Why are My Philodendron Leaves Yellow? (Causes & Solutions)

Last year, when I moved out to New York with my boyfriend, I forgot to withdraw my Philodendron hederaceum from window sills. 

That trip cost me my plant treasures and left me nothing but wailing. To my surprise, I did see nothing but my Philodendron dying with yellow leaves. 

Generally, Philodendrons produce yellow leaves when the plants meet natural aging. Besides, the yellow leaves come when the basic factors like water, light, fertilizers, and soil quality exceed the normal limit or below the requirement. 

A black pot containing philodendron with green and yellow leaves.
Philodendrons can turn yellow from the base or from the tip.

Gardeners mistake Philodendron plants for easy-growing plants with their watering and pruning needs.

With that, Philodendrons can get yellow or pale leaves with other additional culprits. 

Thus, if you are early in gardening and got hit with the Philodendron having yellow leaves, keep this article in mind!

Is It Normal for Philodendron Leaves to Turn Yellow?

Philodendron’s exotic tropical plant can surprise you with a sudden discoloration in the leaves, commonly yellow.

The sudden discoloration can be normal if only one to two leaves near the bottom tier of foliage appears yellow.

As a normal phenomenon of the lifecycle, old leaves tend to become brittle and crunchy, eradicating a yellow to brown shade once they have reached maturity.

A terracotta pot containing three leaves of growing Philodendron with a yellow leaf on bottom.
Philodendron sheds leaves once they reach maturity.

However, if the discoloration spreads to more than two leaves, something is happening to the Philodendron.

You can even predict mishaps in the Philodendron by looking at the color of the new growth.

If the twigs have green leaves, every requirement is accordingly. But if the new leaves show yellow discoloration, be ready to understand the cause since it is abnormal.

Why are My Philodendron Leaves Turning Yellow?

Philodendrons are the perfect houseplant, for they are easy to care for and require less maintenance.

However, negligence should be to the limit of the plant. When the carelessness exceeds, Philodendrons are sure to suffer.

Look at the list below to know the causes with their immediate solutions leading to yellow leaves of Philodendron. 

1. Improper Watering

Water comes in the basic need for Philodendrons, but if the watering is not according to schedules, it can become the most common cause of yellow leaves.

The major issue is overwatering. Even my Lemon Lime was the victim, causing them to wilt and turn yellow to brown.

Overwatering leads to soggy and wet conditions suitable for fungal attacks and is the major cause of root rot.

A newspaper is lying over a table with cut part of the roots of Philodendron over it.
The only option to cure extremely rotted roots is by cutting them off.

Also, overwatering blocks the oxygen passageway, ceasing airflow to the roots and the entire plant.

Meanwhile, underwater can be a less severe cause for discoloration but cannot be ignored totally.

During underwater conditions, the nutrients channel can not transfer the food to the plant’s entire system, making the Philodendrons droop, fade, and turn yellow.

So in either situation, the one to suffer is your Philodendron.

Immediate Steps Of Revival

  • Remove your Philodendrons from the pot and use a newspaper to soak the excess water.
  • Try moving your pot to a sunny location, mainly a South-west facing window, to dry the excess moisture.
  • You can even use a dryer to remove the moisture from the pot.
  • If rotting has started in the roots, remove the damaged part with the help of scissors to promote new growth.
  • If you use a ceramic or plastic pot, change it to a terracotta pot filled with light, well-draining soil with enough drainage holes.
  • Avoid watering for a few weeks and try watering only after checking the soil 2 inches from the topsoil.
  • As for the cracks and dry soil, water the roots directly until the water overflows from the base.
  • Try moving the pots to a shaded place if you are in a warmer USDA zone.
  • Use a bottom-up approach to allow better uptake by roots. Pour water into a plate and place it below a terracotta pot, as it can easily absorb the water.

2. Improper Lighting

Bright, indirect light replenishes the Philodendron and is a major source of plant food production.

The intensity of light should be according to the plant variety, as Philodendron requires indirect light indoors and filtered light outdoors.

