Common Issues

5 Common Causes of Yellow Leaves

A cardboard plant with yellowing foliage.

You wake up one morning and check in on your plants. Everything seems fine… but then you see it. Yellow. You start to feel sick. The room starts to spin, a thin sweat forms on your forehead. You’re literally freaking out. Relax and take a deep breath. Let’s discuss the 5 most common causes of yellowing leaves.

Inconsistent watering: The most common reason for yellowing leaves is inconsistent watering. This means your plant is either getting too much or not enough water, but how can you tell? In cases of over-watering, the leaves and stems will yellow and start to soften. If under-watered, the leaves tend to curl inward and drop off very easily. The best way to fix this is to readjust your schedule. Keep a close eye on your soil and stick your finger 2” deep before every water cycle. If it is wet at all, even slightly moist, skip watering for the day. Check back again daily until it has dried, and then water the soil thoroughly. 

 Too much light: If your leaves turn a pale yellow, almost white color, this indicates that it is receiving too much sunlight. This results in a sun-bleached leaf. Luckily, this is an easy fix. Move your plant back from the light source about 5-8 ft. to stop this from happening.

Nutrient deficiency: Is your plant on a solid watering schedule and receiving the proper amount of light, but still yellowing? This signals nutrient deficiency. Just like us, plants need vitamins and minerals to survive. This includes iron, potassium, and calcium- just to name a few. We recommend refreshing your soil yearly to keep nutrient levels up, but sometimes they run out faster than expected. Give your plants a nutrient boost by adding a plant food to your routine in warmer months. If you need repotting tips, click here!

Inconsistent temperature: Your plant is freshly potted in nutrient-rich soil, lives in the proper light, and is on a solid watering schedule; but your leaves are still turning yellow. WTF. Our best guess is inconsistent temperature. Most houseplants want to sit in a comfortable 70-85° Fahrenheit. If the temperature in your home happens to fluctuate often and to the extreme, the plant will get stressed and become very unhappy. Try to avoid placing plants near drafty windows or in close proximity to heating/cooling appliances.

Gettin’ older: If your plant’s lower foliage or older leaves start to yellow, no worries. Like with any living thing, aging is inevitable. Think of it as your plant shedding away the old, allowing new, shiny leaves to take their place. You can speed up the process by pruning them off, or simply let nature take its course. They will fall off eventually.

All you need is patience and the process of elimination to figure out the cause of yellowing leaves. Once you’re sure, you can take the proper action to stop it and become your plant’s personal hero. Sadly, the leaves that have already turned will never go green again, so it’s best to cut them off. We know it’s tough, but it will be okay in the end.
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