Houseplant enthusiasts fancy the Chinese evergreen plant for their colorful and diverse foliage. While the plant is simple to cultivate and propagate, the leaves may turn yellow, distorting its aesthetics.
Often, yellow leaves in your Chinese evergreen indicate underwatering, overwatering, or low humidity. Other possible causes include aging, improper lighting conditions, and extreme temperatures.
This post highlights several reasons why your Chinese evergreen is turning yellow. Moreover, we provide possible solutions to your Aglaonema yellow leaves.
Read on to learn more about “Why Is My Chinese Evergreen Turning Yellow?” and how to address this issue effectively.
Why Is My Chinese Evergreen Plant Turning Yellow?
Here are the main causes for your Chinese evergreen plant turning yellow;
While several factors may contribute to chlorosis in your Chinese evergreen, overwatering is often the leading cause.
Generally, plants detest soil with excess moisture. Besides inhibiting nutrient uptake, pooling water may cause root rot which is dangerous for your plant’s well-being.
To avoid overwatering your plant, inspect the topsoil with your finger to see if it feels wet. The soil should be slightly moist but not soggy.
The rule of thumb is to avoid watering until the soil dries out, especially during the winter. The combination of wet soil and cold temperatures is a recipe for root rot.
Root rot prevents the plant from absorbing moisture and oxygen, leaving yellowing leaves. You may also notice leaves falling off, brown splotches, drooping, and stunted growth.
If you suspect you’ve overwatered your Aglaonema plant, consider repotting it in a fresh potting mix.
Also, ensure that your planter has sufficient drainage holes to prevent pooling instances in the future. When repotting the plant, use well-draining soil.
2. Inconsistent watering
Like overwatering, inconsistent watering leads to underwatering, spelling havoc to your houseplant.
Insufficient moisture levels in the soil render your Aglaonema unable to intake nutrients.
Since water facilitates various physiological processes, severe moisture deprivation will hasten chlorophyll degradation in plants.
In an under-watered plant, you’ll notice yellow leaves, leaf scorch, leaves curling, drooping, and dry soil texture.
Water your indoor plant when the top couple of inches of your potting soil feels dry. Another convenient way to determine when to water your plant is by using a moisture meter.
When the soil moisture meter reads three or less, it’s vital to top up water.
Consider using a self-watering pot if you’re too busy to stick to a strict watering schedule. Your watering schedule may vary with the environmental conditions.
This includes temperature, light, and humidity. Additional factors influencing your watering schedule include the pot size and potting mix.
Also, since your potting mix composition contributes to watering issues, ensure the soil has good water-retention properties.
For instance, adding peat moss or coco coir will enhance the soil’s water retention ability. On the other hand, bark chips and perlite will enhance drainage.
3. Low humidity
Like other tropical plants, the Aglaonema thrives in a warm and humid environment.
Consequently, growing your Chinese evergreen in areas with low humidity may cause the leaves to turn yellow.
Besides yellowing, low humidity levels may result in curling, drooping, and leaf scorch. Leaf scorch causes the leaf’s tips and edges to turn brown.
While the ideal humidity range should be above 50%, your plant could tolerate slight variations.
However, extremely low humidity will affect the plant’s growth, dulling the leaves.
If you reside in areas with low humidity, use a humidifier to improve the conditions. Also, remember to mist your plants often or place a water-filled pebble tray under the pot.
You can also relocate the plant to more humid rooms, such as a bathroom or kitchen with sufficient light.
Failure to meet the plant’s humidity requirements may result in leaf fall, even if you stick to a proper watering schedule.
4. Extreme temperatures
Extremely low temperature slows down chlorophyll synthesis. Cold drafts and coldness destroy plant cells when moisture freezes in the plant. In turn, this contributes to leaf discoloration, particularly browning.
Similarly, extreme heat or high temperatures will cause the yellowing of leaves. Typically, heat stress degrades chlorophyll, disrupting photosynthesis.
Common signs of heat stress in your plant include brown edges and tips or leaf scorch.
Hot or cold drafts may also cause wilting, curling, and even death of new growth. So, avoid placing the plant near air conditioning vents or heat-emitting appliances.
When growing the plant outdoors, please place it in a cool area with shade.
Besides drafts, your Aglaonema plant will grow healthy if you maintain temperatures around 55°F to 80°F.