However, in dimmer light, leaves cannot produce food leading to the yellowing of the leaves with brown and crunchy tips.

A moss pole with Philodendron climbing over them.
Extreme direct sunlight causes the leaves to burn and appear scorched.

Meanwhile, high intense light also does not do any good to the Philodendron.

In direct light, the leaf burns and has a scorched portion that turns completely yellow, as the damaged parts can not perform photosynthesis.

So none of the situations supports the healthy growth of the Philodendron and demands consistently bright, indirect light. 

Immediate Steps Of Revival

  • Keep a curtain or plastic cover in the window that receives too much direct light.
  • Move the pot to a shaded place, maybe near an east-facing window than in a window receiving direct light throughout the day.
  • Try using a UV protection film in your windows to filter the direct sun falling on the plants.
  • Install a broad spectrum grow light for the darkroom as a source of artificial light.
  • Do not hesitate to change the location of the pot and see which area best suits your Philodendron. 
  • Rotate your Philodendron plants every few weeks. 

3. Fertilization Problem

Philodendrons are not vigorous feeders, but they require a minimum deal of fertilizer to maintain the shiny look of the leaves.

In the absence of proper nutrients like iron and magnesium, followed by nitrogen deprivation, Philodendron suffers from chlorosis.

A v-shape cut appears with yellow spots along the veins of the Philodendron leaves, and iron deficiency in the soil is the major culprit for the situation.

A big leaf with spots that are chlorotic and has yellow to brown spot.
Deficiencies in the nutrients like iron can make the leaves of Philodendrons yellow.

Over-fertilized Philodendrons also do not leave out the chance to show discomfort through their leaves.

Yellowing during overfertilization usually occurs due to the oversaturation of salts in the root crowns, ceasing the uptake of nutrients.

And lack of nutrients leads to a deficiency of fertilizers, mainly nitrogen, causing the leaves to turn yellow and droop.

To be sure, check the lower leaves of Philodendrons, as they are the first to turn yellow in a unique pattern. 

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Re-pot the Philodendron to a new soil rich in organic compost and apply the basal dose of fertilizer.
  • You can revive them in the same pot by applying nitrogen or nitrogen-sulfur-based fertilizer if the conditions seem salvageable.
  • For overfertilized Philodendrons, start by halting the appliance of fertilizer.
  • Wash off the soil to remove excess salts from the pot.
  • You can also remove a couple of inches of topsoil from the pot, as it holds most of the fertilizers.
  • Repotting the Philodendrons to a pot with enough drainage holes and appropriate soil mix helps to treat overfertilization.

4. Temperature and Humidity Stress

Philodendrons being native to the tropical rainforest of America loves the humid day and the frosty day with a constant temperature.

However, consistency in nature is impossible, and the change hits everyone in the world, including Philodendron.

Stress inducers like fluctuating temperature and dry days lead to curling, wrinkling, yellowing, and finally, wilting of the leaves.

A pot containing curled, wilted leaves over a stand.
Fluctuating temperature affects the entire plant and causes the ultimate death of Philodendrons.

Philodendrons suffering from humidity less than 50% appear droopy, and browning occurs through the leaf margin.

Meanwhile, temperatures reaching below 60ºF or more than 90ºF make the survival of Philodendrons difficult.

Although Philodendrons love hot days, they can adjust to the cool drafts for a short period, but the instant fluctuation induces the leaves to appear squishy and yellow.

The temperature and humidity stress mainly hits with Philodendrons on the ground, which are not mobile.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Mist the plant with a sprayer to avoid dryness during hot, humid days, and continue misting twice a week to maintain humidity.
  • Install a humidifier near the pot to increase the moisture in the room.
  • Keep the pots over a tray containing pebbles and water to allow the heat to evaporate the water and keep the surrounding air moist.
  • However, extend the top half of the pebble’s height from water as Philodendrons do not like water in their foot.
  • Remove the pot from the area consisting of an air cooler and air conditioning system to prevent cold drafts and high air moisture.
  • Move your pot indoors before the last frost date hits your location to maintain consistency in temperature.
  • Avoid keeping the pots near any window during cold days as they become more chilly during frosts.
  • Use a frost blanket during the frosty days if your Philodendrons are on the ground.
  • During hot days you can place the pot under a patio or use an umbrella or shade cloth to provide filtered sunlight.

