Calathea Plant Yellow Leaves: Causes And Solutions

Calathea plant is a species of plant native to tropical forests. The beauty of this plant is its bright, vibrant green leaves and eye-catching veins on the leaves. It is wonderful when you wake up and see the leaves full of life in the house. That is also the reason that many people love to grow Calathea plants in their homes or offices.

Calathea plants are very easy to grow, easy to care for, and do not need too complicated living conditions. However, if you do not provide a suitable habitat, they will face many health problems. Calathea plant yellow leaves are also one of the issues that many people care about and seek answers for in recent times. What is the cause of this condition? How to detect and correct in time? The detailed answer is already in the article below.

Top 5 Reasons For Calathea Plant Yellow Leaves

There are many causes for the leaves of Calathea plants to turn yellow simultaneously or for yellow spots, brown spots appear on the leaves. Some of the most common causes of a plant’s leaves turning yellow include improper watering, dry soil, low humidity, inadequate lighting, too high or too low temperature, over-fertilizing, or pest attack. Below is detailed information on the causes of yellow leaf disease of Calathea plants.

Waterlogging Due To Too Much Watering

The phenomenon of the leaves of Calathea plants turning yellow at the same time is related to waterlogging due to over-watering and poor drainage. It is one of the top causes that you need to check and fix. Overwatering coupled with poor drainage will cause waterlogging of plants.

Soil that is too wet will make the root system of Calathea plants unable to absorb nutrients and exchange oxygen, leading to suffocation. From there, the entire leaf will not receive energy from the plant, leading to a loss of coloration in the leaves. Long-term waterlogging will also facilitate fungal growth and cause root rot. When Calathea plants suffer from root rot, the chance of recovery will be very low if the disease has already shown serious symptoms. Therefore, you need to regularly check the moisture in the soil before watering. You also shouldn’t water regularly or schedule. Instead, you should water according to the actual needs of the Calathea plants.

Besides, in addition to watering properly when the ground is 2-3 inches dry, you also need to pay attention to factors such as water quality, potting mix, drainage system, or the size of the pot.

Water Quality Is Not Good

You can water properly, but not having the right water quality is also the cause of the leaves of Calathea plants turning yellow simultaneously. Many gardeners have a habit of using tap water to water plants. However, tap water not only has chlorine and chloramine toxins, but it can also contain excess minerals and salts. Excess salt in the soil accumulated over many days also causes the leaves of plants to turn yellow.

Therefore, you should use distilled or rainwater to water plants to avoid toxins. If you don’t have rain or distilled water, you should drain the tap water in the basin and leave it overnight. Discard the top water and use the bottom water to irrigate the plants.

calathea plant yellow leaves

Potting Mix And Poor Drainage Problem

You are confident that you have watered properly and that the water quality is good for the health of your Calathea plants, but they still turn yellow. It can be caused by potting mix and poor drainage. If excess water does not drain out of the potting soil and pot, it will always accumulate at the bottom of the pot. From there, the air will not be able to circulate and cause a blockage in the drain hole.

Choosing a good quality potting mix to stimulate drainage is also a way to help prevent the yellowing of Calathea plants. The ideal potting mix for growing this plant typically includes ingredients such as soil, coir, potted perlite, or gravel in the bottom layer to create openings. The pot should have at least one drainage hole to remove excess water from the outside.

Soil Is Too Dry And Does Not Have Enough Moisture

Calathea plants are native to tropical forests, so they prefer moist environments to grow best. Therefore, if the soil is too dry and lacks water for a long time, brown and yellow spots will appear on the leaves. If the water shortage persists for a long time then the entire leaves will turn yellow, dry, wilt, and fall to the ground.

Leaves are an organ that is very sensitive to changes such as waterlogging, lack of water, or temperature stress. So they will have early signs to help you recognize and fix. You should regularly check the moisture in the soil before watering with a hygrometer or using your finger. Especially, on hot days or prolonged drought, you should water plants regularly in the morning and afternoon to replenish the amount of water that has been evaporated all day.

Low Humidity

Calathea plants will grow healthy and have beautiful green foliage if they live in an environment with high humidity. So, too low humidity will also cause the leaves of this plant to turn yellow and lack vitality. Although Calathea plants can still manage to survive in low humidity conditions, their leaves will turn yellow uniformly due to the loss of pigments.

The natural environment with the ideal humidity for Calathea plants is around 90%. However, when these plants are grown indoors, they can grow well when the humidity is between 50% and 70%. To increase the humidity in your home and create an ideal living environment for Calathea plants, you can do it in a few ways below.

Use a humidifier

This is the most effective way to maintain ideal humidity for plants throughout the seasons of the year. The humidifier will adjust the humidity to always stay at a constant level so that plants are not stressed by too high or too low humidity.

Place pots next to each other

Grouping plants native to tropical forests is also a way to help increase a small amount of humidity in the house. However, you should not put them in a space that is too small. Make sure the distance for the air to circulate and affect the growth of the foliage.

