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Why are the Leaves on my Pilea Turning Yellow?

Pilea is a great ornamental plant to have indoors. But have you ever witnessed a situation where your pilea leaves are turning yellow?

Generally, Pilea leaves turn yellow because of improper moisture, inadequate lighting, pest infestation, nutrient deficiency, temperature extremities, and humidity. Some yellowing on Pilea could be due to natural causes.

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Are you worried because your Pilea started showcasing yellow leaves too? Read this article to discover the possible causes and how to eliminate yellow leaves.

What Causes Pilea Leaves to Turn Yellow?

Let us look below for the leading causes of Pilea leaves turning yellow.

Pilea suffering from yellow leaves
Pilea leaves can turn yellow due to different causes.

1. Improper Soil Moisture

Soil moisture is an essential factor for Pilea to remain healthy. Improper soil moisture is a common cause for the plant leaves turning yellow.

Pilea loves damp soil, but you must understand the difference between damp and soggy soil.

If the moisture content in the soil is sufficient for the plant, it can absorb the water efficiently, and the plant can thrive.

Improper moisture is mainly caused due to overwatering the soil. It may lead to root rot, making its way up to the stems and leaves, turning them yellow.

Not only yellowing of the leaves, but the plant may suffer serious fatalities like root rot due to over-moisturization of the soil.


  • Ensure to place the plant in a pot with a good drainage facility.
  • Water the plant only if the top 25% of the soil is dry. Reduce the intensity during winter as the soil takes much time to dry.
  • If your pot has a saucer at the bottom, discard the excess water on the saucer.
  • Boost the plant’s humidity using an electric humidifier, or put a tray full of pebbles near the plant.
  • Use a soil moisture sensor to check the moisture of soil and water accordingly.

2. Pest Infestations

Succulent plants like Pilea are more susceptible to pest infestations. Moreover, if the plant is weakened and stressed, it can incur pests on itself.

Pests attack the juicy stems and leaves of the plant and suck out the nutrients from them, leaving them dry and yellow.

Pests like aphids, spider mites, mealy bugs, and fungus gnats prefer to feed on the Pilea and change the leaves or the entire foliage to yellow if not correctly taken care of.

PestsHow to identify them
AphidsGreen, pear-shaped insects
Aphids infested leaves misshapen, curl and leaves are yellow
Spider mites1mm long, red, tan or black spiders
Silky webs are found on leaves and stems
Mealy bugsCottony, white mass
Plants discolor, wilt and curl
Fungus gnats Plant will have foliage loss


  • Drench the soil with insecticides to protect the roots from any pests.
  • Horticultural Oil or Neem oil is an immediate remedy for pests and insects. These oils suffocate the pests and remove them from the plant.
  • Use rubbing alcohol diluted with equal water to wipe off the pests.

Preventive Measures

  • Provide adequate sunlight and the right amount of water to avoid pest infestation.
  • Check if the soil you use to grow the plant is in good shape. Clean the pot’s exterior regularly.
  • Keep a close eye on the plant and be aware of any unexpected changes in the foliage or roots.
  • While watering the plants, check the roots regularly.

3. Potassium Deficiency

Lack of Potassium in Pilea can cause the leaves to turn yellow and brown.

Potassium helps the plant function properly with photosynthesis, protein synthesis, and activation of some enzymes in plants.

Lack of potassium affects these functions causing the leaves to turn yellow.

Potassium deficit can make the edges of the leaves appear scorched, as if they were burned by direct sunlight.

If you know that you have provided the right amount of light and your plant did not get burned by harsh sunlight, potassium deficiency might be the prime cause.


  • You should treat the plant with high potassium fertilizer like banana peels, wood ash, or EasyPeasy Potassium fertilizer (as a chemical option).
  • Ensure the soil has a pH ranging from 6.0 to 7.0 for the plant to absorb the potassium properly.

4. Extreme Temperature and Low Humidity

Pilea likes to grow between temperatures ranging from 65°F to 90°F and thrives the most in highly humid conditions.

An extreme change in the temperature around the plant proves to be stressful and thus turns the leaves yellow.

The Pilea plant droops, and the leaves start giving a hint of dark brown color if the soil is too dry and the humidity is too low.

Pilea leaves turning yellow and brown
Extreme temperature and humidity contribute to Pilea leaves turning yellow and eventually brown.

