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Why Are My Foliage Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?

Updated: March 29, 2022

Foliage plants are a popular choice for indoor and outdoor gardens alike due to their vibrant leaves that add a burst of color to any space. However, seeing yellow leaves on these plants can be concerning. Yellow leaves can indicate several things, from natural aging to nutrient deficiencies or even pest infestations. In this article, we will explore some of the common reasons why your foliage plant leaves may be turning yellow and how you can fix the issue.

Natural Aging

Like humans, plants also age, and as they do, their leaves begin to yellow and fall off. This process is entirely normal and happens to all plants, including foliage plants. The older leaves at the bottom of the plant will usually be the first to turn yellow and fall off. As long as new growth is emerging from the plant’s top, there is no need to worry about the yellowing leaves.

Watering Issues

Overwatering and underwatering are two common watering issues that can cause foliage plant leaves to turn yellow. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which prevents roots from absorbing nutrients effectively, causing yellowing leaves. On the other hand, when you underwater your plants, the soil becomes dry, and the plant cannot absorb enough water and nutrients from it. This can also cause leaves to turn yellow.

To fix these issues, make sure you are watering your foliage plants correctly. Check the soil moisture level regularly and water only when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Also, ensure that your plant has proper drainage in its pot.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Yellowing leaves could also be a sign that your foliage plant is not getting enough nutrients. Plants require a range of nutrients to grow healthily, but if they are not getting enough of these nutrients from the soil or their fertilizers, they may develop deficiencies.

If you suspect nutrient deficiency, you can try fertilizing your plant with a balanced fertilizer that contains nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. However, be careful not to over-fertilize as this can cause other issues.


Pests such as spider mites, mealybugs, and aphids can also cause yellowing leaves on foliage plants. These pests feed on the plant’s sap and nutrients, causing damage to the leaves and stems.

To get rid of pests, you can try treating your plant with insecticidal soap or neem oil. It is essential to act quickly to prevent the infestation from spreading.


Some foliage plants are susceptible to diseases such as leaf spot and powdery mildew, which can cause yellowing leaves. These diseases are caused by fungi that thrive in damp conditions.

To prevent these diseases, make sure your plant is not sitting in standing water and avoid watering it from above. If you notice any signs of disease, such as yellow leaves with spots or patches, remove the affected leaves and treat the plant with a fungicide.


How often should I water my foliage plant?

You should water your foliage plant when the top inch of soil feels dry to the touch. Be sure not to overwater or underwater your plant.

Can I use tap water on my foliage plant?

Yes, you can use tap water on your foliage plant. However, make sure to let the water sit for 24 hours before using it as this allows chlorine and other chemicals to dissipate.

Is it normal for foliage plants to lose leaves?

Yes, it is entirely normal for foliage plants to lose leaves as they age. However, if new growth is not emerging from the top of the plant or if a large number of leaves are falling off at once, this could indicate an issue.

Can I save my plant if its leaves have turned completely yellow?

It depends on the cause of the yellowing. If it is due to natural aging or overwatering, there may not be much you can do to save the plant. However, if it is due to nutrient deficiencies or pests, you may be able to save the plant with proper treatment.

In conclusion, yellowing leaves on your foliage plants can be a sign of several issues, from natural aging to nutrient deficiencies or even pest infestations. By identifying the cause of the yellowing and taking appropriate action, you can help your plant recover and thrive.