Why Are My Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow?

Several factors could be responsible for the leaves on your orchid turning yellow. It could be just age catching up on it or it could be you not paying attention to certain factors that determine its well being. Either ways, it’s important for you to know the cause of your unhappy orchid. This way, you can take steps to nip the problem in the bud to keep your plant happy.

Exposure to direct sunlight could have been the cause of the yellowing leaves or excessive watering of the plant and many other probable causes. This article will dissect all the factors that could be responsible for the yellowing leaves on your orchid.

Causes of yellowing of orchid leaves

Excessive watering

Why are my orchid leaves turning yellow? Root rot can make orchid leaves turn yellow and overwatering is responsible for this rot. This can bring about rapid death to the roots of the orchid. The plant then finds it impossible to absorb nutrients and water, putting the orchid in trouble. While trying to ensure your plant is well watered for best care, you tend unintentionally overwater it, which may prove fatal. Your orchid doesn’t need much water, making it easy for it to get overwatered.

To ensure you don’t get your orchid into trouble, try to touch the top soil to check if it is dry. If it is not dry to your touch, don’t bother watering it and wait for a day or more. If it is, then you need to water it, minimally, not excessively. Underwatering your orchid won’t do it as much harm as overwatering it will do. Also, when there’s a root rot, repotting your plant in fresh potting medium will help in rescuing it. Trim off rotted roots and leave remaining healthy roots before you repot.

Direct Sunlight

Exposing your orchid to direct sunlight is a bad idea. Such exposure could be the reason for the yellowing leaves on your plant. While your orchid needs much light like other plants, ensure the light is from indirect sunlight, not direct. Shield your plant from direct sunlight with a curtain or change its location from the window. A plant exposed to direct sunlight gets cracks in its leaves, scorch marks and burnt leaves. The roots show sign of damage by sun.

Orchid thrives in indirect, bright light. When the leaves on your plant are radiant, it indicates adequate light is being gotten by your orchid. However, when the leaf is dark green, it indicates insufficient light being gotten by your orchid. So while shielding your plant from direct sunlight, ensure it is not deprived of indirect light.


Why are my orchid leaves turning yellow? Low temperatures can cause yellowing leaves on your orchid. Keeping your plant in a space under 60°F (15°C) will prove fatal and stressful for orchid. If not, there’ll be continuous yellowing of leaves and also a likelihood of leaf drop. Blackening or browning of leaves may occur, eventually causing plant death. A room temperature between 65°F and 80°F will ensure your orchid thrives. A room thermometer will be of great help in this regard. Not keeping to this could be the reason why your orchid leaves are yellow. Open windows, air conditioners and fans should also be kept away from your orchid.

High temperatures are also not good for your orchid. Room temperature getting above 80°F (27°C) can get too high for your orchid, causing it excessive stress and also disturbing its metabolic processed.

Sudden environment change

Sudden environment change

Your orchid can start experience stress as a result of sudden change in location or environment. This could be why you plant’s leaves are suddenly turning yellow. The orchid’s response to such move may be the yellowing of leaves, or dropping of leaves. This can happen when you change the location of the orchid within your home or when you come home with a new plant from a store.

In this case, ensure you get a location with great growing conditions so your plant will be relieved from stress and get the right place to grow. The possible stress your orchid suffered at the store may not show its effects until some days or few weeks later. You can only salvage the sorry situation the best you can. Also do well to make your purchase from a store you are sure provides the necessary climate for their plants.

Natural aging of foliage

Why are my orchid leaves turning yellow? The leaves on your orchid could be turning yellow because of a natural development that has nothing to do with how you’re handling it. This is when your orchid turns out new leaves. Your orchid can shed old leaves when it feels they’re no longer needed. This is your plant prioritizing fresh growth. Leaves will start shedding and you won’t have to worry about anything. Your orchid can naturally shed the lower, yellow leaves.

Excessive or lack of fertilizer

Just like some people overwater their orchid, some also over fertilize plants. These people do this with the aim of keeping their plants very healthy but they inadvertently endanger them by adding too much of fertilizer. When your orchid is fed with excessive nutrients like manganese, copper, phosphorus, zinc or calcium, your plant will be unable to absorb iron. This will elicit symptoms like yellowing of leaves as a result of iron deficiency.

Your orchid is a light feeder and only require dilute concentrations of fertilizer. It is advisable to fertilize your orchid only when it’s at the vegetative stage and not fertilize it when the plant blooms. Lack of fertilization is also bad for your orchid especially during the growing season. Yellowing leaves may be as a result of deficiency of other nutrients, not just iron. Ensure you employ a well-balanced fertilizer (without urea) to guarantee nitrogen availability, required for your orchid’s benefit. Fertilize your plant after watering it properly.

Chemicals and Hard Water

Hard water is bad for orchid. Your tap water with excessive chloramine or chlorine could be responding for your orchid leaves turning yellow. Hard water makes orchid struggle and also turn out yellow leaves. Like we discussed earlier, excessive amount of dissolved magnesium and calcium in this kind of water will stop your plant from absorbing other essential nutrients. This will lead to growth issues, not leaving out yellowing of leaves.

Tap water mostly contains chloramines, fluoride, chlorine and several heavy metals. While they may be at levels okay for humans, they can stress your orchid or turn its leaves to yellow. You can look into your tap water and see if it is the problem or better turn to filtered or rain water.

Fungal or Bacterial Infection

Fungal on orchid

Diseases are common cause of yellowing leaves on orchids. Your orchid could be suffering from a disease you’re not aware of. Diseases are mostly responsible for yellow spots on leaves. There can be generalized yellowing of leaves too.

An example of a fungal infection is ‘root rot' which is a very common disease in orchids. Like we earlier discussed, this occurs when your orchid is overwatered, or you are growing your plant in a pot which lacks sufficient drainage holes. Once you notice yellow leaves on your orchid, it is wise to check the roots for any rot. So you should choose the best pots when growing orchids.

The fungal leaf spot is another infection common in orchids. Yellow spots are caused by this infection. These spots, if left untreated, become black or brown and cause damage to leaves.

The bacterial brown spot also causes yellowing of leaves. It will leave the leaves in your orchid with irregular and wet looking brown or yellow spots. The yellowing can go general as the infection worsens.


Why are my orchid leaves turning yellow? This article has examined the many causes of yellowing of orchid leaves. While there is a natural factor, the rest are controllable and can stress plant as a result of ignorance or negligence. You should protect your orchid from any potential cause of harm as you also risk it dying.

Endeavor not to overwater your plant or over fertilize it. Be deliberate with the kind of water you use in watering it so you don’t feed it with hard water. When you see some parts of the leaves yellowing, cut them off with a sterile knife or scissors.

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