Last Updated on March 14, 2022 by Admin
The Chinese Evergreen, also known as Aglaonema, is a beautiful plant that features colorful, dense foliage. Additionally, it is fairly easy to care for. These reasons make it popular in many homes.
However, there may come a time that the plant experiences yellow leaves.
Why are your Chinese Evergreen leaves turning yellow? The most common cause of yellow leaves in Aglaonema plant is overwatering.
Although underwatering, low humidity, lack of light, temperature problems, repotting stress, pests, diseases, too much fertilizer and aging can all cause yellowing in Chinese Evergreens.
Once you notice many leaves turning yellow, it is a sign that something is stressing your plant.
Below, I’ll go through each of the different causes of yellowing Chinese Evergreen leaves and explain why they happen and how to fix them.
Reason for Chinese Evergreen Leaves Turning Yellow
Below are the reasons for Chinese Evergreen leaves turning yellow in detail. I’ll explain the symptoms, why they happen and how to fix each of potential causes.
Overwatering is the Most Common Cause of Chinese Evergreen Yellow Leaves
Overwatering is usually the reason why Chinese Evergreen leaves turn yellow. That’s because the plant enjoys moisture but it is prone to overwatering.
The best way to water the plant is to allow the top 1 to 2 inches of soil to dry between waterings. Adding more moisture before then increases the risk of overwatering.
Signs that Your Chinese Evergreen is Overwatered
Fortunately, there are a few tell-tale symptoms of overwatering in Chinese Evergreen plants. And by knowing what to look for, you can diagnose the issue and fix it.
Here are the most common symptoms of overwatering in Chinese Evergreen plants.
- Wet, soggy soil especially when you touch the surface or the top 1-2 inches.
- Yellow leaves starting from the bottom with lots of foliage quickly turning yellow.
- Brown spots on the leaves which are a sign of infection due to too much moisture.
- Leaf edema.
- Droopy plant foliage
- Root rot. You can only tell by unpotting the plant. So usually, a foul odor coming from the soil is a bad sign.
How to Save an Overwatered Chinese Evergreen Plant
The quickest way to save an overwatered Chinese Evergreen plant is to repot it to dry soil. This is the best way to save your plant if root rot has set in.
However, depending on how bad the overwatering issue is and how long it has been happening, you may not need to take such drastic measures.
If there is no root rot, all you need to do is allow the soil to dry out first. Then add water.
From there, change your watering routine to allow at least the top 1-2 inches of soil to dry out first before watering again.
In addition to watering too frequently, the cause of overwatering may be due to heavy soil or lack of drainage.
Using an incorrect potting mix that holds on to too much moisture can cause overwatering. Similarly, if your pot has no drainage holes at the bottom, the water will pool there causing overwatering.
Therefore, all 3 features need to be addressed to avoid overwatering.
Underwatering Can Also Cause Yellow Chinese Evergreen Leaves
Besides overwatering, lack of water is another possible cause of yellow leaves in Chinese Evergreen plants.
This is why watering is tricky.
Although, yellow leaves due to lack of water happens much less than that from overwatering, which is why I spent more time explaining the first cause above.
That said, if you have a very busy lifestyle or tend to forget to water your plants, underwatering can happen.
The good news is that lack of water is much easier to fix compared to too much moisture.
With underwatering, it is usually the lower, larger leaves that turn yellow. Additionally, leaves will likely have brown tips and crispy edges making them brittle to the touch.
The plant itself will droop since water pressure is what fills its stem to keep it upright.
The tell-tale sign of lack of moisture is very dry soil. Therefore, feel the soil and stick your finger into the soil. It everything feels very dry, it means the plant needs water.
Adding water usually helps an underwatered Chinese Evergreen recover quickly.
Although the yellow leaves won’t turn back to green color, the plant will come back to life and it will start producing new leaves again.
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Aglaonema enjoy high humidity. In fact, their ideal humidity is between 60% and 70%. Although they can tolerate slightly lower.
That said, they have issues when the air gets dry.
Therefore, if you live somewhere with dry air like the desert or general humidity tends to stay low, it is a good idea to monitor air moisture.
You can use a hygrometer and keep in near your plants. This way you can tell what room humidity is at any given time.
If humidity gets too low and stays low, your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves can turn yellow.
The simplest fix is to mist the plant. However, the effects are temporary. So, you need to mist a few times a week in most cases. Howe often will depend on how low humidity gets where you live.
Other more hands-off options are to get a humidifier, move the plant to the bathroom or place it on a pebble tray.
Lighting is another potential cause of Chinese Evergreen leaf curl. However, it does not happen as much and it takes a bit more time for curling to happen.
Let me explain why.
To begin, there are a few varieties of Chinese Evergreen plants or Aglaonemas.
- Those with variegated leaves, although arguably the most beautiful, require more light. They don’t tolerate low light very well.
- Green Aglaonema varieties along with the white ones don’t mind low light. They can likewise grow well in artificial lighting.
That said, in both cases, there’s a minimum limit. Below that, light becomes insufficient.
When this happens, you’ll notice those with variegated leaves lose their variegations. Those with solid green leaves will turn intensely green.
If the conditions don’t change and light remains scarce, the plant will grow slowly and become leggy. Also, its leaves will turn yellow, though most of those affected are the bottom leaves.
Another problem with insufficient light is that it takes much longer for soil to dry. This increases the risk of overwatering, which can also turn leaves yellow.
On the other hand, too much light is likewise a problem for Aglaonema plants. They cannot tolerate strong, intense light including direct sun.
If you leave it under direct sunshine for hours at time day in and day out, its leaves will turn brown or get scorched. They will also curl.
