Serviceberry, Leaves Yellowing


I have three serviceberries planted together in a row and one of them isn’t doing as well as the other two. They were all planted at the same time a few years ago. Wondering if you would have any ideas as to why the one has yellow leaves — lack of fertilizer? They all have the same exposure to light and water — mostly only rain water. I’m down in the Beaches just a block from the waterfront. I’d love to be able to save the one that appears to be struggling but unsure what the issue might be. Many thanks for any ideas! Hopefully the photo provides some evidence as to what the problem is.


Hello – Yellowing leaves on a plant, called chlorosis, is an indication that something is interfering with a plant’s chlorophyll, the green pigment in plants. Chlorosis can be caused by: poor drainage or improper watering, root damage or compacted roots, inappropriate soil pH and lack of needed nutrients. To diagnose the specific problem in your case, it’s a matter of assessing each of these issues to see which might apply to your situation and why they may be affecting only one of the three shrubs.

The other two shrubs look quite healthy so whatever the issue is, is occurring at the left end of the bed. From the photo, it looks like your serviceberries are growing in a raised bed. It also looks to me like there is a slight slope to the left. Is there any chance that water is flowing to the left and collecting or draining very slowly in that corner?

I’ve included a link below to an article from Iowa State University on testing and improving soil drainage. The testing simply involves digging a hole, filling it with water and timing how long it takes for the water to drain. Soils that drain 1-3 inches an hour work for most plants. If you determine that drainage in this corner is in fact an issue, the article does offer suggestions for how to improve the situation. The suggestions assume the plants are growing directly in the ground so you’ll need to consider if the raised bed is a factor in the issue.

Good luck with your serviceberry!

Testing and Improving Soil Drainage