Why are my choisya leaves drooping and turning yellow

Why are my choisya leaves drooping and turning yellow

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Choisya, aka Mexican orange blossoms, are hardy plants and aren’t affected by many pests and diseases. However, the few that are their enemies may be the reason your leaves are drooping and turning yellow. Also causing this may be a poor growing environment of soil, water, nutrients and sunlight.

If it’s not pests causing wilting and yellowing leaves the next most likely cause is actually poor drainage as choisya don’t like getting their feet wet. More on this below.

Poor drainage and too much water or not enough water

Fungus root rot caused by poor draining soil

As well as providing a suitable environment for fungal diseases to spread such as root rot, poor drainage lets the plant become waterlogged. Mexican orange blossoms like neutral, well-drained soil in which to grow. Conversely, too little water also creates drooping and yellow leaves but this is more common in plants grown in pots. It’s up to you to keep track of your watering schedule and decide if one of these watering situations is the cause of your leaf problems. In most cases, it’s probably poor draining soil such as clay soils thats are the cause so improving the drainage of the soil with horticultural grit and peat might be needed.

Don’t forget to water newly planted choisya often but be careful not to overwater. Plants grown in pots will need watering regularly, allow the surface of the soil to dry out between watering but don’t allow them to completely dry out. Established choisya in beds and borders usually don’t need watering but during times of drought, they may need watering a little.

You can learn more about growing choisya here and the best growing conditions


Spider mites that can attack plants and in worst cases cause wilting

Snails and slugs may eat the leaves causing holes in them but there easy to identify as they usually leave a slime trail. This causes the leaves to droop and they may turn yellow if they don’t receive enough water and nutrients. They’ll certainly droop. This is usually a problem with young plants are more established plants that can usually handle being attacked by slugs and snails without any issues.

Red spider mites suck the sap from the foliage. This creates a pale mottled look on your leaves. You can also look closely for the tiny bugs themselves. They’re yellow and shed their white skins on the underside of the leaves, as well as lay their eggs there.

Find out more about these pests and what to do about them in Choisya pests and diseases.


Choisya plants are susceptible to two main fungal diseases. Poor growing conditions cause these diseases so they’re straightforward to deal with.

Root rot and crown rot attack your plant when the conditions are cool and damp. They cause the underground roots to disintegrate so that the leaves don’t receive enough water and nutrients. You may notice the leaves turning yellow and drooping. But often the changes go unnoticed until it’s too late to do anything about the problem, and the plant dies. This can be avoided by having free-draining soil and digging plenty of grit and peat into the soil before planting if you already suffer from waterlogged soil.

Grey mould is another fungal disease that flourishes in moist conditions and stagnant air. This causes the leaves to droop and eventually the stems die.

There’s more information about these diseases here.

If you think your planting is dying, it could be due to dieback caused by winter damage, you can learn more about why your choisya might be dying here.

Heavy soil

This links to poor drainage. Choisya prefer medium soil that’s well drained. Heavy soil usually retains water and creates too wet and cool an environment for the shrub. Again, if you suffer from poor draining soil add plenty of compost or pot and horticultural grit to the soil. If this is not possible, consider growing them in pots.

Environmental shock

Even though choisya is a hardy plant, it can still react to a change of environment by going into shock. This could be the reason for its yellow and droopy leaves.

When you buy your tree, make sure to first place it in the same environmental conditions as it was grown it. This may mean keeping it indoors for a while or in a greenhouse if it’s still very cold outside and its been grown in a tunnel. Gradually move the plant, changing its location, amount of sunlight/shade and soil a little at a time. These small changes place less stress on the plant to adapt to new conditions.

The same holds for any choisya that you plan on moving to a different location in your garden. (And any plant in general.) If you plan on moving your plant, this is best done in autumn while the soil is still warm or early spring. Remember to keep it well watered as it will have restricted root growth.

Leaves are supposed to be yellow

Choisya ternata sundance which naturally had yellow leaves

Let’s not overlook the fact that some varieties of choisya start with yellow leaves in the spring. The leaves turn yellow again the autumn. Sundance is one such variety. Drooping leaves, however, are another problem altogether.

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