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Sunburn, Bugs, and More: 11 Reasons Your Prayer Plant Is Yellowing

Sunburn, Bugs, and More: 11 Reasons Your Prayer Plant Is Yellowing

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Prayer plants have distinct requirements for light, soil condition, water quality, and humidity. As such, if you don’t meet these conditions, you’ll often see the foliage and the stems turn yellow.

Now, this can leave you wondering: why is my prayer plant turning yellow? Well, one of the most straightforward answers is that your plant probably underwent moisture stress.

However, there are a few more reasons why this happens!

So, keep reading if you want to know more about why your prayer plant is turning yellow and the possible solutions for it!

Why Do the Leaves on My Prayer Plant Turn Yellow?

There are many reasons why the leaves on your prayer plant turn yellow. Here are the most common causes:

1 – Overwatered

If you’re using well-drained soil in a pot that doesn’t have an excellent drainage system, your prayer plant is prone to overwatering.

This problem results from too much water in the soil, which, in turn, suffocates the roots.

Prolonged suffocation often makes the plant wilt. Hence, they can’t absorb the oxygen and nutrients your prayer plant needs to survive.

On top of that, the leaves will turn yellow and limp. In the worst cases, the plant will experience stunted growth, and its roots will die.

2 – Underwatered

As we all know, water is a necessity for photosynthesis. Moreover, it’s vital to the plants’ overall strength as they lose the liquid stored in their bodies through transpiration.

So, when your prayer plant gets dehydrated, it can’t produce food for itself. It also means that it won’t get the vital nutrients that it needs for it to thrive and bloom.

Aside from it not getting the necessary nutrition and turning weak, it makes the leaves turn yellow.

Sadly, the foliage also becomes extremely dry and brittle, to the extent that it can break apart when touched! Of course, the plant can completely die if left underwatered for an extended period.

3 – Sun Damage

Prayer plant only requires indirect or filtered sunlight. As such, putting it in an area with direct exposure to light puts it at risk of sun damage.

Just like our skin, the plant’s foliage gets sunburned if it absorbs too much sunlight. However, instead of turning red, the leaves turn yellow instead!

Placing it in the sunlight for too long can also leave it with scorch marks, which ruins the plant’s beauty.

Finally, excess sunlight alters the photosynthetic electron transport chain. Simply put, your prayer plant will only generate damaging molecules which can cause cell death.

4 – Underexposure to Light

If you keep your plant in a north-facing room, its leaves will likely turn yellow. Why, you might ask?

It’s because north-facing rooms are usually darker than the rest of your house, making it hard for your plant to conduct photosynthesis.

The plant won’t be able to receive the vital energy it needs for growth and maintenance. Also, sunlight is essential for chlorophyll production—the pigment that makes the plant’s foliage green.

Without it, the leaves will have a pale yellow shade instead.

Aside from stunted growth, your prayer plant will also experience phototropism. This phenomenon occurs when the plant shifts and grows in response to light.

5 – Inconsistent Humidity Level

Prayer plants are tropical plants; hence they thrive well in areas with balanced ambient moisture.

However, excess humidity, or the lack thereof, will significantly affect their health. For example, if there’s too much moisture in the air, the prayer plants can’t transpire.

Transpiration eliminates excess water from the prayer plants’ bodies. In addition, the process helps them cool down when the environment gets too hot.

On the other hand, when there are low moisture levels in the air, the plants transpire excessively. It means they lose tons of liquid to the point where their water balance gets thrown off.

Both circumstances result in the plants’ foliage turning yellow. Plus, their stems can no longer remain erect and become limp and wilt.

6 – Unstable Temperature

As mentioned earlier, prayer plants are tropical plants, so they’re susceptible to changes in temperature.

The thing is, they can’t withstand extreme climates. If you live in an area with temperatures usually lower than 55°F, your prayer plants’ leaves will definitely turn yellow.

Plus, they can completely die because they’re not cold hardy. You’ll know their health is deteriorating when they develop burn-like spots on the leaves and they start softening up.

On the other hand, if the temperature exceeds 75°F, the plants’ foliage will also turn yellow. On top of that, this puts them at risk of extreme sun damage.

Along with yellowing foliage, their stems will become limp and brittle too.

7 – Nutrient-Deficiency

Like humans, prayer plants need nutrients too. Unfortunately, this means they experience various health problems when lacking the necessary vitamins and minerals.

For example, the leaves may turn yellow if you don’t feed your prayer plant enough fertilizer.

Also, while phosphorus, potassium, and nitrogen are your prayer plant’s primary nutrients, it needs iron. This is because it plays a role in the herb’s metabolic processes and chlorophyll synthesis.

That said, if your plant is iron-deficient, it can experience chlorosis. It’s a health problem that causes foliage to turn yellow due to the lack of chlorophyll.

In addition, chlorosis affects the efficiency of photosynthesis because of the decrease in the number of chloroplasts per cell.

8 – Over Fertilizing

Over Fertilizing is a common issue that occurs whenever people want to make their plants grow faster. Unfortunately, doing this only causes more harm than good.

Using high amounts of fertilizer changes the soil composition. It creates high concentrations of salt, which can hurt the microorganisms that help your plant develop a strong root system.

