Many gardeners the world over love clivias for their deep green foliage and vibrant, trumpet-shaped flowers, which make a great antidote to a lifeless indoor space.
When these tropical evergreens turn yellow, however, it can be worrying to say the least. This unsightly discoloration detracts from the beauty and vigor of the plants and, more often than not, is indicative of an underlying issue that needs correcting right away. Such issues include sunburn, root rot, leaf spot, and pest infestation.
Let us explore these issues one by one and learn how to help your clivia bounce back to life.
How to troubleshoot yellowing clivia leaves
Clivia leaves may turn yellow for numerous reasons. Before you panic, it is critical to understand your plants’ symptoms so that you can correctly diagnose the issue.
Have a look below at the different patterns of leaf yellowing that may occur, to help you confirm the underlying issue:
1. Whole leaves turning yellow
Yellowing of the entire leaf is often a classic sign of sunburn. Clivias need moderate or partial sunlight to grow healthily; direct sunlight can be too harsh for their delicate leaves, particularly during the summer season. To correct this issue, all you have to do is relocate your plants to a shadier area.
However, if your clivias are receiving the correct lighting levels and you cannot seem to find the cause of the yellowed leaves, then perhaps your plants have entered their dormancy period. At this point, they are taking a rest to survive the freezing winter temperatures, and you need not worry – they should bounce back to life as soon as the milder weather returns.
2. Edges or tips of leaves turning yellow
Root rot disease can cause yellow leaves, too – particularly on the tips or around the edges. Aside from the leaf discolorations, a plant with root rot might also struggle with dieback of the stems and foliage. Since rotten roots can compromise a plant’s nutrient uptake, your clivias will eventually lose their vigor and start falling over.
Check the soil – does it look soggy? If so, there is a good chance you are dealing with root rot. Stop watering your plants for a couple of days to allow the soil to dry completely. You may also need to replant your clivia in fresh, well-draining soil to prevent the rot from progressing any further. While doing so, make sure to trim off any dead roots and apply a fungicide to eradicate the fungal pathogens.
Overwatering and poor drainage can both promote root rot disease. Keep in mind that clivias should only be watered about once a week – just enough to keep the soil moist but not watery. Increase this only if the soil dries up very quickly, such as when the weather is unusually hot and dry. Also avoid using compacted soil and pots without drainage holes.
3. Yellow spots on the leaves
Unsightly yellow or brown spots on the leaf surface can be caused by leaf spot disease or pest infestation. To make matters worse, these spots will grow over time if left untreated, eventually engulfing entire leaves until they die and fall off.
Leaf spot is very common among ornamental plants. The majority of cases are caused by fungal pathogens, while a few are linked to bacterial infections. These spots often look like brownish or dark rings that can enlarge and form lesions. Clivia plants affected with leaf spot disease can also develop yellow leaves that drop prematurely.
Pests like aphids and scale insects are destructive to almost any garden plant, including clivias. Aside from yellow leaves, the attacked plant may also display distorted growth, drooping leaves, and sticky brown spots or webbing on the leaves’ surface.
Both leaf spot disease and pest infestations can negatively impact the health of your plants. Once the underlying issue is confirmed, you will need to control the issue by applying the appropriate treatment.
For leaf spot, we recommend using fungicides formulated for houseplants. Organic solutions are also available if you do not like using synthetic chemicals. The most common remedy for fungal leaf spot is baking soda. To use, simply mix a half teaspoon of baking soda per gallon of water, and spray the mixture on the affected leaves.
For pest infestations, there are a variety of organic solutions available to kill the bugs without harming your plants. These include neem oil, horticultural oil, and insecticidal soap. If the infestation is small, you can quickly dislodge the pests from the leaves with a strong jet of water. Try to avoid using harsh pesticides unless the infestation is too severe, as these are toxic and can kill beneficial insects.
4. Older leaves at the bottom turn yellow
If your clivias are producing yellow leaves near the base of the plant, then it is likely due to normal aging. All plants go through this process. Eventually, the older leaves will die or shed, giving way to new growth. In this case, the yellowing of the leaves should not cause you any concern. Continue nurturing your clivias and prune them as needed, and your plants are sure to reciprocate your love and care with lush healthy growth.
Can yellow leaves be reversed?
Yellow leaves are generally a sign of plant stress or damage. Once the leaves lose their healthy green color, in most cases it cannot be restored. The plant will simply abandon the damaged leaf to focus its energy on new growth.
However, it is possible for some leaves to return to green if the issue is related to nutrient deficiency and the appropriate fix is applied.
Yellow leaves are generally pruned or allowed to fall off so that younger leaves can start to grow. Just keep in mind that a few yellow leaves do not necessarily mean your clivias are doomed or dying. With the proper diagnosis, you should be able to address the underlying issue and return your clivias to their former verdant glory.
What to do when clivia leaves turn yellow
Time is of utmost importance when it comes to saving your plants from further damage. Here are a few steps you can take as soon as you notice your clivia leaves turning yellow:
- First, try to confirm whether the issue is related to overwatering or poor drainage. Assess the dryness or dampness of the soil using your finger or a soil moisture probe. From here, you should be able to correct your watering routine and save your plant from potential fungal diseases.
- Boost your plants’ nutrition by adding nitrogen-rich fertilizer to the soil. Make sure to fertilize only when the plants are actively growing, and avoid feeding them during their dormant season.
- Using a clean pair of pruning shears or scissors, prune away the yellowed leaves to promote new, healthy growth. Discard the damaged leaves and stems, and do so particularly carefully if the plants are infected with a fungal disease.
Yellowing clivia leaves are generally a sign of sunburn, overwatering, pest infestation, or fungal disease. It is important to identify the underlying issue so that you can apply the appropriate solution.
Sometimes, the yellowing leaves could simply indicate that your plants are currently dormant, or they could be a part of the plants’ natural aging process. Both of these states are normal and hence should not cause serious concern. Nurture your plants as usual, and you will be rewarded with lush foliage and abundant flowers.
So be sure to familiarize yourself with the plant’s growing needs as well as the potential issues. It might take some time and patience but, at the end of the day, seeing your clivias grow and bloom beautifully will make everything worth the sacrifice.
Image: istockphoto.com / ByronOrtizA