Baker Garden & Gift

Topic House Plants

Why are the leaves turning yellow?


Yellowing leaves can be caused by one or more of the following.

Normal Aging

When plants age the lower leaves will turn yellow and drop off as a normal part of growth. This is apparent in dieffenbachia and dracaena plants. No need to worry with this problem but if the plant gets too leggy consider trimming back the main stem. This will promote new growth.


This tends to be one of the more common of the problems. Very few plants actually like water left to sit in

their trays. Even tropical plants don't want to grow in the mud. Unless the plant is semi-aquatic like some

alocasia species.

Cold drafts

Tropical plants will often start to yellow and drop leaves if near a cold draft. Just simply move the plant away from the window, door, or air-conditioner vent.

Lack of light

If the yellow is occurring on the side away from the light source, it might be because not enough light is getting to the leaves. Simply just move to the plant closer to the light source. Be careful getting too close to windows as they may be drafty this time of year.

Nutrient deficiency

You will see the effect of this on the top leaves of the plant. If there is an unusual pattern (for example: the veins are dark green and the tissue between the veins are yellow), it is more than likely a nutritional problem. This is usually caused by too much calcium in the water if you are using tap water, or by a nitrogen deficiency. Either repot your plant if you haven't done so in the last 6 months or change your water to filtered water.

Viral infection

If the plant has blotchy, spreading yellow patches on the leaves. If the leaves and stems become deformed and flowers discolored, it may be a viral infection. Viral infections in plants cannot be cured and can infect nearby susceptible plants. If you think that the plant is infected, discard it.

Why are the leaves turning brown?

It might be perfectly natural for the leaves to yellow, then brown and then fall off. This happens to some tropical plants as they grow and form a bare stem. In other cases it is a sign of a cultural problem. If many leaves are turning brown and falling off at once or the upper leaves start browning, you may have one of the problems listed below.

Not enough light

If the leaves start turning yellow or brown on the side that is away from the light source, it's probably too little light.

Too much heat

This occurs along with too little water. Too much heat will make the leaves curl, crinkle and then fall completely off. If the plant is also wilting, try increasing waterings. Try moving it away from a nearby heat source, or you can introduce some air flow to cool the plant off.

Too little water

Plants with this problem will wilt, turn brown and the leaves will fall off. Depending on the type of plant, the leaves on the bottom will be doing this and it will work its way up. If the plant is bushier, it might also start on the outer leaves.

Too little humidity

If the browning occurs on the leaf and the leaf margin is still green, it's possible that the air is too dry for the plant. This can also cause the edges to dry and become brown. In this case, just take a spray bottle and mist the plant.

Still scratching your head? We offer house plant re-potting and diagnostic service.

Copyright © Baker Garden & Gift

Garden Center

Plant Catalog
Learning Center

Landscape Services

Landscape Design
Landscape Maintenance

Baker Garden & Gift

About Us