Moreover, the plant starts to rely on an osmotic pressure gradient to absorb liquid. When the pressure around the roots gets too high, the flow of the water reverses.

As such, the water from the leaves flows out of the roots, causing leaf burn because they don’t have enough liquid to cool them.

You’ll know when your plant is experiencing leaf burns when its foliage starts to wilt and turn yellow. Another visible symptom is a crust of fertilizer forming on the soil’s surface.

9 – Improper Soil pH Level

Prayer plants’ preferred soil pH level is anywhere between 5.5 and 7.0. Anything higher or lower is too acidic or alkaline for them, which can be detrimental to their health.

For starters, if the soil is too alkaline, the plants can’t properly absorb the essential nutrients because it restricts the water supply to the roots. Therefore, it impairs the plant’s growth.

Additionally, it can also lead to iron deficiency, which, as mentioned earlier, can cause chlorosis. Of course, that’ll turn plants’ foliage yellow!

The same goes for acidic soil. It can cause calcium deficiency, which has the same effect as iron deficiency. Plus, the leaves develop burn marks on the tips or the leaf margins.

10 – Pest Infestation

If you don’t inspect your prayer plant often, you might be unaware that the reason behind the yellowing leaves is pest infestation.

Pests become attracted to the plant when the foliage and soil are too moist. Aphids, scale pests, and mites are the most common insects that might infect your prayer plant.

All of these pests suck the sap of your plants—withdrawal of the said liquid results in yellowing leaves.

In some cases, it also leads to the curling of the foliage, wilting, and even drying the entire plant.

11 – Poor Water Quality

According to Harvard Public Health, community water suppliers have incorporated fluoride in tap water to prevent tooth decay.

While it’s suitable for human consumption, it’s incredibly harmful to your prayer plants. Said mineral inhibits photosynthesis and other enzymatic processes.

So, if you use tap water that contains fluoride and other dissolved minerals, they’re likely to build up in the soil. You’ll know this is already happening when a white crust forms at the top of the substrate.

When absorbed by the plants, it moves into the transpiration stream through the roots or the stomata. Finally, it accumulates in the leaf margins, causing necrosis.

Necrosis is the death of the plant’s cells and tissues. Areas that experience said condition appear yellow with scorch marks.

How to Prevent a Prayer Plant From Turning Yellow

Below are the following preventive measures you can do to avoid yellowing leaves:

1 – Water When Necessary

To prevent under or overwatering your prayer plants, you should only water when it’s necessary to do so.

Only water the soil when the surface becomes dry during the growing season. You shouldn’t let the substrate dry out at all costs.

One of the easiest methods to check if your plant needs watering is by poking the soil. Ensure that your finger is at least two to three inches deep to fully determine whether the substrate is completely dry or is still moist.

2 – Move the Prayer Plant

You should relocate your prayer plant if you’re keeping it in a space that doesn’t receive much light or has a direct source of sunlight.

Ideally, your prayer plant should stay in an area that only receives indirect sunlight. If you’re keeping it outside, relocate it to a place with a roof or cover.

On the other hand, if you’re keeping it indoors, you can place them near a window. However, ensure a curtain or some obstruction will provide shade to the plant when it gets sunny outside.

3 – Maintain Steady Humidity Levels

If you live in an area with low humidity, consider installing a humidifier in your home. The appliance will help maintain the ideal moisture level to make your prayer plant thrive.

Alternatively, you can place your prayer plant in your bathroom if you don’t want to spend on a humidifier. This is a cost-effective method because hot baths naturally produce steam, increasing air moisture.

You can also try grouping your prayer plant with other plants that you own. Their constant transpiration produces water vapor, which, as a result, increases the moisture level.

4 – Treat Pest Infestations

You should always be on the lookout for mites and other types of pests that can infect your prayer plant.

As much as possible, inspect your prayer plant’s foliage, especially on the underside, to ensure that there aren’t any infestations.

If they’ve already infested your plant, immediately eliminate them using alcohol diluted in water. You can also use organic pesticides like neem oil if deemed necessary.

5 – Replace the Soil

You should always test your prayer plant’s soil often to ensure it isn’t too acidic or alkaline. Replace the substrate immediately if the pH level exceeds or falls below the average amount.

Alternatively, you can also replace the soil when it becomes completely dry to the extent that it no longer absorbs the water.

The easiest way to test your soil’s pH level is through the vinegar and baking soda test. To check if it’s alkaline, take two tablespoons of the soil, then put it in a cup.

Add a half cup of vinegar and check if it forms bubbles. If the soil fizzes, it’s alkaline.

To check for its acidity, put two tablespoons of soil in a cup, then moisten it with distilled water. Next, add half a tablespoon of baking soda. If it sizzles, then it’s acidic.

Final Thoughts

If you’re still wondering why your prayer plant is turning yellow, it’s most likely because of the soil, the environment, or even the pests.

You should never forget that prayer plants don’t like direct sunlight. As such, keep them in a place that has shade. Moreover, the soil shouldn’t be too dry, acidic, or alkaline.

Lastly, you should regularly feed your prayer plant with fertilizer to ensure it gets the appropriate nutrients.

Hopefully, following these steps will help prevent your prayer plant’s foliage from turning yellow—or help reverse the problem entirely!

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