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Why your Tradescantia Zebrina Leaves are Turning Yellow?

Tradescantia Zebrina is a beautiful plant with purple and silvery leaves. They are low-maintenance fast-growing houseplants.

Due to the fast growth, they are also called Inch Plants or Wandering Jew.

The foliage and its growth speed can do the magic to make your living space decor if you keep your plant happy! 

However, sometimes you may see their leaves yellowing, so you should know the causes and solutions to such problems.

Generally, the yellowing of Tradescantia Zebrina leaves can be due to Overwatering, Underwatering, Overfertilization, Underfertilization, Low sunlight, Low temperature, Low Humidity, and pests problem.

Tradescantia Zebrina  on desk as decoration
Tradescantia Plant with Healthy leaves

Many reasons cause the yellowing of Tradescantia Zebrina’s leaves. However, identifying the cause of it essential to treat the plant accordingly.

Read on to find the cause and solutions for yellow leaves. Additionally, there are some crucial tips to know to keep your plant thriving and in good shape.

Is it Normal for Tradescantia Zebrina Leaves to Turn Yellow?

For dry soil-loving houseplants, overwatering is the most common problem.

Hence, if your Tradescantia leaves are turning yellow, there is a good chance you may be overwatering them.

It is not normal for Tradescantia Zebrina leaves to turn yellow unless the cause is natural aging.

If you notice the new growth in your Tradescantia Zebrina and the bottom leaves are dropping or turning yellow, it’s because of the plant’s natural aging phenomenon.

If there is no new growth and your favorite plant’s leaves turn yellow, the plant is going through stress.

You need to identify the problem and treat the plant accordingly to bring its natural leaves back.

If your other plant’s leaves are yellowing, this may help: Why Are My Schefflera Leaves Turning Yellow?

What Causes Tradescantia Zebrina Leaves to Turn Yellow?

There are numerous reasons that your Tradescantia Zebrina leaves are turning yellow.

From the most common overwatering problem to nutrition deficiency, it’s important to pinpoint the cause first.

Then you can work on preventable measures and solutions to turn them back to normal.

Here are some of the reasons why your Tradescantia Zebrina leaves turn yellow with preventable measures and solutions.

OverwateringWatering once a week in spring and summerCut watering until soil becomes dry
UnderwateringWatering the plant once a weekSoak bath the underwatered plant in basin
Nutrition DeficiencyFertilizing in timeFertilize the plant with soluble fertilizer once in two weeks
PestsDo not bring garden plants insideClean the leaves with Neem oil, soapy water or rub alcohol
OverfertilizationFertilize once in two weeks in growing season and cut off in winterCut off fertilization until the plant subsides the problem
Low SunlightRotate the plant once a whileProvide indirect sunlight for 6 hours a day
Natural AgingTake care of the plantTrim off the yellow leaves

1. Overwatering 

Most new house plant owners can overwater the Tradescantia Zebrina because we want them to be properly hydrated and healthy.

However, overwatering can lead to yellow leaves. If not taken care of immediately, it can lead to root rot.

It’s true. Too much water can rot the roots of your beautiful Tradescantia Zebrina and eventually kill the plant.

Moisture stress is a real thing. The leaves will turn yellow and starts to drop off as the first sign.

watering Plant
Overwatering the Houseplants (Source: Unsplash)

Moist and soggy soil rots the roots of Tradescantia Zebrina. Then, the plant can’t take up the water, so that the leaves will turn yellow.

Preventive Measures

  • Create a watering schedule and water the plant only if the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry.
  • Check if the drainage holes are blocked to ensure your Tradescantia Zebrina drains appropriately.
  • Check if your plant is ready to drink by the “Weightlift” method. You check the difference in weight between after you water the plant and the next watering.
  • During cold, if the soil takes time to dry out, you can create holes with a stick or pencil to help air circulation.
  • Use room temperature water (68°F).


  • Keep the saucer dry.
  • Do not water the plant as well well do not mist the leaves till the plant heals.
  • Check for soggy soil. Let the soil dry completely. Sometimes adding sand helps with proper drainage.
  • Repot the plant if root rot is getting worse.
  • Loosen the soil for aeration.
  • Before you water, check the weight as well as the “touch test” to ensure your Tradescantia Zebrina needs water.

Note: In the “Touch test”, you dip your finger into the soil to check the moisture.

