Guest Author - Lisa Beth Voldeck
Does panic set in when the leaves on your houseplants begin to yellow? It does for me! Yellowing leaves are a very good sign that something is wrong with your plant, but unfortunately it can be a sign of almost anything. Yellow leaves can be a symptom of drought or over-watering, over- or under-fertilization, low light conditions, pests, and more. How do you figure out what the problem is and save your beloved plant? A little detective work should do the trick.
Has the plant recently been moved? Plants will often shed leaves if they are moved from a location of high humidity to one with low humidity. Even a new temperature range can cause some stress. Plants need time to acclimate to new environments, and the loss of leaves is their way of readjusting to their surroundings. This type of yellowing and leaf loss usually occurs on the lower, older leaves.
Leaves may yellow if the plant is exposed to a cold draft, so pay attention to plants you keep near windows. When the seasons change and cool weather arrives, your plants will let you know if you have leaky windows or doors. This may cause a lot of leaves all over the plant to go yellow and fall off.
If your plant inhabits the same place it always has and the yellow leaves are new, you need to investigate a little further. Watering practices are usually suspect in this case, since symptoms of poor watering can take a little time to show up. Pick the plant up: is it heavy or light? If it is very light, then under-watering is a possible cause of the leaves yellowing. If it is very heavy and soggy, especially if you havenít recently watered, over-watering is likely.
Very high light levels can cause yellowing on plants that arenít suited for it. Very low light levels can cause the entire plant to go yellow if the plant is one that requires higher light levels. Get informed about the light requirements of your houseplant, if you havenít already, and you will find yourself becoming a more successful grower.
Sometimes yellowing is caused by insect pests, so you may want to look your plant over thoroughly if you still havenít discovered the cause of its decline. Look on stems and leaves, especially the undersides, for webbing and stippling from spider mites, honeydew from aphids, or even the actual insects themselves. A magnifying glass can be helpful in spotting pests, but most of them can be seen with the naked eye.
If nothing else makes sense, fertilization practices should be considered as a possible cause of leaf yellowing. If an entire plant has taken on a light green to yellow cast and the newest leaves are very small, the plant is lacking in Nitrogen. Yellowing between the veins on a leaf is also an excellent sign that your plant is starving, and you should look into some good fertilizer.
There are a few other odd reasons why a plantís leaves may go yellow, but these are the reasons that it usually happens. Over-watering is the most common mistake and people often love their plants to deathÖliterally. Hopefully, this guide will make it a lot easier to nurture the leafy members of your family.