5. Improper light conditions
Their ability to handle low light conditions makes the Chinese Evergreen a popular houseplant. However, the plant’s light requirements vary depending on its leaf coloration.
Like Monstera light requirements or other houseplants, insufficient light will also result in yellow leaves in your Chinese evergreen plant. So, ensure that your Aglaonema plant has access to bright, indirect sunlight for up to 8 hours daily.
If your plant is severely deprived of light, it’ll eventually droop after losing most leaves, especially around the base.
Typically, variegated leaves demand more light, while pure green varieties can thrive in low-light conditions. Moreover, pure green varieties of the Aglaonema do well in artificial LED grow lights.
While the Chinese evergreen tolerates lower light conditions, it’ll thrive in bright, indirect light. Improper light conditions may cause variegated plants to lose their variegation.
On the other hand, pure green varieties will initially develop greener leaves to adjust to the low light. However, the plant will eventually develop yellow leaves starting near the base.
This changing pattern will help you discern whether the yellowing results from a lighting or watering issue.
However, since plants grow slowly and utilize less moisture in low light conditions, you risk over-watering the plant.
While chlorophyll synthesis in flowering plants, including the Chinese evergreen, is light-dependent, excess light can be damaging.
Too much light will result in washed-out, bleached, or yellowish leaves. Steer clear from placing the plant in too much direct sunlight, which may result in leaf scorch.
So, when growing your plant indoors, place it near a window where the morning and evening sunlight can hit it.
Alternatively, you can utilize LED grow lights if your indoor plants lack access to natural sunlight.
Ideal grow lights should provide about 10000 to 20000 lux of light. Moreover, it should include a gooseneck stand and timer function.
6. Root bound plant
The plant is likely rootbound if your Chinese evergreen leaves turn yellow without any possible cause.
This means the roots have overgrown, becoming too big for the container. This is possible if it’s been a while since you repotted the plant.
Carefully pull the plant from the soil to inspect for rootbound. Similarly, if the roots are closely packed or poking out of the pot’s drainage hole, it’s time you repot it in a bigger planter.
Consider using a fresh potting mix when repotting to allow the plant to grow healthy.
A rootbound Aglaonema cannot absorb enough moisture or nutrients, which may cause it to wilt. Similarly, the plant will droop and shed new growth.
7. Transplant stress
Your plant might experience shock after relocating abruptly. Subsequently, it would help to be cautious when uprooting or replanting ornamental plants.
While Chinese Evergreen plants react well to repotting, they might develop yellow leaves or droop if you are careless.
Before repotting, ensure the new planter is about 1-2 inches bigger. Moreover, utilize high-quality and well-draining potting soil.
Leaf scorch, curling, and leaf drop may also occur after repotting or transplanting your Chinese evergreen.
To minimize this effect, avoid damaging the roots when uprooting and cleaning the plant. Also, ensure the soil is moist.
If your Aglaonema plant becomes weakened or stressed from underwatering or overwatering, it’ll become susceptible to pest infestation.
Aphids, spider mites, mealybugs, and scale can attack the underside of Chinese Evergreen plant leaves and suck the nutrient-rich sap.
This may cause predominantly yellow spots or yellowing of the plant leaves.
Since these pests suck the life out of your plant, inspect your Aglaonema regularly for various houseplant pests.
You’ll also want to deal with pest infestation immediately since they reproduce and spread rapidly.
In addition, if you suspect pests have invaded your plant, isolate them to prevent further spreading. Severe pest infestation may result in stunted growth, distortion, and leaf fall.
Using insecticidal soil, neem oil, or horticultural sprays, you can eliminate the pests and their symptoms. Similarly, hosing the plant may dislodge these insects.
9. Old age
Aging, also called plant senescence, is another reason for yellowing leaves in your Chinese evergreen.
However, in this case, only a few older leaves near the base of the plant are affected at a time.
In such scenarios, minimal intervention is often required from your end as it’s natural. Typically, the old foliage will fall off after yellowing to create room for new growth.
However, you can prune away the affected leaves since they depend on the plant without contributing much in return.
Also, we recommend removing the affected leaves as they may invite pests.
Some houseplant owners may use herbicides when faced with a serious case of infestation. These herbicides include triketone, isoxazole, oxazolidinone, and pyrazolone.
Unfortunately, misusing the herbicides or misapplying them may result in interveinal chlorosis. So, when applying herbicides and insecticides, take caution not to over-apply.