2. Underwatering 

Tradescantia Zebrina loves dry soil. However, drying the soil completely between the watering can be challenging for the plant.

When the plant cannot absorb enough water, the leaves will go dry.

Hence, underwatering can be a reason for the yellow leaves of your Tradescantia Zebrina.

Sometimes we forget to water. Other times we travel, and the plant misses the watering routine. As a result, the leaves can turn yellow and dry. If not watered in time, they may go brown and die.

Preventive Measures

  • Water the plant as it demands. A sunny day can dry the plant quickly. However, low temperature slows the drying.
  • Check if the soil is super fast draining. Change the potting mix if so.
  • Check the plant regularly so that you won’t miss watering them.


  • Soak bath the Tradescantia Zebrina for nearly one hour if it is severely underwatered.
  • Use lukewarm water in cold and room temperature water in growing seasons.
  • You can also mist the plant’s leaves once in a while.
  • You can also clean the plant. First, remove the dry and dead leaves, if any, with sterile pair of scissors. 

Want to know, when to water Pilea? Read here: How often to water Pilea?

3. Low Humidity

Tradescantia Zebrina loves good humidity. Good humidity maintains moisture suitable for the plant.

Tradescantia Zebrina leaves can turn yellow if the humidity is low.

Air conditioners, fans, and other heating systems can lower the humidity.

Preventive Measures

  • Keep your plants away from any artificial heating or cooling devices.
  • Keep your houseplants close, so increase the humidity.
  • Mist the leaves once a week to increase the humidity.


  • You can use a humidity tray. DIY Tray with pebbles and water can also work.
  • Installing a humidifier to maintain the humidity of 65-80%.
  • Keep the plant in the kitchen or bathrooms as these places offer good humidity.

4. Nutrition Deficiency

Tradescantia Zebrina shows the signs of any nutrient deficiency on its leaves.

You need to take care of the plant on an everyday basis. However, extra attention is required once it shows the nutrition deficiency indications.

Hence yellowing of Tradescantia Zebrina leaves can be due to critical nutrition deficiency.

Chelated iron and Epsom salt can help your plants a lot.

Check on the signs from the following table and treat the Tradescantia Zebrina accordingly!

Nutrients DeficiencySymptomsTreatments
Nitrogenspindly yellowing all over the leavesAdd a little amount of nitrogen rich fertilizer
IronBrown leaf edges and yellowing between the leaf veinsUse chelated iron
PotassiumYellowing of huesAdd coffee beads and banana leaves to the soil
MagnesiumLeaf fallUse Epsom salt before watering

5. Pests Infestation

Many factors can make your Tradescantia Zebrina vulnerable to pests.

If you dry out the soil completely, there is a good chance your Tradescantia Zebrina can get infected by pests.

Some pests feed on Nitrogen and soil microbes. this can lead to yellow leaves in any of your house plants.

pest infecting leaves
Pest Infecting Healthy Leaf (Source: Pexels)

You must take care of your plant before the pests attack them because prevention is always better than cure.

Pests can also wilt the Tradescantia Zebrina’s leaves.

Insecticides, Neem Oil, and Pesticides can help you with the solutions.

The table below consists of few common pets and ways to deal with them.

Yellow scaleDrains sap from leaves causing yellowingUse soapy water and cut off the damaged parts
Spider mitesHeavy presence cause yellowingUse Neem oil or insecticidal soap
Aphids and ThripsSucks out Nitrogen causing yellowingUse Neem oil and aphid-control pesticide

Preventive Measures

  • Keep the room clean and make sure the plant receives enough sunlight.
  • Clean the leaves every week.
  • Do not bring outdoor plants close to your houseplants.

7. Overfertilization

Tradescantia Zebrina requires all the necessary nutrients to grow. Hence fertilizing it once a month is important.

However, fertilizing the plant often won’t help the growth. Therefore, you need to fertilize Tradescantia Zebrina only once a month.

Soluble fertilizer is best for your Tradescantia Zebrina. However, do not forget to dilute the fertilizer before using it.  

Undiluted fertilizer can burn the plant, lead to overfertilization and increase the salt build-up in the soil.

