Yellowing leaves are one of the first signs that a plant is stressed, and they may indicate a more serious issue with your plant’s health.
Identifying the issue early on is key to helping your plant make a full recovery.
Read on to determine why your Peperomia plant’s leaves might be turning yellow, and learn what you can do to keep your plant happy!
So,Why is my Peperomia plant turning yellow?
The leaves on your Peperomia plant could be turning yellow for a variety of reasons, but the most likely causes are overwatering and poor drainage, which can both lead to root rot. Peperomia leaves could also be yellowing because of inconsistent watering, pest infestations, inadequate sunlight, and nutrient deficiencies.
Let’s dive into the details and find out how to fix the problems.
Causes of Peperomia Turning Yellow
Seeing your Peperomia plant turn yellow can be distressing, but don’t worry—your plant is simply telling you that it needs some extra care.
Once you determine the cause of the plant’s distress, you can revive it back to its old, happy self. Let’s go through the potential reasons for yellowing and how to address them.
Overwatering is the main cause of yellowing leaves in Peperomia plants. Because of their thick leaves, Peperomia plants retain a lot of moisture and can go for long periods of time without being watered.
However, their ability to hold water can pose a problem for over-enthusiastic gardeners. If overwatered, the leaves of peperomia plants can turn yellow.
How To Fix Overwatering Issues
This is a pretty straightforward fix. If you notice that your plant’s leaves are turning yellow, it may be time to ease off the watering.
Only water your Peperomia plant when the top 50-75 percent of the soil is completely dry. For indoor plants, this is typically every seven to 10 days.
Another problem that can lead to yellowing is poor drainage. Water needs to be able to flow freely through the soil and out of the planter in order to make space for air.
If soil is constantly soggy, it will not be able to hold the oxygen that the plant needs, which can lead to yellowing leaves.
How To Fix Poor Drainage
A drainage hole in the bottom of the planter is necessary for allowing water to freely flow through the soil in order to make room for oxygen.
If your pot does not have drainage holes, you can either drill them yourself or transfer your plant to a pot with a hole at the bottom.
Water the plant until the water flows from the drainage holes, making sure to discard the water that flows into the saucer below.
Adding a drainage layer is another way to let excess water flow away from the roots.
Try adding a layer of activated charcoal to the planter beneath the soil, as it can absorb excess water and prevent it from collecting in the soil.
Activated charcoal also has microbial properties, which can protect your plant from fungal and bacterial disease.
Tightly compacted soil can also limit water drainage. Soil particles are small and packed tightly together, meaning that water moves through the soil slowly.
If you notice that water is draining extremely slowly, try switching to a new potting mix with equal parts perlite and potting compost.
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A combination of poor drainage and overwatering can cause root rot, a fungus that can be fatal to plants.
Root rot occurs when plants are grown in consistently soggy soil. Once a plant’s roots rot, they are no longer able to take in water from the soil, which can cause the plant to die.
Yellowing leaves can also be an early warning sign of root rot, which is caused by both poor drainage and overwatering.
If you notice that your Peperomia plant’s leaves are turning yellow, your first step should be to check whether root rot has occurred.
And if it has, to clear away any infected roots so that the fungus doesn’t spread.
One telltale sign of root rot is a mildew-y smell. You’ll also notice that the soil is waterlogged and the roots appear rotten.
But don’t panic right away—if the root rot hasn’t progressed too much, you can still save the plant.
How to Fix Root Rot
Separate as much of the soggy soil as you can, and remove the roots that have rotted.
Make sure to use sterile scissors to remove the diseased roots to prevent the fungus from spreading.
Once you have removed the diseased roots, transfer the plant to a new, clean pot and plant it in sterile soil.
Water it very lightly after repotting, and then wait for about a week before watering it again.
Source: University of Nebraska-Lincoln
Watering your Peperomia inconsistently can create stress. Most plants get used to their conditions, and sudden changes can cause stress.
If your plant goes from being underwatered to suddenly being watered excessively, it may wilt and turn yellow.
While it is important to let the top layer of the soil dry out before watering, the soil should not be bone dry.
Going from completely dry to wet soil can create water stress, leading to yellowing.
