Spider Plant Yellow Leaves: Causes & Easy Fixes

Last winter, when I visited my uncle’s home in Minnesota, I witnessed a Spider Plant with yellow leaves on his porch.

He informed me that the plants were all welcoming until his return from a Colorado trip in the summer. When he said so, I sensed that the plant’s care was overlooked.

Generally, Spider Plant yellow leaves are an upshot of watering issues, indecent lighting, changing temperature and humidity, excessive fertilizer, pests, or diseases. To solve this, monitor temperature shifts, give it a good amount of light and fertilizer, and keep tabs on diseases and pests.

Image represents the yellow leaves in Spider Plant
The growing age or improper care can make the healthy leaves of the Spider Plant pale or wilted.

I guess the grave condition of the Spider Plant comes from the feeble care my uncle assigned her daughter.

Spider Plants are beloved for their leaves, and their attention is crucial if you want the leaves to stay shiny and green as long as the plant stays with you.

So, let me steer you through this article to give you some tips for keeping your Spider Plant safe from the dangers of yellow leaves!

Is it Normal for Spider Plant Leaves to Turn Yellow?

Spider Plants (Chlorophytum comosum) are native to the tropical forests of Southern Africa.

Healthy Spider Plant leaves are vibrant that arch over the pot’s edge. They also have unusual variegation of green and white stripes.

Unfortunately, Spider Plants lose the healthy shades of their leaves. So, even the slightest blemish on the leaves can subvert their charm as a houseplant.

This usually happens when you stop caring for your Spider Plant and don’t give them enough sunlight, fertilizer, temperature, humidity, or look after them when they are sick.

However, if you give your Spider Plant all the primary care, but its leaves still turn yellow, there may be other reasons!

Image represents the arching leaves of Spider Plant
Long and grass-like leaves of Spider Plants are green and curve over the edge of their pot.

As the plant ages, its leaves turn yellow, which is nothing to worry about as it’s a part of the plant’s life cycle.

They will ultimately decorate themselves with new leaves every season, owing to their perennial habit.

Normally, aging Spider Plants lose their leaves from the bottom up, and you can make way for the new leaves by pruning the old leaves.

What Causes My Spider Plant Leaves to Turn Yellow?

Suppose you bring a new and healthy Spider Plant at home. You provide it with all the care like your own family member.

However, the plant starts to turn its leaves yellow suddenly, and without any doubt, you can suspect something stresses your Spider Plant.

But how to know if the plant is giving a distress call? You just have to look at the symptoms, that’s all!

Below I have given the symptoms, reasons, and some measures to bring back your dying Spider Plant.

1. Watering Issues

Spider Plants are sturdy as they can forgo water for a long time, so underwatering is not a problem here. 

However, keeping Spider Plants without water for more than two weeks is a gamble.

Less water will dry up the soil, and the plant turns its leaves yellow, causing the leaf tips to become crisp.

Image represents the tips of the Spider Plant leaves turning crisp and brown
Underwatering the Spider Plant may cause the tips of its leaves to get crisp and brown.

Normally, Spider Plants need water once a week in spring, but you can increase the watering session to twice a week during extreme heat spells in summer.

When Spider Plant gains a decent amount of foliage at its maturity, it may require water twice every three weeks in summer.

But, in fall and winter, you must give the plant some time to drink up all the water from earlier bouts as the soil stays already moist.

This is a considerable mistake people make while watering their Spider Plants in winter.

Overwatering leads to the serious condition of root rot, making the roots black and mushy.

Your Spider Plant can suffocate if you keep it in soggy soil for too long. They can’t pull enough water from the soil, and the leaves turn yellow.

Fortunately, your plant can break out from this peril if you don’t let overwatering eat your plant in the first place.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • First, relocate your plant to a new place where it can get bright, direct light.
  • Immediately cut off the watering and keep the plant for 1-2 days.
  • If the symptoms don’t recede, uproot the plant, wash the soil off its roots, and check for signs of root rot.
  • Remove any mushy roots that give off a fishy odor using sterilized pruners. Keep the light tan and healthy roots intact.
  • Repot the plant by adding extra draining elements like perlite or sand in the new potting mix.
  • Keep the Spider Plant in a well-lit room that gets bright, indirect sunlight for a few weeks, subsequently cutting off its watering spans.
  • Check the top inch of potting soil for dryness using a finger dip test and water only if the soil doesn’t stick to the finger.
  • You can also use a moisture meter and continue the normal watering routine if the device reads 3-4.

2. Improper Light

Light is an important factor that promotes good foliage growth in Spider Plants.

However, the amount and type of light are what you need to watch out for the plants.