Preventive Measures

  • Do not forget to dilute the fertilizer before feeding your Tradescantia Zebrina plant.
  • You should only feed the plant once a month during the growing season. 
  • Do not feed the plant for 2-3 months if it’s newly repotted.
  • Use the controlled-release fertilizers. However, do not use them with liquid fertilizers.


  • Fertilize the plant only after the overfertilization stress subsides.
  • During the cold winter, Tradescantia Zebrina needs no feeding.
  • Do not fertilize the plant with high Nitrogen-based fertilizers.
  • Dilute the balanced and soluble fertilizer as prescribed in the packet.
  • Run the water through the drainage hole until the build-up soil and excess fertilizer flushes.
  • In severe cases, you can repot the Tradescantia Zebrina plant.

Overfertilization can burn the plant and turn them brown. Read on: 9 Reasons your Zebra Plant Leaf is Turning Brown [With Solutions]

8. Low Sunlight

The vibrant striping on the leaves of Tradescantia Zebrina can fade and start turning yellow if your plant isn’t receiving enough sunlight.

Like any other sunlight-loving plant, Tradescantia Zebrina needs bright indirect sunlight of at least 6 hours.

If your Tradescantia Zebrina looks tall and slim with some faded leaves, it lacks good hours of indirect sunlight.

Too bright direct sunlight can wilt the plant and sunburn the plant.

Tradescantia Zebrina
Tradescantia Zebrina Having Yellow leaves Due to Insufficient Light

Preventive Measures

  • Keep the Tradescantia Zebrina in the spot where it receives bright indirect sunlight.
  • Too much direct sun can burn and discolor the plant’s leaves. Hence provide the plant only indirect sunlight.
  • Keep the plant in the west-eastern window if it’s getting too much sunlight.


  • Keep the plant in a spot where it receives at least 6 hours of indirect sunlight.
  • Rotate the plant’s pot once in a while to ensure every part of the plant receives sunlight evenly.

9. Natural Phenomenon

Once the Tradescantia Zebrina starts aging naturally, some of the leaves can turn yellow.

The bottom leaves start turning yellow as a natural aging phenomenon.

However, if there is no new growth, the yellowing of leaves may not be natural aging. Instead, there can be other underlying factors.

Preventive Measures

  • Provide optimum temperature of 55 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night.
  • Water the plant once a week if the top few inches of soil are dry.
  • Fertilize once a month in the growing season and do not fertilize during winter.
  • Provide enough bright indirect sunlight.


  • Trim off the dying leaves. Removing yellow leaves at the bottom cannot harm the Tradescantia Zebrina plant.

Should I Remove the Yellow leaves?

Yellow leaves are easy to remove. However, once a Tradescantia Zebrina leaves turn yellow, even the half or the leaf or entirely, there is almost no chance it can go back to normal, natural color.

It is not compulsory to remove the yellow leaves.

However, if you want your plant to look healthy, you can remove dead or dry yellow leaves. This can protect your plant from pests and other diseases.

To remove the yellow leaves from Tradescantia Zebrina, you need to consider the following things.

  • You can snap off the yellow leaves. However, if you have to apply force to snap them, don’t pull them. Instead, use a pair of sterile scissors or a knife to cut them off.
  • Cut the leaf at its base.
  • Peel off the entirely damaged leaf away from the plant’s root.

Tips to Take Care of Tradescantia Zebrina

Tradescantia Zebrina is a low-maintenance plant. With a little bit of care, you can have rich purple and silvery foilage in your living space!

However, weekly watering, proper indirect sunlight, a warm and humid environment, and fertilization fall under the basic needs of any plant.

Here are some of the tips to care of Tradescantia Zebrina.

1. Water the Plant Appropriately

Tradescantia Zebrina enjoys regular watering once a week during its growing season. However, during the cold, you need to cut off the watering.

If the top 1-2 inches of soil is dry during the cold, you can water Tradescantia Zebrina with lukewarm water to protect the plant from cold shock.

When the top 1-2 inches of soil dry out during the summer, you can pour approximately 1.5 liters of water onto the soil. 

Misting the Tradescantia Zebrina leaves once in a while helps the plant stay hydrated.

Be careful not to pour water directly into the foliage as it may stress the plant and rarely cause leaves’ yellowing.

If the soil seems moist, you need to wait some days till it dries, so you do not encounter the problem of overwatering.

2. Provide Enough Indirect Sunlight

The abundance of bright indirect sunlight depends on the location where you place the plant.

