Philodendron Leaves Turning Yellow (Causes and Solutions)

Philodendron leaves turning yellow can be very concerning to any houseplant owner. So, when you notice them, the first thing to so is try to control your emotions and relax.

This will allow you to gather your thoughts and figure out a course of action.

In doing so, you can focus and think straight and try to narrow down the cause of the yellow leaves of your philodendron plant.

And what you need to do to fix it.

In this article, I will help you identify why your philodendron is turning yellow. After that, how to fix the specific issue.

Why Does Your Philodendron Have Yellow Leaves?

Philodendron yellow leaves are most often caused by overwatering or drainage issues. However, this is not only the reason.

Other reasons by your philodendron leaves are turning yellow can be due to lighting issues, fertilizer problems, temperature stress and underwatering.

Unfortunately, yellow leaves will not turn green again. But once you fix the problem, the plant will be able to start growing new healthy green leaves once more.


Reasons for Philodendron Leaves Turning Yellow

Philodendron leaves turning yellow is usually a sign of stress. Unfortunately, it can be tricky to identify what the actually reason is because there are a few potential culprits.

Therefore, it is important to understand the symptoms and why they are happening. This will let you diagnose the issue and use the proper treatment.

Below, I’ll list all the possible causes for philodendron turning yellow.

I’ll explain what is happening in each case and how to each one.


Natural Aging

A philodendron leaves turning yellow is sometimes natural. And it is caused by aging.

Leaves get older and it is part of their natural life cycle.

They emerge as young leaves, get bigger, reach their peaks and change in colors as they grow from juvenile to maturity. But after a while, they begin to fade and finally drop off.

If you notice only a one or two leaves turn yellow at a time and this does not happen often, this is likely what’s happening.

You’ll also notice that it is the larger leaves at the bottom of the plant. These are the older leaves.

The yellowing leaves in this case will later be shed by the plant to make way for new growth.

So, this is a good sign that your plant is healthy and growing. Therefore, no fix is needed.


New Leaves Emerging

Another instance there you don’t need about your philodendron with yellow leaves is when the yellow leaves are the new, emerging leaves.

New leaves can appear yellow when they first develop. They will also be curled.

Over the next weeks you’ll see the leaves unfurl and its colors get darker matching the other healthy leaves in the plant.

Again, this is a good sign that your plant is pushing out new foliage. It is healthy which allows it to do so. And it is getting enough light, water and humidity.


Overwatering is the Most Common Cause of Philodendron Leaves Turning Yellow

Overwatering is the most common reason why your philodendron is turning yellow.

This is different from the two above in that many leaves will turn yellow at the same time. And these are not young, emerging leaves either.

And if not treated, more and more leaves will turn yellow.

Sadly, the yellow leaves are actually the least of your problem.

Instead, is the root cause you need to worry about.

That’s because yellow leaves caused by overwatering could already mean root rot. Although this is not always the case, it is never worth taking the risk.

The reason is that root rot can destroy the plant.

So, the first thing to do when you notice yellow leaves is to feel the soil. If the soil is wet or soggy, then odds are overwatering is the cause.

If the soil is dry, then overwatering is not likely the cause of yellow leaves in your philodendron plant.

In case the soil is wet, you now confirm overwatering.

The next question is whether root rot has set in.

To verify this, unpot the plant and check the roots. Remove the excess soil so you can see the roots.

Healthy roots are white color and firm yet pliable in texture. Rooted roots stink. They are black, soft and mushy.

Thus, it is easy to tell whether there is root rot.

If there is no root rot, allow the soil to dry completely before watering the plant. And the next time wait until the top 2 inches of soil has dried before you add water.

This is the minimum requirement between waterings to avoid overwatering.

If there is root rot, you’ll need to prune the rotted roots then repot the plant in fresh, dry, well-draining potting mix.

Wait a week before you begin watering again. And gradually work your way up to your new watering schedule.

In all these cases, you’ll need to prune the yellow leaves after you’ve applied the solution. These leaves will not turn green again.

Similarly, make sure that you allow part of the soil to dry between waterings to avoid overwatering incidents in the future.




Drainage Issues

Another cause of overwatering that leads to yellow leaves in philodendron plants is drainage issues.

Drainage is very important because the philodendron does not like sitting in water for long periods of time.

While it enjoys moist soil, it hates wet feet.

Therefore, even if you water the plant perfectly, if the soil you’re using tends to retain too much moisture, the roots will still end up in damp soil.

Additionally, a pot with no drainage will hold all the water in it. This will cause the soil to stay wet.

As s result, both these issues negate your hard work in watering the plant directly since the moisture gets stuck in the soil and pot.

What happens is waterlogging which leaves the roots drowning in too much water.

After a while, they will suffocate and die. And root rot has happened again.

Therefore, never use heavy soils or soils that hold a lot of water. While these work for other plants, they can be deadly for philodendrons.

Instead, use well-draining soil.

This will hold some water which is enough to keep the roots hydrated. But it will quickly drain excess liquid so the roots never end up swimming in too much water.

By doing so, it allows the roots to breathe while getting enough water as well. This allows you to avoid root rot.

Another important thing is to use a pot with drainage holes.

The holes at the bottom of the pot will allow any liquid that drains from the soil to drip out of the container. So, it will not pool at the bottom and keep the soil wet.


Low Humidity

Philodendron are native to the tropical rainforests of Central and South America. Thanks to the climate and the regular rainfall in the jungle there, it is used to high humidity.

For this reason, the philodendron prefers humidity of 60% to 70%. It will likewise be happy with higher humidity as well.

