Why Do Indoor Plant Leaves Turn Yellow?

Indoor plants add natural beauty to any room of your home, as long as they receive proper care. When plants show signs of ill health, such as yellowing or wilted leaves, you must evaluate all environmental conditions to determine the problem. Lighting, soil, water, fertilizer and insects all contribute to a plant's condition. Always follow the care instructions that accompany each plant, and alter its living conditions as needed. As there is no single specific cause of yellowing leaves, you must assess each factor to determine your course of action.


Excessive or insufficient light adversely affects plant health. Indoor houseplants generally thrive with filtered sunlight coming from thinly curtained windows. Rotate the plant every 3 days for equal light absorption.


Excess water limits the availability of oxygen and drowns the plant root. You should water most plants when the soil becomes dry to the touch, which is generally once per week.


Use quality, pasteurized potting soil for indoor plants. Drainage holes and an inch of gravel in the bottom of pots aid proper water distribution throughout the soil.


According to North Dakota State University, the addition of nitrogen or chelated iron may improve leaf health within a few days. Always add fertilizer according to individual plant needs and manufacturer's instructions.


You can manually remove insects or use approved houseplant pesticide treatments. To prevent infestation of other plants, isolate the infected plant until treatment is completed.


When minor adjustments show no improvement, you can re-pot the plant with new materials. Use a clean pot with proper drainage and quality soil, and water and fertilize as needed.