In tropical forests, Spider Plants prefer to live under the canopies of other tall trees, which give them enough dappling sunlight to survive.

So, you should also try to replicate the lighting conditions of its natural home.

It is ideal for keeping Spider Plants in bright, indirect sunlight for 4 to 8 hours daily.

Image represents the yellow leaves in Spider Plant caused by bright sunlight
Direct sunlight can scorch and make the healthy or green leaves of the Spider Plant pale.

Stripes on the Spider Plant’s leaves are lively when the plant is kept in filtered light.

Spider Plants also tend to curl their leaves inwards to protect themselves from the extreme sun.

Similarly, less light is also unhealthy for the plant making its leaves fade to yellow and a little limp.

But, you can make your plant overcome this tough situation by taking care of its light requirements.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • First, move your plant to a shady area if it’s under bright sunlight or to a sunny spot if it’s under shade.
  • Locate your plant in an east-facing window indoors to give it ample sunlight.
  • Keep UV-protective films in front of west or south-facing windows to defend your plant from harmful sun rays.
  • Alternatively, you can install curtains or drapes to shield your plant from bright sunshine.
  • Place your plant about three feet away from the area where it has a high chance of receiving direct sunlight.
  • You can also use fluorescent lights for 10-12 hours daily while keeping the plants indoors in winter.
  • Avoid using incandescent lights as they can manifest leaf burn.

3. Changing Temperature and Humidity

A shift in temperature can influence humidity, and vice-versa, as high temperature can make the air dry, lowering the humidity levels.

Due to their tropical nature, Spider Plants can survive in temperatures between 21°C and 32°C.

Similarly, they can tolerate temperatures as low as 1°C but won’t bear vigorous foliage.

Additionally, Spider Plants are well-adapted plants for tropical environments and require ambient humidity levels from 40-80%.

The first effect of fluctuating humidity and temperature levels is seen in leaves, which turn yellow and later fall off.

High temperatures can cause the water to dry off from the soil, due to which plants cannot take enough water.

Image represents the method of grouping Spider Plants to steady the levels of humidity
Assemble the Spider Plants to steady the levels of humidity around the plants.

So, the leaves curl as a final attempt to preserve water.

Cold stress has a similar effect, as the water inside the cells of the leaves freezes up and turns them yellow.

So, you better buckle up and take quick action to save the leaves of your Spider Plant.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • Once the leaves are yellow, move your Spider Plant to a cool room.
  • Immovable Spider Plants growing outdoors may require some shade in summer.
  • Take your time to remove the damaged leaves using sterilized pruners.
  • Use indoor thermometers to monitor the temperature changes for your plants.
  • You can also place hygrometers inside greenhouses to watch for fluctuating humidity levels.
  • Keep your Spider Plant away from north-facing drafty windows in winter.
  • Consider using frost blankets to cover your outdoor growing Spider Plants at night.
  • Maintain a certain distance between your plant, heaters, radiators, or conditioning vents.
  • Use humidifiers or shift your Spider Plants in the kitchen or bathroom to maintain the humidity levels.
  • Misting your Spider Plant regularly in the morning during extreme heat spells will help cool down your plant.

You can also group your Spider Plants together or keep the potted Spider Plant over a water pebble tray to increase the humidity.

4. Excessive Fertilizer

Spider Plants are not heavy feeders, so overfertilizing the plant may lead to yellow leaves.

Usually, Spider Plants require balanced dilute and water-soluble fertilizer during the growing seasons from early spring to late summer.

You need to give this amount once a month if you want full foliage growth for your plant.

Providing more than usual may damage the roots, which is later seen in the leaves suffering from burns.

Roots cannot uptake water if injured, so the leaves don’t get enough water to sustain their daily needs.

Fertilizing in winter and fall can also ruin your Spider Plant as the plant remains dormant during this time.

So, give less or no fertilizer when your plant is ready for winter sleep.

But, there’s a bitter truth to face that you cannot save the leaves of your Spider Plant once they show the symptoms of overfertilizing.

However, you can prevent the leaves from turning yellow by caring for the plant from the start or treating your plant as mentioned below.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • First, trim off the damaged leaves to promote the growth of new leaves.
  • Look at the potting soil and check for a white salt-like formation on the surface.
  • If there is excessive salt on the topsoil, flush it 4-5 times with distilled water.
Image represents the accumulation of salts on the surface of the potting soil
It is better to flush the potting soil to leach out the excessive fertilizer salts to save the leaves of the Spider Plants.
  • Give a few days for your plant to recover from the excessive fertilizer stress.
  • However, persisting symptoms may indicate that you must change the potting soil and prepare a new potting mix for your Spider Plant.
  • Following this, change the potting soil when you decide to repot your plant once in 1-2 years.
  • Switch to distilled water or rainwater for your Spider Plant if you use tap water.

