Plant Care

4 Reasons Beet Leaves are Turning Red (How to Fix It)

Beetroot is considered an unpretentious garden crop in cultivation. But still, gardeners are usually faced with the following problem: beet leaves are turning red.

There are several reasons why beets leaves turn red. But, before you do anything, you need to determine the cause of the red leaves and treat it accordingly:

Reasons Beet Leaves Turn Red:
1. High Soil Acidity (High pH)
2. Lack of nutrients
3. Excessive use of fertilizers
4. Diseases

1. High Soil Acidity (High pH)

The most common reason why beet leaves are turning red is the high acidity of the soil. With increased acidity, the beet leaves not only turn red, they grow smaller than usual, and root crops also grow poorly.

Beets are very sensitive when it comes to soil acidity and prefer neutral or slightly alkaline ones soil form a pH standpoint. This will stop beets from growing and not produce a high yield because of this issue.

If the beet leaves turn red, then the soil is probably acidic. Therefore, it is necessary to determine the level of soil acidity. 

There are several ways to determine the level of acidity of the soil:

1.For this purpose, special acidity analyzers are suitable, which are sold in garden centers (soil pH testing kits, soil composition analyzers).

2. The second method requires baking soda and vinegar. Then we take a lump of soil, soak it on a flat surface and give it the shape of a cake. 

3. Next, pour a little vinegar on top and watch the result. 

A reaction should occur:

  1. If the soil is alkaline, then bubbles should appear, if this does not happen, then the soil is neutral or acidic.  
  2. Then we make another cake and sprinkle it with soda. If there is a reaction, then the soil is acidic. 


To eliminate such a problem, it is necessary to fertilize the soil and treat it with an wood ash solution depending on the pH level before planting beets. Most often, 100 grams of wood ash solution are taken per one square meter.

The wood ash powder is densely sprinkled on the soil around the beet plants. 

For irrigation, a working solution is prepared with the calculation of several glasses of ash per bucket of water, after which the mixture is well stirred. 

Chalk and dolomite powder (450-500 g per 1 square meter) introduced during the autumn plowing will help to normalize the soil pH balance.

Speaking of beet leaves changing color, here are the reasons why beet leaves are turning yellow!!

2. Lack of nutrients

The second most common reason why beet leaves turn red is a lack of nutrients like: sodium, potassium, phosphorus, and other micro and macronutrients in the soil. 

As a result of a deficiency of these elements, the tops fade and darken, at the beginning, it gets a slightly greenish tint of color, and then the leaves of the beet turn red. 

Lack of nutrientsBeet SymptomsHow to treat
Phosphorus deficiencyThe leaves darken, then turn purple-red throughout the leaf.
The tops first acquire a dark green color, and after a while it turns red.
Fertilize the soil with superphosphate fertilizer (30 to 45 g per 1 m2).
Potassium deficiencyLeaves become dark red not over the entire surface, but only from the edges.Dissolve 1 tablespoon of potassium chloride in 10 liter of water and water the beets under the root.
Magnesium deficiencyUpward curling of the leaf and reddening of the lower leaves.Fertilize the soil with manganese sulfate.
Sodium deficiencyOutwardly healthy leaves turn red.Water the plantings directly on top with a solution of table salt (250 g per bucket of water).
Table with symptoms and treatment on beet leaves from lack of nutrients

Lack of potassium

If beetroot leaves turn dark red and immediately curl, this indicates a lack of potassium. You can correct the situation with potash fertilizers, as well as wood ash.

With a catastrophic lack of phosphorus, you need to choose the right fertilizers added to the soil. To do this, you need a solution of slurry in a ratio of (1:10) or chicken manure(1:20). 

Firstly, beets take out all the potassium from the soil, and it must be replenished with the introduction of potash fertilizers, and preferably phosphorus-potassium fertilizers.

You can also treat lack of phosphorus with superphosphate.

In this case, superphosphate (30–40 g / square meter ) diluted in the required amount of water is used as top dressing.

It is very important to respect the dosages indicated by the manufacturer.

Lack of phosphorus

Due to the lack of phosphorus, the beet leaf becomes dull, loses its traditional color and acquires a slight red color. If phosphorus is absent completely in the soil the beet leaves will dry.

To treat lack of potassium use potassium chloride and lime. The following proportions are used to prepare the solution:

  • 10 liters of water.
  • 200 g of slaked lime;
  • 80 g of potassium chloride;

Mix everything together until thoroughly dissolved. Water the beet soil with this solution (for each linear meter it is required to prepare 1 liter of the product). Then procedure for watering the soil using this solution must be repeated after 2 weeks.

Lack of manganese and magnesium

In beets, the lack of manganese and magnesium manifest itself in an upward curling leaf and reddening of the lower parts of the leaves. Magnesium starvation is experienced by beet plantings grown on light sandy soils.

Manganese deficiency occurs in soil with high alkali readings. In such soil, magnesium is not available for the beet root system. The situation is usually corrected by spraying the soil with manganese sulfate. 

The lack of these substances leads to the development of diseases. 

