Why are the Leaves on my Pilea Turning Yellow?

Pilea plant in a pot
Happy and healthy Pilea (source: Wikimedia)

When it comes to decorating my home with plants, Pilea hits my mind first. I love Pilea for its UFO-like structure and the glorious green color.

Once, due to my utter negligence, my Pilea started showing anomalies. The leaves of my beloved Pilea began turning yellow.

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

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Pilea plant showcasing yellow leaves
Pilea plant looks gloomy with yellow leaves (source: Wikimedia)

Yellow leaves on Pilea are not grave but can turn very deadly for the Pilea plant if not taken care of in time.

Are you worried because your Pilea started showcasing yellow leaves too? Read on this article to find out the possible causes and how to get rid of yellow leaves.

Is it Normal for Pilea Leaves to Turn Yellow?

The change in the color of the Pilea leaf tries to tell you something about its condition. And you can revert the difference in leaves’ color.

It is entirely normal for leaves on Pilea to turn yellow. It may have inhabited pests, reacted to improper lighting, or other trivial causes.

However, if not cured after the diagnosis, the plant may incur some severe damage in the long run.

I was worried too by this phenomenon of leaves on my Pilea turning yellow and was delighted to find out that it is normal, can be treated, and can happen to anyone.

Pilea plant with some drooped leaves
Pilea Plant in a pot (source: Wikimedia)

What Causes Pilea Leaves to Turn Yellow?

The most common cause of leaves on Pilea turning yellow is improper soil moisture, with other factors such as inadequate lighting, pests, lack of potassium, temperature, and humidity contributing to the cause.

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 soil is sufficient for the plant, they 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.

The soil may be too dry or wet for the plant to function correctly without proper moisture.

Dry and Cracked Soil
Dry and Cracked Soil

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

Solutions

  • Ensure to place the plant in a pot with a good drainage facility. If the soil is too wet, it may clog the roots, and the plant leaves can turn yellow.
  • Water the plant only if the top 25% of the soil is dry. Water the plant comparatively less during winter as the soil takes a lot of time to dry.
  • If your pot has a saucer at the bottom, discard the excess water on the saucer. Pilea doesn’t like having “wet feet”  and may not respond well to that.
  • Boost the plant’s humidity using an electric humidifier, or you can put a tray full of pebbles near the plant.
  • Check the soil moisture content by inserting a finger or using a hygrometer. Water only if the soil is dry. Wait for two days before checking again if the soil feels moist.
  • Use a soil moisture sensor to check the moisture of soil and water accordingly.
Soil Moisture Meter
Soil Moisture Meter (Source: Amazon)

Read More: How Often to Water Pilea?

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, fungus gnats prefer to feed on the Pilea and change the leaves or the entire foliage to yellow if not properly 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.

Solutions

  • Drench the soil with insecticides to protect the roots from any pests.
  • Horticultural Oil or Neem oil works as an immediate remedy from 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’re using 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 state of the foliage or roots.
  • While watering the plants, check the roots regularly.

Related Article: How to Identify Insect Eggs on Leaves and Treat Pest Infestation?

3. Potassium Deficiency

Lack of Potassium on 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 Deficiency on leaf
Potassium deficiency on a plant leaf. (source: Wikimedia)

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 that your plant did not get burned by harsh sunlight, potassium deficiency might be the prime cause.

Solutions

  • You should treat the plant with high potassium fertilizer like banana peels, wood ash, or EasyPeasy Potassium fertilizer (as a chemical option).
  • Make sure 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

Indoor household plants like Pilea are sensitive about their growing temperature.

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

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

Temperature in relation to plant's growth
The temperature in relation to plant’s growth (source: ResearchGate)

Solutions

  • Occasionally mist the leaves of your plant by spraying water via a spray bottle. This will maintain the humidity levels of the Pilea.
  • 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 that you can keep the plant somewhere with very little or no sunlight, as deficiency of light prove to be dangerous and 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.

Solutions

  • Move the plant to a south-facing window but keep in mind that the light it gets is not too direct and scorching.
  • Have a provision of 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.
Different Light Spectrum and their effects on plants
Light spectrum and their effect on plants. (source: Amazon)

6. Nitrogen Deficiency

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

Nitrogen plays a vital role in ensuring that energy is available to the plant 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 temperature of the soil has an impact on nutrient solubility and microbial activity in the release of plant-digestible Nitrogen.

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

Yellow Leaves
Yellow and Infected Leaves

Solutions

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

7. Natural Causes

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

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, you should 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 long Flower arrow, as it consumes more nutrients.

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

Watch the video to know more,

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 was attempting 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, and generally, it is safe to remove the yellow leaves from the plant.

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

Pruning yellow leaves
Pruning Yellow Leaves (Source: Pixabay)

But before removing the leaves, you should check if the leaves have fully turned to yellow or you 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 keep in mind not to damage other healthy green leaves.
  • Use proper gardening tools like knives and gloves if you have to.
  • Keep in mind 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.
Pilea plant in a pot
Pilea plant on a pot. (source: Flickr)

Conclusion

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!

If your pilea is drooping, check our other article “8 Possible Causes for Pilea Drooping [With Solutions]

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