Calathea plants are becoming common staples of many households. They look really nice and the foliage on these plants will never fail to impress.
If you’re looking for a plant that will add some charm to any room that you decide to place it in, then getting a calathea makes a lot of sense. Those who recently started caring for calathea plants might be trying to ensure that they’re doing things right so that they can enjoy the plant for a long time.
This is why it’s so disheartening when you notice that your calathea plant is having issues. If the leaves on the calathea plant are turning yellow, then you’re probably pretty concerned about what’s going on.
Why would the leaves on a calathea plant turn yellow and what can you do to make things better? Read on to get all of the important information about calathea plants so that you can turn things around.
Yellow Leaves Are Pretty Common with Calathea Plants
The first thing that you will want to hear is that yellow leaves are pretty common with calathea plants. This doesn’t mean that it’s a good thing or that you didn’t make some small mistakes, though.
You see, calathea plants are rather finicky in certain ways, and this means that you must care for them in a very particular way. If you do a couple of things wrong, then it could wind up causing the calathea plant to develop yellow leaves.
There are other issues that you can encounter when taking care of calathea plants, but today you’re going to focus on solving your yellow leaf issue. To figure out what went wrong, you’re just going to have to troubleshoot by remembering what you did and did not do.
Below, you’re going to learn about many different things that can cause a calathea plant’s leaves to turn yellow. After you know the potential causes, it should be a lot easier to figure out what went wrong.
Later, you’ll be able to learn a bit more about what you can do to try to make the calathea plant thrive. Issues such as this happen to people when they first start caring for these plants, and you can definitely turn things around so long as you’re diligent.
1 – Watering the Calathea Plant Too Much
Watering a calathea plant too much is probably the most common mistake that people make. Many people who aren’t used to caring for houseplants will assume that watering a bit more often is for the best.
However, this is something that can actually harm the plant a lot more than you would think. When plants get watered more than they should, it’s going to make it impossible for them to use up all that water.
Plants might not be able to dry out properly if they get soggy with water, and this can cause a plant to “drown,” in a manner of speaking. Basically, too much water will cause bad things to happen to your plant, and one of those things involves the leaves turning yellow.
When you notice the leaves on your calathea yellowing, it’s a likely sign that you’re watering it too much. It’s true that calathea plants require a lot of water, but it’s possible to go overboard.
You’re supposed to keep the soil slightly moist at all times for the plant to thrive, but sometimes people water too much. You might have wound up making the soil soggy, and this is what led to the leaves turning yellow.
If you consistently water the calathea plant too much, then it could lead to even worse issues. Root rot could become a problem over time, and this is something that could kill the plant.
Always remember to check the soil before you choose to water your calathea plant. You should water the plant when the top half-inch of the soil feels dry.
If the soil is still moist when you touch it, then you’re not supposed to water it. It’s pretty easy to remember, but you’ll have to get used to checking your plant on a regular basis.
The mistake that you made might have been trying to water the calathea plant on a set schedule. You can’t just water it at the same time every week and expect to get good results since the plant needs to be checked to see if it’s ready to be watered.
2 – Sometimes Water Quality Can Play a Role
Another thing that most people don’t think about is the type of water that is being used to water the calathea. Most plant owners will simply use tap water to water their plants, but this isn’t always ideal.
Many people have tap water that contains various types of chemicals that might not be good for your plant. For example, your tap water might contain chlorine or various types of minerals that could have an impact on the health of your calathea plant.
Sometimes these chemicals and minerals can cause a calathea plant’s leaves to turn yellow. These plants are more sensitive than some realize, and using tap water might be a bad idea when you want the plants to thrive.
It’s not going to be too hard to use other types of water when watering your calathea plants. Some people use distilled water that they purchase from local grocery stores or department stores, but you could also choose to collect rainwater that can be used.
Another trick is to leave your tap water sitting out at room temperature for several hours at a time. When you let the water sit out for 24 hours before watering the calathea, you’ll reduce the risk of exposing the plant to harmful chemicals.
This might be a bit of a pain, though, and many people would find it easier to just buy distilled water. Another option is to buy a water filtration system that will eliminate chemicals and built-up minerals in the water.
It can be a bit pricey to get a really good water filtration system for your home, but it might be worth it. There are benefits to having a good water filtration system beyond just being able to water your plants safely.
3 – Drainage Problems
Now that you know more about the watering issues that you should avoid, it’s time to consider how well your calathea is draining. Drainage problems can make it tough for calathea plants to do well, and it can cause over-watering issues to become a lot worse.
Some types of soil aren’t good at draining because of being too thick. The best type of soil to use for calathea plants will be medium soil that is a bit fluffy and has good drainage.
Ideally, the potting mix that you use should be capable of holding moisture, but it also needs to have decent aeration so that it doesn’t get soggy. The soil itself isn’t the only thing to consider when looking into potential drainage problems, though.
It’s also possible that the calathea plant might be planted in a pot that doesn’t have good drainage. If the pot doesn’t have adequate drainage holes, then you’re going to encounter issues.
Ensure that the pot that you’re using has good drainage holes that work properly. Otherwise, you’re going to keep having problems with your plant.
4 – Overly Dry Soil
Interestingly, you’re going to have to watch out to ensure that the calathea plant doesn’t become too dry as well. Very dry soil can also cause a calathea plant’s leaves to turn yellow over time.
When plants such as this become too dry, it’s going to stress the plant and cause issues. You might have missed out on watering the plant a few times, and this can cause the leaves to start yellowing pretty fast.
Sometimes you’ll see yellowing occur when you have soil that doesn’t retain moisture very well, too. If the soil dries out too quickly, then it could be contributing to the yellowing issues.
