If a leaf on a plant is shriveling or yellowing, should you cut it off or leave it there? If you do the former, should you only snip off the damaged parts or should you cut off the entire leaf? My question is pertinent to young plants that may have only around 15 leaves, so each leaf is relatively important.

2 Answers 2


The only time you usually remove leaves which are slightly damaged or part dead is if the plant is highly ornamental and it's detracting from its appearance, or the leaf is damaged by some kind of infection or invader. Otherwise, just wait for the leaf to shrivel and fall off naturally, or remove it when it's at that stage.

  • Are there benefits to leaving dead leaves on the plant? In my observations, once a leaf has yellowed or shriveled, it never rehabilitates. Is rehabilitation even possible?
    – JoJo
    May 15, 2014 at 0:42
  • @JoJo - no, no benefit as such - but there's much less risk you'll damage the plant if you wait for nature to deal with the leaf than your going in with scissors or snips before its ready to drop off. Cutting it before its dead means exposing interior tissues which may still be live - pulling it gently, or snipping once its shrivelled doesn't do this.
    – Bamboo
    May 15, 2014 at 11:43

There is always a reason for shriveling and yellowing. Taking care of the cause is the best thing for your plants health. If the leaves are dying naturally of old age, on most plants, you can cut off the leaves when the last green fades out. If the plant is disease prone or bleeds badly, wait until the leaf is entirely dry.

  • These are the leaf problems that I am personally trying to solve: 1) Prime Ark Blackberry shriveled after one week of planting. The suckers seemed to be doing better than their parent (photo). 2) Lower leaves on my tropical Century Guava have yellowed, but not shriveled. Once completely yellow, they drop. New leaves are growing in to take their place (photo).
    – JoJo
    May 16, 2014 at 16:24
  • @JoJo Wow... Are you watering the blackberry at all?
    – J. Musser
    May 18, 2014 at 2:17
  • I water my blackberry twice a week. There's a Fall Gold raspberry plant just 6 feet away and I water it with the same amount, except the raspberry is looking lush.
    – JoJo
    May 19, 2014 at 6:03
  • @JoJo was the blackberry potted?
    – J. Musser
    May 23, 2014 at 0:40
  • It was in a small plastic container in the nursery. I immediately planted it in the ground. I'm wondering if the dead cane is over three years old and died naturally. If something was wrong with the soil or watering, wouldn't all the canes die? But this is not so. The new suckers have recently grown quite rapidly.
    – JoJo
    May 24, 2014 at 4:15

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