The threat of excessive fertilizer buildup comes in Spider Plant by using the tap water as the salts may accumulate in the soil. So, use either rain or distilled water to irrigate your plant.

5. Transplant Shock

Spider Plant may experience transplant shock when moving to a new place. So, the effect of this shock reveals itself on the leaves that turn yellow.

But, no need to fret as the plant will repay its green and glossy leaves after becoming familiar with its new environment.

However, yellow leaves are also obvious in recently repotted Spider Plants if the pot is of incorrect size.

Spider Plants become root bound quickly, and you may see roots protruding from the topsoil or drainage holes within a year after transplant.

Image represents the root bound condition of Spider Plant
Spider Plants may encounter the root-bound condition that can give rise to the yellowing of the leaves.

So, take a good look at the leaves and the symptoms of root bound before transplanting your Spider Plant.

But, you can take prompt action to prevent the yellow leaves in Spider Plant that occur by transplant shock.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • Choose a spot that receives filtered light when you decide to relocate a plant to a new area.
  • Give your plant all the primary care requirements until the leaves recover.
  • Consider using a pot 1-2 inches larger whenever you decide to repot your Spider Plant.
  • If you decide to use the same planter, trim off the leggy roots using sterilized pruners.
  • Wait 2-3 weeks before giving liquid fertilizer to the newly repotted Spider Plant.
  • Soak the soil thoroughly with water before you fertilize the plant after transplanting.

6. Pest Attack

Spider Plants may be hefty, but unforeseen pests are often on the prowl to gnaw on them.

Major pests that may attack your Spider Plants are spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, and fungus gnats.

Moreover, pest attacks are unpredictable as these pesky bugs remain hidden within the leaves and soil.

And you will only know the attack if the plant shows signs of distress, becoming too late to save your plant later.

Furthermore, pest issues may also arise if you forgo the plant’s caring (for example, Overwatering).

Some pests may cease the roots and bring down the whole plant within days.

Other pests may be present in the plant, slowly drinking away all the essential juices from the leaves and turning them yellow.

However, if you can look at the symptoms and identify the type of pest, it will be easy later to fend off the pest attacks.

Check the table below about the pests and the symptoms that can hurt your Spider Plant.

PestsSymptoms
Spider MitesMites stay in fine spider-like webs present between the leaves.

Sometimes webbings also appear on the underside of the leaves.

They scratch the surface of the leaves and suck out the sap from the plant.
AphidsAphids are present on the lower surface of the leaves.

They may also be present on the surface of the new or young leaves.

They misshape the leaves and turn them yellow by sipping all the sap.
MealybugsThese bugs are found on the leaves or attached to the stems.

They crack open the veins and drain the sap from the plant.

Leaves turn limp, yellow, and then fall off.
WhitefliesThese flies hide under the surface of the leaves.

They are triangular and white flies that stay in groups and lay eggs to form larvae.

Larvae are the most devastating as they pull out all the important juices from the leaves.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • As soon as the pest issue is obvious, isolate your infected Spider Plant away from the other plants to cut off the spread.
  • Trim off the damaged leaves to give the plant a good draft of air that can pass between the leaves.
  • Use weak blasts of water to remove the pests from the leaves’ surface, underside, and base.
  • If this isn’t working, use a neem oil spray to get rid of them.
  • You can also employ insecticidal soaps to remove them manually.
  • Other alternatives could be using q-tips dipped in disinfectants and then rubbing them at the site of infection.
  • Rub the disinfectants once a month on the leaves to prepare your plant for the onset of pest issues later.
  • Place sticky traps around your Spider Plant so the insects cannot land on the plant leaves.
  • Avoid applying pesticides to the new transplants of Spider Plants until they start taking roots.

7. Horticultural Diseases

Spider Plants are robust, but sometimes unacceptable conditions may get a hold of your plant. This may present a suitable situation for diseases to crop themselves on the leaves.

Mostly, bacteria and fungi are the pathogens that cause diseases in Spider Plants.

Fungi prefer to infect the roots, while bacteria affect the leaves and the rest of the parts.

Image represents the root rot condition in Spider Plants due to overwatering and fungal growth
Fungal diseases like root rot occur when the roots of the Spider Plant remain in the soggy soil for too long.

Many pathogens can ruin the appeal of your plant, and the plant’s situation goes beyond saving.

So, you must take precautions to prevent the onset of diseases from the start and remain ready to treat the plant as soon as the symptoms are visible.

Check the table below to learn about the diseases and their symptoms in the Spider Plant.