This is one of the reasons why caring for calathea plants is somewhat tricky. You need the soil to drain well, but you also need to ensure that the soil doesn’t get too dry because that can turn into a problem.
5 – Humidity Issues
Humidity issues can cause calathea plants to start yellowing due to triggering stress responses. These are plants that are used to tropical temperatures, and this means that low humidity environments aren’t going to be good for the plants.
In the wild, calathea plants usually thrive in humidity levels that are 90% or higher. You don’t need to get the humidity levels in your home that high, though.
Indoor calathea plants should be able to do well with humidity levels that are between 50% and 70%. These plants just don’t do well in dry air, and you’re going to have to take this into account.
Raising the humidity level in your home is going to be necessary when you live in many different places. During the winter months, the air might get pretty dry in places throughout North America.
You can raise the humidity to acceptable levels by using a humidifier of some kind. Some people just use portable humidifiers in the rooms that they keep their plants in, but you could also buy a whole-house system if you want to.
Some people just mist their plants to try to raise the humidity in the room, too. You can spray the calathea plant’s leaves semi-regularly to try to keep them from drying out.
It’s likely going to be a lot simpler to just use a humidifier, but you can decide which method is best. Just don’t sleep on humidity issues since they can really throw your plant for a loop.
6 – Lighting Issues
Lighting issues could be to blame for your calathea plant having its leaves turn yellow. These plants are actually very sensitive, and changes can cause them to react negatively.
Both low-light conditions and direct sunlight can cause a calathea plant to develop yellow leaves. It’s just not the right light that the plant needs to thrive.
You’re supposed to give a calathea plant eight hours of bright indirect sunlight each day. There are some calathea varieties that differ, but an average calathea is going to prefer this type of light.
Be sure to protect your plant from the sunlight because it doesn’t do well with harsh direct sunlight. You can use sheer curtains to try to protect your calathea plant.
Some people even just move their calathea plants a little further from the window to keep the sunlight from being too intense. You can place the calathea plant about two feet away from the window to get good results in many instances.
7 – The Plant Might Need Time to Adjust
Sometimes calathea plants will have yellow leaves just due to stress from being moved. If you got the plant home and it changed to yellow very suddenly, then it probably just needs time to adjust to its new environment.
You might not have done anything wrong at all. Eventually, the calathea should settle and get used to the temperature and humidity levels in your home.
If you notice your calathea start to turn green and look normal again, then you’ll know that the issue was just related to acclimation. These plants are very picky, but sometimes they just need to be given a little bit of time.
8 – Temperature Fluctuations
Temperature fluctuations might cause your calathea plant to get stressed, and stress will cause the leaves to turn yellow. The ideal temperature for these plants is between 62 degrees Fahrenheit and 81 degrees Fahrenheit.
Cooler temperatures can really shock these plants, and you might notice them looking bad after a cold night. You need to protect these plants when you know that temperatures are going to dip pretty low.
Ideally, these plants should be inside in a temperature-controlled environment. If you keep the thermostat turned to a standard 70 degrees Fahrenheit, then you won’t have any problems.
However, you might need to be careful about keeping the plant too close to drafty doors or windows. Short bursts of exposure to cold temperatures can still cause problems for these plants, but you can take steps to keep this from happening.
9 – Using Too Much Fertilizer
Using too much fertilizer has been known to cause problems for calathea plants too. These plants don’t need a lot of fertilizer to grow and remain healthy.
This means that you should really be conservative about the amount of fertilizer that you’re using. If you use too much, then it’ll be very common for the leaves to turn yellow.
You can feed the plant once per month during the growing season and get good results. Just use a light application of fertilizer and be sure that it is diluted so that it’s not too harsh.
10 – Pests
Pests can be a big problem for your calathea plant, and you’ll need to remain vigilant to protect it. Pests such as spider mites, aphids, scale, and mealybugs might be bothering your plant.
All of these pests can cause the leaves to turn yellow. Spider mites won’t usually come around unless things are dry, and this might be a sign that you need to increase humidity levels in the area.
You can treat your plant with insecticides to get rid of the pests. You’ll want to be careful with this because of how easy it is to cause calathea plants stress, though.
11 – Fungal Infections
Fungal infections can also cause the leaves to turn yellow. There are many types of fungal infections to look out for, but one of the most common ones is a soil-borne fungus known as fusarium.
This fungal infection can cause both yellowing and wilt over time. If this happens, you’re going to need to wash your plant thoroughly, remove the soil from the roots, sterilize your pot, and then replant the calathea in new soil.
You might also wish to use a fungicide to try to prevent the infection from getting worse. The plant will struggle with stress, but it should make a recovery if you’re careful.
There are a large number of different things to consider when caring for a calathea plant. Many different things can cause the leaves to turn yellow, and it might be tough to figure out what’s wrong at first.
The best thing that you can do is read about the information and think about your situation. You might be able to look for clues as to what’s going on so that you can determine what the problem is.
As mentioned earlier, there are times when there isn’t even a problem at all. Calathea plants sometimes just get stressed in new environments and need time to acclimate so that they can look healthy again.
These plants aren’t the easiest houseplants to take care of in the world, but they are really pretty. You’re going to love the look of the plant so long as you can put up with how much attention it needs.
Now that you know more about calathea plants, it should be easier to take care of things. You’ll be able to get good results and keep the plant looking nice for a long time with the right level of commitment.
Growing up with a mom who filled her home (inside and out) with all sorts of plants, Lisa got her start in gardening at a young age. Living now on her own with a home and yard full of plants (including an indoor greenhouse), she shares all the gardening tips she’s gained over the years.