Close-up of a plant with a mix of healthy green leaves and some dried, brown leaves, highlighting the contrast between vibrant growth and withering foliage. The background is softly blurred, suggesting an indoor or garden setting with ample natural light.

What Causes Plant Leaves To Turn Yellow?


What Causes Plant Leaves To Turn Yellow?

Just a few days ago, your plant’s leaves were a gorgeous, vibrant green. But now, they’ve turned a sickly yellow. What could have caused this abrupt and startling change? Lets dig a little deeper and see what we can find.

Chlorosis, the abnormal loss of chlorophyll in a plant, is what turns a plants leaves yellow. This condition can happen for a variety of reasons. Let’s take a look at some common reasons plant leaves turn yellow and what you can do to get them back to their normal healthy hue.

Over- or Underwatering

Watering your plants too much—or too little—can result in chlorosis. When you over or underwater your plants, it becomes difficult for the roots to operate. In wet soil, the roots can sometimes struggle to breathe, and in dry soil, they can struggle to absorb the essential nutrients that they need and want. Without enough oxygen and nutrients, the leaves of the plant will start to turn yellow.


The best way to tell if your plants need water is to stick a finger into the soil about an inch deep. If the soil is damp, the plant doesn’t need water. If it’s dry, it’s time to grab your watering can!

Compacted Roots

Plant roots are constantly growing. If you’re keeping your plants in small containers, it’s possible that they will eventually outgrow those containers. If and when this happens and you fail to move them to a bigger container, compaction can occur. Compacted roots will affect aeration and water absorption, making it harder for the roots to get the H2O and oxygen that they need. This issue eventually results in very wilted and yellow leaves.


If you can see roots pushing out from the top of the soil or growing through drainage holes, you should transfer your plant to a more spacious container. You can also add soil to the top of the container.

Incorrect Soil pH

Did you know that different plants prefer different levels of soil acidity? For example, irises and broccoli thrive in more acidic soil, while lavender and cabbages prefer alkaline soil. For this reason, it’s important to closely monitor the pH of your soil. If it becomes too acidic or too alkaline for your plant, yellow leaves can appear.


You can test the pH of your soil with a pH meter. To use the meter, dig a small two-to-four-inch hole in the soil, fill it with distilled water, and insert the meter. After a minute or so, the meter should provide you with an accurate reading. If you are unsure about this step, you can read this. pH meters – What are they and how are they used?

Lack of Nutrients

A lack of nutrients is another common reason plant leaves turn yellow. If this is the source of your plant’s chlorosis, then you’ll need to supplement the soil with fertilizer. Fertilizer adds essential nutrients such as nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium into the soil, which plants can take up via their roots. If you are unsure about how to fertilize, here is an article to help with that. Natural Plant Fertilizers


Make sure you’re buying the right kind of fertilizer for your plants! Outdoor plant fertilizer is strong and not suitable for indoor plants. If you’re growing your plants indoors, opt for a light yet effective indoor plant fertilizer.

When your plants’ leaves turn yellow, it’s a sign that something’s wrong. But it doesn’t necessarily mean that your plant will wilt. If you can find the cause behind the chlorosis and address it, you can restore color to your plant and watch it thrive once more. Thank you for reading What Causes Plant Leaves To Turn Yellow? Here are some other articles you may enjoy reading.

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