How to save a calathea with yellow leaves?

Calathea may have yellow leaves

Image – Wikimedia/Dinkum

Calathea is a beautiful plant: there are different varieties, which can have rounded and wide leaves, or elongated and not very wide. like the C. lancifolia in the picture above. For this reason, it is one of those that are almost always found for sale in nurseries and garden centres: it is so beautiful that it sells very well. I would have several of these myself if it weren’t for the fact that I’m also in love with Alocasia and Colocasia, two plants that produce leaves that can grow very large. And I have to choose, because the space available to put them is very limited.

But let’s not get distracted. In this article I will explain why calathea can have yellow leavesa problem that is not only seen in our protagonist, but in any plant, especially those grown indoors.


Yellow leaves: one symptom, several causes

I’ve been writing on this blog since 2013, and responding to the comments you leave us, and if there’s something that’s repeated a lot, it’s: “my plant has yellow leaves, what’s wrong not ?”. The problem is that this question has no easy answer, because When a plant shows this symptom, it may be starving for water, nutrients, drying out, having a pest or disease, or even being scorched by the sun.

Focusing on calatheas, It also cannot be excluded that the irrigation water and/or the soil contain a lot of lime. and that therefore they had a very high pH, ​​above 7. When this happens, you can see traces of calcium everywhere:

  • White spots on the leaves
  • Scale buildup on the walls of the pot
  • Soil that used to be black (or dark brown) and is now whitish

And of course, yellow leaves which then turn brown. Therefore, how to recover a calathea that is struggling?

Identify the cause of your Calathea problem

The Calathea roseopicta is a tall plant

Image – Wikimedia/Jerzy Opioła // Calathea roseopicta

This is the first thing to do and also the most complicated to recover it. Once this is done, you will be able to know what measures you need to put into practice so that your plant becomes beautiful again as soon as possible. Therefore, here is a list of the most common issues that cause leaf yellowing and their symptoms:

  • lack of watering: the calathea which is thirsty, before turning yellow we will see that its leaves seem to “fall” a little. If the condition persists, the newer leaves will begin to turn yellow, and in severe cases, they will turn brown. If detected and corrected early, you will only be left with a few brown edges, but the rest of the sheet will retain its normal color.
  • over watering: when there is too much water, the roots drown and the first leaves to have difficulties are the oldest, because they are the first to receive said liquid. These will turn yellow and then dry out. Also, the soil will look very wet and if you pick up the pot, you will notice that it is very heavy.
  • Inadequate irrigation water: being a tropical plant, avoid using water rich in limestone or with a pH higher than 7 to irrigate. As we just saw above, too much lime can cause you various problems.
  • Sunburn: the direct sun and the light that hits it through a window burns its leaves. But be careful, not all of them, only those who are most exposed. In them, spots will appear overnight, or even on the very day the burn occurred. This is not a particularly serious problem, as it is just as easily solved as we will see later, but it must be avoided to be healthy.
  • need for nutrients: if we never pay the calathea, the color of its leaves will be lost. That’s what happens when you leave it in the same pot for years and years, with old soil.
  • has parasites: although it is quite resistant, calathea can be attacked by mealybugs or mites. These insects suck the sap from the leaves, making them look yellow or yellowish.

What to do to recover it?

Related article:

Calathea treatment

If the calathea is yellow and you have already identified the problem, it is time to take some steps to recover. These measures are as follows:

Bad irrigation

Irrigation is very important, but it is even more important to do it well. For it, if you are thirsty, water it more often. If the soil does not absorb water, we will immerse the pot in a container filled with this liquid for a few minutes, then we will remove it.

On the contrary, if it has too much water, I recommend taking it out of the pot and covering the bread with soil or the root ball with paper towel. The next day it will be planted in a pot with new soil, such as BioBizz, Weedness, Flower or similar brands.

Likewise, rainwater or drinking water must be used for each watering. This way, the plant is well hydrated.

Sunburn or direct light

Calatheas are plants that live in areas where there is plenty of light, but no direct light. In fact, they grow protected by the branches and leaves of plants much larger than themselves. For him, They should never be exposed to direct sunlight, nor placed next to a window through which a lot of light enters. because the magnifying effect would occur, thus burning the leaves.

Although the damage can be severe and the burnt leaves are no longer healthy, To prevent this from happening again, we will only have to do one thing: place it in the shade, or if it is indoors, move it away from the window..

need for nutrients

Lack of nutrients can be a problem. Therefore, to avoid it, it is important to fertilize the calathea in spring and summer, and if it is hot, also in autumn. But what to use? The best are organic fertilizers, such as guano or seaweed extract, because they are non-toxic. Now, if our plant is still indoors, we can fertilize it with universal liquid fertilizer or for green plants.

But in any case, We will apply it as indicated on the packaging; otherwise, the cure may be worse than the disease.

has parasites

Plants can have scale insects

Image – Flickr/Katja Schulz

Pests appear when the environment is very dry, when temperatures are high and/or when you are thirsty. For it, it is important that it be kept in a place with high relative humidity, and if it is below 50%, spray water on its leaves every day.

But in case you already have some, it can be removed by cleaning its leaves with rainwater or water suitable for human consumptionor by treating it with an insecticidal spray, like this one.

With this, your yellow leaf calathea will surely recover.

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