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!
Dracaena plants are great indoor plants, but they can worry their caretakers when they start having problems. So, can these problems 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, and you have been caring for it lovingly and tentatively, only to notice that the plant is beginning to look worse for wear and turning brown and yellow.
This can be highly discouraging for Dracaena plant lovers. Putting a lot of effort into your plant every day, only to have the plant start declining in health and not be as happy as you expected it to be in your care can bring you down.
Unfortunately, several things can impact your Dracaena plant’s health, which makes it pretty difficult to find out what the problem is and if you can fix it in any way.
Here are the main reasons why your Dracaena plant’s leaves might be turning brown or yellow, or both:
- Improper watering practices
- They are kept in low humidity levels
- There is a problem with the quality of water you are giving the plant
- Your Dracaena plant has a pest infestation
- There have been sudden temperature changes in your Dracaena plant’s room
- There is a salt build up in the plant’s soil
- There are lighting problems in your Dracaena plant’s room
- Some yellowing is natural for Dracaena plants
Many of these problems mentioned above can cause your Dracaena plant to have stunted growth, and some of the problems could also lead to the death of your plant if the problem is not fixed immediately after you have noticed it. Let’s go through these problems in detail and see how you might fix them and possibly avoid them in the future.
1 – Improper Watering
Improper watering practices can cause your Dracaena plant’s leaves to start turning yellow and brown, and this issue could lead to more severe problems down the line if it’s not fixed. This problem can be caused by underwatering your Dracaena plant and overwatering it.
Overwatering Dracaena plants are the most common cause for the plant’s leaves to start turning yellow or brown. This is a big problem for Dracaena plants as overwatering them can lead to soggy soil.
This soggy soil can then cause further problems like root rot or fungus growth in the soil and on the plant, which are more difficult to fix and can kill your Dracaena plant.
Some other signs that your Dracaena plant is being overwatered is if the plant’s leaves become limp and soft and begin to sag towards the floor.
If you lift your Dracaena plant out of its pot and inspect the roots, and the roots are mushy, swollen, and translucent, then this is another indication of overwatering. To fix overwatering, you need to dry out your plant’s soil, so place it in a warmer location and don’t water it for a while.
Underwatering your Dracaena plant is less of a problem than overwatering it, but it’s still an issue that needs to be fixed as it can turn the plant’s leaves yellow or brown and affect the plant’s health.
Underwatering will cause the plant’s soil to be dry and the leaves to crisp up and crumble when you touch them. To avoid both of these problems, you need to water your Dracaena plant properly.
First, use the finger check to see how moist the plant’s soil is. Stick your finger into the plant’s soil, and if the soil is dry between 2 to 3 inches deep, you can water your plant again. If your plant is kept in the ideal conditions, you should only need to water it every 5 to 7 days.
2 – Humidity Levels Too Low
Dracaena plants are sensitive to the humidity levels of the room you keep them in. these plants prefer to be kept at high humidity levels. If the humidity levels drop too low, this can negatively affect your plant.
If your Dracaena plant is kept in low humidity, the plant’s leaves will begin to droop and turn brown, starting at the edges of the leaves. This will then be followed by the leaves entirely turning yellow, then browning and becoming dehydrated, then leading to the leaves shriveling and falling off the plant.
If your Dracaena plant is beginning to show these signs, you need to increase the humidity levels in the room. You need to do this fast, as low humidity can cause this problem to spread across your whole plant fairly quickly.
To help increase the humidity of the room your plant is in, you can use a humidifier, utilizing a pebble tr, or mist your plant regularly. If you choose to mist your plant, you need to ensure you do it at least once every two days to ensure the humidity level is correct for your plant.
3 – Quality of the Water
Dracaena plants are not only sensitive to the amount of water you give them, but they are also sensitive to the quality and type of water you give them.
When you water your Dracaena plant, you should avoid using tap water as this water is often treated with certain chemicals that the plant is sensitive to. The main two chemicals in the watering that you need to watch for are chlorine and fluoride.
