Prayer Plant Yellow Leaves – Possible Causes & Solutions

Are you tired of seeing your prayer plant yellow leaves instead of the usual lush, green ones?

If so, you’re not alone in facing this common houseplant problem. Your prayer plant, with its distinctive foliage,might be losing its vibrant charm. But thankfully, there are ways to help you address this issue once and for all.

The Maranta leuconeura, commonly known as the prayer plant, is a beloved indoor plant known for its striking leaves that fold up at night, resembling hands in prayer. However, when these once-green leaves begin to show signs of yellowing, it’s a signal from your plant that something might be amiss. But don’t despair just yet – this vibrant houseplant can make a gradual comeback with the right care and attention.

Today’s post is all about the various reasons why your prayer plant’s leaves might be turning yellow, ranging from environmental factors to pests and diseases. Let’s check out the potential causes and how to bring your plant back to its healthy and vibrant state.

prayer plant yellow leaves

Why Is My Prayer Plant Turning Yellow?

The prayer plant, scientifically known as Maranta leuconeura, is an enchanting and popular houseplant cherished for its striking foliage and distinctive leaf movements that resemble hands in prayer. 

However, for plant enthusiasts, there can be a disheartening moment when you notice the once-lush green leaves of your prayer plant starting to turn a concerning shade of yellow. 

Here are among the reasons why your prayer plant’s leaves are turning yellow:

1. Overwatering

When a prayer plant is consistently overwatered, the excess moisture in the soil can suffocate the plant’s roots. Plant roots need oxygen to function properly, and waterlogged soil deprives them of this essential element. As a result, the roots become stressed and may begin to rot.

Prolonged exposure to waterlogged conditions can lead to root rot, which is a fungal infection that affects the plant’s root system. As the roots decay, they lose their ability to absorb nutrients and water efficiently. This hinders the plant’s ability to transport essential nutrients to the leaves.

In an overwatered environment, the nutrients in the soil may become imbalanced. Specifically, the plant may experience a deficiency in certain nutrients, particularly nitrogen. Nitrogen is crucial for the production of chlorophyll, which gives leaves their green color. When nitrogen 

uptake is impaired, the older leaves may lose their green pigment and turn yellow.

2. Underwatering

On the flip side, underwatering can also induce yellow leaves. When a prayer plant doesn’t receive enough water, it experiences stress and physiological changes that manifest as yellowing leaves.

Insufficient water in the soil limits the plant’s ability to take up essential nutrients from the soil. Without an adequate supply of nutrients, particularly nitrogen, the plant may struggle to produce sufficient chlorophyll—the green pigment responsible for photosynthesis. As a result, the leaves may lose their green color and turn yellow.

To cope with water scarcity, prayer plants will prioritize water use for essential functions like maintaining turgor pressure in the cells and supporting new growth. Older leaves, which are less critical for the plant’s immediate survival, may experience reduced nutrient flow, leading to yellowing.

Prolonged periods of drought stress can damage the plant’s cells and affect its overall health. This cellular damage can lead to changes in leaf color and appearance.

Lastly, as the plant struggles to maintain hydration, it may reduce the water supply to its leaves, causing them to lose moisture and wilt. This wilting can make the leaves appear yellow and unhealthy.

Read this post: Prayer Plant Watering Guide You Should Know

3. Improper Light

Insufficient or excessive light can both lead to yellow leaves. Prayer plants thrive in indirect, bright, but filtered light. Too much direct sunlight can scorch their leaves, while too little light can reduce their chlorophyll production, causing yellowing.

Inadequate light limits the plant’s ability to capture and convert sunlight into energy through photosynthesis. This energy is used for various metabolic processes, including nutrient uptake, growth, and maintaining leaf health. When energy production is reduced, leaves may turn yellow as they become stressed and less functional.

Prayer plants are adapted to thrive in bright, indirect light conditions in their native habitat. When they receive less light than they need, their photosynthetic rate decreases, affecting their overall health and leaf color.

