how to solve this once and for all.
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Introduction: Know Your Plant
A major reason for the popularity of spinach among gardeners and vegetable lovers is what it can do for your body. Spinach is beneficial for your eyes, hair, skin and digestion.
It is rich in vitamin B, vitamin C, Vitamin A, calcium, iron and antioxidants that help your body fight off toxic elements.
Spinach has been proven to have anti-ageing qualities and can help in the prevention of cancer. It can germinate and become eligible for harvesting in as little as 20 to 25 days.
This highly versatile vegetable can be enjoyed in a lot of ways. You can add it to delicious recipes or you can enjoy it raw with salads and sandwiches.
Spinach grows best in cooler weather with the precise temperature requirement being 15°C to 30°C. Although it can thrive in all kinds of soil, well-drained sandy soils are especially suited to it.
The leaves of spinach plants can re-grow after you have cut them off if the growing point is left unharmed. As such, growing spinach at home is both convenient and cost-effective.
Also Read: How to Grow Thyme from Cuttings?
Why Spinach Leaves Turning Yellow?
Growing spinach is an extremely easy task. These plants are generally hardy and resistant to cold weathers. They are also extremely delicious when grown organically.
However, as we already told you growing spinach also involves some hurdles. One of the most popular hurdles that gardeners face while cultivating spinach is when the leaves of the plants start losing their colour.
Spinach leaves naturally turn yellow after they have matured and aged. This typically happens to the leaves on the outer side of the plant and is a natural process.
If you have left your spinach in the garden without harvesting them you are bound to see the outer leaves gradually age and turn yellow. This is absolutely normal and nothing that you should worry about.
On the other hand, if young spinach leaves have started turning yellow prematurely and are yellowing before time, there is a serious problem that might be caused by a number of things ranging from nutrition deficiency and water stress to pest infestation.
The symptoms of this problem start showing early and you would be able to notice that younger leaves in your spinach plants would lack their characteristic rich, dark green colour and would gradually fade into a light shade of yellow.
Sometimes, these leaves can even gain a white colour, which however is because of a completely different set of reasons.
Has your garden been affected by this problem? Are you wondering why your spinach leaves are turning yellow? Let us then look at a few probable reasons behind spinach leaves turning yellow.
The most common cause of the discoloration of spinach leaves is malnutrition. Your spinach plants need the right balance of nutrients to be able to flourish and grow into healthy succulents.
A proper combination of minerals like phosphorus, potassium, nitrogen and boron is vital for spinach. The absence of any one of these, especially nitrogen is seen to cause yellowing of leaves in many spinach gardens. Absence of boron is another common phenomenon leading to this problem.
The soil in which your plants grow has to have the right pH balance for your plants to be able to thrive. Spinach requires a slightly acidic soil with about 6.2 to 6.8 pH value. If your soil is alkaline your spinach crops are sure to suffer from discoloration.
It is therefore always advisable to check the soil before starting cultivation to get an accurate account of the pH levels and nutritional content of the soil.
Just like malnutrition can damage your plants, so can over-fertilization. Adding more than the required amount of fertilizers can suffocate the young plants putting them under stress.
When your spinach plants are only seedlings this can become a serious concern as at this stage the plants do not need any fertilizer at all.
Spinach plants protest by turning yellow whenever their requirements are not being met with, or whenever they are being forced to live under conditions that are not favourable.
Lack of adequate water is one such condition under which spinach plants cannot thrive. This puts the plants under stress, dehydrating them and causing them to turn yellow.
Another common cause for spinach leaves to turn yellow can be there getting hit by a few diseases. Two diseases are mostly responsible for discoloration of spinach leaves.
The first and more common disease is called root rot. If your plants have been stunted and their leaves are starting to wilt off, the problem might be a disease called root rot. This disease is also called damping off and it is caused by the damping of the roots due to waterlogging.
This happens when your plants have been getting too much water, either because you are overwatering or because the soil is not well-drained. These roots then get infected by fungus and start to rot off.
Another disease that can cause yellowing of leaves is the mosaic virus, also known as blight. Yellow leaves are among the initial symptoms of this disease and with its progress, the leaves grow thin and then curl up with a wrinkled and distorted growth.
Once your plants have caught this disease, which is transmitted by insects like aphids and leafhoppers, there is no way to treat them. The only thing to do is destroying the infected plants to prevent the spread of the disease.