Although, it can tolerate 40% humidity and slightly lower without any harm or issues.

That said, humidity that’s’ too low will cause its leaf tips and edges to turn brown and get crispy. Later the plant will droop as well.

After a while, the leaves will start yellowing until you have entire foliage that’s yellow.

Therefore, your first sign of trouble are the brown and crispy leaf tips and edges. If you see this, it means that plant needs more moisture in the air.

A simple solution would be to mist the plant. But this is temporary and you’ll need to repeat a few times a week.

If you prefer a more hands-off method, you can go with a humidifier. For a free version, you can create a humidity tray or pebble tray.

It takes about 15 minutes or less to construct one at home with simple components.


Lighting Issues

If overwatering and humidity are not the cause of the yellowing philodendron leaves, then check its lighting.

Both too little and too much light can cause your philodendron to turn yellow. But they occur in different ways.

When there is little light, the plant will do its best to absorb as much light as it can from the low source. This usually means producing more chlorophyll which will turn the leaves more green initially.

However, if this is not enough and the despite its efforts it still could not collect enough light to support its energy requirements, the leaves will then turn pale and become yellow in color.

The most affected ones are the lower leaves since they’ll get the least amount of light.

In addition to your philodendron’s leaves turning yellow, its growth will slow down. It will also produce fewer leaves. And the leaves that do emerge will be smaller.

Lack of light also increases the risk of overwatering because the soil takes much longer to dry.

Excess light can also cause philodendron yellow leaves.

But this time the excess exposure, harsh, intense or very strong light will burn the leaves. This is usually what happens when you leave the plant under direct sunlight for too long.

As a result, the leaves will turn yellow, and you’ll notice brown spots and even curled leaves.

In extreme cases, you’ll see black or brown burn marks on the leaves as well.

Therefore, avoid both extremes.

Instead, keep the plant in medium to bright, indirect light indoors. Outdoors, place it in partial shade or light shade. Avoid too much direct sunlight indoors and full sun outdoors.


Lack of Nutrients

Nutrient deficiencies can lead to yellow leaves in philodendron plants as well as pale looking foliage. That said, the yellow won’t be as pronounced as that in overwatered plants.

Also, the leaves won’t feel soft as well.

This is why fertilizer is an important part of caring for your philodendron.

However, be careful with overfeeding the plant since that can lead to yellow leaves as well. But in that case, it is damage to the roots from fertilizer burn that will make your philodendron leaves turn yellow.

Instead, only feed the plant during its growing season which is spring and summer.

Use a balanced houseplant fertilizer diluted to half the recommended strength. Once a month feeding is sufficient to keep the plant healthy.

Use high quality fertilizer and not the low quality, cheap stuff as those leave a lot of excess salts that become toxic to the plant.


Lack of Water

If you notice your philodendron leaves turning yellow and you’ve checked the soil and it is not wet but very dry, then you may be dealing with an underwatered plant.

Underwatering can also cause yellow leaves. But it less common since the philodendron can tolerate a bit of dryness.

However, if you let the soil go bone dry for a while, this can happen.

In this case, the leaves will initially feel dry and turn brown. They will get crispy and crinkle. But some leaves will turn yellow and later drop. This usually happens with older leaves.

Fortunately, underwatering is much easier to fix compared to overwatering.

But you want to avoid leaving the plant underwatered for too long or allow it to keep happening regularly. After a while, the roots will get damaged (and so will the plant) due to dehydration.

To fix this issue, water the plant.

Drench the root ball until it gets saturated. Then allow the soil to drain completely.

This will allow the roots to get enough to drink. At the same time letting the soil drain after prevents overwatering and waterlogging.

To avoid this from happening again, don’t let the soil dry out completely.

I like to check the soil once a week just by feeling it. Once the top half of the soil is dry, you can water the plant.


Incorrect Temperature

The philodendron enjoys consistently warm weather. This is because of its native habitat which is the tropical regions of Central and South America.

As such, its preferred temperature range is 60 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. This is where it feels most comfortable and will grow tis best.

However, it will struggle in the cold. And it cannot tolerate temperatures below 50 degrees Fahrenheit.

When left in this environment, you’ll see its growth slow or even stop. It leaves will also turn yellow. If the cold condition is not remedied, the leaves will eventually drop as well.

Therefore, avoid leaving the plant near air conditioning or cold drafts.

Also, don’t leave it outdoors late in the fall and in winter when the temperature is below its tolerance level.


Pest Infestations

Like all plants, the philodendron may experience pests at some point in its lifetime. For this plant, the most common pest problems are spider mites, mealybugs, scale and aphids.

All of these are sap sucking bugs.

And they will feed on the plant by taking it sap, which contains moisture and nutrients.

Because these insects are tiny, they don’t do lot of damage when there are only a few of them. However, they multiply very quickly so their popular grows rapidly.

And this is when they will inflict serious damage.

As they feed on foliage, you’ll notice leaf damage in the form of spots and patches of yellowing. Holes will eventually develop as well.

Later on some leaves will drop.

Unfortunately, there is no guaranteed way prevent pests from occurring in plants. So, your best defense if to regularly check for them.

This way, you can immediately treat and get rid of them when there are only few. This makes it easy to eradicate them.

Once they develop into an infestation it is more difficult to deal with and can take several weeks to resolve. During that time, you plant will likewise sustain more damage.

You can remove these bugs by spraying them off with water using a shower head or garden hose. Alternatively, you can use neem oil, insecticidal soap or horticultural oil.

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