Reasons Why Orchid Leaves are Turning Yellow

Orchids are visually pleasing indoor and outdoor plants that are easy to grow when you place them in the right spot in the home. In addition, an orchid can display fascinating colors and also survive different conditions.

However, there are instances when you notice your orchid leaves turning yellow. Yes, it is a common problem that many indoor gardeners face when growing this gorgeous plant. I know it can leave you frustrated as you know it can be part of the natural lifecycle.

But when those leaves start dropping away, and new leaves with a flower spike appear, you know it is shedding its old foliage. But if this does not happen, then there are multiple reasons for yellow leaves on your orchid.

Today, Plantly will help you explore these reasons to help you find out why they turn increasingly yellow to rectify the problem.

Understanding Why Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow

yellow orchid leaf

When you look at your Phalaenopsis orchids, the leaves’ appearance reveals much about the plant’s health. So, why are your orchid leaves turning yellow? Well, one thing is for sure it is not the end of your flowers world, as some factors discussed here can help prevent this from happening. But it will take some exploring to find out what causes the yellow leaves.

Too Much Direct Sunlight Causes Yellowing Leaves

sunlight and orchid

Orchids are tropical plants growing naturally under tree canopies in indirect sunlight. Hence, the Phalaenopsis orchid standing in a spot with direct sunlight can turn yellow. The leaves fade, and you may notice cracks and scorch marks with burnt leaf tips.

So, we recommend checking where you have your orchid standing. Suppose you have your plant at a north or east-facing window in summer. Then move your plant in winter to the east or south-facing window.

Still, one cannot determine what location works best. If you feel your orchids are getting too much direct sunlight, the best is to move them to another place. Or you can add a sheer curtain or move it further away from the window.

Watering Routine to Prevent Root Rot

watering and orchids

Another big concern with yellow orchid leaves is overwatering, resulting from root rot. Rotting roots is fatal for orchid plants. So, when you place too much water in the potting medium, your plant cannot absorb it all. It becomes a severe problem.

But do not feel bad as many gardeners with indoor plants tend to overwater them. So all you did was go a bit overboard. Orchids need little water, and the best is to check the soil using your finger.

If the soil is not dry, wait a day or two. If it is dry, then give your plant some water. You can somewhat underwater than overwater as orchids tolerate little water better. Another reason is that it does not have a well-draining potting mix.

We recommend removing your orchid to check if it has healthy green roots. If not, remove the infected roots and place them in potting medium with enough drainage holes.

Too Much Fertilizer Causes Yellow Leaves

orchids and fertilizer

Similar to overwatering, we sometimes tend to over-fertilize our plants. Adding too much fertilizer to the potting medium can lead to fertilizer burn.

On the other hand, if your plant does not get its iron intake, the leaves can turn yellow, a phenomenon called chlorosis. So, if you want healthy roots and foliage, regulate the use of orchid fertilizer.

Remember that your houseplant is a light feeder. It helps to dilute it to a 1/2 or 1/4 strength. Or, you can use an orchid-specific fertilizer and follow the instructions provided. If you use a water-soluble feed, ensure that you do not constantly water your plant.

Doing this allows the nutrient salts to drain out of the potting soil. If you recently brought the plant home, it is already in bloom and does not need a feed. Yet, once the blossom drops, you can give it some fertilizer.

The feed will help with healthy orchid leaves and flower development. Similar to overfeeding, not fertilizing can also lead to orchid leaves turning yellow.

Common Diseases That Can Be The Culprit

diseased orchids

Another concern causing your orchid plant leaves to turn yellow is the possibility of a disease occurrence. You may find it leads to yellow spots or patches instead of the entire leave-turning yellow.

A Common Problem Root Rot

orchid root rot

As mentioned in the overwatering sections, root rot is a common problem for Phalaenopsis orchid leaves to turn yellow. The problem with the fungal infection is that it takes over fast, resulting in plant death. So, check the roots and if it is black, soft and very fragile, you know the cause of the problem. You can save the healthy roots and remove the rotten ones.

Fungal Leaf Spot

You will notice yellowing starting at the underside and bottom of the leaves. The yellow spots become larger when left untreated, turning brown or even black. If there is a mild infection, you can wipe the leaves down with a fungicide and remove the infected parts.

Bacterial Brown Spot

orchid bacterial leaf spot

If you notice leaves turn yellow and look wet with brown spots, it can be a bacterial infection. Placing your orchid in a humid and warm place can cause this to happen. When it worsens, it leads to complete yellowing leaves and is a sign of stress.

It’s best to remove the infected foliage and use a bacterial spray or a fungicide to prevent the spores from infecting other parts of the plant.

Environment and Temperature Changes

orchid indoors

Yes, sudden temperature and environmental changes can be the reason for your orchid’s leaves turning yellow. It can happen when you bring your orchid home for the first time. Or it can happen when you move your plant from one spot to another.

For a newly bought orchid, find a perfect spot to adapt to its new home gradually. When temperatures drop too low, it can also lead to leaves turning yellow. Keeping your orchid plant away from drafts, air conditioners, and fans is best.

Key Notes With Yellowing Leaves

  • The main reason for orchid leaves turning yellow is root rot from overwatering and results from slow-draining soil.

  • If too much moisture is present, it can be from using ordinary potting soil and moss. The potting medium retains moisture, and the roots do not get oxygen.

  • An ideal potting medium is pine bark as it provides drainage and is aery to promote healthy roots.

  • When your orchid has yellow leaves that look shrivelled, it can be from underwatering.

  • Another sign of yellow leaves is too much direct sunlight scorching the foliage.

  • The same applies to fertilizer, as using too much can result in yellow leaves.

  • Even temperatures dropping below zero can cause leaves to turn yellow.

Final Thoughts

When you notice orchid leaves yellow, the best thing you can do is work your way through all of the reasons provided to help determine the problem. The likeliness is that your plant is going through a natural life cycle or under stress.

Once you specify the cause of the problem, you can take practical steps to ensure it does not return in the future.

Whether you want to buy, sell or simply reach out to other plant enthusiasts, Plantly is the right place to be!

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