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Why Spinach Turning White?
Apart from yellow spots, spinach sometimes can be seen getting infected with white spots. Spinach leaves turning white is a very serious condition, considering in most of the cases they are incurable.
Leaving it unnoticed will cost you a massive amount of crop. But the wheels can be turned if you take enough care from the beginning of spinach cultivation. Let’s dig deep into it.
White Rust and Downy Mildew
White rust is primarily an effect of fungi called Albugo occidentalis. As the infection spreads white rust becomes distinguishable. But by then the plant is drained out of its nutrition and becomes sickly.
At that point, nothing can help the plant. The weak plant then becomes susceptible to other diseases and infections as the plant’s immunity starts to become weaker. It is very common for white rust to get overlooked for this reason. The signs of white rust you should look for:
- Look for chlorotic spots on the upper sides of the spinach leaves.
- After confirming the chlorotic spots try to determine if it is downy mildew infection as both of them look the same at this point.
- Flip over the leaves and look for white blisters and bumps under the spots. Presence of white blisters concludes it is white rust. If it was purplish-grey colored fuzzy bumps that would mean it is downy mildew.
- As the white rust matures and spreads spores by releasing them in the air the spinach leaves will become white and the underside-blisters will turn reddish-brown.
- Severe wilting or breakdown of the spinach plant is a late sign of white rust. At this point, it cannot be saved and should be removed from the bed to save other plants.
As mentioned other than white rust, downy mildew is another infection that turns spinach leaves whitish-yellow or whitish-brown. This disease is the result of Peronospora farinosa infection.
This disease had appeared first in the northeast in 2014. Downy mildew has rapidly increased among spinach gardens with an increase in the number of tunnels because most downy mildew colonies thrive in humid and cool conditions, especially when the temperature is below 70°F and above 59°F.
How to Prevent Yellowing of Spinach Leaves?
#1 Get your soil tested to check its nutritional content. In case the soil is low in minerals like nitrogen and phosphorus, use fertilizers rich in these minerals to enrich the soil and solve the problem.
Adding these minerals in the right amount to the soil is important to restore the balance that your spinach plants need.
Also, check the pH levels of the soil if your soil is alkaline in nature, add acid to it to bring the right pH balance. To increase the acidic nature of the soil you can add lime or coffee grounds.
#2 Avoid over-fertilization at all costs. Spinach seedlings do not need fertilizing when they have just started growing. Even after the plants have grown a little, add fertilizer only when the plants show signs of malnutrition or when your soil is lacking in minerals.
Spinach plants mostly do well when left on their own. When you see white deposits on the leaves or the ground, stop applying fertilizers immediately and flush the plants.
#3 In case your garden is infested with disease-causing pests like aphids and leafhoppers use insecticides to get rid of them. While dealing with root rot, use fungicides that are safe for vegetables to avoid fungus.
Also, avoid overwatering the plants. In the case of blights, however, there is no cure and the plants that have been affected have to be destroyed.
How to Prevent White Rust?
As mentioned above White rust cannot be cured. So preventing it from spreading to the whole garden is very important. Here are some methods:
#1. Baking Soda Solution:
Spray a mixture of 8 grams of baking soda and 3 litres of water only on affected leaves. It will destroy the spores and stop the fungi from spreading but it will not cure the infection. Do not spray the mixture on the whole plant. It may affect soil quality. You can mix 3 tablespoons of horticulture oils with the mixture for a better effect.
#2. Organic Solution:
Organic Neem oil acts as a natural antifungal solution. It is effective and also bio-degradable. It does not harm the plant, the soil or humans. To prevent white rust apply Neem oil on the whole plant weekly on a dry non-windy day.
#3. Applying Sulfur Powder:
Applying sulfur powder on plants and garden bed prevents fungal attacks. Sulfur is a natural product and not harmful to humans. If the temperature is below 85°F and there is no oil sprayed on the plants then it is safe to spray some sulfur. Wear goggles and respirators while applying sulfur.
#4. Weeding and Cleaning:
Keep your garden bed clean and take out any weed showing its head. Weeds spread fungi from tree to tree. Take out any badly affected plant too so that the infection gets contained.
Now that you have detailed information regarding the causes, symptoms to look for, and the solution, we hope you will be able to cultivate the perfect batch of spinach without having to lose any of your laboured-after harvest to white or yellow spots.