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Why is my calathea turning yellow?

Wondering why your calathea plant leaves are turning yellow? Let’s diagnose this common problem and get your plant healthy again!

Calathea plants are beautiful and have large, uniquely colored foliage.

However, these plants aren’t the easiest to care for. They get brown spots and sticky leaves easily, plus they must drink distilled or rain water.

So, it’s not shocking if your calathea plant isn’t doing well. They are frequently unhappy.

Today we are going to chat about yellowing leaves on a calathea plant and what to do about them!

why is my calathea turning yellow

Free printable Calathea care guide

Join the (free!) KeepYourPlantsAlive+ community to access this exclusive printable plant care guide! Once you sign up, you can right click & save the JPG care guide. Or keep scrolling for more!

peacock plant plant care guide

Why is my calathea plant turning yellow?

Here are a few common reasons that you might get calathea yellowing leaves.

  • Overwatering
  • Low humidity
  • Inconsistant watering
  • Insufficient light
  • Root bound plant
  • Bacterial Leaf Spot
  • Pests
  • Old age


Overwatering is the #1 cause of yellowing leaves on most indoor house plants. In general, plants don’t like to sit in excess water. Pooling water can lead to root rot which will kill your plant.

If you suspect overwatering, stick your finger about 2 inches into the soil. Does it feel wet? Don’t water again until it dries out.

If your plant is way over watered, take it out of the pot. Dump out any excess water and wet soil and re-pot with fresh potting mix.

Be sure that your pot has drainage holes to prevent excess water from pooling in the future.

calathea with sun damaged leaves

Low humidity

Humidity is very important to calathea plants. They need a very humid environment. Mist them, use a pebble tray, or run a humidifier to keep them happy.

Inconsistant watering

Calathea plants are very picky on watering. They need to be watered regularly. If you let them dry out or swing wildly from very try to soggy, they can be very unhappy. They prefer to be watered a little frequently than flooded occasionally.

Insufficient light

If your plant isn’t getting enough light, the leaves will start to turn yellow and drop. This will especially happen to older leaves towards the base of the plant.

The cure to this is to move your plant into bright, indirect light. It will be much happier.

Root Bound Plant

It is possible that your plant has become root bound. Basically, the roots are too big for the pot.

Pull it out of the pot and see! If it’s been there a while – this is a real possibility.

If the roots are tightly packed or even poking out the drainage hole – time for a bigger pot. Add fresh potting soil while you are at it for a happier plant!

calathea with yellow leaves

Bacterial Leaf Spot

Soft, brown, mushy spots on a leaf are called Bacterial Leaf Spots. This come from water sitting on the leaves and rotting them.

Remove all effected leaves and avoid getting the leaves wet when you water it!


Spider mites, scale, and mealy bugs can get on the underside of leaves and suck the nutrients out of your plant.

If you suspect pests, isolate your plant to help prevent it from spreading to other plants.

Old age

As plants get older, it is natural for some of the older leaves to yellow and fall off, making room for new growth. Keeping a leaf green takes energy, and some plants decide to allocate that energy to new plants.

If this is the case, you will have yellowing of older leaves – near the base of the plant – only, and not new growth.

potted peacock calathea

FAQs about yellowing calathea plant leaves

What do you do when calathea leaves turn yellow?

When your calathea plant’s leaves start turning yellow, that is a warning sign that it is likely in distress. If a lot of leaves turn yellow and drop, it’s a lot of stress. Time to take action! Diagnose the problem from the list above and do your best to treat it.

Can Yellow calathea plant leaves turn green again?

No, yellow or dead leaves will not turn green again. Once they lose their chloroform, the plant abandons them and moves on. #ruthless

Should I remove yellow leaves from calathea plants?

Removing yellowing leaves is a personal preference. I tend to tug on them lightly and if they pop off easily, I pop them off.

You can read my complete guide to removing dead leaves here!

What does an overwatered calathea plant look like?

Overwatered plants get limp, yellow leaves that drop and fall off. They can also get mushy brown or black spots on the leaves.

Do calathea plants leaves turn yellow in fall?

No, calathea plant leaves don’t change seasonally like a maple tree. If your plant’s leaves are yellowing, it indicates a problem. Maybe the cool weather is getting it if it is outdoors.

Why are my calathea plant leaves turning yellow and brown

If your calathea plant leaves are turning yellow and crispy brown, that indicates it needs more water or humidity. If it is mushy brown and yellow, that indicated overwatering and potentially root rot.

Why are my calathea plant leaves turning brown?

Brown crispy calahtea plant leaves indicate not enough water, low humidity, or too much direct sunlight.

Read about brown spots on calathea plants here.

Why are my calathea plant leaves turning yellow with black spots?

If your calathea leaves are yellow with black spots, it is severely overwatered. Pull it out of the pot, dump any excess, add new dry potting soil, and repot them in a pot with drainage holes. Only water your plant when the soil feels dry to the touch.

Why is my calathea plant leaves turning yellow after repotting?

Yellowing leaves can indicate stress or shock. Moving a plant can cause stress. Be sure it has plenty of drainage, is not over or under watered, and is getting enough light.

More about calathea plants:

Free printable Calathea care guide

Join the (free!) KeepYourPlantsAlive+ community to access this exclusive printable plant care guide! Once you sign up, you can right click & save the JPG care guide. Or keep scrolling for more!

peacock plant plant care guide

Any more questions about yellowing calathea leaves?!

Thanks for reading!

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