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The Reasons Behind Your Houseplant’s Yellow Leaves


From gardens to living rooms and bedrooms, rich green plants brighten up your day and beautify your space. However, sometimes, despite your best care, your once deep green plant leaves begin turning yellow.

The yellowing of leaves, known as chlorosis, occurs when something interferes with your plant’s chlorophyll, the pigment that gives it its green color.

On the bright side, the yellowing of leaves lets you know that your plant needs help. By figuring out the reasons behind the yellowing leaves and taking the appropriate steps to remedy them, you can bring your plants back to life within no time.

So, without further ado, let’s have a look at the reasons behind your houseplant’s yellow leaves.

Moisture Stress

Moisture stress is one of the major reasons that cause leaves to turn yellow. Moisture stress in plants can occur due to under watering or overwatering. So, if you have a plant with yellowing leaves, the first thing you need to check is whether their soil is dry or not.

If the soil appears drier than usual, it means that you’re underwatering the plant. In such cases, you must water the plant more often and consider soaking it in water rather than sprinkling it so that the roots can easily absorb the water.

On the other hand, if the soil appears wetter than usual, it means that you’ve been watering your plant too much, causing the leaves to turn yellow. If that’s the case, curtail that amount of water you’re giving your plants and reduce the frequency with which you water them.

A great way to deal with moisture stress is to give the soil the “finger test” before you water a plant. To do this, put your index finger a few inches into the soil. The rule of thumb is that you must only water your plant when the soil feels dry. If the soil feels cool and moist, allow it to dry slightly before watering it again.


As most plants age, their lower leaves turn yellow and begin to fall off. This isn’t something to worry about as it is quite a normal part of their growth. You can, however, help promote the growth of your plant by trimming back the main stem if the plant appears too leggy.

Lack Of Light

Another critical reason that can cause plants’ leaves to turn yellow is the lack of light. You probably already know that plants need three main elements to grow: fertile soil, sufficient sunlight, and ample water. The lack of light reduces the rate of photosynthesis, leading to limited production of chlorosis, the substance which gives leaves their green color.

As the light your plant gets increases, photosynthesis increases as well. A plant turning yellow due to lack of light will typically start yellowing on the side that is away from the light. This is because the leaves that are near the window or facing the sun are getting all the light, blocking light to the opposite side of the leaves.

An excellent way to deal with this is to turn the plant pot a bit once a week so that all the leaves have equal access to natural light. Moreover, you can also move your plant to a sunnier location to see how it responds.

Unfavorable Temperature Conditions

Whether hot or cold, temperature is another vital factor that can impact the color of the leaves. When it comes to cold temperatures, cold drafts can severely impact most tropical plants, contributing to the yellowing of their leaves. If it isn’t a periodic temperature change, such as a draft, a plant’s leaves can turn brown when exposed to cold temperatures for prolonged times.

If your plant is kept near a draft window in winter or is lying near an air-conditioner during summer, consider moving it to a less turbulent place to keep its leaves from yellowing. Once you move your plant, maintain a check on its leaves to see if the yellowing is spreading any further. If your tropical plants are still yellowing, mist them to increase humidity levels.

Lack Of Nutrition

The color of your plants’ leaves is a reliable indication of their health and nutrition. If there’s a strange pattern to the yellowing of your leaves, such as green veins and yellow tissues, then your plant is struggling with a shortage of nutrients.

Under-fertilizing or over-fertilizing are the root causes of nutrient problems, which is why it is imperative to use fertilizers at the labeled rate. Some people use too much fertilizer on their plants to enhance the speed of their growth, but what it actually does is create a toxic environment that burns the leaves and turns them yellow.

Your plants’ yellowing may also be caused by the following deficiencies: nitrogen deficiency, potassium deficiency, magnesium deficiency, iron deficiency, or sulfur deficiency. So, make sure to find a fertilizer that can provide your plant with sufficient quantities of these nutrients.

Viral Infection

A plant struggling with a viral infection typically has blotchy yellow spots or patches spread throughout its leaves. Other indications of a viral infection in plants include deformed stems and leaves and discolored flowers.

The problem with viral infections in plants is that they aren’t curable and can, in fact, infect all vulnerable plants in their surroundings. Therefore, if you suspect your plant’s yellow leaves are due to a viral infection, immediately quarantine it from the rest of your plants. Also, make sure to check the neighboring plants to ensure the spread of the viral is contained.

The Bottom Line

As a plant enthusiast, healthy and vibrant green plants hold a special place in your heart as they beautify your indoor and outdoor spaces. Although yellowing leaves damper the appearance of your plants, they serve as indicators of underlying problems with your plants, allowing you to figure out the issue and remedy it. We hope the reasons behind your houseplant’s yellow leaves help you find out what’s wrong with your plants so that you can restore them to their natural green color!