Yellow Leaves On Philodendron - Knowledgebase Question

Melbourne, In
Avatar for harllinc
Question by harllinc
August 4, 2002
I have a xanadu philodendron, in a semi-sunny position (in a restaurant). Some of the leaves are turning yellow. I have just fed it with slow release fertilizer. There are nw leaves growing. Is this a lack of a certain nutrient or something else?

Name: Will Creed
Prof. plant consultant & educator
Answer from WillC
December 23, 2017
It is very tempting to look for simple solutions - such as fertilizer - to plant problems. Yellow leaves are a generic symptom with a number of possible causes, including improper light and water. Indeed inadequate nutrients is among the least likely causes of indoor plant yellowing.

In this case, proper diagnosis cannot be made without knowing just what "semi-sunny" means and what the watering routine has been. Beware of quick and easy solutions without proper diagnosis of cause.

Answer from NGA
August 4, 2002
Lack of nutrients would generally show as an overall lack of vigor and the leaves turning a paler green, rather than yellowing. Generally speaking, as long as you read and followed the label instructions and used a fertilizer formulated for indoor foliage plants, then that should be fine.

Fertilizing is usually most important in spring and summer when the days are long and less needed in the fall and winter as the days shorten and the plant naturally slows its growth. In either case, it is better to underfertilize than to overfertilize. Overfertilizing can actually cause yellowing due to its potential "burning" effect if overapplied.

In my experience, an occasional yellowing leaf is somewhat normal for this plant. These should just be removed as they occur to tidy things up.

Extensive yellowing leaves, however, are most often caused by allowing the plant to dry out too much. This is an easy care plant but it does require regular attention. For best results, the soil should be kept evenly moist but not soaking wet. Make sure when you water that the water is soaling into the soil and not running out between a gap between the pot and the soil.

As the plant grows and the roots fill the container, you may need to water more often than you did earlier. Eventually, the plant may need watering so often that it may need to be repotted. The best time to do this is in spring, although it can be done anytime if a plant is severely rootbound.

General care would also include gently cleaning accumulated dust off of the leaves from time to time, either by wiping with a cloth dampened with plain water or by rinsing it under a soft spray of tepid water.

Other causes for yellowing can be exposure to hot or cold drafts, excessive direct sun reaching a plant that had previously been grown in a relatively dark location, and interestingly enough, overwatering.

If the soil is kept too wet the roots suffer lack of air. For this reason, do not allow the plant to sit in a saucer filled with water after watering, and try to keep it moist but never totally saturated. Sometimes, in offices for example, several people will independently water a plant with the best of intentions and the end result is overly wet soil. Maybe this is happening in your restaurant also.

Good luck with your plant!

Avatar for Makaruchi
A comment from Makaruchi
December 23, 2017
Epson salt + peroxide + aspirin can solve your problem.

Name: Will Creed
Prof. plant consultant & educator
A comment from WillC
December 26, 2017
I'm sorry, but I cannot let these untested, unscientific home remedies go unchallenged.

Epsom salts add magnesium, a nutrient that plants use in very small quantities. Any complete fertilizer includes magnesium. With Epsom salts, there is a substantial risk of providing excess magnesium. Peroxide does nothing more than plain water. Aspirin is of no value to plants.

Avatar for docgipe
Answer from docgipe
December 24, 2017
Restaurants are noted to be a difficult environment to grow plants within. The air tends to loaded with oil from the cooking process. The oil picks up and carries all kinds of dust which causes it to be a low grade stain or paint. The poor plants can not breathe well when coated with cooking oil and public place airborne filth. Plants have little tolerance to oils. Commercial organic Neem Oil when directions are followed will serve as an acceptable cleaning solution and be relatively safe, free of chemicals that befoul the air in normal public gathering places. Today I use the modern synthetic cleaning cloths to gently clean larger and more sturdy plants. On more delicate plants I get serious with swabs and Q-Tips. I have been known to spray, soak and shower when space and time permits. Neem Oil is an organic insecticide, miticide and fungicide. I have followed this advice for sixty or more years in my home.

You must be signed in before you can post questions or answers. Click here to join!

« Return to the Garden Knowledgebase Homepage

Member Login:

( No account? Join now! )

Today's site banner is by bootandall and is called "Clematis integafolia"

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.