Why are my plant leaves changing color?!

Why are my plant leaves changing color?!

By Genevieve Mills

Why are my plant leaves changing color?!

It happens to the best of us--we get our new plant friend home and settled in its new location, things seem to be going great, but after a few weeks, or maybe a month or so, we notice something happening to our plant.  In some cases, it’s leaves turning yellow. In others, it’s leaves turning brown, or developing brown spots on their edges.  Most unnervingly, its leaves that start falling off.  What’s happening?

For interior plants, most issues come down to one main culprit: watering. If there are yellow leaves on your plant, check your soil--if it’s wet, or there’s standing water in your saucer, then your plant is getting too much water. Dump out excess water and let the soil dry out so that it is dry when you stick your finger one-third to halfway into the soil. (And you can gently remove the yellow leaves.)

If you have browning leaves, or they look dry and start falling off, you’re probably not giving your plant enough water--look at the soil--is it pulling away from the edges of the pot? If so, give your plant a good soak under a faucet, until the soil is wet all the way through. Let it drain and then keep an eye on it for a week or so--check the soil and when it’s dry one-third to halfway down, then give it another drink.  Keep in mind, a larger plant with a bigger root ball in a 10” diameter container will not need to be watered as frequently as a small plant in a 4” diameter container.  

If you’re seeing brown spots on the edges of the leaves, it’s probably from inconsistent watering. The cells (frequently at the end of leaves) of plants that go for too long without water, then suddenly get hit with an excess, will burst, turning brown.  If you see them, don’t panic, just get your plant on a consistent watering schedule--one a week, or once every two weeks. (Of course, if you have a snake plant or zz, you can push it to once a month.)

Finally, leaf drop.  The plants you buy in Ohio all come from Florida, where they are grown in bright, hot grow houses, or even outside. Arriving in the midwest can be a bit of a shock to them, so certain plants, like fiddle leaf figs, may drop several leaves in their new home.  Don’t panic...all the plant is doing is shedding some leaves so that it can concentrate it’s food-producing energy in fewer leaves as it acclimates to its new home. Once it settles in, it will push new growth.

Of course, there are other issues, like pests and diseases, that can impact plant health, but we’ll tackle that topic in another article.

We’re Here to Help 

If you have a specific question about your plant, email us at: interiorscapes@oaklandnursery.com for Help.