Why Is My Philodendron Turning Yellow? Causes & Solutions

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Philodendrons are popular houseplants known for their lush foliage and easy care. However, it can be worrisome when their vibrant green leaves suddenly start turning yellow. Understanding the reasons behind this unwanted change can help you take the right steps to keep your philodendron healthy and thriving.

Some of the most common reasons for yellowing leaves in philodendrons include overwatering, underwatering, nutrient deficiency, and poor lighting conditions. Although these issues are generally easy to fix, it’s essential to identify the underlying cause to effectively address the problem and prevent future occurrences. By making adjustments to your plant’s environment and care routine, you’ll be able to restore your philodendron’s lush green leaves and keep it in peak condition.

Understanding Philodendron Yellowing

Natural Aging Process

Philodendron yellowing can be a natural part of the aging process for the plant. As leaves mature and age, they may change color and eventually fall off. This is normal and should not be a cause for concern. If you only see a few yellow leaves here and there and they seem to be older ones, it’s likely just the plant shedding its older leaves to make room for new growth.

Seasonal Changes

Seasonal changes can also contribute to the yellowing of Philodendron leaves. In the colder months, plants may experience less sunlight, lower humidity, and cooler temperatures which can cause leaves to yellow. To help your Philodendron thrive during seasonal changes, ensure the following:

  • Light: Keep the plant in a spot with bright indirect light to help prevent yellowing due to insufficient light.
  • Watering: Water the plant 1-2 times per week, but only when the top inch of the soil is dry, to avoid overwatering or underwatering.
  • Temperature: Keep the plant away from cold drafts and maintain a consistent room temperature. Sudden temperature fluctuations can cause stress in the plant, leading to yellow leaves.
  • Humidity: Maintain appropriate humidity levels around your Philodendron. If the environment is too dry, you can increase the humidity by placing a tray of water near the plant or using a humidifier.

By following these steps, you can help prevent seasonal changes from causing yellowing in your Philodendron and keep it healthy throughout the year.

Watering Issues


One of the main reasons for yellow leaves on a philodendron plant is overwatering. When the soil is constantly wet, the plant’s roots can’t get enough oxygen, leading to the leaves turning yellow. To address this issue, it’s crucial to water your philodendron correctly, waiting for the top inch of the soil to dry before watering the plant again. Additionally, avoid soggy soil or water pooling at the base of the plant, which can contribute to the problem.

Here are a few tips to prevent overwatering:

  • Use well-draining soil
  • Consider adding perlite or other soil amendments to improve drainage
  • Empty any excess water from the plant’s saucer after watering


On the other hand, underwatering can also cause yellow leaves in philodendron plants. This happens when the plant doesn’t receive enough moisture, causing the leaves to wilt and eventually turn yellow. To fix this issue, make sure to water the plant when 80% of the soil feels dry, ensuring it gets an adequate drink to stay hydrated.

Here are some guidelines to follow when watering your philodendron:

  • Check the moisture of the soil regularly by sticking your finger an inch into the soil
  • Make a consistent watering schedule, adjusting as needed for seasonal changes
  • Pay attention to the plant’s appearance, as wilting or drooping leaves can be signs of underwatering

By addressing the watering issues that can lead to yellow leaves, your philodendron will have better overall health and an improved appearance. Remember to find the right balance between overwatering and underwatering, tailoring your care routine to the specific needs of your plant.

Nutrient Deficiencies

Lack of Essential Minerals

Philodendron plants can develop yellow leaves due to nutrient deficiencies in their soil. These deficiencies directly affect the plant’s overall growth and health, leading to the loss of the vibrant green color in their foliage.

One common deficiency that can cause yellow leaves is nitrogen. Nitrogen is a vital nutrient as it supports leaf growth, stimulates the production of chlorophyll, and helps maintain the lush green color in the leaves. When nitrogen is lacking, the plant will prioritize the newer leaves, causing the older ones to turn yellow and eventually fall off.

Some steps you can take to rectify these nutrient deficiencies are:

  • Fertilize: Apply a well-balanced, liquid fertilizer following the recommended dosage on the product label. This ensures that your philodendron plant receives the necessary nutrients.
  • Test Soil: Conduct a soil analysis to determine if there’s a deficiency in essential minerals. This will help to detect imbalances and address them accordingly.
  • Supplement Nutrients: You can reintroduce the missing minerals directly to your plant by applying chelated nutrients. Chelated minerals are more readily available and easily absorbed by the plant.

