Skip to Content

4 Reasons Why Your Elephant Ear Plant Leaves Are Turning Yellow

4 Reasons Why Your Elephant Ear Plant Leaves Are Turning Yellow

Share this post:

Disclaimer: Some links found on this page might be affiliate links. If you click an affiliate link and make a purchase, I might earn a commission. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.

Elephant ear plants, also known as colocasia, are big houseplants known for their beautiful heart-shaped leaves. 

It’s not uncommon that these vivacious leaves suddenly turn yellow. If you have an elephant ear plant, and this happens, you will probably feel frustrated. A plant with wilted leaves looks really unhealthy and unappealing. So what can you do in that situation? 

The first thing is to identify the cause. Having specified the reason behind your plant’s predicament, you can then take the necessary steps to heal your plant. There are a number of reasons why elephant ear plant leaves may turn yellow. This includes incorrect watering, improper sunlight, and nutrient deficiency.

In the following sections, we will discuss each of these causes in more detail, and provide tips for preventing them.

Why Your Elephant Ear Plant Leaves Are Turning Yellow

There are a number of reasons why your elephant ear plant leaves may be turning yellow. Here are some of the common causes, and the most effective ways to cure your plant. 

1 – Watering Issues

Smaller Elephant Ear Plant With Yellow Spots On Leaves

One of the first things that you should check is whether or not there are watering issues with your elephant ear plants. The most common cause of yellowing leaves in elephant ear plants is a watering issue.

If you’re starting to notice yellow spots on your elephant ear plant’s leaves, then you’ll want to pay close attention to how you’ve been watering them. It’s possible that you could be causing the yellowing yourself by not watering the plants the way that you should.

You see, it’s possible that the leaves could start yellowing due to not receiving enough water. The yellowing could be a sign that the elephant ear plants are struggling and that you need to water them more.

However, it’s also possible that watering the elephant ear plants too much could cause the leaves to start yellowing. This creates a dilemma because you might not be sure which mistake you’re making if you’re somewhat new to caring for the plants.

Generally, it’s said that elephant ear plants should receive two to three inches of water each week. If they’re getting more water than that, then you’re going to need to tone things down so that you don’t drown the plant.

It’s true that elephant ear plants are heavy drinkers because they need water to keep growing. These are plants that have large and beautiful foliage, and that does require a fair bit of water.

You just have to be careful not to get overzealous with watering because it could kill the plant eventually. Keep an eye on your watering habits, and try to be consistent to avoid issues moving forward.

2 – Sunlight Issues

Closeup Of Burned Leaf On An Alocasia Polly Elephant Ear Plant

As you might expect, elephant ear plants need to receive the right amount of sunlight to thrive. The size of these plants makes it so that they need quite a bit of sunlight to do well.

Ideally, you should place your elephant ear plants somewhere that they can receive bright indirect sunlight. Too much direct sunlight could actually be harmful to the plant because it will burn the leaves.

Burnt leaves would not look yellow, though. A burnt elephant ear plant leaf is more likely to look kind of brown or crispy than it is to look yellow.

However, it’s worth noting that the elephant ear plant leaves will turn yellow if they aren’t getting enough sunlight. 

If you keep elephant ear plants in too much shade, then they might yellow over time. Thankfully, this is something that can be turned around by just finding a better spot for the plant.

Once you notice that the leaves are yellowing, it’ll be wise to find a better position for the elephant ear plant. Sometimes just shifting the plant to a new location is enough to get it back to normal.

It should be possible to get your elephant ear plants enough sunlight, even if you’re keeping them indoors. Just do your best to place them in the sunniest room in the house, and ensure that they’re getting indirect light so that the leaves don’t get burned.

3 – The Pot Is Too Small

Potting Soil And Empty Pots

Are you caring for potted elephant ear plants right now? Sometimes people who pot elephant ear plants will have issues with the plants outgrowing the pots faster than they expected.

It’s possible that your elephant ear plant has become too big for its current pot. This could be causing the leaves of the plant to turn yellow, and this can actually be a very bad thing.

If you don’t do anything about this, then the leaves are going to keep turning yellow and will eventually fall off. This is not what you want for your elephant ear plant, and this means that it’s always important to check to see if the roots have enough room in the pot.

You should be able to lift the plant up and peek into the bottom tray to get an idea of how the roots are doing. If you see the roots sticking out of the bottom of your pot, then the pot that you’re using isn’t big enough.

Repotting the elephant ear plant in a larger pot should allow it to get back to normal. Keep an eye on the plant for some time to ensure that things are okay.

You should endeavor to check the elephant ear plants more often to see how they’re doing in their pots. Since these plants can grow impressively large, it might be necessary to put them in bigger pots every so often.

