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8 Causes of Dracaena Leaves Turning Yellow or Brown

8 Causes of Dracaena Leaves Turning Yellow or Brown

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Dracaena plants are stunning houseplants that are increasing in popularity. However, these plants can have their fair share of problems, which can turn their leaves yellow, brown, or both.

So, what are the causes of your Dracaena plant’s leaves turning yellow or brown?

Several things can affect the color of your Dracaena plant’s leaves. These include under or overwatering your plant, a pest infestation, keeping the plant in low humidity, sudden temperature changes, salt build-up in the soil, lighting problems, and many more!

Caring for Dracaena plants can seem overwhelming, especially when the foliage starts losing its gorgeous color. So, can these concerns that discolor the leaves of your plant be fixed? Let’s find out!

Causes of Dracaena Leaves Turning Yellow and Brown

Once you have planted your gorgeous Dracaena plant, it’ll immediately brighten up your home. 

However, even if you’ve been caring for it lovingly and tentatively, you might notice the plant gradually looking worse, with the leaves turning brown or yellow.

Don’t worry, though! This has nothing to do with your lack of care. Dracaena is a delicate plant. So, while you can put a lot of effort into caring for it, you shouldn’t be discouraged if its health is declining.

Several things can impact your Dracaena plant’s health. While this makes it pretty difficult to find the root of the problem, if you understand your plant, you’ll be able to avoid these common mistakes.

So, here are the main reasons why your Dracaena plant’s leaves might be turning brown or yellow, or both:

  • Improper watering practices
  • Inappropriate humidity levels
  • Poor water quality
  • Pest infestation
  • Sudden temperature changes
  • Salt build-up in the plant’s soil
  • Lighting problem
  • Natural yellowing of Dracaena

Not only can these issues cause your Dracaena plant to have stunted growth, but they could also lead to the death of your plant if the problem is not fixed immediately.

Let’s go through these problems in detail and see how you might fix them and possibly avoid them in the future:

1. Overwatering

Misting Dracaena

Improper watering practices can cause your Dracaena plant’s leaves to start turning yellow and brown.

Many people believe that all plants need plenty of water and that the main reason for yellow leaves is underwatering. Yet, too much water can also cause your Dracaena’s health to decline. In fact, this issue could lead to more severe concerns down the line if not fixed.

Overwatering your plant doesn’t mean it’ll absorb all the moisture. Instead, the soil will become soggy, mold will grow, and your Dracaena will suffocate.

The most common sign of overwatering your plant is the yellowing of leaves. That’s because the Dracaena leaves aren’t getting enough oxygen.

Some other signs that your Dracaena plant is being overwatered is if the plant’s leaves become limp and soft, beginning to sag down.

Furthermore, if you lift your Dracaena plant out of its pot to inspect the roots, you’ll find that they’re mushy, swollen, and translucent.

How to Fix Overwatering

To fix overwatering, first, you’ll need to dry out your plant’s soil. Start by placing the pot in a warmer location and avoid watering for a while.

Then, you must adjust your watering schedule. Only water your Dracaena if the first two to three inches of soil are dry.

If you’re still unsure about the amount of water you’re giving your precious plant, drainage holes are the solution. These are a lifesaver, as they’ll immediately drain the excess water. So, you won’t have to worry about overwatering your Dracaenas again.

2. Underwatering

Underwatering your Dracaena plant might be less of a problem than overwatering it, but it’s still an issue that needs fixing. After all, no plant can live without water.

Underwatering will cause the plant’s soil to be dry and the leaves to crisp up and crumble when you touch them. You can probably recognize this issue by the dry soil, as well as the dry stems.

How to Fix Underwatering

If the leaves are yellowing due to underwatering, you can quickly get them to perk up by just watering the plant regularly!

First, you need to check the soil’s moisture by touching it with your finger. If the first couple of inches are dry, you should water the plant.

If your plant is kept in the ideal conditions, you should only need to water it every five to seven days.

3. Low Humidity

Dracaena plants are sensitive to humidity. They prefer humid environments, with their optimal humidity level being about 60 to 80%.

Accordingly, if your Dracaena plant is kept in low humidity, the plant’s leaves will begin to droop and turn brown. This typically starts at the edges of the leaves.

Then, you’ll find the entire leaves turning yellow, browning, and becoming dehydrated, even if you water the plant regularly. Lastly, the leaves will shrivel and fall off the plant.

If your Dracaena plant is beginning to show these signs, you need to increase the humidity levels in the room fast, as low humidity can impact the whole plant quickly.

How to Fix Low Humidity Levels

If you don’t live in a humid location, there’s no need to worry. You can increase the humidity of the room where you keep your Dracaena through various methods, such as:

  • Invest in a humidifier.
  • Utilize a pebble tray.
  • Regularly mist your plant at least once every two days.
  • Keep your Dracaena in the bathroom, as it’s usually humid.

4. Poor Water Quality

Dracaena plants aren’t only sensitive to the amount of water you give them, but they are also sensitive to the quality and type of water.

The main two chemicals that you need to watch for are chlorine and fluoride. For starters, these chemicals can kill beneficial bacteria in the soil, as well as alter the soil’s organic structure.

Additionally, when the chlorine and fluoride begin to build up in the plant’s soil, they’ll poison your plant as it absorbs the water. The first signs would be the leaves turning yellow and eventually brown.

How to Fix Poor Water Quality

When you water your Dracaena plant, you should avoid using tap water. Instead, go for distilled, bottled, or even rain water, as these will be free of the chemicals the plant is sensitive to.

If you don’t want to spend money on bottled water, you can still use tap water.