Apart from nitrogen, other essential minerals like potassium, calcium, and magnesium are also vital for the overall growth and health of philodendrons. A deficiency in any of these nutrients can lead to yellowing leaves, leaf curl, and slow growth. Providing the recommended nutrients and maintaining optimal growing conditions for your philodendron will ensure a healthy, vibrant plant.

Environmental Factors

Light Requirements

Philodendrons thrive in bright indirect light. However, exposure to direct sunlight can cause their leaves to turn yellow. To avoid this, place your plant in a well-lit area that receives consistent yet gentle light throughout the day. Avoid windows with harsh, direct sunlight, as this can scorch the leaves, causing irreversible damage.

Humidity Levels

Another environmental factor that can lead to yellowing leaves in philodendrons is inadequate humidity. These tropical plants prefer higher levels of humidity, which is crucial for their overall health and growth.

Here are some tips to increase humidity around your philodendron:

  • Group it with other houseplants to create a localized humidity zone.
  • Place a saucer filled with water and pebbles beneath the plant container. Ensure the plant pot does not sit in the water.
  • Use a humidifier in the room where your philodendron is placed to maintain a consistent humidity level.
  • Mist the plant’s leaves with water regularly or provide a gentle shower to increase surface moisture.

By providing adequate light and creating the right humidity conditions, you can effectively prevent your philodendron’s leaves from turning yellow due to environmental factors.

Disease and Pest Problems

Fungal Diseases

Philodendron plants can be affected by a variety of fungal diseases, which can cause their leaves to turn yellow. One common issue is root rot, often caused by excessive moisture in the soil or poor drainage, making it crucial to allow the soil to dry between waterings 1. Besides root rot, fungal leaf spot disease can also develop, which is an airborne fungus that creates yellowing and browning on the leaves. To prevent these diseases, ensure that your plant has sufficient air circulation, remove affected leaves, and avoid overhead watering.

Pest Infestations

In addition to fungal diseases, pests like spider mites, scales, and mealybugs can also be detrimental to your philodendron’s health 3. These pests feed on the sap of the leaves and stems, leading to discolored, yellow leaves.

To identify pest infestations, observe for signs of:

  • Tiny white cottony masses (mealybugs)
  • Small bump-like insects on stems (scales)
  • Silky webbing on leaves (spider mites)

To control pest infestations, try the following methods:

  1. Wipe the leaves with a damp cloth to remove pests.
  2. Neem oil or insecticidal soaps can be applied to manage pests.
  3. Use a cotton swab dipped in rubbing alcohol to remove mealybugs.

By addressing both fungal diseases and pest infestations, you can help maintain the health of your philodendron and prevent the development of yellow leaves. Make sure to monitor your plant for any signs of these issues and take the necessary steps to fix them promptly. Remember to practice good plant care, such as not overwatering, providing adequate light, and maintaining proper humidity levels, to ensure your philodendron thrives.

Preventing and Treating Yellow Leaves

Proper Care

To prevent yellow leaves on your philodendron, it’s essential to provide the right care, including proper lighting and watering. Philodendrons prefer indirect light and should be placed near a bright window, but not in direct sunlight. Overexposure to sunlight can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually burn.

Watering is another crucial factor when it comes to philodendron care. Wait for the top layers of the soil to dry before watering, ensuring the soil remains slightly moist but not wet. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which is a common cause of yellow leaves.

Lastly, philodendrons thrive in humid environments, so aim for a humidity level of at least 70%. You can achieve this by using drip trays, placing a bowl of water nearby, or using a humidifier.

Treatment Methods

If your philodendron already has yellow leaves, identify the cause and treat it accordingly:

  • Overwatering: Reduce watering frequency and allow the soil to dry before watering again. Consider repotting the plant in fresh, well-draining soil.
  • Underwatering: Increase the watering frequency but be cautious not to overwater. Check if the top layers of the soil are dry before watering.
  • Incorrect light conditions: Move your philodendron to a location with indirect sunlight. Keep it away from direct sunlight to prevent leaf scorch.
  • Pest infestation: Inspect your plant for pests such as spider mites or aphids. Use a mild insecticidal soap or neem oil to treat the infestation.
  • Nutrient deficiencies: Fertilize the plant with a balanced, water-soluble fertilizer following the package directions. Ensure the plant receives essential nutrients, such as nitrogen and potassium.
  • Temperature stress: Maintain indoor temperatures between 65-80°F (18-27°C) for optimal growth. Steer clear of drafts, air vents, or heaters that can cause sudden temperature fluctuations.

Remember to keep up with proper care and attentiveness to maintain the health and appearance of your philodendron. By following these treatment methods, you’ll be well on your way to restoring its vibrant green leaves.

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