Why is my Chinese Evergreen losing leaves? Causes and Solutions

Last Updated: June 21, 2022

The Chinese Evergreen has quite a reputation for being a super low maintenance and adaptable houseplant. However, just because it’s less sensitive than a lot of other plant types, it doesn’t mean that it won’t start losing some leaves from time to time. If your Chinese Evergreen is losing a couple of leaves every few months, then this is probably just natural ageing. But if you notice that your Chinese Evergreen is losing more leaves than it is growing, then it most definitely means that there is an underlying issue going on. 

Below we will be going through each of the different reasons why Chinese Evergreen plants start losing leaves, so you can diagnose and treat the problem as soon as possible. It’s vital that you make the right steps to fixing your plant as if the problem gets any worse, it may cause your plant to die.

Environmental stress can cause your Chinese Evergreen to start losing leaves

Chinese Evergreen plants can deal with quite a range of environments, much more than a lot of other houseplants but if there is a sudden change in the environment, it can cause your plant to lose leaves. This can be a variety of things such as sudden changes in the soil moisture, being moved to a different spot where the light level is different or even getting knocked about whilst moving house. 

Any of these factors can cause your plant to go into shock and it may start losing a few leaves as a result. Don’t be alarmed though as often this is just a reaction to the sudden change and it shouldn’t cause too many leaves to fall off in the long term. As long as the new environment caters for its light and space requirements, it should adjust nicely and regain strong and healthy growth. You should only be concerned if your plant continues to be losing leaves over the upcoming weeks as this signals that there is something else wrong.

Your Chinese Evergreen might also be losing leaves due to cold temperatures

Chinese Evergreens will survive well in rooms with average and warm temperatures but can be quite sensitive to cold temperatures which can cause them to begin losing leaves. 

There are a few things that might mean your plant is exposed to cold air, but the most common are drafty windows and external doors. Although you might not notice it, even a small stream of cold air coming through right where your plant is can cause real issues. 

Whilst it won’t cause your Chinese Evergreen to start losing leaves in one day, a constant stream of cold air can be quite damaging to your plant. Not only can it cause leaves to fall off but it can also result in stunted growth, small leaves and sometimes brown edges across your plant. 

Make sure to draft proof any doors and windows that are near to your Chinese Evergreen to avoid cold drafts coming in from outside.

But it’s not just during winter that you need to be worried about cold air causing your Chinese Evergreen to start losing leaves. You also want to watch out for air conditioning vents during summer as if your plant is too close (less than 1 meter away) it can cause real problems. The cool air might be a nice break from the heat for you, but it’s not great for your plant. 

To make sure that your Chinese Evergreen is in the right spot, it’s a good idea to pick up a digital thermometer. These will help you spot any fluctuations in temperature (hotspots can cause real issues like brown and yellow leaves so you’ll want to avoid those too) and will help prevent your Chinese Evergreen from losing more leaves in future.

Overwatering is a common reason why your Chinese Evergreen is losing leaves

As with a lot of things in the houseplant world, proper watering can be one of the biggest issues and overwatering is definitely a concern when it comes to Chinese Evergreen plants. They can deal with the occasional waterlogged soil but if consistently overwatered, the roots will become soft and mushy. Once the root system is damaged, your plant will struggle to get the nutrients it needs and it will start losing leaves to conserve energy. 

We always tend to go for a little and often view towards watering so that the potting mix is evenly moist. If you think your Chinese Evergreen might be suffering from root rot (and this is why it’s losing leaves), it’s important to check right away and change out the soil for fresh potting mix if needed. Never wait for the potting mix to dry out naturally as this risks more damage to the root system. Instead, replace all waterlogged soil with fresh dry mix to help your plant begin the recovery process. 

Another thing to look out for when diagnosing overwatering is how the roots look and feel. When your Chinese Evergreen begins losing leaves, it means that the problem has been going on for a while so you should expect to see brown and black mushy roots as a result. It’s important to trim away any rotten roots as these will not be able to aid your plant anymore and removing them will help the root system recover. 

To prevent your Chinese Evergreen from losing any more leaves in future due to overwatering, you need to adjust your watering schedule. You either want to cut back on how often you water your plant or how much water you give it each time. It’s important that the potting mix has time to partially dry out and is not consistently soggy. 

We recommend you use a moisture meter to make sure you are only watering your Chinese Evergreen when you need to be. They are a great help to avoid over or underwatering your plants so are a great investment for every plant parent. 

Other ways to avoid overwatering and prevent your Chinese Evergreen from losing more leaves is to use a self-watering pot or self-watering globes. They release water to your Chinese Evergreen only when it needs it and will help to avoid waterlogged soil and root rot.

Those are the 3 most common reasons why Chinese Evergreen plants begin losing their leaves. If nothing has suddenly changed with your plant’s care or environment, then environmental stress probably isn’t the cause but take a good look through your Chinese Evergreen’s soil and the temperature/humidity and light levels that your plant is in. Once you have diagnosed the issue, it’s important that you make changes as soon as possible to avoid your Chinese Evergreen from losing any more leaves. 

In future, we recommend giving all of your plants regular checkups to help you spot any warning signs early. This will give you the best chance of spotting any problems early and treating them before they completely take over your plant. 

To learn more about how to best care for your plant and solve other common problems, check out our detailed Chinese Evergreen care guide. You might also want to check out our Chinese Evergreen propagation guide as if the problem isn’t getting better, you might want to propagate the healthy part of the plant. 

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