In my experience, the most common cause of Anthurium leaves turning yellow or brown is incorrect watering. Differences in the environment, such as incorrect lighting conditions, temperatures, and humidity, are also common. External factors like pests and diseases often cause spotted discoloration on the leaves, while some yellowing is simply the result of age and is no cause for concern. In this guide, I’ll cover the primary causes of anthurium leaves turning yellow or brown and what you can do to fix the problem.
Overwatering is the most likely cause of yellowing leaves in Anthuriums (and houseplants in general). While they like moderately moist soil, they cannot handle excessively soggy or waterlogged soil. This could be caused by watering too often, lack of drainage in the soil, or lack of drainage in the pot.
When excess moisture hangs around the roots, they begin to rot. This impairs their ability to draw up moisture and nutrients that keep the plant alive, resulting in yellowing leaves. If the problem persists, they may turn brown and drop off the plant.
For more, see our in-depth guide on how to water anthurium plants.
Underwatering can also cause leaves to turn yellow but is more likely to leave them brown, crispy, and dried out.
Anthuriums are moisture lovers that are used to consistent water supplies in their native habitats. If the soil is left to dry out completely, the leaves will struggle to sustain themselves and stay upright. They may become thinner and turn brown at the tips, eventually turning completely brown if the problem is not resolved.
Originating in warm tropical environments, Anthuriums are accustomed to high temperatures around 75F. In the rainforests they come from, temperatures rarely drop below 65F. As they are not used to cold weather, Anthuriums can face severe damage if temperatures drop too low indoors (recently propagated or repotted anthurium plants can be particularly susceptible).
When temperatures dip below 60F, your Anthurium will likely stop growing until it warms up again. If they drop below 50F for long periods, the leaves will turn yellow and droop, indicating cold damage.
Along with high temperatures, the tropical environments these plants are used to give them a love of high humidity. In tropical rainforests, humidity averages around 75% out of the rainy season, increasing to around 90% or even more when it does rain.
Maintaining this high humidity is vital to keeping these plants happy and thriving. When humidity dips below 40% for long periods, the leaves will turn brown, usually at the tips. This problem expands due to the lack of moisture around the plant and won’t return to normal, so addressing the issue as soon as you spot it is vital.
Anthuriums grow best when given bright, indirect sunlight for most of the day. This closely resembles the dappled sunlight they receive in their native habitats, ensuring quick and healthy growth.
If the light levels are too low, growth will slow, and the leaves will begin to turn yellow as the plant is unable to sustain itself. This occurs in rooms with no windows, only north-facing windows, or even in bright rooms where the plant is placed far away from the light source.
On the other hand, too much direct sunlight can be just as damaging. These plants are not adapted to full sun conditions and should be kept out of direct midday and afternoon sun. If they are left in direct and harsh sun for even a couple of hours, burnt brown spots will appear on the leaves where the sun hit the plant, indicating scorching.
If your Anthurium has been in the same pot for several years without a soil change or additional fertilizers, it will likely experience nutrient deficiency. In containers, there is a finite amount of nutrients in the soil needed to sustain the plant and help it grow better.
Once those nutrients drop below a certain threshold, the plant will stop growing, and the leaves will turn yellow. This yellowing is usually spotty or patchy, with the veins remaining green, a condition known as chlorosis.
For more, see our in-depth guide to the best soil mix for anthurium plants.
A regular fertilizing routine is key to growing a successful Anthurium plant. However, too much is not a good thing. Excessive fertilizing leads to a build-up of salts in the soil that can burn the roots and leaves of the plant almost instantly.
If you’ve overfertilized, you will soon notice the leaves turning yellow or developing patches of brown. This is either caused by fertilizing too often, fertilizing at the time of repotting, or adding more fertilizer than is recommended on the packaging.
Yellowing leaves are not always a sign of incorrect environments or care. In mature plants, occasional yellowing is normal as it goes through its standard lifecycle. Older leaves will eventually begin to turn yellow, then brown, falling off the plant.
As long as one or two of the oldest leaves on the plant are yellow, this is no cause for concern. Prune them off and wait for new green growth to appear.
Anthuriums are susceptible to a number of common houseplant pests. This list includes spider mites, mealybugs, aphids, scale, and fungus gnats. These pests love to hang around your Anthurium, feeding on the leaves and stems to sustain themselves. They also lay eggs around the plant or in the soil, facilitating their spread around your home.
