University of Maryland Extension

Cultural Problems/Leaf Yellowing - Houseplants

orchid with yellow leaves

sickly houseplant

  • Leaf yellowing is often one of the first symptoms of plant stress.
  • If the stress causing condition is not alleviated, yellow leaves may turn brown.
  • A prolonged period of environmental stress causes overall stunting and poor growth. Noticing the pattern and progression of symptoms will help to diagnose the cause of the problem.
  • Many times plants exhibit symptoms that are attributed to insects or disease when the real problem is in the plant's environment. A plant problem that is not caused by a living organism is called an abiotic injury. Abiotic injury may be caused by drought or excess water, exposure to low light or extremely sunny conditions, or may be associated with poor planting media.
  • Overwatering is the number one reason why houseplants fail and will cause leaf yellowing. 
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