Why Do Indoor Plants Turn Yellow?

Indoor plants can be a great addition to any home or office, adding both beauty and a sense of tranquility to any space. However, at times, these plants may start to turn yellow, which can be a cause of concern for many plant owners. There could be several reasons why indoor plants turn yellow, such as over-watering, lack of nutrients, too much sunlight, or even pest infestations. In this article, we’ll explore some of the common causes of yellowing indoor plants and what you can do to prevent and treat this issue.

Understanding Photosynthesis and Chlorophyll

The Importance of Chlorophyll in Plants

Chlorophyll is the green pigment found in plants that is responsible for photosynthesis. In other words, it’s what allows plants to absorb energy from sunlight and convert it into food. Without chlorophyll, plants wouldn’t be able to survive.

The Role of Light in Photosynthesis

Light is also essential for photosynthesis. Plants require a certain amount of light to grow and thrive. However, too much or too little light can be harmful, causing plants to turn yellow or brown.

Overwatering and Underwatering

The green pigment called chlorophyll is essential for photosynthesis and is responsible for plants absorbing energy from sunlight and converting it into food. Overwatering and underwatering can cause yellowing leaves, as well as a lack of essential nutrients such as nitrogen and iron. Pests and diseases, as well as environmental factors like temperature, humidity, and air quality, can also cause indoor plant leaves to turn yellow. Understanding these causes and providing proper care can help maintain healthy indoor plants.

The Effects of Overwatering

Overwatering can lead to yellowing leaves due to the roots being waterlogged. When the roots are unable to absorb oxygen, they begin to die, causing the plant to wilt and the leaves to turn yellow.

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The Effects of Underwatering

On the other hand, underwatering can also cause leaves to turn yellow. When a plant doesn’t receive enough water, it can’t transport nutrients properly, causing the leaves to dry up and turn yellow.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Lack of Nitrogen

Nitrogen is an essential nutrient for plant growth, and a lack of it can cause leaves to turn yellow. Nitrogen deficiency is a common problem in indoor plants, especially those grown in soil that lacks organic matter.

Lack of Iron

Iron is another essential nutrient for plant growth. A lack of iron can cause the leaves of a plant to turn yellow, particularly between the veins. This is known as iron chlorosis and is a common problem in indoor plants.

Pests and Diseases

Common Pests

Pests such as spider mites, whiteflies, and aphids can cause leaves to turn yellow. These pests suck the sap from the leaves, causing them to dry out and turn yellow.

Common Diseases

Diseases such as powdery mildew and root rot can also cause leaves to turn yellow. Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that causes a white powdery substance to form on the leaves, while root rot is caused by a fungus that attacks the roots, preventing them from absorbing water and nutrients properly.

Environmental Factors


Extreme temperatures, whether too hot or too cold, can cause leaves to turn yellow. Indoor plants prefer a temperature range of 60-75°F, and anything outside of that range can be harmful.


Low humidity levels can cause indoor plants to turn yellow, particularly those that require high humidity, such as ferns.

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Air Quality

Poor air quality can also cause leaves to turn yellow. Indoor plants are affected by pollutants such as cigarette smoke and household cleaners, which can damage the leaves and prevent them from functioning properly.

In conclusion, there are many reasons why indoor plants can turn yellow. Understanding the causes of yellowing leaves is essential to maintaining healthy indoor plants. By providing the right amount of water, nutrients, and light, as well as ensuring proper environmental conditions, you can prevent yellowing and keep your indoor plants thriving.

FAQs for the topic: why do indoor plants turn yellow

Why do indoor plants turn yellow?

Yellowing of indoor plants is often a sign of underlying problems. In most cases, yellowing is due to either overwatering or underwatering. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which causes the leaves to turn yellow, wilt, and eventually fall off. Underwatering, on the other hand, causes the leaves to dry out and turn yellow. Another reason why indoor plants turn yellow is due to nutrient deficiencies caused by poor soil quality or lack of fertilizer. Pests and diseases can also cause yellowing in indoor plants.

What can I do to prevent my indoor plants from turning yellow?

To prevent indoor plants from turning yellow, it’s crucial to provide them with proper care. First and foremost, make sure your plants are planted in well-draining soil to avoid overwatering. It’s also important to water them only when the soil is dry to the touch. You can check this by sticking your finger into the soil about an inch deep. If it feels dry, it’s time to water your plant. Additionally, make sure your plants are receiving adequate light, as low light conditions can also cause yellowing. Lastly, providing your indoor plants with proper nutrients through fertilization can help prevent yellowing due to nutrient deficiencies.

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How can I treat my indoor plants that are already turning yellow?

The treatment for indoor plants that are already turning yellow depends on the underlying cause. If the yellowing is due to overwatering, stop watering the plant immediately, and let the soil dry out completely before watering again. If the yellowing is due to underwatering, increase the frequency of watering, but make sure not to overwater. If the yellowing is due to nutrient deficiencies, provide your plant with proper nutrients by fertilizing regularly. In cases where pests or diseases are causing the yellowing, use appropriate treatments to get rid of the pests or diseases. Lastly, remove the affected leaves to prevent the problem from spreading to the healthy parts of the plant.

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