Like many houseplants, the Chinese Evergreen is a tropical plant. As such, its ideal temperature is between 55 and 80 degrees Fahrenheit.
Extreme temperatures both negatively affect the plant. However, in most cases, it is the cold that gives it more problems.
The plant poorly tolerates cold temperatures. And when things get too cold, it will experience stress causing leaves to turn yellow. Additionally the plant can wilt and you’ll see leaf damage and curling.
Repotting or Transplant Stress
One of the reasons why it is not a good idea to just repotting plants is because they experience stress and shock in the process.
Some plants, including the Chinese Evergreen, don’t like being moved from their homes too often. So, when you uproot them and move them elsewhere, they can go into shock.
This is why it is important to unpot carefully and not just jar the root ball out of the container, especially when it feels stuck and won’t budge.
When carefully repotted, Chinese Evergreens don’t usually have any problems. If not, it can result in yellow leaves due to the stress or shock of the experience.
If this happens, give the plant some time to recover. It won’t grow during this recovery period or even deteriorate. But after it recovers, it will start growing again.
Some plants tend to attract pests while others are generally resistant to them.
Unfortunately, the Chinese Evergreen is enticing to sap suckers like aphids, spider mites and mealybugs. As such, these 3 bugs are what you want to watch out for.
They are bothersome. And they will steal your plants sap.
As a result, they rob it of moisture of nourishment.
Just as importantly, they grow in number quickly. So, the damage they can do exponentially grows by the day.
Once these pests suck enough of the fluids, you’ll start seeing yellow patches on leaves. These only get bigger and turn more and more leaves yellow if untreated.
Therefore, it is important to regularly inspect the plant. This way, if any pests pop up, you can quickly treat it.
Another thing to be aware of is that Aglaonema are prone to bacterial infection, particularly bacterial blight.
In general, both bacterial and fungal diseases in Aglaonema are caused by overwatering. Although fungal infections rarely occur in Aglaonemas.
For this reason, you’ll want to pay more attention to bacterial diseases.
In the case of bacterial blight, you’ll often see black spots on leaves. In addition, it can also cause yellowing foliage.
The only way to avoid this is not to overwater the plant.
If it should happen, immediately isolate the plant and keep it away from other houseplants. Then remove the affected leaves and allow the soil to dry.
Proper care, especially with watering, will help the plant recover. Although it will take a while.
More importantly recovery is not always guaranteed.
In case most of the leaves are affected, it is often recommended to just throw the plant away and start with a new healthy plant.
Chinese Evergreens are not heavy feeders. And they don’t need a lot of fertilizer. Although, they do benefit from them.
Since the plant is a slow grower, many of its owners try to coax their Aglaonema to grow faster by giving it more fertilizer.
Unfortunately, this is a recipe for yellow leaves.
Too much fertilizer is toxic to plants. And they will initially affect the roots. But since the roots are hidden underground, you’ll only notice its negative effects once the symptoms move upwards.
As such, yellowing leaves is a later stage sign of overfertilizing. By then the roots have already sustained damage from fertilizer burn due to excess salts.
That said, yellowing leaves can also be caused by lack of fertilizer. Although this happens more seldom compared to overfertilizing.
Nutrient deficiency can cause yellow leaves in Chinese Evergreen. But it takes a long time for this to happen.
So unless you haven’t fed your plant for several years or have left it to be root bound for a long while, it is unlikely that nutrient deficiency is the cause of yellow leaves.
I left this for last because it requires the least attention. That’s a good thing!
The reason is that when your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves turn yellow due to aging, there’s no need to worry. More importantly, there’s no action necessary.
It is part of the natural life cycle of the plant when some of the older leaves at the bottom of the plant turn yellow.
Eventually these old leaves will die and shed off. It is the plant’s way of making room for new, young leaves. That way your plat will always look vibrant.
In most cases, you’ll see this occur during the latter part of the year when there’s less light. Fall and winter don’t have as much sunshine. So the plant isn’t able to manufacture as much energy through photosynthesis during this time.
As a result, it sacrifices some of the older, larger leaves.
Chinese Evergreen Leaves Turning Yellow Frequently Asked Questions
Why are My Chinese Evergreen Leaves Turning Yellow?
The most common cause of yellow leaves in Chinese Evergreen is overwatering. Although insufficient light, pest infestations, disease and aging can call cause yellow leaves as well.
Should I Cut Yellow Leaves Off Chinese Evergreen?
It is not necessary to cut off the yellow leaves of Chinese Evergreen plants. The plant tends to grow dense foliage. And since the leaves grow from the crown, trimming too much can actually negatively affect the plant’s health.
What Does an Overwatered Chinese Evergreen Look Like?
The most common signs of overwatering in Chinese Evergreen plants is yellowing leaves and mushy stalks. The soil will likewise be wet and soggy. And there may potentially be root rot although you won’t be able to tell unless you unpot the plant. If you notice overwatering symptoms, allow the soil to dry out completely before adding more water. Then adjust your watering routine.
Should I Mist My Chinese Evergreen?
If humidity gets too low, misting can help your plant by increasing moisture. However, its effects are temporary, and you’ll need to repeat this a few times a week to be effective. Also, be careful not to over mist the plant since it can lead to infection or pests.
How Do You Revive Chinese Evergreens?
To revive a Chinese Evergreen from overwatering or root rot:
- Stop watering and allow the soil to dry.
- If you suspect root rot, unpot the plant and check the roots. Rotted roots are brown or black in color, foul-smelling and mushy.
- Cut off the rotted roots and repot the plant in fresh, dry soil.
- If there is no root rot, you can begin watering the plant again after the soil has completely dried. But make sure to adjust your watering schedule.