A yellow leaf on your plant can be alarming; are you watering it too much or not watering it not enough? It’s hard to know as well as knowing what steps to take next, so should you cut yellow leaves off of your plants?
You should cut yellow leaves off the plant only when the entire leaf has turned yellow. This could be because of aging, pests, diseases, insufficient water, poor sunlight, or nutrient deficiency. Cutting off these leaves signals to the plant to send its nutrients to the green and healthy leaves.
So, how do you prevent your leaves from dying on your plants and turning yellow? Though it differs from plant to plant, keep reading if you want to figure out when you should cut off yellow leaves and when you should avoid it.
Should I Cut Yellow Leaves Off?
Only cut yellow leaves off when they are entirely yellow, with no green color left. When the leaves on your plants are entirely yellow, there is no chlorophyll or nutrients left, so you won’t be depriving your plants of any nutrients.
When cutting yellow leaves off, cut them off at the base of the stem, where they meet the rest of the plant. This will prevent any diseases affecting that leaf from infecting the rest of the plant and ensure they lose no needed nutrients when the leaf is cut off.
Yellow leaves don’t always need to be cut off, as they sometimes are yellow because of a lack of water, over-watering, or lack of sunlight.
I asked some gardeners if they cut yellow leaves off plants. As you can see below, 96.7% prefer to cut off such yellow leaves as they feel it benefits the plant.
8 Natural Causes Of Yellow Leaves On Plants
Whether your plants are being underwatered, overwatered, and the amount of sunlight they get are all factors that need to be considered before you cut off yellow leaves.
Here is a list of the principal causes of dead leaves:
- Not enough sunlight
- Too much sunlight
- Nutrient deficiency
- Root rot
Over Vs Under Watering
There are many ways to test if your plant is being overwatered. One way is to press your finger about an inch into the soil to see if it is wet or dry. If it is dry it may be underwatered. If your finger is wet, then it is likely overwatered.
Some signs of overwatering include rotting roots, foul smell, fungus, and leaf blisters. Some signs of underwatering include slow or stunted growth, dry leaves, and brittle stems.
If you find your issue is underwatering, then water your plant until you see water coming from the drainage holes on the bottom of the pot. Do this a few times over the course of a week to ensure the entire plant is getting the water it needs.
If you find your issue is overwatering, then just start watering your plant less often than you normally have, and keep a note of how the plant changes over time. You may also want to make sure the soil is dry before you water your plant again.
Pests In Plants
Though most common in outdoor plants, indoor plants can get infested with pests. The most common pests found invading house plants are aphids, mealybugs, red spider mites, centipedes, thrips, springtails, fungus flies, and slugs.
Signs to look for, other than yellowing leaves, include:
- Misshapen leaves
For more info on the many types of pests, signs, and prevention, this website outlines it all: How to Identify and Control House Plant Pests | Our House Plants.
Some common signs of your plant not getting enough sun are abnormally small leaves, slow or stopped growth, and the leaves turning yellow. If you’ve looked at the other alternative problems and tried other solutions, then a lack of sunlight might cause your yellow leaves.
First, try moving your plant to a spot with more sunlight throughout the day. Also, try turning the plant when you water it so the entire plant receives sunlight periodically.
If you put your plants in windowsills, try placing them in windows that face south, west, and east. If your plants are struggling in the wintertime and there’s not enough sun outside, think about investing in artificial lighting so you can keep them healthy.
If a plant is too cold, not only can the leaves turn yellow, but the leaves can start curling, become brown, and flowers will die. To prevent this from occurring, keep the plants away from cold drafts such as open windows or vents that blow cold or hot air, as plants can overheat as well.
Look up the ideal temperature for the plants that you have that are struggling to see if you need to change its living conditions.
Just like humans, plants need certain nutrients to grow and thrive. Nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium are some nutrients that a plant can lack, causing its leaves to yellow. Other signs of a nutrient deficient plant include distorted leaf shapes and stunted growth.
This website can assist you in knowing what nutrient your plant is deficient in according to the signs it is showing: Identifying Nutrient Deficiency in Plants. Once you have identified what nutrient your plant is lacking, then buy a plant feed that is rich in that!
Root rot is exactly what it sounds like; the roots of your plants are rotting. When the roots rot on your plant, a fungus that can kill your roots and deprive them of oxygen has infected them. We usually find it in over-watered plants. When this root rot sets in, your plant will have:
- Yellowing leaves
- Multiple leaves fall off
- Pale leaves
- Wilting plant
- Lack of plant growth
- Brown leaves.
To prevent root rot from setting in, avoid over-watering your plant, ensure there is proper drainage in the pot, get the correct pot size for your plant, and stick to a regular watering schedule.
Here are some of my favorite container gardening tools
Thank you for reading this post. I hope it helps you with your gardening needs. I’ve listed some tools below that can help you with container gardening. These are affiliate links so I’ll earn a commission if you use them.
Gardening Gloves – I find the Pine Tree Tools Bamboo Gardening Gloves really good for both men and women. It’s made from bamboo so helps absorb perspiration. They are also comfortable and fit very well.
Containers – You know picking the right container is crucial for your container gardening. I’ve written a detailed post on the best containers you can choose from. If you’re happy with a plastic container, you can check out the Bloem Saturn Planter.
Watering Can – This is a must-have tool when you’re growing plants in pots or grow bags. It helps to water the potting soil without splashing on the foliage. The Kensington Watering Can is stylish, strong, and can provide precision when watering potted plants.
Trowel – Garden Guru Trowel is my favorite because it’s durable and comfortable to use. My gardening friends really love having a trowel because they use it for digging soil, mixing fertilizer, moving seeds, leveling out the soil, mixing compost or mulch, and also dividing tubers
Bypass Pruner – I really like the Corona Bypass Pruner because it’s durable and gives a clean cut that helps plants recover faster. If you’re looking for something cheap, get the Fiskars Bypass Pruner that is really good as well.
To see an extensive list of the best container gardening tools gardeners recommend, check out this resource that I made for you.
Kevin is the founder of Gardening Mentor, a website that aims to teach people to grow their own food in a limited space. As a self-taught gardener, Kevin has spent several years growing plants and creating gardening content on the website. He is certified in Home Horticulture and Organic Gardening by expert gardeners from Oregon State University.