Yellow Leaves on a Chinese Evergreen | Causes and Solutions

Last Updated: January 17, 2022

Although Chinese Evergreen plants are loved for being super low maintenance, that doesn’t mean that you won’t ever come across issues with them. They can definitely put up with a wider range of conditions than a lot of other plants, but will still develop yellow leaves and other common problems if things aren’t right. If you do notice yellow leaves on your Chinese Evergreen, it’s important that you act straight away to determine what the cause is and if you need to change anything in terms of the care you give your plant or the environment in which it’s in. 

In this post, we will be going through each of the factors that cause yellow leaves on Chinese Evergreen plants so that you can determine what is happening to your plant. We will also go through how to treat each issue and prevent any more yellow leaves from developing on your Chinese Evergreen in future.

Overwatering is a common cause of yellow leaves

It makes the most sense to start this post with the most common cause of yellow leaves on Chinese Evergreens – too much water. Although your Chinese Evergreen likes some moisture in the soil, they don’t do so well if it becomes quite waterlogged as their roots will begin to rot. This means that your plant is unable to take up water and nutrients from the soil and photosynthesise properly, causing the leaves to go mushy, droopy and yellow. Chinese Evergreens can withstand soggy soil for a little bit (and longer than a lot of other plant types) but consistent overwatering will lead to yellow leaves and other issues. 

Before changing anything in your watering routine you want to be sure that this is definitely the cause of the yellow leaves on your Chinese Evergreen. One reliable way to know if your plant is getting too much water is by taking your Chinese Evergreen out of its pot and inspecting the potting mix and roots. 

If the potting mix is very moist to touch, and the root system feels a little soft then overwatering is definitely causing the yellow leaves. You can also check the soil using a moisture meter to determine if it’s waterlogged. They are really helpful to keep a good level of moisture in the soil and will help you avoid this problem happening again in future. 

Replace the potting mix with fresh mix straight away if it is waterlogged. Leaving it to dry naturally will take several days and risks more damage to your plant, meaning more yellow leaves and potentially also other issues. 

Trim away the rotten roots whilst replacing the potting mix and carefully remove the yellow leaves. This means that your Chinese Evergreen can focus all of its energy on new healthy rather than wasting valuable energy and nutrients trying to keep the dying parts alive.

Underwatering can cause the lower leaves to turn yellow

If your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves are yellow, dry and crispy it may be because you have not given it enough water for a while. Over time, consistent underwatering will mean your plant begins to dry out, turn yellow and become very limp.

It is important to get to know each of your houseplants so you get a feel when they are ready for watering. There are a few really easy ways to do this. First check the moisture at the top of the soil, if it is still damp then it won’t need watering for another few days. The second method is lifting up your Chinese Evergreen before and after watering you so you start to gauge how heavy the soil is when it is in need of water. Make sure to pick it up by the pot rather than the leaves or stems as you don’t want to damage the plant.

If you think that underwatering is the cause of your Chinese Evergreen’s yellow leaves then it is important that you reintroduce watering slowly. You may think that the best thing to do is drown your plant in water but this will actually shock your plant and cause even more harm. Instead, you want to water it little but often for a few days to make sure the soil gets a good soaking. This will also prevent the water from running straight out of the pot as this can sometimes happen with really dry soil too.

Very low light levels

Alongside watering issues, problems with how much light your Chinese Evergreen is getting can also mean your plant develops yellow leaves. If your Chinese Evergreen isn’t getting enough light then this can cause a whole range of issues, stagnant growth, small leaves and leggy stems alongside yellow leaves so look out for any of these signs too.

If you think that low light levels are is the cause, start by placing your Chinese Evergreen nearer to a window. However, if this is happening during or just before summer then you need to be more careful about where you place your Chinese Evergreen, as too much sunlight can also be harmful to your plant.

Cold drafts can also cause yellowing

If your Chinese Evergreen is being exposed to a lot of cold air then this can also be the reason why it is developing yellow leaves. Drafty windows and doors, as well as AC vents, can leave your plant exposed to a stream of cool air so double-check the temperature around your plant.

If cold air is to blame for the yellow leaves on your Chinese Evergreen, move it to a warmer spot in your home or make sure that the doors and windows are draft proofed.

Overfertilisation causes yellow leaf tips

Chinese Evergreens don’t need to be fertilised that often and you can actually have plenty of new growth with no fertiliser whatsoever! If you do want to feed your plant then it’ll only need it a few times each growth session and make sure to hold off during the colder darker months. If you are fertilising your Chinese Evergreen more often than this then it may be the cause of the yellow leaves.

To stop the issue from progressing any further, hold off giving any more fertiliser. If you have mixed fertiliser into the soil then replace it entirely to prevent more damage to the root system and more yellow leaves.

It could simply be the natural ageing process

There’s one more cause of yellow leaves on Chinese Evergreen plants that we want to mention which is natural ageing. As your plant grows, it will want to focus a lot of its energy on producing new bigger growth which means that it will often have to drop some of its oldest growth. Before the leaves fall from the plant, they will turn a solid yellow colour. This is absolutely nothing to worry about as long as the rate of yellowing is slow (a couple of leaves every year).

Those are the most common reasons why Chinese Evergreen plants develop yellow leaves. We recommend first establishing whether or not you think it is natural ageing. If this doesn’t seem to be the cause of the yellow leaves, then it’s important you follow the steps we provided to change the care or environment for your Chinese Evergreen.

You want to act quickly when it comes to yellow leaves as things like overwatering and low light levels can damage your plant quite fast and the longer the issue goes on, the harder it will be to salvage your plant. This is why we recommend that you give your plants a good once over every so often to spot any early warning signs that something is wrong. It’ll make solving these issues a lot easier compared to when they are caught late. 

To find out more about how to prevent other common problems harming your plant, check out our Chinese Evergreen care guide. 

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