Getting into the habit of checking once in a while might help you to avoid any leaf discoloration issues. It’s definitely worth keeping in mind.

4 – The Plant Could Be Going Dormant for the Season

Large Elephant Ear Plant Leaves That Are Yellowing

Another possibility to consider is that the plant could be going dormant for the season. When elephant ear plants are getting ready to go dormant, you’ll notice that the leaves aren’t going to be the same vibrant green color any longer.

In this situation, you’re supposed to cut back the yellow leaves and wait for them to return in the spring. Depending on the time of the year, you might need to expect the elephant ear plant’s leaves to turn yellow.

The good news is that if dormancy is the issue, it’s not really going to be necessary to do anything. This is just a natural thing that will happen when the weather starts to get colder.

If this is occurring too early in the season, then it shouldn’t be related to a dormancy issue. There can sometimes be issues that will pop up when your elephant ear plants have been exposed to cooler weather than usual, though.

For example, you could have had a cold weather front move in and this could have caused some issues. If you keep your elephant ear plants indoors, then a drafty window, or placing it too close to a vent, could cause them to go into early dormancy.

If the dormancy is natural, then you shouldn’t worry about it. Just be sure to put your elephant ear plant in a good position where it is protected and has what it needs.

Tips for Preventing Elephant Ear Plant Leaves Yellowing

Elephant ear plants are beautiful and popular houseplants, but they can be susceptible to yellowing leaves. There are a number of things you can do to prevent yellowing leaves, including:

  • Provide the right amount of sunlight. Elephant ear plants need bright, indirect sunlight. Like most shade plants, too much direct sunlight can scorch the leaves and cause them to turn yellow. Then again, too little sunlight can cause the leaves to turn pale yellow.
  • Water regularly, but avoid overwatering. Elephant ear plants like moist soil, but they don’t like to be overwatered. Overwatering can lead to root rot, which is one of the worst things that can happen to a plant, and it often causes the leaves to turn yellow. Allow the top inch of soil to dry out between waterings.
  • Fertilize regularly. Elephant ear plants need a balanced fertilizer to stay healthy. I often advise my friends to fertilize their elephant ear plants every two weeks during the growing season with a balanced fertilizer. You can choose a suitable organic product that wouldn’t overwhelm your plant.
  • Inspect your plant regularly for pests and diseases. Elephant ear plants are quite susceptible to a number of pests and diseases. From experience, I can tell you that spider mites and aphids are a constant threat. If such pests attack your elephant ear plant, the leaves will definitely turn yellow.
  • Protect your plant from extreme temperatures. Elephant ear plants are tropical plants and prefer warm temperatures. If your elephant ear plant is exposed to cold temperatures, the leaves can turn yellow. If your plant is out on the porch, it’s best to move it inside the house when the weather becomes too chilly.
  • Maintain proper humidity. Being a tropical plant also calls for elevated humidity. Elephant ear plants prefer humid conditions. If the air in your home is dry, you can mist your elephant ear plant regularly, or place it on a pebble tray.

Final Thoughts

Yellowing Leaves On An Elephant Ear Plant

Caring for elephant ear plants is about paying attention to their needs. It’s possible to make certain mistakes that can cause the elephant ear plant’s leaves to turn yellow.

If you pay attention to your elephant ear plants, then you should be able to turn things around before they get too bad. Noticing the yellow leaves early on will tell you that something is amiss, and you’ll be able to make adjustments.

It’s very likely that the issue is related to improper watering habits, but it’s always best to check to be sure. Try to ensure that you’re not giving your elephant ears more than two to three inches of water each week because watering too much will be bad for the plants.

Sunlight issues can cause plants to have their leaves turn yellow, too. When a plant doesn’t receive enough bright indirect sunlight, its leaves will turn yellow over time.

Elephant ears are also known to grow pretty big, and this means that they need room to grow when planted in pots. You could see the leaves turn yellow because of the plant being in a pot that is too small for it, but you can repot the plant to make things better.

You’ll need to look for the signs and try to ensure that you’re caring for the plant right. If you’re doing what you’re supposed to do, then maybe it’s just the right time of the year for your elephant ears to go into dormancy.

Hopefully, you feel more informed about elephant ears and why they might have their leaves turn yellow now. It should be simpler to decide what to do since you’ll know what to look out for, and what the solutions to the different problems are.

Share this post:

Scott Bastoky

Tuesday 28th of June 2022

I am off to get a bigger planter!! I took it out of the current pot and it is root-bound.



Friday 14th of January 2022

Excellent and clear information thankyou


Saturday 23rd of October 2021

Thank you so very much for help on my elephant ear plant