A prayer plant’s leaves will turn yellow if it is under any kind of stress, which could be caused by a multitude of reasons. The most common one is overwatering. Even if prayer plants do like to be watered regularly, they do not like to sit in soggy soil for long periods of time.
Other causes of yellowing prayer plant leaves are temperature changes, poor soil drainage, insufficient humidity, iron deficiency, disease and pests.
In this article, we will discuss the different causes of yellowing prayer plant leaves and how to remedy each one.
Why is my prayer plant turning yellow?
The most common reason for a prayer plant turning yellow is overwatering. When considering this cause, think about how often you water your plant. Do you wait for the soil in the pot to dry before watering the plant, or do you water it everyday regardless?
Prayer plants like to have a regular watering schedule, but they do not like to stand in soggy water all the time.
Make sure you let the plant’s soil dry between watering; it is best not to water it every single day. When a plant’s roots are in wet soil all the time, they will eventually get root rot, which will cause the leaves on the plant to turn yellow.
The best way to know when to water your prayer plant is to check the soil first. Stick your finger into the soil and if the top two inches of soil are dry, you can water the plant. If the soil is still damp, wait one or two more days and check the soil again.
Prayer plants come from tropical habitats. They do not do well in the cold and can die if left out in temperatures that are below freezing. Even keeping the plant in cold temperatures above freezing can cause lasting damage, and can cause the leaves on the plant to turn yellow.
These plants prefer being in temperatures higher than 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
If you are taking home a prayer plant from the nursery during the winter, make sure you take the plant into your house immediately and do not leave it in your car or outside your house.
Keep the plants away from cold drafts near windows or air conditioners, because these temperature fluctuations can also cause the leaves to turn yellow.
Poor soil drainage
Even though these plants are tropical and are normally fine with getting a hefty amount of rain, they still need their soil to be well-draining. As mentioned above, they do not like to soak in wet soil. This is because plant roots need to be dry sometimes to have access to oxygen. If they are unable to get oxygen, the roots will die and the leaves will eventually turn yellow.
Aside from using well-draining soil, you also need to keep an eye on the saucer that you keep under the plant’s pot. The water in this saucer can also cause the plant to become overwatered.
Prevent this from happening by making sure all of the excess water has drained from the pot before placing the pot back on the saucer.
Heavy potting medium can also have components that make it poor-draining. Soil that is too compact and rich tends to hold onto moisture too well and contribute to waterlogged roots.
Lastly, make sure the plant’s pot has drainage holes at the bottom. When a pot does not have drainage holes, the water will settle at the bottom of the pot and damage the roots of your plant. It also makes it difficult to determine the wetness of the soil.
Aside from making sure a pot has drainage holes, the best material to choose for a pot is clay or terracotta. These materials are more porous and allow the soil in the pot to dry much faster than in plastic or steel pots.
Low humidity can also result in your plant developing yellow leaves. As much as we advocate not overwatering your prayer plant, you should also make sure the place where you keep the plant has perfect humidity.
In the winter, when indoor humidity can be quite low, the plant can suffer and its leaves can turn yellow and even brown.
Prayer plants like their air humidity to be between 40 and 60 percent. If you feel the humidity in your house is too low, you can buy a hydrometer to measure the relative humidity.
If your house does have low humidity, you can spray the leaves of the plant with water, run a humidifier near the plant, group your plants near one another, or use a humidity tray under your plant. You can use these options simultaneously if you want to, especially if the climate is arid. It also helps if you keep the plant in a humid room in your house, such as the bathroom or kitchen.
If you notice the younger leaves of your prayer plant coming in with a yellowish tinge, it probably has an iron deficiency.
When the plant’s soil has a pH that is too high or alkaline, the plant will be unable to absorb iron from the soil. When the plant does not get enough iron, it cannot produce chlorophyll. Chlorophyll is the pigment that makes leaves green, so when a plant is not producing it, the leaves will discolor. This will in turn affect the plant’s ability to photosynthesize.
You can remedy iron deficiency in prayer plants by applying chelated iron to the soil.
Disease and pests
One of the diseases that can affect your prayer plant is the mosaic virus. This virus causes yellow mosaic patterns to appear on the leaves of the plant. Unfortunately, this disease does not have a remedy and you are better off discarding the plant to make sure it does not affect your other plants.
Helminthosporium leaf spot is another affliction of prayer plants, in which the leaves develop tan spots with yellow halos. Get rid of the fungus by spraying the plant with a solution of a half-teaspoon baking soda per gallon of water.
Spider mites can also attack prayer plants. They feed on the foliage of the plant, causing yellow stippling to appear. Kill these pests by wiping down the plant with neem oil on a cotton ball. Do this once a week for a month to make sure all the spider mites are dead.
A prayer plant’s leaves will turn yellow if it is going through something that is causing it stress. This can be due to a change in its living conditions or because of an outside factor like disease or pests.
The most common cause of prayer plant leaves turning yellow is overwatering. Even though these plants are tropical, their roots still need time to dry out in order to receive oxygen.
Other causes of yellowing prayer plant leaves include temperature changes, poor soil drainage, insufficient humidity, iron deficiency, disease and pests.
Image: istockphoto.com / Olga Ostapenko