Why Is My Pilea Turning Yellow? Expert Plant Care Guide

Disclosure: As Amazon Associates we earn from qualifying purchases. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission at no additional cost to you.

Please note that while we always strive to provide 100% up to date and accurate information, there is always the small possibility of error. Therefore, we advise conducting further research and due diligence before consuming any plants or exposing pets to anything mentioned on this site. Kindly refer to the full disclaimer for more details here.

Is your pilea plant experiencing yellowing leaves and you’re wondering what could be causing this change? Pilea plants, often known as Chinese Money plants or Pancake plants, are popular for their unique, round-shaped leaves and easygoing nature. However, when the leaves start turning yellow, it may indicate an underlying issue that needs to be addressed to maintain the plant’s overall health.

There are several reasons why pilea leaves can turn yellow, ranging from issues with water management to problems with lighting and nutrient imbalances. Overwatering is frequently cited as the most common cause of yellowing leaves in pilea plants, as it can result in improper soil moisture, sometimes even leading to root rot. In order to find the root cause and take preventative measures, it’s important to explore multiple factors and examine your plant’s care routines.

Thankfully, most yellowing issues in pilea plants can be remedied by adopting proper care techniques and making slight adjustments to the environment. In this article, we’ll dive deeper into the most common reasons behind yellowing leaves in pilea plants and discuss how you can address these issues to help your plant regain its vibrant green foliage and continue to thrive.

Common Causes of Yellowing


One of the main reasons for yellowing leaves in Pilea plants is overwatering. These plants are native to tropical rainforests and prefer high humidity and moist soil. However, too much water can lead to yellowing and dropping leaves. To prevent overwatering, only water your Pilea when the top 25% of the soil is dry, and maintain damp but not wet soil conditions.


Underwatering is another cause of yellowing in Pilea leaves. If the soil dries out too much, the plant’s leaves may start to turn yellow. To prevent this, check the soil regularly and water the plant when the topsoil feels dry. It’s important to strike a balance between overwatering and underwatering to maintain healthy, green leaves.

Lack of Nutrients

Nutrient imbalances, specifically deficiencies in nitrogen and potassium, can lead to yellow leaves in Pilea plants. Insufficient nutrients make it difficult for the plant to produce the green pigment chlorophyll. To treat nutrient deficiencies, use a balanced fertilizer to provide essential nutrients, or repot your Pilea with new, nutrient-rich potting soil. Regularly monitor your plant for signs of nutrient imbalances and adjust your care routine accordingly.

Environmental Factors

Light Exposure

One of the main reasons for Pilea leaves turning yellow might be related to the amount of light they receive. Pilea plants prefer bright, indirect light. However, if they are exposed to direct sunlight for prolonged periods, their leaves tend to yellow and scorch. To avoid this, move your Pilea plant to a spot with more indirect light, such as near a north-facing window or in a well-lit room with bright ambient light.

On the other hand, insufficient light can also contribute to yellowing leaves on your Pilea. If the plant is in a dimly lit area, its leaves may lose their vibrant green color and turn pale and yellow. Make sure that your Pilea receives enough bright, indirect light to maintain its overall health and appearance.

Temperature Fluctuations

Another factor that can cause Pilea leaves to turn yellow is fluctuations in temperature. Pilea plants are sensitive to sudden changes in their environment, particularly shifts in temperature. They prefer a stable temperature range, ideally between 60-75°F (16-24°C) for optimal growth.

To prevent yellowing due to temperature fluctuations, ensure that your Pilea is placed away from drafty spots, such as near open windows or doors, as well as heating or cooling vents. Try to maintain a consistent temperature in the room where your Pilea is located.

Temperature fluctuations can also cause stress on the Pilea plant, making it more susceptible to diseases, pests, and other issues affecting the overall health of the plant. Providing a stable environment and regular care is key for keeping your Pilea plant healthy and preventing leaves from turning yellow.