4. Low Humidity

Low humidity can cause prayer plant leaves to turn yellow due to its impact on the plant’s ability to transpire and maintain adequate moisture levels.  Transpiration is the process by which plants release water vapor through small openings in their leaves called stomata. It helps the plant draw up water and nutrients from the roots. 

When the air is dry due to low humidity, the plant’s transpiration rate decreases as it tries to minimize water loss. This reduced transpiration can lead to less water reaching the leaves, affecting their health.

In low humidity conditions, water evaporates from the leaf surfaces more quickly than the plant can absorb it from the soil. This results in the plant’s leaves losing moisture faster than they can replace it, leading to wilting and a lack of turgidity.

As water uptake by the roots slows down due to low humidity, the plant’s ability to transport essential nutrients to the leaves is hindered. This can result in nutrient deficiencies, particularly a lack of nitrogen, which is essential for chlorophyll production.

5. Pot Size 

Incorrect pot size can contribute to prayer plant leaves turning yellow. For instance, if your prayer plant has outgrown its current pot and the roots are tightly packed, it may struggle to access essential nutrients and moisture. This root restriction can lead to nutrient deficiencies, as the roots are unable to explore a larger area for resources.

Conversely, if your prayer plant is in a pot that’s too large for its root system, the excess soil can retain water for longer periods. This can create overly wet conditions that lead to root rot, as the roots may not be able to absorb water efficiently, even though the soil appears moist on the surface.

6. Poor Soil Quality

Poor-quality soil may lack essential nutrients required for healthy plant growth. When the soil cannot provide an adequate supply of nutrients, the older leaves are often the first to show signs of deficiency, turning yellow due to a lack of chlorophyll.

Low-quality soil can have poor drainage properties, leading to waterlogged conditions. As mentioned earlier, overly wet soil can result in root rot, which impedes the plant’s ability to take up nutrients and water efficiently.

Over time, low-quality soil can become compacted, reducing aeration and making it harder for the roots to breathe. This compaction can hinder the roots’ ability to transport nutrients to the leaves, causing yellowing.

7. Pests And Diseases

Several common pests and diseases can affect prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura) and cause their leaves to turn yellow. Here are some of the most prevalent issues to watch out for:


Spider Mites: These tiny arachnids feed on plant juices, causing stippling, yellowing, and a fine webbing on the leaves. Spider mites thrive in dry conditions.

Aphids: Aphids are small, soft-bodied insects that suck sap from plant tissues. Their feeding can lead to distorted leaves and yellowing.

Mealybugs: Mealybugs are small, white, cottony insects that feed on plant sap. Their feeding can cause leaf discoloration and curling.

Scale Insects: Scale insects appear as small, immobile bumps on plant stems and leaves. They feed on plant sap and can cause leaf yellowing and a decline in overall plant health.


Root Rot: Root rot is a fungal disease that occurs when the soil is consistently too wet. Infected roots become mushy and discolored, leading to a reduced ability to transport nutrients and water to the leaves, resulting in yellowing.

Leaf Spot: Leaf spot diseases, caused by various fungi or bacteria, result in small, dark lesions on the leaves. These lesions can lead to yellowing and the premature dropping of affected leaves.

Powdery Mildew: Powdery mildew is a fungal disease that appears as a white, powdery substance on the leaves. It can block sunlight and reduce the plant’s ability to photosynthesize, causing yellowing.

Bacterial Leaf Blight: This bacterial disease causes water-soaked lesions on the leaves, which can turn yellow and lead to leaf death.


If your prayer plant’s leaves are starting to turn yellow, this is a sign that you need to make some adjustments in how you care and maintain your plant. By addressing these issues promptly and providing your prayer plant with the proper conditions it craves, you can restore its vibrancy and enjoy the beauty of its lush green leaves once again. 

Leave a Comment