What Causes Yellow Leaves on House Plants?

Plants, flowers and vegetables provide color and pleasure in both yards and gardens. For those who have restricted space or time, growing potted plants in the house can be equally rewarding. But house plants require a minimum level of care as well, and can yellow and die if they're neglected or don't receive the proper care.


Water is the most immediate need for plants, although different types of plants require different amounts. Some plants, like orchids, prefer restricted watering, while calla lilies should be watered every other day if they're to thrive. Too much or too little water can quickly harm a plant, as it may cause root rot or dehydration, respectively. House plant gardeners must water their plants consistently, according to the plants' needs, or leaves will yellow and die.

Sunshine and Warmth

All plants require a certain amount of light for photosynthesis to take place. This light can be either natural, from a window, or UV lighting. Different plants, though, require different levels of light and warmth. According to SavvyGardener.com, house plants are generally labeled with their lighting needs, measured in ft-c. This measurement, ranging from low to very high, dictates whether a plant should be set in a window or kept in the center of the house, away from sunshine. Lighting needs are supplemented with temperature needs, further dictating where a houseplant should be kept in the house. Incorrect lighting and temperature will keep a plant from thriving, and cause yellow leaves.

Soil and Pot

House plants must be planted according to their needs. Plants that require good drainage should be planted in quick-draining soil, in pots that have drainage holes. Plants that prefer wet conditions should be planted in rich soil, and do not need drainage holes. All pots must be appropriate for the size of the plant and its roots. Incorrect foundations will damage a plant's ability to thrive, and lead to yellowed leaves.


All plants require certain elements for growth. Fertilizer requirements differ with the type of plant and location in the house, but are almost always present. House gardeners must take into account the type of plant and elements like time of year and light conditions when fertilizing. Gardeners should feed plants during their growing phase, with fertilizer appropriate to the plant. Underfeeding, overfeeding or feeding the wrong fertilizer may starve or burn plants. Either action causes yellow leaves and possible death.

Keywords: caring for houseplants, keeping houseplants, houseplant needs

About this Author

Carrie Terry has been writing since 1999 and has published work for the "Daily Bruin," eHow, eHow Home & Garden and LIVESTRONG.COM. She now runs an independent publishing house. Terry received a Bachelor of Arts in English and film from the University of California Los Angeles.

Article provided by eHow Home & Garden | What Causes Yellow Leaves on House Plants?