To treat a lack of magnesium and manganese you need top dressing. You don’t need to purchase special top dressing. You can use a solution of slurry (1:10) or chicken manure (1:20). This solution of organic fertilizer will already have all the necessary magnesium.

Only rotted manure is used, since fresh manure has a high concentration of nitrogen and a significant supply of pathogenic organisms. The optimal application rate is 1 liter / one square meter of beetroots.

Lack of sodium

From a lack of sodium in the soil, the leaf often turns red in beets, because sodium plays a major role in the initial growth and development of the beet tops by stimulating the accumulation of sugar in the root.

The presence of sodium in the soil of the beets is very important because it will facilitate the absorption of other nutrients like: phosphorus and nitrogen.

You can treat this deficiency by watering it with table salt. For the preparation you will need about 250 gr of table salt which will be poured into 10 liters of water.

The mix is stirred until the complete disappearance of the salt crystals. A liter of solution is consumed per one meter of land. 

If the beet leaves are turning red because of lack of sodium, it is important to water with this the prepared solution over the leaves, and try to avoid watering the beet root itself.

If you decide to water with saline, you should be 100% aware of why the red beet leaves turn red. However, excess sodium can reduce crop yields.

Our tip!
Before fertilizing beets, you should make sure that the cause of red leaves is a lack, and not an excess of fertilizer.

3. Excessive use of fertilizers

The third most common reason is the overuse of fertilizers. The excess nitrogen in the soil prevents the beet from absorbing nitrogen from the air. This causes the leaves to turn red because they cannot use nitrogen, so they send it all over the place instead.

The soil already includes the required amount of fertilizer, and gardeners add them again. 

Overfeeding of plants has a bad effect on the yield and development of plants: the leaves turn red, and the beets do not grow. They can get poisoned and die. 

But you need to fix the problem only after the cause is precisely determined. 

If you do not pay any attention to this process, then you risk losing the crop.


There are few solutions here:

Excessive use of fertilizers can be solved by transferring beets to a different soil (if possible) or rinse the overfed soil for a long time with water.

If you use elementary techniques in time, then you can eliminate the appearance of redness on seedlings and already planted beets in the ground. If you know that the soil has an increased level of acidity, then it is better to add lime in advance. 

Preventive measures will help in the future not to fight diseases of the beet culture, preventing their development.

Your raspberry leaves can also turn red. Here are 5 causes and treatments to restore the color and health of raspberry leaves!

4. Diseases

Diseases can also be the answer to the question of why beet leaves are turning red. 

Cercospora leaf spot of beets (Cercospora beticola)

Red spots on the leaves of beets appear as a result of Cercospora leaf spot. Cercosporosis, or a pathogenic fungus, causes leaf spotting. The disease develops quickly, aggressively and deprives the gardener of the beetroots. 

The fungus that causes the disease hibernates on the seeds, in the remains of leaves and petioles located on the surface of the soil.

Small round and grayish spots with a reddish border that appear on the upper side of the beet outer leaves of the leaf cluster. In wet weather, appearance of small black dots . Under favorable conditions, the spots multiply until the affected leaves completely dry out. 

These red spots eventually join together, which causes the entire blade of the attacked leaf to dry up. If the attack is important, the whole culture presents the appearance of a burnt surface. 

This complete disappearance of the beet leaves can be followed by vigorous regrowth, but the plants remain very thin and the harvest that follows is clearly reduced (up to 30%).

The beet inner leaves are then affected in turn. If the infection is detected at an early stage, beetroots can still be saved with the help of special preparations.

The pathogenic process begins with the lower leaves, eventually capturing the entire above-ground mass. At the initial stage of the development of the disease, good results can be achieved in the fight. Later, diseased beets must be removed.


You can prevent Cercospora beticola in several ways:

  • First, only use seeds from healthy or treated plants .
  • Avoid excessive fertilization or watering and crops in poorly drained soil.
  • In the event of Cercospora leaf spot in the immediate vicinity, use resistant varieties if possible.
  • In case of previous damage, apply crop rotation on your different crop beds. 
  • You can also spray of Bordeaux mixture in July.

To treat Cercospora beticola do the following steps:

  1. In the event of the onset of an attack, it is best to uproot the few affected beets and burn them.
  2. Plow the soil to a depth of 20 cm, which will make the fungus die.
  3. Spray beets leaves every 7-10 days with a solution containing copper (copper oxychloride – 0.4%). 
  4. For spraying, Bordeaux mixture, copper oxychloride is recommended.
  5. It is important to follow the rules of crop rotation and clean the bed of plant debris after harvesting.


As you saw there are several reasons why beet leaves are turning red and stop growing. 

You need to fix the problem only after the cause is precisely determined. If you do not pay any attention to this process, then you risk losing the crop.

If you use the elementary techniques presented in this article , then you can eliminate the appearance of redness on seedlings and already planted beets in the ground.

Andreea Tapu

Andreea TAPU is a passionate gardener with over 5 years of experience in cultivating a wide variety of plants and flowers in her garden. As the author and creator of, she is dedicated to sharing her knowledge and expertise with others, providing practical tips and advice to help gardeners of all levels achieve success and enjoyment in their gardening pursuits.