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Yellowing Moringa

I have a volunteer who’s lovely moringa plant, in a span of two days, changed from growing nicely full of green leaves to looking like this, . My natural assumption would be that it’s too wet, as we’re in the rainy season here in Panama, and moringa here are prone to leaf drop and yellowing due to the stress during the wet season. But this one seemed a little different-- the uniform yellowing/browning and wilty all at once, when it has been raining here for the last 5 months. Most of the trees I know here when suffering from (too much) water stress seem to lose parts of leaves/yellow in certain sections as it gets wetter and wetter.

The plants in question were planted from seed a couple months ago.

Any other thoughts on what it might be, or most likely water stress as I’m thinking?

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Hi Laura,
Thanks so much for providing a photo - that really helps troubleshoot!

My first thoughts are this doesn’t look quite like normal leaf yellowing and senescence (drop) caused by over-watering. Typically for moringa, yellowing caused by overwatering progresses from the base of the canopy to the top (as in photo below), while in your photo, the leaves look like they all died back at the same time and before fully yellowing.


Perhaps this plant has root or stem rot with the abundance of rain you have had lately? You could dig it up to see if the root system has rotted. But you don’t have to dig it up just yet!

Another thing I notice from your photo is that it looks like the last cut that was made on the main truck of the tree split the main trunk. This allows water to sit in that opened area and potentially cause rotting and/or spread of disease. The best way to cut the main stem is with a clean diagonal cut so that water runs off of the cut and does not pool and cause rotting or damage (photo below).


Moringa is very hardy and recovers quickly. If there is damage in the stem tissue, you could try cutting the main truck back lower, with a clean cut that allows water to drain off. We also have found that although moringa does well without fertilizer, it responds very well to additions of N. You could give the tree some manure, compost, or other fertilizer to get it a little bit of a boost. During the rainy season, it’s good to provide high organic matter or slow releasing fertilizers so that you reduce nutrient leaching.

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Thanks Stacy, that was helpful. I agree that it looked different from normal unhappy wet moringa–that’s why I was writing! :grin:

The stump in the picture is from a stick, placed there from to protect the young moringa from wayward machete cuts and so forth–sorry that wasn’t so clear! But still it’s a useful think to remember when pruning!

Oh! I can see that in this picture.

Interesting. I wonder if there has been root damage/disease then, with the wilting and yellowing happening all at the same time and the wet conditions. Stem or root rots are my best guess.

Has anyone else seen this happen to their moringa trees before or know of anything that could cause this?