If you tend to water your plant with tap water, then the chlorine and fluoride in the water can begin to build up in the plant’s soil. This can start poisoning your plant and turning the leaves yellow and eventually brown.
When you water your Dracaena plant, you should rather use distilled water, bottled water, or rainwater, as these will be free of the chemicals the plant is sensitive to. If you don’t want to spend money on bottled water to water your plant, you can use tap water.
However, if you are going to use tap water, you should leave the water out in an open-air 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 and make the water safe for your Dracaena plant.
4 – Pest Infestations
Another thing that could be affecting the health of your Dracaena plant and turning the leaves brown and yellow is if your Dracaena plant has a pest infestation.
A pest infestation is usually one part of the problem that your plant is facing, as Dracaena plants are more susceptible to pest infestations when the plant is stressed or weak due to suffering from other conditions.
When your plant is in this weakened state, it can be attacked by pests and is more likely to attract these pests too. 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.
This problem can spread fast and will turn your plant’s leaves yellow due to the lack of moisture in the leaves. Some other pests to be careful about include mealybugs and scale. It would be best to treat these as soon as you spot them, or the problem could grow.
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 to kill the rest of the pests. Spray a neem oil spray on your plant to prevent this problem in the future.
5 – Sudden Temperature Changes
Just as Dracaena plants are sensitive to low humidity levels, they are also affected by sudden temperature changes in their environment. If there is an abrupt shift in temperature in the plant’s environment, this can cause the plant’s leaves to turn yellow or brown.
Dracaena plants are particularly sensitive to cold drafts. These plants need to be in a consistently warm room. This means their optimal temperature range is between 70° and 80°F and they need to be in this temperature range at all times.
You need to constantly monitor this temperature, especially in the spring and autumn, when the temperatures can drop during the night.
So, if you keep your Dracaena plant close to a window in the summer, then you might want to move it away from the window when the temperature begins to drop as this could cause discoloration in the plant’s leaves.
6 – Salt Build-Up in the Soil
A salt build-up in your Dracaena plant’s soil can be the cause of your plant’s leaves turning brown or yellow. This will happen if you use fertilizers that contain superphosphates, as these fertilizers will have a higher concentration of salts in them.
This substance is generally in potting soil fertilizer mixes containing perlite, so you need to be careful what potting soils and fertilizers you use with your Dracaena plant.
You still need to fertilize your plant, so you should rather go for a balanced liquid fertilizer, and you should only use half the dose recommended on the bottle at a time. You should also only use the fertilizer from spring to the middle of autumn when your Dracaena plant is actively growing.
If you believe that salt build-up in your plant’s soil is the cause for the plant’s leaves turning yellow or brown, then you can fix this problem. All you need to do is flush out the salts with fresh, pure water. Pour the pure water through the soil and allow it to run through and out the drainage holes.
7 – Problems with Lighting
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 for various reasons. The best lighting conditions for dracaena plants are in bright indirect sunlight; this is where they will grow healthy and strong.
If your plant’s lighting conditions do not match this, this can cause problems for your plant. If your plant is receiving direct sunlight for hours every day, this can start to burn your plant’s leaves and turn them yellow or brown.
If this is happening, you need to move your plant to a different location as this can cause permanent scarring on your plant. If your plant does not receive enough sunlight throughout the day, its leaves will start turning yellow, and it will begin to droop.
If this is happening, you need to move your plant to a location that will receive bright indirect sunlight. When you move your plant into the right lighting conditions, it should recover fully within a week or two.
Some Yellowing Is Natural with Dracaena Plants
Something noteworthy about Dracaena plants is that their leaves will turn yellow naturally. When your plant begins growing some new growth, the older leaves around this new growth may start to turn yellow.
This generally happens at the bottom of the plant, and this is a normal and natural process for your plant to go through. 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.
Dracaena plants are beautiful plants that are pretty popular houseplants. However, these plants can have a few problems that can start turning their leaves yellow or 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!
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.