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Why Your House Plant's Leaves are Turning Yellow

It's not a good sign when your houseplants start turning yellow.

It's not a good sign when your houseplants start turning yellow.

Are the leaves of your houseplants turning yellow? Don't worry, they don't hate you. It's very likely there is a simple solution to the problem. Typically, the yellowing of leaves on your houseplants is a good indication that they are either getting too little or too much of something. For someone who doesn't exactly have green thumbs, it can be tough to figure out what's wrong. Here is an overview of common mistakes that people make with houseplants, all of which can lead to yellow leaves.

Over Watering

You could be giving your plant too much water. Most houseplants don't need to be watered more often than once a week, unless they are in direct sunlight. If you over water them, they will be left sitting in the excess water, and they can actually drown. The roots begin to rot out and die. This can cause the leaves to turn yellow. To avoid this, don't water your plant until the top of the soil is dry to the touch. Allowing the soil to dry out before watering again will help prevent root rot. Also, put your plant in a pot that has holes in the bottom, so any excess water can drain out.

Under Watering

It's also possible that your plant isn't getting enough water. If you know you're not over watering, try paying closer attention to the state of the soil. When the top of the soil is dry to the touch, that means it will need to be watered soon. Don't let it go dry for too long! Doing so will cause the plant to wilt, and the leaves will turn yellow or brown. Eventually, it will die.

Toxic Water

The problem could actually be the water itself. If you're using water from the tap to water your plant, the chlorination in the water could be killing it. If you have a water filter, run the water through it before you give it to your plant. If you don't have a filter, put some water in a bucket and let it sit out for a day. The chlorine will evaporate from it, and the remaining water should be safe for your plant.


Did you know that your plants can actually develop sun burn? If your plant is in direct sunlight, the leaves are likely drying out and dying. Try moving it to another place in your home that gets less direct sunlight. With a little bit of shade, your plant should go back to green in no time.

Once you've determined what the problem is, make the necessary efforts to change any factors that are harming your plant. For most houseplants, it is safe to cut off the dry, dead part of the leaves. You should see an obvious improvement in your plant within days. Good luck!


Kristen Haynie (author) from Scotia, CA on August 24, 2011:

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MarleneB: I am very glad that you found this hub to be useful!

Joe Macho: Not enough light is such a common issue with houseplants that I completely overlooked it! Thank you for pointing that out.

Zach from Colorado on August 24, 2011:

Great hub. You basically covered it all. The only other thing that I can think of is not enough light. Houseplants that don't receive enough light daily can also begin to yellow. Voted up.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on August 23, 2011:

Your article is very timely. I was just looking at some of my plants and wondering why all the leaves were turning yellow. I recently moved to a new home and have been using tap water for the plants. I never thought about chlorine being a factor. Thank you for such great information.

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