Indoor Gardening Tips for Yellow Leaves

The appearance of yellow leaves on houseplants presents one of the most common problems for indoor gardeners. This blight affects many types of plants and ruins the effect of bringing greenery into the home. Causes for yellowing leaves range from poor soil and nutrient deficiency to overgrown plants and overwatering. Remedying yellow leaves requires investigative work to determine the cause before restoration will bring the plant back to its normal health.


Shifting plants around to meet decorative needs often results in a failing plant. Choose locations suitable for each plant based on light requirements. Lack of foliage as well as yellowing results when plants receive insufficient indoor light. Always consult the growing information provided with a new plant to select the best location. See additional resources for more information about houseplant light requirements.

Soil Quality and Fertilizer

Pots serve as the primary habitat for houseplants. Soil contains nutrients that decrease with age, leaching through the pot with watering and as the houseplant uses the nutrients for growth. Indoor plants develop yellowed leaves from decreased nutrients in potting soil. The application of nitrogen-based indoor plant fertilizers will aid the yellowing leaves and increase the health of the plant. A complete change of the potting soil will also provide a better environment to limit leaf yellowing as will a larger pot with fresh soil to remedy a suffering pot-bound plant. Always apply fertilizer based on recommendations printed on the container. Too much fertilizer causes yellowing of leaves with elevated levels of nitrogen.


Each plant requires a particular amount of water for optimum health. The type of container figures into the watering requirements as well. Overwatering causes damage to the roots that translates to yellowing at the tips of leaves. Pots should drain quickly into the sink or a drainage tray placed beneath the pot. Overwatering occurs when gardeners don't allow the top inch of soil to become dry between watering.

Spider Mites

A yellow hue to indoor plant leaves often signals the presence of spider mites. The appearance of spider mites requires aggressive treatment to remove these damaging pests from the plant. Topical treatments aren't recommended for use indoors. However, spraying the plant in the tub with a mister or fine-spray shower head will remove many of the mites. Yellowed leaves or finely spun small webs may be present in the underside of leaves. Clean the plant regularly to control infestation and monitor other plants for the presence of spider mites.

Keywords: tips for yellow leaves, causes of yellow leaf tips, yellow leaves on houseplants

About this Author

S.F. Heron is an avid gardener with three years of experience in online writing and a working background in aviation and earth and ocean sciences. She is published on various sites, including Helium, eHow and Xomba. She holds a Bachelor of Science degree in journalism from the University of Maryland.