Are there some good rules of thumb to what symptoms map to sorts of deficiencies. If leaves are turning yellow out of season, what sort of deficiencies could be responsible?

I have read the following and would like to know how accurate such information is.

Lack of BORON New tip growth dies and the plants become brittle.

Lack of CALCIUM Tips of young leaves curl and die.

  • you tagged this as bonsai but the title says trees. This is a very wide topic with different answers for soil types, tree types and what part of the world. Can you be more specific about what type of bonsai?
    – kevinskio
    Jun 20, 2016 at 18:45
  • I am looking for standards, conventions. If its specific to one tree then its not a rule of thumb. I believe that excessive chlorine would make common symptoms in all trees. Bonsai are trees. But a tree in a pot may have these symptoms more readily, as potted trees can lose nutrients quicker than ground planted.
    – JonathanC
    Jun 20, 2016 at 18:48

1 Answer 1


No, there are no simple rule. And often excess and deficiency can have the same symptoms.

Lack of nitrogen: usually paler leaves (on all surfaces, all leaves) . Plant will grow less

Excess of nitrogen: too much grow, possibly with less fruits.

Other deficiencies gives paler leaves on/near veins, or far from veins. Iron deficiency could give small yellowish/brown leaves.

Note: excess of some elements could cause difficulty of the root to absorb other elements. Also wrong pH could totally change the symptoms.

But like excess of lack of water, the symptoms could be different according severity, and very different according species.

PS: my rule of thumb: Ask Google for a specific plant and specific deficiency.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.