Pest and Disease Issues

One of the primary reasons why a Pilea plant may develop yellow leaves is due to pest and disease issues. These issues can hamper the plant’s health and overall appearance. Let’s delve into two common subcategories of these issues: fungal infections and pest infestations.

Fungal Infections

Fungal infections can cause Pilea leaves to turn yellow by affecting the normal functioning of the plant’s cells. One common fungal infection is fungal leaf spots. These spots can appear as small, round, and dark-colored patches on the leaves, eventually leading to yellowing and falling off (source). To treat fungal leaf spots, remove affected leaves, and apply a fungicide to prevent further spreading.

Another common fungal issue is gray mold (Botrytis blight). It is a condition where the plant displays fuzzy gray growth on affected areas, leading to leaf yellowing and decay. To combat gray mold, increase airflow around the plant, remove infected areas, and apply a fungicide if necessary.

Pest Infestations

Pest infestations can also cause yellowing leaves on Pilea plants. Pests typically suck the sap from the plant, depriving it of essential nutrients and moisture. Some common pests that can infest Pilea plants include:

  • Aphids: These small, soft-bodied insects can multiply rapidly and can cause leaves to turn yellow and curl (source). To treat aphid infestations, try washing them off with water or using insecticidal soap.
  • Spider mites: They are tiny mites that create fine webs on the plant’s surface, leading to yellow, mottled leaves. To treat spider mite infestations, remove affected leaves, use a spray of water to dislodge them, or apply a suitable insecticide.
  • Mealybugs: These slow-moving, cottony-looking insects suck the sap from plant tissue, leading to yellow, distorted leaves. To control mealybugs, use a cotton swab dipped in alcohol to remove them, or apply insecticidal soap.

Detecting and treating pest and disease issues early ensures that your Pilea plant remains healthy and maintains its vibrant green leaves.

Prevention and Treatment

When it comes to maintaining a healthy pilea plant and keeping the leaves from turning yellow, there are several key practices to follow. In this section, we’ll cover the essential aspects of prevention and treatment, including adjusting watering practices, ensuring proper lighting and temperature, and dealing with pests and diseases.

Adjusting Watering Practices

To keep your pilea plant healthy and prevent yellowing leaves, it’s essential to adjust your watering practices. Overwatering is a common cause of yellow leaves in pilea plants, so allow the soil to dry out slightly before watering again. On the other hand, underwatering can cause similar symptoms; thus, make sure your plant receives enough water to maintain its moisture requirements. Avoid waterlogging, and always empty excess water from the saucer to prevent root rot. An effective way to monitor your plant’s water needs is by checking the soil moisture with your finger or using a moisture meter.

Proper Lighting and Temperature

Pilea plants thrive in bright, indirect sunlight. If your pilea is exposed to direct sun, the leaves may develop a pale coloration or turn yellow. To fix this issue, move your plant to a spot with bright yet indirect light, such as near a north or east-facing window. Proper temperature is also crucial for healthy pilea plants. They prefer moderate temperatures, ideally between 65°F and 75°F (18°C to 24°C), so keep your plant away from cold drafts or heating sources that could cause temperature fluctuations.

Treating Pests and Diseases

Pests, such as scale, mealybugs, and spider mites, can attack your pilea, leading to yellow leaves or other damage. To treat pests, try gently wiping the leaves with a soft cloth dipped in a solution of mild soap and water. For severe infestations, use an appropriate insecticidal soap or oil to eliminate the pests.

Diseases like fungal leaf spots and gray mold (Botrytis blight) can also cause yellow leaves in pilea plants. To treat fungal leaf spots, remove affected leaves and treat the plant with a suitable fungicide or DIY solution of 1-part baking soda and 4-parts water. For gray mold, increase air circulation around the plant, reduce humidity, and remove affected leaves to prevent further spreading. Applying a fungicide might be necessary in severe cases of gray mold.

Helpful Video