Not only is the Aglaonema susceptible to pests, but it also falls victim to tropical plant diseases, including bacterial blight.
Bacterial blight causes large black blotches on affected leaves and occurs in overwatered plants.
Bacterial and fungal leaf spots can also cause the leaves of your Chinese evergreen to turn yellow.
Similarly, rusts and blight diseases such as Dickeya chrysanthemi cause leaf discoloration and wilting.
While bacterial diseases have no known cure, using bactericides with copper compounds may prevent the disease from spreading.
For fungal diseases, use fungicides on the affected plants.
Other diseases, like anthracnose and Xanthomonas campestris, may cause yellowing or brown lacerations with a yellow ring.
Also, root rot and soft root, caused by Erwinia chrysanthemi, may result in the yellowing of leaves and wilting.
Additional effects include stunted growth and mushy stems, among other symptoms.
If your plant experiences root rot, remove the affected parts using a sterilized pruner before repotting it.
Proper sanitation, including sterilized gardening tools and washing your hands before and after handling plants, is vital in managing Chinese evergreen diseases.
While you can cut or isolate diseased parts or leaves, consider discarding the entire plant for severe cases of infection.
12. Nutrient deficiency
Lack of essential minerals may cause chlorosis in your Chinese evergreen. Nutrients such as nitrogen and nitrogen are part of chlorophyll, making them essential for synthesis.
Iron and manganese deficiency may also result in interveinal yellowing, affecting juvenile leaves mostly.
On the other hand, zinc, nitrogen, and manganese deficiency cause chlorosis in older foliage on the lower parts of the plant.
Additionally, a deficiency in phosphorus and potassium causes mottled leaf changes with yellow and brown discoloration.
So, if you believe fertilizer deficiency is causing the plant to turn yellow, consider adopting a proper fertilizing schedule.
While severely damaged foliage may experience some improvement, I’d hardly expect them to recover fully.
However, with proper care and maintenance, the plant will burst into life, developing vibrant and healthy new growth.
Besides fertilizer, ensure that the potting soil is rich in organic humus. Moreover, the soil should have a pH value of 5.6-6.5.
Some nutrients are only available to plants when the pH is slightly acidic.
Why Are The Bottom Leaves of My Chinese Evergreen Turning Yellow
When the bottom leaves of your Chinese evergreen turn yellow, you’re likely over-watering the plant.
At the same time, this is a normal sign of aging if it occurs on a few foliages. Aglaonema leaves don’t last forever. They turn yellow, fall off after maturing and live out their life cycle.
The Chinese evergreen plant sheds old foliage to create room for new growth. It’s typical for the plant to develop yellowing leaves in the winter and autumn as light intensity levels decrease.
So, the plant has to sacrifice old leaves and focus its energy on new foliage. Other reasons for chlorosis on the bottom leaves include nitrogen, magnesium, and zinc deficiency.
If your plant puts out new and healthy growth at the top, trim off the old foliage at the bottom to preserve the plant’s energy and aesthetic appeal.
Should I Cut Off Yellow Leaves On Chinese Evergreen
Cut off diseased, infested, and old foliage on your Chinese evergreen. However, this will depend on the severity of chlorosis and its causes.
For instance, with a sterilized garden pruner, you can trim leaves with a yellow margin.
On the other hand, you’ll want to cut the leaf off at the petiole if it’s entirely yellow or brown.
Similarly, if pests and diseases cause the leaves to turn yellow, trim off the affected part entirely. Ideally, cut it near the stem.
Can Yellow Leaves Turn Green Again?
Often, yellow leaves indicate that the plant is under stress. This includes overwatering, underwatering, insufficient light, and extreme temperatures.
If this is true with your Chinese evergreen, I wouldn’t expect the leaves to become green again.
However, if yellowing occurs due to nutrient deficiency, the leaves can retain the green color once you avail the nutrients. In most cases, you’re better off pruning the affected foliage.
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Why are the leaves of my chinese evergreen plant turning yellow and brown?
How often should you water chinese evergreen?
Why are the leaves of my chinese evergreen turning yellow with black spots?
Why is my Chinese evergreen turning yellow? You may ask. Chlorosis in Aglaonema may arise from pests, low light, overwatering, and extreme temperatures.
To determine the exact cause of yellowing leaves in your plant, examine it closely, considering the conditions in which you kept the plants.
After determining the exact cause of yellowing leaves, take the remedial step outlined in this post.