As time passes, the leaves turn completely yellow, then brown before falling off completely.


  • Occasionally mist the leaves of your plant by spraying water via a spray bottle.
  • Remove the plant immediately from heating vents or drafty windows.
  • Use a room humidifier to maintain the humidity levels around the plant.

5. Inappropriate Lighting

Pilea craves warm, bright, but not too direct sunlight. Adequate sunlight with no immediate and harsh rays proves to be fruitful.

It doesn’t mean you can keep the plant somewhere with very little or no sunlight, as light deficiency can cause the plant to showcase yellow leaves.

Inadequate sunlight directly affects the plant’s ability to produce chlorophyll, an agent in plants that brings out the signature green color, thus resulting in yellow leaves.

Also, the low sunlight may invite other problems like root rot as the evaporation slows down and the soil stays wetter for a more extended period.


  • Move the plant to a south-facing window but ensure the light it gets is not too direct and scorching.
  • Provide grow lights for plants if the sunlight cannot fall during winter and overcast weather.
  • Make sure the Pilea gets enough sunlight. Keep the plant in enough light, and it will recover the yellow leaves, and they will turn back to the natural green color.
  • Occasionally rotate the plant so that every side of the foliage gets enough lighting.

6. Nitrogen Deficiency

A nitrogen deficit is another reason Pilea’s leaves turn yellow.

Nitrogen is vital in ensuring that energy is available whenever required for the plant’s maximum yield.

Plants deprived of Nitrogen often have stunted growth, and the leaves often become pale green to yellowish-green.

Nitrogen deficiency is related to soil type and is most common in sandy, well-drained soils with rapid nutrient leaching. It can also be caused by overwatering.

The uptake of water-soluble nutrients by plant roots is hampered by soil moisture.

The soil’s temperature impacts nutrient solubility and microbial activity in releasing plant-digestible Nitrogen.

As a result, the cooler the soil, the lower the nourishment available to crops.


  • Feed your plant with high-nitrogen nutrient formula.
  • Add a regular dose of the amino-acid supplement to the monthly fertilizer you feed.
  • Primary Nitrogen sources include organic compost, blood meal, and green manure. You can use organic fertilizer regularly.
  • Maintain soil pH as it also affects Nitrogen availability.

7. Natural Causes

As the plant ages, a few leaves turn yellow, then brown before falling off eventually to make way for new leaves.

Pilea plant yellow leaves
The lack as well as overdose of fertilizer is on of the leading causes why your Pilea leaves are turning yellow.

The condition is nothing to worry about as this is the plant’s natural process and will not harm the plant.

If you see yellow leaves on the bottom of the plant, it will be better to leave them as it is and see what the plant does.

If the leaves don’t fall, check out the other causes mentioned above.

Also, Pilea starts blooming throughout the late spring and early summer. As a result, yellow leaves may appear one after another, starting from the flower, as it consumes more nutrients.

If you don’t intend to save the seeds, cut off the blossoms as soon as possible to limit nutrient consumption.

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Should I Remove the Yellow Leaves?

A leaf that has become yellow or brown will not return to its original green color. That leaf can be pinched off and removed.

It will allow your Pilea to redirect the energy it attempted to push into a dying leaf back into your healthy plant.

However, if the whole plant turns yellow, you have a problem that must be addressed before having a healthy Pilea again.

Find the possible cause of the yellow leaves; generally, removing the yellow leaves from the plant is safe.

In most cases, the yellow leaves fall off and die on their own.

But before removing the leaves, you should check if they have fully turned yellow or only have a few yellow spots.

Things to Consider Before Removing the Yellow Leaves

  • Check out the cause of the yellowing of the leaves. Some yellowing can be recovered and reverted to the original. So, clipping them off might be damaging.
  • Safely remove the leaf, and remember not to damage other healthy green leaves.
  • Use proper gardening tools like knives and gloves if you have to.
  • Remember to remove the yellow leaves if they are at the bottom of the plant. Yellow leaves at the top should not be removed in any condition.

Editor’s Note

Yellow leaves on the Pilea are not something to worry your head about. But, in some cases, the yellowing could indicate something serious.

Remember to provide your Pilea with optimal conditions to thrive to their fullest and completely prevent them from going yellow.

Good luck with your Pilea!

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