5. Improper Soil

Philodendrons prefer light, well-draining soil over heavy, clayey soil, allowing the water to drain out from the holes.

However, the soil becomes hard over time, and the bigger sand particle drains away with water.

The condition makes the root suffer from compactness and prohibits the entry of oxygen, promoting a water-logged state.

A person is holding the entire plant with the crowded roots.
Compactness in the soil can occur when the roots are overcrowded and tangled with one another.

You will feel soft and limpy leaves if the plant has been in a water-logged condition for longer.

The roots also suffer from fungal attacks, the commonly occurring being root rot that cause the leaves to curl and turn yellow with brown to black root color.

Not to leave out, the roots may also have to face drought stress since too much compact soil does not allow water to run deeper down the pot.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Use a trowel to loosen if cracks and dust appear on the top layer of the soil.
  • Mix more sand particles or gravel into the potting soil to increase the porosity and drainage.
  • Mixing compost, peat moss, and manure in the potting mix helps to increase the aeration of the soil.
  • You can even make a DIY recipe using peat moss, vermiculite, and potting soil in a ratio of 3:4:3.

6. Pests Invasion

Pest infestation is rare in Philodendrons, but pests like aphids, scales, and mealy bugs attack when you are not careful enough.

The pests may enter indoors from contaminated tools, the substrate containing larvae, or contaminated houseplants.

When invasion exceeds, the sap starts to dry, and leaves turn brittle with yellow patches and cuts on leaves.

Number of small striped pests is over yellow leaves of Philodendron.
Pest can suck on the sap of the leaves or make cuts and holes, leading to the yellowing of the leaves.

Here are some major pests with their symptoms on the Philodendron leaves.

Common PestsProblems
AphidsAphids are green, or brown, camoflaged specially on the underside of new leaves.

Sucks sap from the leaves leaving it with yellow dotted marks.
Spider miteCommonly unnoticed utill white marks appear on the leaves.


Followed by webbing and stipling on the leaves.
ScalesScaly insects are tiny, waxy pests that infest on leaves.

Yellow or rust-colored spots develop on the leaves, and the sap dries up.
MealybugThey are white fuzzy bugs affecting stem and foliage.

They sup up the sap, leaving the leaves yellow, discoloured and droopy.

Immediate Steps Of Revival

  • Cut off the affected leaves as soon as you notice the pests to prevent further damage.
  • Isolate the pest-infested Philodendrons away from the new plants to prevent the infestation of other plants.
  • Dab cotton dipped in rubbing alcohol into the pests you notice over the plants to kill them to some extent.
  • Use a knife or stick to scrape the pests if the invasion is mediocre.
  • Hand-pick the pests that are visible to your eyes, and remember to put on gloves before doing it to protect yourself from allergens.
  • You can also wash off the pests using a water hose over the plant infested by pests.
  • Keep yellow sticky traps around your Philodendrons to capture as many pests as possible.
  • Treat affected are with insecticidal soap or neem oil to prevent further infestation.

7. Horticultural Diseases

Philodendron is a resistant plant less prone to disease and pests, but climatic conditions like high humidity and water-logged conditions trigger fungal attacks.

The most commonly occurring diseases include bacterial diseases like root rot, blight, and leaf spot.

A person is holding on a yellow leaf having infection on it, with other leaves are trailing down.
Infection caused by bacteria and fungus in Philodendron are easily recognizable by looking at the spots and necrotic part.

Knowing the symptoms as early as possible is important since it may be difficult to save the plant once the disease has gone out of control.

Here are the diseases attacking Philodendrons with their visible symptoms.

DiseaseProblems
Bacterial BlightIt is caused by the pathogen Erwinia caratovora pv. Carotovora E. chrysanthemi.