That said, to ensure the tap water is safe for your Dracaena, you should leave it out in an open container for at least 24 hours before you water your plant with it. This will give the chemicals in the tap water time to dissipate into the air.

Wet Leaves On Dracaena

5. Pest Infestations

Another thing that could be affecting the health of your Dracaena plant and turning the leaves brown and yellow is a pest infestation.

A pest infestation is usually one part of the bigger problem that your plant is facing. That’s because Dracaena plants are more susceptible to pest infestations when they’re stressed or weak.

For starters, your plant will attract pests like spider mites, which are sap-sucking bugs that will drain all the moisture from your plant, causing it to become dehydrated. The infestation can spread fast and will turn your plant’s leaves yellow. The mites can also infect your other plants.

Some other pests to be careful about include mealybugs and scale. It would be best to treat these as soon as you spot them, as the infestation can escalate.

How to Fix Pest Infestations

To cure your plant of a pet infestation, you must first identify what type of pest is living in your Dracaena.

Most commonly, spider mites will look like tiny dots on the plant’s leaves. Mealybugs will leave a trail of powdery, white substances. Lastly, scales, as their name implies, look like small, circular pumps on the plant.

If you notice a pest infestation in your Dracaena, you should take your plant outside and spray it with water that has strong water pressure. This will bash off most of the pests.

Then, you can prune off the damaged leaves and treat the rest of the plant with insecticidal soap. Spray a neem oil spray on your plant to prevent this problem in the future.

6. Sudden Temperature Changes

Potted Dracaena Outside

Just as Dracaena plants are sensitive to low humidity levels, they are also affected by sudden temperature changes in their environment.

In particular, Dracaena plants are sensitive to cold drafts. They need to be in a consistently warm room, as their optimal temperature range is between 70° and 80 °F. If the temperature suddenly drops, the leaves will turn yellow.

This can be a complicated issue, especially in the spring and autumn, when the temperatures can drop during the night.

Accordingly, you need to constantly monitor the temperature of the room where you keep your Dracaena.

How to Fix Temperature Changes

If you don’t have a thermostat in your home, you can easily overcome this issue by moving your plant around your house during different seasons.

For example, if you keep your plant by a window in the summer, the cold draft can be too much for the Dracaena in colder seasons. However, sunlight can also keep your plant warm. So, you’ll need to move it at night.

7. Salt Build-Up in the Soil

Salt build-up in your Dracaena plant’s soil can be the cause of your plant’s leaves turning brown or yellow. Salt can quickly absorb the water in the soil, leading to less hydration for your Dracaena.

This will usually happen if you use fertilizers that contain superphosphates. These chemicals are generally present in potting soil fertilizer mixes containing perlite.

You still need to fertilize your plant, though. That’s why you should rather go for a balanced liquid fertilizer. Moreover, you should use half the recommended amount on the bottle.

Your Dracaena doesn’t need fertilizer throughout the year. Instead, only use the fertilizer from spring to the middle of autumn. This is when your Dracaena plant is actively growing.

How to Fix Salt Build-Up

So, you’ve been regularly using fertilizers containing superphosphates? You can easily fix the salt build-up in your soil. Fortunately, you don’t need to completely re-pot your Dracaena.

The solution is rather simple. All you need to do is flush out the salts with fresh, pure water.

To do so, you’ll need a pot with drainage holes to avoid overwatering the Dracaena. Then, pour a lot of pure water through the soil, allowing it to run through the drainage holes.

8. Problems with Lighting

Dracaena In Natural Light

If your Dracaena plant is not kept in the right lighting conditions, then this can cause the plant’s leaves to turn brown and yellow. Dracaena plants thrive in bright, indirect sunlight.

On the other hand, if you place your plant in direct sunlight, the heat will scorch its foliage, leading to unsightly brown discoloration.

Alternatively, too little sunlight will prevent the Dracaena from growing. So, its leaves will start turning yellow and the plant will begin to droop.

How to Fix Lighting Problems

Make sure you’re placing the Dracaena in a location where it receives plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.

Typically, this will be indoors, in a bright room. The plant shouldn’t be too close to the window in the summer, as the sunlight would be too bright.

Natural Yellowing of Dracaena Plants

One thing you must keep in mind when it comes to Dracaena plants is that their leaves will turn yellow on their own.

As your plant grows, it’s natural for the old foliage to fall. Before this happens, though, the leaves will turn yellow, and then completely wilt.

This generally happens at the bottom of the plant. If you don’t see any signs of other issues with your plant and see new growth, this is probably the reason for the yellow leaves on your plant.

Frequently Asked Questions

How can I make my Dracaena grow faster?

It’s a misconception that fertilizers will make your Dracaena grow faster. Too much fertilizer will cause salt build-up in the soil, interfering with Dracaena growth.

Instead, you should provide the optimal growing conditions for your plant, and let nature do the rest! If you want to use fertilizers, only add them during the growing season of Dracaena, which is from spring to early autumn.

What are the optimal growing conditions for Dracaena plants?

If you want to keep your Dracaena as healthy as possible, you should maintain the following conditions:

  • Temperature: Between 70° and 80°F
  • Humidity: 60 to 80%
  • Water: Once every five to seven days, or when the top of the soil is dry.
  • Light: Bright, indirect sunlight.
  • Fertilizer: Balanced liquid fertilizer from spring to autumn.

Final Thoughts

Dracaena plants are gorgeous, popular houseplants. Unfortunately, while Dracaena can immediately brighten up your home, it’s a rather sensitive plant. 

Even if you provide it with optimal care, various issues can lead to Dracaena leaves turning yellow and brown. If you are worried about your Dracaena plant, you can go through the list of possible causes above and figure out what is wrong with your plant and how to fix it.

Good luck with your Dracaena plant!

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