How To Fix Inconsistent Watering
It’s a good idea to implement a regular watering schedule, aiming to water about every seven to 10 days.
Try putting a weekly notification in your calendar to remind you to check on your Peperomia plant’s moisture level, and make note of the last time you watered.
Like other houseplants peperomias also vulnerable to pest infestations. Sometimes insect attack also causes the yellowing symptom.
Some common pests that can cause leaves to yellow are:
- Spider mites: extremely small bugs that suck sap and drain the plant of moisture, causing the leaves to turn yellow. An early sign of spider mites is light-colored speckling on the plant and an overall faded appearance. Another sign of spider mites is tiny holes in the plant’s leaves.
- Aphids: small insects that often feed on new leaves or on the undersides of the plant. Aphids feed on plant sap, which causes leaves to become yellow and misshapen. When aphids feed, they leave behind a material called honeydew, which covers the leaves in a shiny, sticky coating.
- Whiteflies: powdery-white colored insects that resemble small moths. The damage that they cause is similar to aphids—they also secrete honeydew, and can cause the plant’s leaves to turn yellow.
- Mealybugs: pink insects covered in a white, cottony material. Their feeding weakens the plant and can cause yellowing. To check for mealybugs, look for masses of white, fluffy threads. Mealybugs sometimes also feed on the roots of plants. A sign of a mealybug root infestation is fluffy white masses near the drainage holes.
How To Fix Insect Issues
To deal with infestations, rinse off the plant with water and prune the affected leaves.
Wipe off the insects using a cotton swab covered in rubbing alcohol.
If the roots are affected by mealybugs, take a cutting and start a new plant in a clean pot and sterile potting soil.
You can also spray the plant with a store-bought insecticidal spray or neem oil.
Insecticidal soap only works when it makes direct contact with insects, and once it dries, it is no longer effective.
If non-chemical methods have not worked, you may need to use a stronger pesticide.
When selecting a chemical pesticide, make sure to identify the pest and check whether the type of pesticide is safe for your plant.
Next, take precautions to prevent future infestations. Stressed plants are more vulnerable to plants, so provide your plant with the best possible growing conditions.
Before buying a new plant or bringing one indoors, check the plant and its container for pests.
Isolating new plants for a period of about six weeks also helps to limit the possibility that pests will spread.
Another reason why the leaves of your Peperomia plant are turning yellow maybe because they aren’t getting enough natural sunlight.
If your Peperomia plant is in a shady spot, try moving it to an area that gets more natural sunlight and see how it does.
Excessive sunlight can also be a cause of yellowing. Bright, indirect sunlight is best for Peperomia plants.
In their natural habitats in tropical and subtropical forests, Peperomia plants are under a canopy of dispersed sunlight.
As a result, they like warm environments, but prefer indirect light.
You can tell that a peperomia plant is getting too much sunlight if the leaves appear faded and yellow all over.
Sometimes, just the tips and edges of the leaves appear burnt.
How To Fix Issues With Sunlight Levels
Your first step is to determine whether the plant is getting too much or too little sunlight.
If it is by a shady corner or next to a window whose curtains are kept closed, try giving it more natural sunlight.
If the plant is sensitive, it may have a difficult time adjusting to the sudden change.
Keep an eye on the plant after moving it, and if you notice signs of stress, gradually expose your Peperomia to more sunlight over a period of several weeks.
If your plant is in an area with direct sunlight, moving it to a spot that gets less direct sunlight.
Be careful not to move it to too shady of a place though—remember, bright and indirect sunlight is the sweet spot!
Another potential cause of yellowing is nutrient deficiency. Yellow leaves indicate that the plant doesn’t have enough chlorophyll.
Low chlorophyll can be a sign of nutrient deficiency, typically a lack of nitrogen or potassium.
Source: University of Florida, IFAS
How To Fix Nutrient Deficiency
If you catch the problem early on and give your plant the proper fertilization, your Peperomia can make a full recovery.
Look for store-bought fertilizers that are high in nitrogen and potassium, or try DIYing your own.
Coffee grounds are a great nitrogen-rich fertilizer, and fireplace ash will provide your Peperomia with much-needed potassium.
Have you tried any of these methods, and did they help revive your Peperomia? What are your strategies for dealing with a yellowing houseplant?