Sap-sucking pests cause yellow spots to appear on the foliage, eventually turning brown as those parts of the leaf die off. Other signs include webbing between the leaves (for spider mites), a white powdery substance on the leaves or stems (for mealybug), or brown bumps gathering on the stems (scale).
Anthuriums are less likely to experience disease problems indoors (unless brought in from the nursery). But, they are still quite susceptible to common diseases, particularly bacterial blight. Anthracnose, bacterial wilt, and root rot are also common problems.
While each of these diseases has slightly different symptoms, they are usually accompanied by yellowing or browning. If you notice the discoloration appears random and patchy, starting from one leaf and spreading to the others, your plant likely has one of these diseases.
Repotting or Shock
Minor yellowing after bringing your plant home for the first time, moving it to a new spot, or repotting an anthurium plant is entirely normal. This yellowing is due to shock caused by sudden changes in environments. The plant begins to yellow and struggles while slowly adapting, eventually returning to normal after a few weeks.
How to Fix Yellow or Brown Leaves on an Anthurium
The fix for yellowing or brown leaves depends on the cause. However, providing the proper care and environment will not only fix the problem but also prevent any discoloration from occurring in the future.
The key care task to get right is watering. Under or overwatering will quickly damage your plants and can cause permanent issues with growth if not resolved. Water when the top layer of soil has just dried out by testing the soil regularly with your finger. Also, ensure adequate drainage, both in the chosen potting soil and the pot itself.
Keep your Anthurium in a bright area with enough indirect light to sustain growth. Ensure they are out of the path of any direct sun unless it is a gentle early morning sun. High temperatures and high humidity are also essential, which can be improved by grouping plants and using a humidifier.
Follow a regular fertilizing routine, using a balanced houseplant fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during spring and summer. Never apply more than recommended to avoid overfertilizing, and flush the soil immediately if you have used too much.
Pests and Diseases
In the case of pest and disease issues, don’t wait to tackle the problem. Most pests can be removed with repeat applications of neem oil or insecticidal soap (via Amazon). Diseases are more challenging to manage and best controlled by pruning and preventative measures.
What To Do With Yellow and Brown Leaves
Yellow and brown leaves won’t regain their color again (except in some cases of nutrient deficiency). Prune these away while you fix the problem to keep your plant looking healthy. This will also stop your Anthurium from expending any energy on these damaged leaves, allowing it to focus on new and healthy growth.
It’s also worth noting that anthurium plants are considered somewhat toxic to humans and pets, so it’s prudent to wear gloves when handling these plants.
Yellowing or Brown Anthurium Leaves FAQs:
How do you fix yellow leaves on anthurium?
Start by identifying the causes. The most likely issue is overwatering, but nutrient problems, low light, and pests or diseases can also cause leaves to be yellow. Once you’ve found the problem, alter the conditions to suit better what the plants need to prevent any more leaves from turning yellow.
Can yellow or brown anthurium leaves turn green again?
Unless nutrient deficiency is the problem and the issue is resolved quickly, yellow and brown leaves will not change color again. Prune the leaves off to save energy in the plant and promote new and healthy growth.
Can direct sunlight cause anthurium leaves to turn yellow or brown?
Direct sunlight can cause a color change in the leaves, especially in the harsh midday and afternoon sun. Keep your Anthurium in bright indirect light to prevent any scorching and yellow.
Does the type of water cause anthurium leaves to turn yellow or brown?
When watering your Anthurium with tap water, the quality of that water can impact the color of the leaves. A build-up of harmful chemicals in the soil, particularly chlorine, can cause yellowing in the foliage over time. Use filtered or distilled water on your plants if your tap water is not good quality, or leave the water out for a day or two to allow the chlorine to dissipate.
Can overfertilizing cause anthurium leaves to turn yellow or brown?
Excessive fertilizing leads to a build-up of salts in the soil that can burn the roots and leaves of the plant almost instantly. If you’ve overfertilized, you will soon notice the leaves turning yellow or developing patches of brown. This is either caused by fertilizing too often, fertilizing at the time of repotting, or adding more fertilizer than is recommended on the packaging.
The Final Word
Anthurium leaves turning yellow or brown is no cause for panic. This issue is widespread and generally easy to fix, depending on the root cause. Your plant will be back to blooming in no time.
Further reading: where to position anthurium plants for optimal care and feng shui benefits.
Madison is a writer and editor with a Bachelor’s degree in History and Political Science. She writes and photographs for various online and print publications in the gardening sphere and is the author of the book The Next-Generation Gardener.