Chinese evergreens are beautiful houseplants that come in several different types, all grown for their attractive foliage. So it can be a real shame if your Chinese evergreen leaves start turning yellow. In this article, we’ll examine 11 common causes of yellow leaves on Chinese evergreen plants and what you can do to fix the issue.
Common Reasons Your Chinese Evergreen Leaves Are Turning Yellow:
1) Incorrect Temperatures
Incorrect temperature is the leading cause of Chinese evergreen leaves turning yellow. Chinese evergreens are tropical houseplants native to Asia. In cold temperatures, Aglaonema plants experience lots of stress, which turns the leaves yellow.
Chinese evergreens grow best in ambient temperatures between 65 and 75ºF. These plants can’t tolerate temperatures below 55ºF. Keep Chinese evergreens away from cold drafts from air vents or open windows.
Overwatering is another common cause of Chinese evergreens turning yellow. Chinese evergreens like their soil to dry out a bit between waterings. Only water Chinese evergreens once the top three inches of soil feel dry.
Overwatering causes the soil to become waterlogged, leading to root rot. Drooping or yellowing leaves are the main symptoms of root rot. Chinese evergreens need light, well-draining soils to prevent root rot.
Underwatering can also cause Chinese evergreen leaves to turn yellow. This commonly occurs during hot summers. Water Chinese evergreens once every week or two, but always check if the top few inches of soil feel dry.
If Chinese evergreens don’t get enough water, they will struggle to produce healthy new growth. Symptoms of underwatering include dry or wilting leaves with brown leaf tips and dry, cracked soil.
4) Incorrect Humidity
As tropical plants, Chinese evergreens need humid environments to thrive truly. However, if the humidity is too low, Chinese evergreens can develop yellow leaves. Chinese evergreens prefer high humidity levels between 60 and 70%.
Use humidifiers or pebble trays to maintain the correct humidity levels. If your Chinese evergreen has drooping, yellowing leaves curling, the ambient humidity may be too low.
5) Not Enough Sunlight
Chinese evergreens can also develop yellow leaves if they don’t receive enough sunlight. They will produce leggy, weak, or stunted growth without sufficient sunlight. Some varieties may lose their variegation, with the leaves turning dark green and then yellow.
Although they can tolerate partial shade, Chinese evergreens grow best in bright, indirect light. Position Chinese evergreens approximately three feet away from east or southeast-facing windows.
6) Too Much Sunlight
Chinese evergreens can also develop yellow leaves if exposed to too much direct sunlight. Chinese evergreens are native to tropical forests in Asia. As such, Aglaonema plants prefer indirect light or partial shade.
Too much direct sun can burn Chinese evergreen leaves, causing them to turn yellow or develop crispy tips. Avoid placing your Chinese evergreen on south-facing windowsills, as these areas receive direct afternoon sunlight.
7) Not Enough Fertilizer
Chinese evergreens like fertile, well-draining soils that provide lots of nutrients. However, spotty yellowing leaves can be a symptom of nutrient deficiency. Use fertilizer to top up the nutrients in the soil.
Fertilize Chinese evergreens once in the spring and once in the summer. This provides plenty of nutrients throughout the growing season. Other symptoms of nutrient deficiency include wilting foliage, stunted growth, and a lack of new leaves.
8) Too Much Fertilizer
Chinese evergreens only need to be fertilized twice a year, once in the spring and once in the summer. As such, applying too much fertilizer causes serious problems. One of the main symptoms of over-fertilizing is yellowing leaves with brown, crispy tips.
Fertilizers contain chemicals, meaning applying too much can burn your Chinese evergreen. Always dilute liquid fertilizers according to the packet instructions.
9) Transplant Shock
When Chinese evergreens are repotted incorrectly, they can suffer from transplant shock. Yellowing leaves are one of the main symptoms of transplant shock.
Transplant shock occurs when Chinese evergreens are repotted too frequently or moved into pots that are too large. Repot Chinese evergreens once every two or three years. Move the plant into a pot that’s only one or two inches larger than the old container.
10) Diseases and Pests
Diseases and pests can also cause Chinese evergreen leaves to turn yellow. Fungal diseases such as root rot and powdery mildew are the main culprits. Common Chinese evergreen pests include mealybugs and spider mites.
Providing the proper care helps your Chinese evergreen fight off diseases and pests. Avoid overwatering and provide well-draining soil to reduce the risk of fungal diseases. Eliminate pests using horticultural oils or insecticidal soap.
Chinese evergreen plants naturally develop a few yellow leaves due to age. Chinese evergreens grow reasonably slowly and can live for over a decade with the proper care.
As your Chinese evergreen ages, some of the older leaves may gradually turn yellow. As long as new green leaves are coming through, this isn’t a problem. Always check for other issues that could be causing the yellow leaves.
Chinese Evergreen Yellowing Leaves FAQs:
Why Are My Chinese Evergreen Leaves Turning Yellow?
Chinese evergreen leaves may turn yellow due to overwatering, underwatering, incorrect temperatures, or incorrect humidity. Leaves may also turn yellow if the plant gets either not enough or too much sunlight.
Should I Remove Yellow Leaves from My Chinese Evergreen?
Carefully remove yellow leaves from your Chinese evergreen, as these leaves won’t turn green again. Cut the yellow leaves off with a pair of clean, sharp secateurs.
What Does An Overwatered Chinese Evergreen Look Like?
Chinese evergreens suffering from overwatering often have drooping or yellowing leaves. The soil will also feel wet, even after a few days. This means that the soil isn’t draining correctly.
Chinese evergreen leaves may turn yellow due to cold temperatures, overwatering, underwatering, or incorrect lighting. These beneficial plants can also develop yellow leaves due to incorrect humidity or transplant shock. Identify and remedy the cause before removing the yellow leaves because they won’t turn green again.
For more, see our ultimate guide to Chinese evergreen plants.
Edd is a budding content writer and gardener living in the United Kingdom. He has a bachelor's degree in Creative and Professional Writing and has written for several gardening publications online. He is passionate about nature and sustainability with a focus on gardening and wildlife.