Why Are My Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow - Common Causes & Fixs

Written by Ivy

Feb 07 2023

Why Are My Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow - Common Causes & Fixs

Once flourishing, your orchid is now beginning to show signs of illness. "Why are the leaves on my orchids yellowing?" you ask. If the tips and sides of your orchid's leaves start to yellow, your plant is probably lacking in magnesium or nitrogen. Your orchid's leaves may turn yellow if you overwater it, which can cause root rot. The first step in caring for a phalaenopsis orchid plant is to pay attention to the roots, leaves, and soil of your plant, as these areas can tell you a lot about its health. Here are a few potential reasons why the leaves on your orchid are yellowing, along with some solutions.

Why Are My Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow

The Natural Death Of Old Foliage

In most cases, yellowing orchid leaves are a normal part of this particular plant's life cycle.

The lowest set of leaves begin to turn yellow when the plant needs to produce new leaves or a new flower spike. They eventually regress and detach from the plant.

The reason that orchids do this is because orchids prioritize new growth, so the plant believes the lower leaves are unnecessary.

The leaves' access to water is cut off, and as a result, they eventually wither away from the plant.


How can I tell if the yellowing is typical?

Of course, you don't want to assume that the yellowing is normal only to realize you missed a significant problem.

Allow your orchid plant to keep producing yellow leaves if one or two of the lower leaves do so. This is a typical indicator of natural dieback.

The leaves of the plant will eventually wither away as they become more and more yellow over time. These leaves are naturally shed because the plant isolates them from the rest of the plant.

Don't remove them from the plant yourself!

Some people remove them because the look of yellow leaves is unsightly. Manually removing the leaves from your plant increases the risk of diseases.

It's similar to making an open wound on your plant.

Instead, hold off until the leaves start to look yellow and withered, which is a sign that the plant has started the shedding process. Then, use a sharp, sterile knife to remove the leaf at the base.

Direct Sunlight

An orchid with yellowing leaves may have been exposed to direct sunlight. You might actually notice a white area with dark brown spots that is encircled by yellow.

Care advice for orchid plants: Although this tropical plant adores light, indirect sunlight is preferred. North and east-facing windows are the best for displaying Phalaenopsis orchids on windowsills because they receive the least amount of direct sunlight.

And if you don't have windows facing in either of those directions, don't worry. Artificial lighting is also beneficial for orchids.

Low Temperature

The yellowing of orchid leaves is another symptom of low temperatures. A room with an orchid should never be kept below 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Keep the temperature between 65 and 80 when caring for your orchid plant to ensure its success. A close proximity to open windows, fans, and air conditioning vents will cause your orchid to dry out. Because they are tropical plants, orchids prefer humidity levels between 55 and 75 percent.


Your orchid's leaves could turn yellow from root rot if you overwater it. The good news is you never have to worry about overwatering because Just Add Ice orchids only require three ice cubes once a week.

The purpose of using ice cubes is that they melt slowly, dripping water out slowly. Three ice cubes are sufficient, even if you notice multiple stems emerging from the same plant. (Also Read: Why Is My Orchid Stem Turning Yellow)

Orchid Plant Care Tip: Repotting your plant in a brand-new potting medium will help your orchid plant recover if it has root rot. If your orchid still has some healthy green roots, trim the rotted roots before repotting.

Too Acidic Or Too Alkaline Soil PH

In soils with a pH of 6-7, which is slightly acidic, hibiscus do well. If hibiscus is planted in soil that is too acidic or too alkaline the this prevents the uptake of nutrients from the soil and the leaves turn yellow with green veins (chlorosis).

The majority of organic matter, once fully decomposed, has a pH in the range of 6-7, which is fortunately in the range where most garden soil falls.

But there are environmental factors, like the underlying rock, that can cause soil to be excessively acidic or alkaline.

I advise getting a soil gauge from Amazon or a garden center to determine the pH of your soil if several plants also show yellowing with green veins.

If your soils is significantly out of the range of pH 6-7 then you should grow hibiscus in pots, containers or raised beds rather then garden soil as changing the soil pH is a tricky process.

If at all possible, move your hibiscus to a pot with multipurpose compost, as this will provide the proper pH level for your hibiscus. Hibiscus cannot survive in excessively acidic or alkaline soils without being moved to a more suitable soil, and neither can it survive in either soil for an extended period of time.

Nutrient Deficiency

If you don't give your plants any fertilizer, a nutrient deficiency could cause yellowing as well.

If you believe that your plant will receive enough nutrients from the potting soil, you might be unaware that you need to fertilize your plants.

Despite the fact that it does, there isn't enough to last forever.

When the nutrient reserves run out, your plant will start to sign shows of nutrient deficiency unless you apply a feeding.

Manganese, zinc, iron, and nitrogen deficiencies are most frequently found in orchids. All of these need fertilizer to grow properly.



One of the more frequent reasons for the yellowing of orchid leaves is this. There are two different diseases to be aware of.

