Apple Leaves Turning Red (Causes & Solutions) – ISPUZZLE

Apple trees have been classic garden inclusions for centuries, but maintaining their health can be complex. There are many reasons why your apple tree leaves may turn red. Fortunately, many causes are not harmful or easy to fix.

Apple leaves naturally turn red in the fall as a form of defense. Red foliage can also be caused by insufficient lighting, underwater, lack of oxygen or nutrient deficiencies. It can be naturally distressing to see the precious leaves on your apple tree change color, but there are plenty of ways to fix the problem.

Stick around to find out why apple tree leaves turn red and how to promote optimal health.


Apple tree leaves turn red

Potted apple tree leaves turning red

While it might be strange to see your apple tree’s leaves turning red, it was very common. I can count the number of times I’ve been lucky enough to see a red apple tree in the fall, and I’ve always found its color variations incredibly fascinating.

Of course, certain problems can cause red leaves. But there are many healthy reasons due to ancestry and genetics.

anthocyanin pigment

Apple leaves contain a pigment produced from chemicals called anthocyanins. Scientists believe the red tint helps prevent sun damage, and it’s common for crabapple trees to turn bright red in the fall because the leaves are more brittle.

Many domestic apple trees have been bred over the years, and farmers select varieties that produce the best fruit.

The case differs by region, as around 62.2% of crabapples in Central Asia turn red in autumn, while only 2.8% of British cultivated apple trees turn red. (Source: Scientific Review)

The solution

When apple trees naturally turn red to protect themselves, there is absolutely nothing to worry about. Your flowering tree knows how to take care of itself, even though it appreciates all of your tender love and care. Let it do what it’s supposed to, as the leaves will likely return to their usual color when finished.

nutrient deficiency

Nutrient deficiencies can easily cause discolored leaves, especially when tending to a young apple tree. When the tree does not receive enough nutrients, such as phosphorus or nitrogen, it may take on a reddish tint. This is because they start producing abnormally high amounts of anthocyanins.

The solution

Your fertilizer should be enriched with the nutrients needed by your apple tree, young or mature. Providing the tree with adequate resources will help it maintain a healthy level and retain the natural colors of its leaves.

bad lighting

Your apple tree may form reddish leaves if it gets too much sun. While sunlight and blue skies are great for your overall health, too much direct sunlight can cause sunburn.

This can cause the upper leaves to turn red, reddish, or orange-red, and they can also wilt or curl. Apple trees can also develop reddish leaves if they don’t get enough light.

The solution

Gradually increase sun exposure over time, especially when young. They should adapt well over time and you can use screens or netting to reduce the intensity of direct sunlight if necessary.


Apple trees can develop red leaves when they dry out. The leaves may turn red, but this is often accompanied by darkening, curled tips or edges, and premature drop.

The solution

It is best to water the tree immediately, especially outdoors. The surrounding grass can consume the entire supply. The plant should provide enough water and ensure that all the surrounding soil, from the surface to the roots, is moist.

low oxygen

Red leaves can indicate low oxygen levels. This often happens when the soil contains too much water and the tree may not be able to retain leaf color.

The solution

Choose coarse soil because it contains much more air. You can also poke holes in the surface around the tree with a stick to allow more air to circulate through the soil.


Some apple trees develop red leaves to protect new growth from threats. In nature, animals and insects use color as a warning or cue. This brighter shade of red could be perceived as poisonous or dangerous, and pests are likely to assume the apple tree is not accessible.

The red dye naturally repels insects and aphids, preventing them from using the tree as a new home. Red leaves also contain fewer nutrients, which reduces the risk of pests feeding on the tree.

The solution

You may not be able to change this behavior, but there is no reason to. It is completely natural and quite common in the cheekbones. Also, aphids and insects tend to survive longer if they inhabit trees that do not turn red.


Your apple tree may have red leaves due to its type and in these cases it is completely healthy. Many apple trees grown from wild varieties can have leaves that are red, pink, bronze, or various warm hues.

The fruits they can produce can also differ in flesh, skin, and even flavor and texture. You will usually notice if this is the case as they can sprout in shades of red from an early age and should have an even range of colors across all the leaves.

The solution

You don’t have to worry about finding a cure here, because there is no problem to solve. Your apple tree is different from most domestic varieties, but it still needs the same love and care as any other variety.

In fact, many gardeners turn to the red-leaved varieties as fruit and ornamental trees. But if you don’t like the look of red leaves, try choosing white seedlings. If the seedlings are pink, they are likely to form red foliage.

Should we worry about the apple tree turning red?

In many cases, the color red shouldn’t be the primary concern. When assessing why your apple tree’s foliage is turning red, focus on its health.

If the leaves turn reddish but look shiny, strong and healthy, don’t worry. However, if you notice deformations and peculiarities on the leaves in combination with red tones, this may indicate problems.

Although there are certain risks and outcomes associated with apple leaves, many of the causes are natural or inherent.

Always assess leaf health and do thorough research on the type of apple tree you are caring for to ensure you are well prepared for future changes in color or behavior.

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