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Yellow Leaves on Abutilon plants (6 Causes and How to fix it)

Abutilon plant with flowers

Abutilon (Indian mallow) is an excellent decoration for any home garden. Its bright flowers, rich green foliage, as well as an aura of mystery inspired by beliefs, make the plant one of the most beloved.

Abutilon leaves turning yellow is a common problem that you have to deal with. In this article,  you will find out the common causes of abutilon leaves turning yellow. And of course, you will get to know how to fix it.

Why do abutilon leaves turning yellow? The yellow leaves indicate that something is wrong with the nutrient intake. There are several other causes including overwatering, lack of water, high temperature, insufficient lighting, high soil pH, lack of nutrients, and transplant shock. It is very important to identify the exact cause before fixing the abutilon leaf yellowing. 

Causes of Abutilon Leaves Turning Yellow

If you are a plant lover then you might know how frustrating it is to see your plant leaves turning yellow. As I mentioned above the several potential causes of abutilon leaves turning yellow, now you need to know them in detail.

Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through to identify the potential causes also how you can fix them. 

Without further ado let’s dive in.

Potential Cause: Overwatering

Unfortunately, many indoor gardeners make mistakes while watering their abutilon. As a result, soil waterlogging can occur and a dangerous disease called root rot can develop. Root rot holds up the nutrient intake and abutilon leaves start to turn yellow. 

Wet and humid conditions are favorable for fungal diseases. Root rot is caused by fungal agents and it becomes very difficult to save the infected plant. However,  if you can identify before it’s too late you might save your abutilon from dying.

Signs of overwatering

Now, how do you know that your abutilon is suffering from overwatering? Well, all indoor plants have built-in “indicators” that signal a shortage or excess of certain mineral components, sunlight, oxygen, or water in the soil. 

You just need to carefully look at your green pet. Here is one of the most important indicators of overwatering your abutilon plant.

Abutilon leaves began to fade and start yellowing. This occurs at the initial stages of waterlogging. Even the most experienced gardeners think that the plant thus indicates a lack of moisture in the soil, which is why they begin to water it even more intensively. 


However, if there is a lack of water, your abutilon leaf tips will dry first. Keep this in mind, it will save your plant.

How to fix

Now, the question is how you can fix the overwatered abutilon. You need to be very careful when dealing with an overwatered abutilon. Here is what you can do to fix it.

1. Try to Drain The Soil

First, try to drain out all the moisture from the soil. Many gardeners will say that the first thing is to transplant the plant into a new container with a dry substrate. 

However, do not forget that for a diseased plant, such a procedure can become extremely fatal. Therefore, you should try to drain the soil.


Some plants are not allowed to be transplanted at all.

To do this, move the plant to a new location. It should be warm, the sun should fall on it. The abutilon loves partial shade. So, create an additional source of shading. 

I would recommend removing the yellow leaves from the plant. Then the plant will utilize more water to grow new leaves and buds. However, do not place your abutilon pot on the stove or radiators, so as not to burn the root system!

2. Transplant abutilon into a new substrate

Now, you need to bear in mind that the transplant procedure does not harm abutilon in any way. However, consider the fact that you have to replace the entire soil mix. 

It is important to remove not only the whole earth but also parts of the root system that have been infected by root rot. You should also choose a new container for planting or treat the old with boiling water.

To make the root growth faster, you can treat them with growth stimulants. Make sure you add some soil substrate to make it more breathable for abutilon roots. For example, you can use sawdust or peat. 

However, keep in mind that after transplanting you must not water the soil for several weeks. In addition, it will be necessary to take special care for your abutilon.

3. Proper Care for the Plant

If you have managed to save your abutilon from root rot, congratulations! You just have successfully completed the hardest part. Now, your abutilon needs more care for a few days after transplantation.

So, When exactly do you start to water the soil? This is the question that most concerns the indoor gardeners. Experts recommend starting this only when the topsoil is dry.

However, you must do this in small portions. As for the application of fertilizers, you should not carry out within two to three months. An exception may be the entry of a plant into the flowering phase.

Now, let’s move on to the opposite cause of overwatering that can cause yellowing abutilon. 

Potential Cause: Lack of water

In the warm season, abutilon needs abundant watering. In this case, you do not need to wait until the soil surface in the pot begins to dry out. 

In summer insufficient water can cause loss of buds and the whole plant looks unhappy due to the death of some roots. 

Like other plants, abutilon also needs enough water to maintain physiological processes.

If your abutilon does not get enough water, it will start to show symptoms yellowing the leaves.

Yellowing leaves and shedding them is a plant defense mechanism against water stress.

In this way, your abutilon tries to save water reducing the number of leaves. Because the more the number of leaves more the transpiration (way of cooling down).

How to Fix

In order to restore your abutilon and return its former green charm to its leaves, it is necessary to water moderately and frequently.

You can determine water requirements inspecting the plant and soil. You have to make sure the regular supply of water to the root system. Water your abutilon when the topsoil starts to dry. 

