Home Houseplants Should I cut the yellow leaves off my plant?

Should I Cut The Yellow Leaves Off My Plant? – GIY Plants

Woman cutting off dead yellow leaves from houseplant.

You’ve just noticed a yellow leaf on your beloved houseplant, and panic sets in. Should you cut it off? Is your plant sick? Before you reach for the pruning shears, let’s get into plant care to understand why leaves turn yellow and what you should do about it.

Key Takeaway:

Yes, you can cut off yellow leaves as they are often a sign of a problem such as overwatering or nutrient deficiencies. Removing them helps the plant focus its energy on new growth. However, it’s crucial to identify the underlying issue to prevent more yellow leaves in the future.

Reasons Why Indoor Plants Leaves Turn Yellow

Yellow leaves on indoor plants can be a gardener’s nightmare, but understanding the root causes can help you turn things around. Let’s explore some common reasons your plant’s leaves might turn yellow.

Normal Aging

Just like humans, plants age, and it’s perfectly natural. Older leaves may turn yellow as the plant focuses its energy on new growth. If the lower leaves turn yellow and the rest of the plant looks healthy, it’s likely just a part of the plant’s natural life cycle.

Compacted Roots

If your plant has been in the same pot for a long time, the roots can become compacted. This restricts the flow of nutrients and water, causing the leaves to turn yellow. If you notice this, it may be time to repot your plant into a larger container with drainage holes.

Moisture Stress

Both overwatering and underwatering your plants can lead to yellow leaves. Overwatering can lead to root rot while underwatering can make the soil dry out, both of which stress the plant. Adjust your watering schedule based on the needs of your specific plant to prevent moisture stress.

Lack of Nutrients

Nutrient deficiencies, particularly nitrogen deficiency, can cause leaves to turn yellow. The plant may also exhibit stunted growth. You may need to supplement your plant care routine with appropriate fertilizers to address this issue.


Conversely, overfeeding your plant with too many nutrients can also cause yellowing. Brown tips on the leaves often accompany this. If you suspect overfeeding, you may need to flush the soil with clean water to remove excess nutrients.

Not Enough Light

Plants need light for photosynthesis, and a lack of it can lead to yellow leaves. If your indoor plant is not getting enough sunlight, consider moving it closer to a window or supplementing it with artificial light.


Pests like aphids and spider mites can also cause your plant leaves to yellow. These pests suck the sap out of the leaves, causing them to turn yellow and eventually brown. If you notice pests, you may need to treat your plant with an appropriate pesticide.

Frequently Asked Questions

Should I remove the yellow leaves on my plant?

It is generally recommended to cut off yellow leaves from your plant. Yellow leaves can indicate nutrient deficiencies, overwatering, pests, or underwatering. Removing the yellow leaves can help your plant focus its energy on healthy new leaf growth.

How do yellow leaves on plants indicate nutrient deficiencies?

Yellow leaves can be a sign of nutrient deficiencies in plants. Certain nutrients, such as iron or nitrogen, are vital for plant growth. Lack of these nutrients can cause leaves to turn yellow.

Can cutting off yellow leaves help the plant?

Yes, cutting off yellow leaves can help the plant. By removing the yellow leaves, you are removing any potential source of infection or pest infestation. Moreover, it allows the plant to redistribute its resources to healthier parts of the plant.

How does overwatering lead to yellow leaves?

Overwatering can lead to yellow leaves on plants. When the soil is constantly wet, it becomes oxygen deficient, causing the roots to suffocate. This hinders the plant’s ability to absorb nutrients, leading to yellowing of the leaves.

What should I do if my plant has yellow leaves due to pests?

If you notice yellow leaves on your plant due to pests, it is vital to promptly identify and treat the infestation. You can use insecticidal soaps or organic pest control methods to eradicate the pests and prevent further damage to the plant.

Can soil pH affect the color of plant leaves?

Yes, soil pH can affect the color of plant leaves. Different plants have specific pH requirements for optimal growth. If the soil pH is too high or too low, it can disrupt nutrient absorption, leading to yellow leaves.

Is it necessary to remove the yellow leaves from the whole plant?

No, removing the yellow leaves from the whole plant is unnecessary. If only a few leaves are yellow, you can remove those. However, a significant portion of the plant’s leaves are turning yellow. In that case, it may indicate a more substantial issue that needs to be addressed.

How often should I water my houseplants to avoid yellow leaves?

The frequency of watering your houseplants depends on factors such as the plant type, size, and environmental conditions. Watering your plant when the top inch of soil is dry is essential to avoid overwatering or underwatering, which can lead to yellow leaves.

Can leaves on indoor plants also turn yellow?

Yes, leaves on indoor plants can also turn yellow. Indoor plants can experience similar issues as outdoor plants, such as nutrient deficiencies, overwatering, or pests. It is crucial to provide proper care and regular maintenance to prevent yellowing of leaves.

Why should I remove yellow leaves from potted plants?

Removing yellow leaves from potted plants is essential as it helps maintain the plant’s overall health and appearance. Yellow leaves can be a sign of stress or disease; removing them can prevent the problem from spreading to other parts of the plant.


Yellow leaves can signal various issues, from aging to nutrient deficiencies. Rather than hastily removing them, identify the root cause to provide the proper care. Adjusting factors like watering, light, and pest control can significantly affect your plant’s health. Keep an eye on leaf color as a clue to your plant’s needs.

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