5 Reasons for Ligustrum Leaves Turning Yellow [360° Solution]

Ligustrum (also known as privet) are a very popular choice for lawns and gardens because of their evergreen nature. But some factors can turn their green leaves into yellow and this can make your beautiful garden look rather ugly. 

However, by yellowing, the plant gives a warning sign telling us that they need some attention. Although many reasons can cause the ligustrum leaves to turn yellow, only the right treatment can cure them completely. 

Improper watering, inadequate sunlight, fungal problems, pest attack, and nutrient deficiencies are 5 things that can turn your privets yellow. 

Luckily you don’t have to trouble yourself because we have done the research and included everything in this article. This is going to guide you through the factors so that you can solve these problems very easily.

So, let’s fire away-

How To Treat The Yellow Leaves Of Ligustrum

1. Improper Watering

Watering is essential for any plant. But ligustrums don’t like to be watered too much. This is because overwatering hurts their roots and as a result, the injured roots cannot provide enough water and nutrients to the plant. As a result, the leaves turn yellow and wilt.  Moreover, they suffer from dangerous fungal diseases due to overwatering. 

But here is another deal. If you don’t water your privet for too long then they will be unable to make enough food for themselves. Eventually, they will turn their leaves yellow and drop off. 

Control Measure

Since overwatering and underwatering both can lead to yellow leaves you have to water them carefully.  Before watering check the soil with a moisture meter (Our pick: Atree Soil Soil Tester Kits with Moisture, Light, and PH Test for Garden), and if the soil is dry then water them lightly. 

Now you might be thinking how much to water?

Well, don’t go overboard with watering. Water them in small amounts but frequently about every 10-12 days. And the amount of water will vary according to the size of your plant as well as the weather conditions. 

If the weather is too hot then water a bit more. Meanwhile during winter, cut back on watering. But always remember to provide your ligustrums with good drainage so that there is no chance of a water logging situation. 

2. Inadequate Sunlight

We all know that plants need enough sunlight to make their food otherwise the leaves turn yellow. When you notice your ligustrum leaves are turning yellow and droopy then the first thing you need to check is the amount of sunlight they are getting. 

Control Measure

Privets need plenty of sunlight for blooming. So make sure they are in a sunny area. If your plants aren’t getting enough sunlight then you can shift them to another sunny place. This will also help to prevent many fungal diseases. After a few days of sunshine, you will see your privets are turning beautiful green. 

3. Fungal Problems

Ligustrums are susceptible to some fungal diseases like root rot and leaf spot. These two diseases turn the leaves yellow. And if you don’t treat the plant in time the disease gets so severe that the leaves fall from the plant and it dies very quickly. 

In the case of leaf spots, you will notice yellow spots on the leaves that will gradually get bigger turning the whole leaf yellow. 

But in case of root rot, the leaves will turn yellow and wilt. Though to be sure of this disease you have to uproot the plant carefully and check the root. There will be rotten and greyish mushy areas with a bad smell.

Control Measure

In both cases, you have to stop the disease from spreading. Pick the best fungicide and apply it on your ligustrums. In case of root rot, treat the roots with the fungicide and then plant it in disease-free soil (our pick: Bonide 811 Copper 4E Fungicide)

When planting, give them proper space to make sure of good air circulation. Because this will help to dry out any water from the leaf surface quickly and prevent fungal diseases. While watering makes sure you water them in the morning so any extra water on the leaf surface can dry.  

You see, the Japanese variety is almost 8 feet wide and the California variety can grow up to 15 feet wide.  So you have to maintain this distance from one plant to another. If they are already planted very close then relocate the plant to a perfect distance. Otherwise, they will fail to receive proper sunlight and airflow. 

Try these homemade fungicide recipes:-

#Recipe 1:- Cinnamon Spray Recipe


  • 3 tablespoons of cinnamon powder 
  • 1 gallon of water 


  • Mix water and powdered cinnamon and let it rest overnight.
  • Then strain the cinnamon powder with a fine cloth and store the solution in a bottle.
  • Use it on your infected ligustrum leaves twice  a week until the fungal problem is gone

# Recipe 2:- Baking Soda Spray Recipe


  • Baking Soda 1  tablespoon
  • Few drops of liquid soap
  • 1 gallon  of water


  • Mix the ingredients and use it on your ligustrum  2-3 times a week. 

Note:  Sometimes some homemade fungicide doesn’t suit the plant. So try a small amount of these fungicides on a small ligustrum leaf and wait out to see the reaction. If the leaf seems okay then use it on the whole plant. 

4. Pest Attack

Ligustrums get attacked by many pests like spider mites, whiteflies, and thrips. These tiny pests feed on the leaves and suck the juice from them. As a result, the leaves turn yellow and get curled. 

If you inspect the plant closely you will see them flying from leaf to leaf and some small webbing in case of spider mites. Initially, their damage may not seem serious but if you leave your ligustrums untreated these pests will damage the plant greatly. 

Control Measure

Control the pests with a good pesticide. Pick one that is very effective but safe for the environment(our pick: Natria Neem Oil Spray for Plants Pest Organic Disease Control). Follow the label direction and apply it on your ligustrums when you find any pest attack. 

But if you want to control them more naturally you can try neem oil and Insecticidal soap spray. Here are their recipes:-

#Recipe 1:- Neem Oil Spray Recipe


  • 4 teaspoons of neem oil 
  • 2 liter of water 


  • Mix the neem oil and water 
  • Pour the solution into the sprayer 
  • Spray on your ligustrum  plants every week as long as necessary
  • Use this as a preventive measure on a regular basis (once a week)  against all kinds of pests

#Recipe 2:- Insecticidal Soap Recipe


  • 6 tablespoons of liquid mild soap
  • A gallon of water 


  • Mix them and pour them into the sprayer.
  • Spray on both sides of the ligustrum leaves every  two weeks

5. Nutrient Deficiencies

Sometimes if your ligustrum plant lacks certain nutrients like nitrogen, potassium phosphorus, and other trace elements then it can easily turn the leaves yellow.  This happens more often if the soil is of poor quality.

 You will also observe stunted growth along with yellowing if the soil is poor in nutrients. 

Control Measure

Feed your plants with the best liquid and well-balanced fertilizer during early spring(our pick: Miracle-Gro Water Soluble All Purpose Plant Food) Follow the manufacturer’s direction while applying.

But never overuse any fertilizer as it will burn your plant and damage the roots. This will result in even more yellow and brown leaves. Also, you can add organic materials and compost to enhance the quality of the soil. 

Never use fertilizers during midday especially when it’s hot. Because it increases the chances of fertilizers burning the leaves. 

 Frequently Asked Question (FAQ)

1. What is the lifespan of Ligustrum?

They live up to 30 years if they get the right conditions like enough sunlight and adequate watering. 

2. Can you transplant a ligustrum?

Yes, they can be moved to another place during spring. But it should be done very carefully so that the roots are not disturbed. 

3. Does ligustrum like acidic soil?

Ligustrum grows best in moderate acidic to neutral soil ranging from 6.0 to 7.0 on the pH scale. 


Yellow leaves in the ligustrum plants are not a big deal if you know how to treat them. However, this yellowing can’t always be controlled. Because some of them are due to seasonal changes which are completely normal. But otherwise, you have to take control of your plant before it gets out of hand. 

I hope this article has helped you to take better care of your privet plants and aided you to resolve the problem of yellow leaves successfully.

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