Prayer plants (Maranta leuconeura) are rightly known for their colorfully-patterned leaves, which fold up like a pair of praying hands at night and unfurl in the morning. So it can be really disappointing if the leaves of your prayer plant start turning yellow or brown. In this article, we’ll explain ten common reasons why prayer plant leaves turn yellow or brown and how to fix them.
- Dealing with Prayer Plant Leaves Turning Yellow or Brown – The Essentials
- 10 Reasons Why Prayer Plant Leaves May Turn Yellow or Brown
- How to Fix Yellow or Brown Leaves on a Prayer Plant
- Yellow or Brown Leaves on a Prayer Plant FAQs
- Wrapping Up
Dealing with Prayer Plant Leaves Turning Yellow or Brown – The Essentials
Prayer plant leaves usually turn yellow or brown due to overwatering, underwatering, or sudden changes in temperature or humidity. Plants suffering from pests or diseases may also exhibit yellow or brown leaves. Prayer plant leaves can also turn brown or yellow if the plant receives too much bright, direct sunlight.
10 Reasons Why Prayer Plant Leaves May Turn Yellow or Brown
Overwatering is one of the most common causes of yellow prayer plant leaves and often leads to root rot. Check the soil around your prayer plant if you notice drooping or yellowing leaves. If it feels waterlogged, then overwatering is to blame.
Lift the plant out of its pot and check for any brown, mushy, or smelly roots. Snip off these roots and repot the plant into a well-draining soil mix that still holds some moisture. Only water prayer plants whenever the top 2 inches of soil feel dry.
If your prayer plant has brown leaf tips or starts drooping, underwatering could be the cause. This can be caused by high temperatures, low humidity, or too much direct sunlight. Another symptom of underwatering is hydrophobic soil that pulls away from the edges of the pot.
If the top 2 inches of soil feel dry to the touch, you need to water your prayer plant. You may have to water at least once per week during the spring and summer. You can snip off brown leaf tips without harming the plant, but remove leaves that have turned completely brown.
3. Temperature Changes
Prayer plants are susceptible to sudden temperature changes. These tropical houseplants need warm, humid conditions to thrive. Under temperature stress, prayer plant leaves may start turning yellow.
Use a thermometer to measure the temperature around your prayer plant. These plants need stable temperatures between 60 and 80ºF (15.5 to 26.5ºC). If your prayer plant is exposed to cold drafts from air vents or open windows, this can cause yellowing leaves.
Position your prayer plant away from drafty areas and remove any yellowing leaves.
4. Low Humidity
Low humidity levels can cause prayer plant leaves to develop yellow or brown edges or tips. As tropical houseplants, prayer plants need moderate humidity levels between 50 and 60%. Ambient humidity can be lower during winter or hot summers.
Cold or dry drafts from air vents, heaters, and open windows can lower the humidity around your prayer plant. Move your prayer plant away from drafts and use a humidifier to provide the correct humidity. Carefully snip off the brown or yellow leaf edges or tips.
5. Too Much Light
If your prayer plant is exposed to too much direct sunlight, it can suffer from brown or yellow leaves. Prayer plants need bright, indirect, or filtered sunlight to thrive. If left in direct sunlight, prayer plant leaves will start to burn.
Move your prayer plant approximately 3 to 5 feet away from the window to provide bright, indirect light. You can also filter the sunlight through a blind or net curtain. East or southeast-facing rooms are best for providing the right amount of light.
6. Not Enough Light
Prayer plants can also suffer from yellowing leaves if they don’t receive enough sunlight. Prayer plants can grow in partial shade for short periods. However, leaving prayer plants in full shade often causes the beautiful patterns on the foliage to fade or turn yellow.
North-facing rooms don’t provide enough bright, indirect light for prayer plants. Try moving your prayer plant to an east or southeast-facing room instead. Leaving prayer plants in the shade can also result in stunted or weak growth.
7. Pests and Diseases
Prayer plant leaves may also turn brown or yellow due to disease or pest infestations. Diseases like leaf spot or Southern blight and pests like mealybugs can cause yellowing leaves. Regularly check your prayer plant for signs of pests and diseases.
If mealybugs are to blame, use horticultural oils or insecticidal soaps to eliminate them. If your prayer plant suffers from a disease, you may need to use neem oil. Sometimes, you might have to repot or discard the plant.
8. Lack of Nutrients
Your prayer plant can experience yellow or brown leaves if it’s not getting enough nutrients. This could be because the soil is old or because the plant hasn’t been fertilized enough. If a prayer plant has yellowing leaves, it could be because of a lack of iron.
Repot prayer plants every 2 to 3 years and provide fresh soil. In between repotting, you can provide extra nutrients using fertilizer. Feed prayer plants once a month during the spring and summer using liquid fertilizer diluted to half-strength.
When fertilizing prayer plants, keep in mind that applying too much fertilizer can cause serious problems. Prayer plants are fast-growing plants and only need fertilizing once a month during spring and summer. Fertilizers contain strong chemicals that can cause yellowing leaves if used too much.
It could signify over-fertilizing if you spot white patches in the soil around your prayer plant. These white patches could be deposits of salt left behind by fertilizers. Flush the soil using clean water to remove excess salts.
10. Poor Water Quality
Poor water quality is another common reason prayer plant leaves may turn yellow or brown. Prayer plants are sensitive to chemicals in tap water, such as fluoride and chlorine. These chemicals build up in the soil, causing white patches to appear on the surface.
Check the soil for white patches if your plant has yellow or brown leaf tips. If you’ve been fertilizing correctly, poor water quality could be to blame. To prevent more leaves from turning yellow, use filtered or distilled water when watering your prayer plant.
How to Fix Yellow or Brown Leaves on a Prayer Plant
If you find yellow or brown leaves on your prayer plant, examine the growing conditions to determine the cause. First, check the soil to see if it feels either waterlogged or bone dry. Examine the soil for white patches, which may indicate that over-fertilizing is to blame.
Examine the leaves closely to check for signs of diseases or pests. Leaf spot diseases and pests such as aphids or mealybugs may cause yellowing leaves. If you spot any pests, use horticultural oils or insecticidal soap to eliminate them.
Check that the prayer plant is receiving bright, indirect light. If your prayer plant is too close to a windowsill, it may suffer from brown or yellow leaves. Move it approximately 3 to 5 feet away from the window.
Remove any brown or yellow leaves from your prayer plant, as they will not recover.
Yellow or Brown Leaves on a Prayer Plant FAQs:
Should I cut yellow leaves off my prayer plant?
Once prayer plant leaves have turned yellow, they won’t recover. Remove them to keep your plant looking good.
Why are my prayer plant leaves turning brown?
Prayer plant leaves can turn brown due to too much light, poor water quality, or sudden temperature changes. Identify the problem by assessing the conditions of your plant before removing the affected leaves.
Should I remove brown leaves from my prayer plant?
Remove brown leaves from your prayer plant, as they will not recover, even if the cause is fixed.
Prayer plants are popular houseplants due to their colorful green leaves that curl up and unfurl overnight and offer a host of uses and benefits. However, prayer plant leaves may turn yellow or brown for several reasons. Common causes include overwatering, underwatering, sudden temperature changes, low humidity, and incorrect lighting conditions. Address the problem before removing the yellow or brown leaves from the plant.
For more, see our in-depth guide to how to grow and care for prayer plants at home.
Andrew is the Editorial Director at Petal Republic. He holds a BSc degree in Plant Sciences and has trained professionally at leading floristry schools in London and Paris. In amongst overseeing a global editorial team, Andrew's a passionate content creator around all things flowers, floral design, gardening, and houseplants.