Place Tradescantia Zebrina near the window where it receives at least 6 hours of bring but indirect sunlight.

You can use sheer curtains on the window to protect your Tradescantia Zebrina from sunburn.

If there is no blockage to direct sunlight, place your plant 3 feet away from the window to prevent wilting and sunburn.

Although the plant can tolerate low light, enough sunlight keeps them healthy, and their foliage is rich in purple and silvery colors.

3. Maintain the Appropriate Temperature

Tradescantia Zebrina is the warmer plant and enjoys the warmth of spring and summer. However, the plant needs a bit more care during winter.

The optimum temperature for Tradescantia Zebrina is 55 – 80 degrees Fahrenheit during the day and 50 degrees Fahrenheit at night.

During the cold season, the cold draft can damage the foliage. Hence do not keep the plant near the window prone to cold breeze.

You can also try the artificial method of heating if the cold is affecting your houseplants. You can use heat mats.

However, bubble wrap is one of the easiest and cheapest methods to keep your plants warm.

Massive Sea of Tradescantia Zebrina outdoor
Massive Sea of Tradescantia Zebrina

4. Maintain Good Humidity

Tradescantia Zebrina loves good humidity. The average room humidity is best for the plant. However, low humidity, significantly lower than 30%, can turn yellow or brown leaves.

Tradescantia Zebrina performs well in the humidity of 45% to 65%.

You can also try misting your Tradescantia Zebrina leaves once in a while to prevent drying.

When the humidity drops below 30% in the winters, you can try moving your Tradescantia Zebrina to a more humid place such as your bathroom or kitchen.

5. Fertilize Correctly

During the spring and summer, Tradescantia Zebrina grows tall and healthy. So if you want to repot, prune, or propagate, it’s the perfect time for you.

As the plant grows faster, it requires all the necessary nutrients. Hence, fertilize your Tradescantia Zebrina once a month during the growing season.

Compost manure is the best fertilizer to use since it offers balanced nutrients at a slower rate, avoiding soil contamination. You can also use Liquid fertilizer for Tradescantia Zebrina. However, you need to dilute the fertilizer first.

You can use Miracle-Gro® Indoor Plant Food.

Be careful while applying. Do not pour the fertilizer too near the stem or roots because it can burn the plant.

6. Pests Protection and Care

Some pests like scales or mealybug can infect your leaves, indicating excessive yellow and wilted leaves.

You should never let the soil dry out completely between the waterings to avoid pests. Instead, try keeping your plant clean and healthy in a spot where it receives enough sunlight.

To take care of already infected Tradescantia Zebrina, you can prepare a warm soapy water solution.

Wipe the plant with it. Next, you need to clean the leaves on both sides to ensure they are properly being cleaned.

You can also rub alcohol on the infected leaves. Neem spray can eradicate pests and is also easy to use.

7. Repotting

Tradescantia Zebrina is a fast-growing houseplant. Hence, it requires repotting almost every growing season.

It is best to repot any plants during their growing season because it helps them grow through repotting shock.

Repotting provides more space for the roots. In addition, a new potting mix provides nutrients for your plant to grow healthier.

Repotting prevents the plant from being root-bound. Hence, it promotes healthy growth.

8. Regular Pruning

Pruning gives your Tradescantia Zebrina plant to grow even healthier. You can remove old leaves or branches that have undergone natural aging.

You can also remove some other branches to provide good air circulation.

You can make your plant bushier and healthier by pruning. If your plant is old, spindly, or diseased, pruning can help you bring it back to health.

You can prune your Tradescantia Zebrina during the beginning of the plant’s growing season. 

If you prune the plant during the early spring, the plant gets a room for healthy growth.


Tradescantia Zebrina’s leaves can go yellow due to natural aging. The bottom leaves will turn yellow, and new growth initiates.

However, besides natural aging, many factors can cause the yellowing of leaves in Tradescantia Zebrina.

Overwatering, underwatering, overfertilization, under fertilization, low sunlight, low temperature, and pests are some of the reasons that your Tradescantia Zebrina’s leaves are going yellow.

Watering only when the plant is thirsty, fertilizing as the plant’s requirement, protection, and cure from pets, providing appropriate temperature, sunlight and humidity can protect the Tradescantia Zebrina from yellowing.

Take care of your plant if you want them it be healthy!


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