Place the potted plant next to the fish tank or water tray

You can take advantage of the moisture from the steam rising from the surface of the fish or the water tray in the house. From there, plants can maintain the ideal humidity to grow well. Alternatively, you can also use a self-watering can to ensure that the soil is always moist and that moisture rises from the water.


Although misting cannot maintain moisture in plants for a long time, it can also help increase humidity to help with yellowing problems. Misting will not be able to create overall humidity, instead, it will help relieve leaf stress by providing direct moisture. You should use rainwater or distilled water for misting. At the same time, when misting you need to open the door to create air circulation to avoid moisture and create conditions for fungi to grow.

Inappropriate Lighting

Calathea plants are very sensitive to changes in light. Low light and direct sunlight also cause increased leaf yellowing in this plant. Calathea plants live in the lower layers of tropical forests, so the light they receive every day is lightly filtered from the foliage of the old trees in the forest. Therefore, Calathea plants will grow well in conditions that receive enough 8 hours of indirect sunlight per day.

Calathea plants that are green or white will lose their color in low light. Meanwhile, Calathea plants with red leaves can still survive in low light. Therefore, you can place the potted plant about 1 meter from the window and have a curtain to avoid direct sunlight and still receive enough indirect sunlight every day.

calathea yellow leaves

Temperature Is Too High Or Too Low

Calathea plants prefer to live in temperatures between 62ºF (16ºC) and 81ºF (27 °C). This plant cannot tolerate temperatures that are too high or too low in its ideal range. A sudden temperature change will also cause the leaves of Calathea plants to turn yellow simultaneously.

Calathea plants also cannot tolerate any hot air from heaters or radiators. So, in the winter, you should keep the potted plant in a warm area but avoid hot winds to affect the color of the leaves.

Excessive Fertilizing

Calathea plants do not need too much fertilizer to stimulate their growth. Over-fertilizing is also a cause of leaf yellowing and other stressors. In addition, lack of nutrition can also cause leaves to turn yellow. However, this is not the most common cause of the yellowing of Calathea plants.

You only need to fertilize once a month during the growing season of Calathea plants or in late summer or spring. Should use organic or slow-release fertilizers to provide nutrients for a long time to plants. You also need to follow the dosage and time of fertilizer application from the manufacturer.

Over-fertilizing will also cause fertilizer to accumulate in the soil and cause yellowing. To remove salts and other harmful plant substances from the soil, you should drain the soil every few months. Water a large amount of water and let the water run out of the drain hole continuously. You will stop watering until the soil is completely dry.

Pests Attack

Calathea plants are very susceptible to fungal and insect attacks, so the leaves of this plant may have yellow, brown, or black spots around the edges or the entire leaf. Some common pests that attack Calathea plants are aphids, mealy bugs, and scale. These insects will directly attack the leaves and suck the sap from the leaves. From there, the leaves of the plant will be deformed, run out of resin and turn yellow simultaneously.

If you see the appearance of spider mites, you need to provide moisture to protect Calathea plants because spider mites love a dry environment. So you can mist to provide timely moisture and repel spider mites. You should also clean both sides of the leaves weekly to remove fungal spores or insect eggs from clinging to the leaves.

In addition, a soil-borne fungus called fusarium can attack Calathea plants causing the leaves to turn yellow and the veins on the leaves to turn brown. To get rid of this fungus, you need to use specialized fungicides as recommended by the manufacturer.

In addition, Cucumber Mosaic Virus is also a dangerous disease for Calathea plants. This virus may not kill the plants immediately, but it causes the leaves and stems to wilt and die. The virus will quickly spread from one plant to another and spread the disease everywhere. The only option to get rid of this virus is that you need to destroy the plants, soil, and pots because the virus will be lurking everywhere.

Stress Due To Environmental Change, Propagating, Or New Repotting

Sudden changes in habitat from outside to indoors, from plants growing in the ground and growing in pots will also cause the leaves of Calathea plants to turn yellow. This is a completely natural response when plants have not yet adapted to new environmental conditions such as light, temperature, and humidity.

In addition, the process of propagating or repotting a new plant will also cause the leaves of the plant to turn yellow. The reason is that the root system of plants has not yet adapted to the new soil environment. From there, the transport of water and nutrients to the leaves and stems is also difficult. From there, the leaves don’t get enough energy from the roots and turn yellow or brown. This situation will completely disappear when the plants have taken root and grown well in the new potting soil.

In addition, yellow leaves are also a natural phenomenon when the leaves are old and fall off. These yellow leaves usually appear singly and on the lower part of the base when they have ceased to sustain life over time. You just need to prune them and don’t worry about this condition.


There are many causes for the leaves of Calathea plants to turn yellow at the same time such as improper watering, waterlogging, excess salt, poor potting mix, and poor drainage. In addition, some other causes such as excessive fertilization, inappropriate lighting, low humidity, and too high or too low temperature. Pests and sudden stress also cause the leaves of plants to turn yellow.

To overcome this situation, you should regularly check the moisture in the soil before watering. Clean both sides of leaves to detect abnormal signs and have a timely treatment plan to revive plants.

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