If your orchid smells fine but looks spotty, it most likely has a fungal infection. On the undersides of leaves, typical fungal diseases first appear as yellow spots. As they grow, these spots can be seen on the leaf's both sides and eventually turn brown or black.

If you notice a foul smell, there's a good chance your orchid has a bacterial infection.

Move your orchid away from other plants in either situation. Then, remove the infected area with a sterilized pair of scissors and spray the plant with a fungicide.

How to Revive Yellow Hibiscus Leaves Due to Drought Stress

To revive your hibiscus suffering from drought stress, the first thing you should is…

  • Give the hibiscus a generous soak. A generous soak once a week is preferable to frequent, light watering because it ensures that the water penetrates the soil to the depth necessary to reach the roots. It also encourages the roots to grow and establish which further increases the hibiscus tolerance to drought,
  • Shelter the hibiscus from excess winds which sap the leaves of moisture. High winds cause the air's humidity to decrease, which is in conflict with the hibiscus' preferred tropical climate for growth. If you want to protect your potted hibiscus from the wind, think about planting some additional shrubs, or move it to a location that is still sunny but protected by a garden fence.
  • Add a layer of mulch to the surface of the soil for your hibiscus to retain moisture, add nutrients and improve soil structure. Compost, leaf mold, or well-rotted manure spread over the soil around the hibiscus plant increases the soil's ability to retain moisture, reducing the risk of drought. If your soil dries out too quickly, apply the mulch once in the spring and once more in the middle of the summer.
  • Water the hibiscus as often as required to keep the soil moist. Hibiscus grows best in soil that drains well and stays consistently moist; when the soil dries out, it turns yellow. Typically watering once per week with a good soak is good enough to prevent drought stress and yellow leaves but increase the frequency of your watering according to you climate as hot and dry climates require more frequent watering to keep the hibiscus looking green.
  • Use a sprayer bottle too mist the leaves to increase the humidity and prevent further water loss.

The hibiscus should recover from drought stress with consistent watering, wind protection, and mulch applications.

The yellow foliage should start to turn a healthier green color over the course of the following week, and the leaves should appear less shriveled or curled.

How to Prevent Orchid Leaves from Turning Yellow

Strong and stable orchid leaves are a sign of a healthy plant. Download our Orchid Care Tip Sheet for assistance in troubleshooting and even to prevent your orchid leaves from turning yellow. Keep it handy for information on contaminants, care after blooming, repotting and much more.

One of the orchid plant maintenance procedures that our customers are the most apprehensive about is repotting. With our repotting kit, which comes with potting media, clips, a growing pot, and a ceramic pot, we've made it simple!

Tips, Cures, and Remedies

With proper care, orchids can live for years and will happily rebloom under optimal growing conditions. Check the roots first if you notice any yellowing of the orchid leaves. Look at the roots and stem of the plant after gently removing it from its container. Change your watering schedule if the roots are white, gray, or black.

Healthy roots suggest that nutrient, temperature, or humidity problems are to blame for the yellowing. Change the surroundings of the plant and give it a few weeks to heal. You may want to build a recovery enclosure that is easy to keep at the perfect temperature and humidity. After letting an orchid dry out or get too wet, you can use this to help it recover.

Above all, don't panic if you see yellowing. Attempting too many fixes at once will stress your orchid more than it will benefit from it. Take your time trying to determine the cause before adjusting anything.


Final Thoughts

Usually, we can determine how to care for a particular plant in our homes by observing how it behaves in the wild. In their natural habitat, most orchids grow as epiphytes, hanging from a tree's bark. Naturally, the tree's bark is encircled by and penetrated by their roots. This supports the plant and allows it to absorb moisture and nutrients from the air around it.

Mimicking this environment as closely as possible is the best way to ensure a long, healthy, flower filled life for your orchids. Striking the right balance of light, water and humidity will solve 90% of the issues related to yellowing orchid leaves.

Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow FAQs

How Do I Fix Yellow Leaves on My Orchid?

The most common cause for orchid leaves turning yellow is overwatering, followed by excessive light exposure. Adjusting the watering routine, light exposure, and temperature around the plant can all treat yellowed leaves.

Should I Cut Yellow Leaves Off Orchid?

Generally speaking, it's best to let yellow leaves on orchid plants fall off naturally. To be safe, you should remove any affected areas if your plant has obvious signs of disease or bacterial infections.

What Are the Signs of An Overwatered Orchid?

The most noticeable symptoms of overwatered orchid plants are a general drooping of the plant, slow or minimal new leaf growth, and evidence of yellowing leaves.

How Often Should Orchids Be Watered?

Most orchid plants will need to be watered every 5 to 10 days during the spring, summer, and early fall months when the soil base is 90%+ dry. The frequency of watering should be reduced to every 10 to 15 days during the winter, when the orchid plant goes into dormancy, or when the soil moisture content drops back to 10%. To water the orchid plant, liberally soak the soil in the potting container with either rainwater or filtered water and stop when water begins to disperse from the drainage holes.