Potential Cause: Temperature Fluctuation

Abutilon has it’s comfortable temperature range to grow indoors. If you do not ensure proper temperature it will respond by yellowing of the leaves. 

The optimum temperature level for abutilon in summer is 22°C/71.6°F to 25°C/ 77°F. In winter you should maintain 12°C/53.6°F to 15°C/59°F. 

Now, If the thermometer drops below 12°C/53.6°F, then this can trigger the yellowing of your abutilon leaves. 

How to Fix

Temperature change is very crucial for indoor abutilon. Do not keep your plants where it gets the direct cold flow of the air conditioner.

The cold drafts can harm abutilon badly. Keep your abutilon away from the cold draft of the window. Also, the direct flow of the radiator in winter will cause your plant to wither and turn yellow.


Misting can help Abutilon thrive, if the humidity is low in winter. 

Potential Cause: Insufficient Light

Lack of light is one of the common causes of abutilon leaves turning yellow. You might know that the leaf is green due to the presence of chlorophyll. 

Plants harvest sunlight to make food for themselves through the photosynthesis process. Chlorophyll plays the leading part in the photosynthesis process with the help of light.

Now, if you can not ensure enough light for your abutilon, the chlorophyll will start to degrade. Therefore, abutilon leaves will turn yellow. 

How to fix

If your abutilon is in a dark place or not getting enough light then you need to consider changing the placement of it. Place the plant in a place where it gets sufficient indirect sunlight.

When you place your abutilon in an open place for light, you should shade it for a few days. Eventually, it will adapt to the changing environment.  Remember direct sunlight will cause sunburn of the leaves. 

Also if your apartment does not get enough sunlight then consider using artificial light for your abutilon. The plant can do photosynthesis in artificial light without any issues.

You May Also Like: Can Plants Use Artificial Light for Photosynthesis?

Potential Cause: High Soil pH

Abutilon likes slightly acidic soil. So, if your potting mix for abutilon is alkaline or high in pH, then your plant leaves may turn yellow.

Alkaline soil is not good for nutrient availability, vital nutrients like iron, manganese, zinc are not available for plants in high pH. That’s why abutilon leaves turn yellow and fall off.

How to Fix

Maintaining desired soil pH for abutilon is important for better development and growth. In slightly acidic soil ( below pH 7.0) makes plants happy. Because within this range of pH plants can intake the essential nutrients from the soil.

How do you know your soil pH? Well, in the present-day everything became so easy. Just grab a soil pH meter (Amazon link) from the garden store. This instrument is very easy to use.  

I often recommend gardeners to water abutilon plants with little bit lemon juice if the pH is high. Lemon juice or citric acid helps plant soil to reduce the pH level.

Potential Cause: Lack of Nutrients and How-To Fix

The plant needs the micronutrient elements for growth and development. If there is a lack of these nutrients then your plant will show symptoms like yellowing of leaves.

Following deficiency of nutrients cause abutilon leaves turning yellow:

Iron deficiency

You will notice uniform yellowing between the abutilon leaf veins due to iron deficiency. Symptoms appear primarily on young leaves. Veins remain green.

Then the color of the upper leaves becomes pale green or yellowish, sometimes whitish. Subsequently, young leaves grow pale green or whitish including veins.

How to fix

Use chelated liquid iron on plants. Check out chelated iron on Amazon. You can either spray on abutilon leaves or water with it.

Magnesium deficiency

Magnesium is a mobile element in a plant. So, when it is deficient, it moves from old leaves to young ones. 

Therefore, old leaves of abutilon start yellowing. The leaves turn yellow from the edges of the leaf plates. Gradually, the whole leaf becomes chlorotic. Only the vein and adjacent area remains green.

If you do not address this issue, the edges of the leaf blade turn down, the leaf looks convex, curly. 

How to Fix

Topdressing with magnesium sulfate according to the instructions.

Zinc deficiency

You’ll see adult leaves of your abutilon turning yellow because of zinc deficiency.

You may also find leaf spots in addition to the yellowing of leaves. Young leaves first grow small with yellow dots and then acquire a yellowish faded color.

Lack of nitrogen

With a lack of nitrogen, yellowing and lightening of the color begin with the veins and the adjacent part of the abutilon leaf plate. 

Without nitrogen plants can not make chlorophyll, therefore abutilon leaves turn yellow. If your abutilon leaves turn yellow due to nitrogen deficiency, there will be no green veins. 

The difference between a leaf with nitrogen chlorosis and an old one is that with aging, yellowing develops evenly. And leaf veins remain green, they turn yellow lastly before falling off.

How to fix

Apply Nitrogen fertilizer as per instructions. 

Lack of sulfur

Signs of a lack of sulfur are similar to signs of a lack of nitrogen, appearing on young leaves of abutilon. Yellowing begins with the main veins of the upper leaves, later the entire leaf plate is involved in the process. And the veins look more green against the background of a yellowed leaf.


Now you will be able to identify and fix your abutilon leaves turning yellow. I am curious to know if you have any other methods of fixing the yellowing leaves of abutilon. Let me know by dropping a comment below. 

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