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What do yellow leaves on a camellia plant mean?

Updated February 21, 2019

Camellia plants are evergreen plants that feature glossy, green foliage and showy flowers. The white, pink, red and occasionally striped or blotched flowers open in the cooler months, lighting up the garden. Camellias suffer from relatively few diseases, but yellowing leaves require attention.

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Camellia Japonica plants thrive in shade or part shade and have semidouble or double flowers, which can reach 4 inches in diameter. Camellia Sasanqua plants bloom well in sunnier spots. Both camellias require rich, fast-draining and slightly acidic soil.


When a camellia has yellow leaves with green veins, it might have chlorosis. Chlorosis means the plant lacks necessary iron, so treat it with iron chelates available in liquid form to remedy the condition quickly. Check the pH levels of the soil, and add amendments to reduce alkalinity, which hinders iron absorption. Soggy, wet soil also sometimes causes chlorosis.

Sun, Salt and Viruses

Excess sun can burn a camellia plant's leaves, causing them to shrivel and turn yellow. Move exposed plants under shade protection. Too much salt built up in the soil causes a brownish-yellow leaf discolouration. Leach the soil with long soakings of water. Viruses cause mottled yellow and green patterns on leaves that can alter the plant's appearance permanently.

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About the Author

Barrett Barlowe

Barrett Barlowe is an award-winning writer and artist specializing in fitness, health, real estate, fine arts, and home and gardening. She is a former professional cook as well as a digital and traditional artist with many major film credits. Barlowe holds a Bachelor of Arts in English and French and a Master of Fine Arts in film animation.

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