It forms small, very dark green spots that expands from leaves to the petioles and infected leaves collapse inn wet rot, giving out a foul smell.
Root rotDrooping and rapidly yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and a rotten brown base is the primary sign of possible root rot.

Brown and mushy texture on the root is another sign.
Fungal InfectionA fungus that invites a range of plant diseases; mildew, fusarium wilt, Rhizoctonia rot, etc.

It may cause plant stress, stunted growth, and drooping leaves.
Bacterial Leaf SpotIt is caused by the pathogen Xanthomonas campestris pv. dieffenbachiae.

It is a foliar disease where the leaves appear translucent spot appear on the leaves with tan or yellow halos.

Immediate Steps of Revival

  • Immediately keep the infected plant away from other healthy plants to prevent further spread.
  • Trim off the damaged root and leaves with the help of a sterilized knife or scissors and throw them in a dustbin instead of compost, as they can infect them too.
  • You can use Agrimycin to control bacterial infections like bacterial leaf spots and root rot.
  • Using a medallion or Prostar can also help keep different fungal infections under control.
  • If your plant shows signs of bacterial blight, use copper-rich fungicides like Bonide copper to control the disease more effectively.

Should I Cut the Yellow Leaves off the Philodendron?

Yellow leaves can be problematic if they appear in bulk in your Philodendron, but if only a few are present, just cut them off.

Snipping off the leaves helps to shift the entire focus of the Philodendron into healthy growth instead of repairing.

And if you wish for the plants to become shiny after turning yellow, it would be a waste of time since the leaves have already lost their vitality.

So better trim the yellow leaves off. Follow the steps for successful cutting of yellow leaves of Philodendron.

  • Sterilize the pruners or scissors that you will use with Isopropyl alcohol.
  • Look at the leave that appears yellow and is wilting.
  • Initially, try to tug off the leaves from the point of attachment on the leaves as some leaves might fall off naturally.
  • But if that does not happen, use the sterilized tool to cut off the leaves without hurting the stems.
  • Do not do it all at once if more than three to four leaves are yellow, as that might stress the plant.
  • Continue the process on alternate days until green leaves are the part that your eyes get to see.
  • Throw away the leaves in the trash if they are of bacterial or pest origin. Otherwise, throw the leaves in the compost bin.
  • Lastly, water the Philodendron thoroughly to reduce stress after pruning.

How to Prevent Philodendron Leaves from Turning Yellow

Tending to damaged and wilted plants after all the care and love could be disheartening for any Philodendron enthusiast.

So to protect the Philodendrons and yourself from all the troubles and agony, follow the tips below.

  • Provide the plant medium to bright indirect light for at least 6 hours daily.
  • Philodendrons are humidity lovers, so maintain the humidity within the 60-85% range.
  • Provide a consistent temperature of 65ºF-85ºF with the night temperature not below 60ºF.
  • Water the Philodendron once a week in spring and summer and once every two weeks during winter days.
A group of young seedling of Philodendron over a table with some in soil and some are growing in water vase.
Philodendrons can grow both in soil and water.
  • Feed the Philodendron with 20-20-20 liquid fertilizer every two weeks during summer and spring and once every month in winter and fall.
  • Keep the soil slightly acidic, airy, and well-draining with a pH of 5.0-6.5.
  • Philodendrons are not vigorous growers, so try to prune them once yearly during spring or fall.
  • Perform repotting once every two years when the roots start to outgrow their pot.

Conclusion

Philodendrons are classic indoor houseplants, demanding less maintenance and care from their growers.

However, Philodendrons love pampering to flourish their monstrous coppery red, green, or purplish leaves.

So you need to be more careful about the feeding habits of Philodendrons.

With a few steps, your Philodendron will be there for you with its heart-shaped, shiny green foliage all year round.

Want to save Philodendron from the beginning? Learn the care guide of Philodendron varieties like Split Philodendron, Philodendron Paraiso, Philodendron Ring of Fire, and Philodendron Plowmanii

Keep Gardening!

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