DiseasesCausative AgentsSymptoms
Root Rot
(Fungal Disease)
Phytophthora sp., Rhizoctonia sp., Pythium sp., or Fusarium sp.Pathogen make their way in to the roots of the plant through the slushy soil of the pot due to overwatering.

Roots turn black, mushy or slimy to the touch.

Potting soil start giving off fishy or stale odor.

Leaves curl and turn yellow as the roots cannot pull up water from the soil.
Leaf Spot
(Bacterial Disease)
Xanthomonas campestris pv. vitiansDark or black sunken spots form on the surface of the leaves.

Overtime the lesions start to drool watery and sticky ooze.

The lesions later dry off and turn brown and crisp, with a yellow ring surrounding them.
Leaf Blight
(Bacterial Disease)
Xanthomonas sp.Tips of the leaves turn brown at first.

This infection spreads over to the leaf's surface and form dry and brown spots.

Margins of the leaves also develop a yellow hue and later they get brown.

Immediate Actions to Take

  • Separate the diseased Spider Plant from the rest of the bunch to cut the extent of the disease.
  • Take prompt action by removing the affected leaves and roots after uprooting the plant.
  • Disinfect a new pot by washing it with low-phosphate detergent.
  • Transplant the Spider Plant into the new pot with fresh potting mix.
  • If the disease is still evident, spray broad-spectrum fungicides or bactericides that can affect many pathogens.
  • Regularly make a habit of misting or monthly washing the leaves with neem oil or isopropyl alcohol.
  • Avoid the plant from staying in soggy soil conditions for too long.
  • Remove the water from the saucer present at the base of the plant pot before and after watering.

Should I Cut the Yellow Leaves off My Spider Plant?

The yellow leaves on the Spider Plant don’t serve any purpose and become burdens for the plant.

Removing the leaves will make room for new leaves to take their place. 

The plant also needs to complete its flowering cycle, so removing the yellow leaves will prevent it from spending its energy in the wrong place.

However, you will need proper guidance about pruning these leaves from the plant as you don’t want to lose the healthy leaves.

Image represents the babies of Spider Plant
Infected baby Spider Plants can be cut away to avoid spreading infection between the plants.

Thus, grab a few supplies for the process, like pruners, disinfectants, and gloves.

Once you are done, follow the steps to remove the yellow leaves from the Spider Plant.

  • Check for leaves that are yellow, brown, or unwell for their natural look.
  • Take a pruner, spray disinfectant on its surface, and let it dry for a few minutes.
  • Hold the leaf you want to remove at the base and snip it off.
  • Remove the whole infected leaf away, or just cut around the brown tips to offer some shape to the plant.
  • To remove the diseased baby spider plants, snip back where the baby’s stem joins the mother plant.
  • After this, move the plant to an open place with good aeration and dappling sunlight.

Cutting the Spider Plant’s yellow leaves is easy; you can simply learn it by looking at this video.

How to Prevent Spider Plant Yellow Leaves?

The best way to avert the yellow leaves in your Spider Plant is by taking care of all the primary care requirements.

  • Amend a potting mix that holds moisture but is also equally well-draining. Ensure to maintain pH levels between 6 and 7.
  • Always prepare the potting mix in a ratio of 1:1:4 by blending coco coir, perlite, and pine bark.
  • Use balanced 20-20-20 NPK fertilizer once or twice a month in spring and summer.
  • Prune the damaged leaves or baby Spider Plants instantly or normally prune once a year in early spring.
  • Repot when the plant is root bound. Don’t stress the plant with frequent repotting.
  • Consider using foliar application of Ferrous Sulfate solution for 4-6 weeks in the growing season to prevent the yellowing of leaves.
Image represents the process of transplanting the Spider Plants
Select the transplants with a healthy set of leaves and start the transplants in smaller pots at first and then aim for a bigger pot later.
  • Flush the soil once every eight weeks to prevent mineral buildup in the potting soil.
  • Transplant your Spider Plant in spring. You can start the transplants in smaller pots and then move to larger pots later.

You can prepare the Ferrous Sulfate solution by mixing 30 to 60 grams of the powder in a gallon of distilled water.

Conclusion

Spider Plants, often adored for their leaves, fall within the checklist of easy-to-care houseplants.

Since the leaves are their most esteemed facet, they must remain glossy and lively always.

So, keep their leaves top-notch by seeking fundamental care tips, and don’t sulk if the leaves become yellow as old age.  

As perennials, Spider Plants will always grow fresh verdure when they bounce back from stressful situations. Remember this brief of causes and solutions to yellow whenever your Spider Plants hit the problem. 

Are the green leaves of your precious Philodendron fading to yellow? No worries! It’s always easy to salvage them by upkeeping your plant from the start.

Happy Gardening!   

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