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7 Reasons for Pilea Turning Yellow (And Treatment)

Pileas are excellent starter plants for novices and those lacking success. Their lush greenery fills your home with a sense of peace and tranquility.

That is why pilea plants lose a lot of their aesthetic value as soon as they begin to yellow or fade. Nevertheless, why would pilea turn yellow?

While pilea can turn yellow naturally due to excessive watering or root rot. Additionally, yellowing of pilea leaves can be caused by underwatering, excessive sunlight, or nutrient imbalances. Repot the plant with new, quick-draining potting soil. Maintain an eye out for fungal diseases and pests. When the topsoil feels dry, water.

What Yellow Leaves on Your Pilea Are Saying

[1] Pilea Getting Excess Water

Overwatered Pilea Turning Yellow
Overwatered Pilea Turning Yellow

Pileas are low-maintenance plants that tolerate a wide range of conditions. If you pay attention to watering during the spring and summer, they’ll often flourish and keep producing new leaves.

When it comes to watering pileas, it’s possible to go overboard. If you overwater the growing medium, it will become soggy or waterlogged. Excess water will deplete oxygen and suffocate the root system.

If pileas sit in wet soil for an extended period, they can develop root rot, just like most houseplants. Root damage and decay, when combined, will obstruct the absorption of vital nutrients required by pileas to maintain healthy growth.

Yellowing symptoms will first appear in older leaves and those closer to the ground. This is frequently accompanied by drooping, brown spots, and a solid rotting odor.

In most cases, when you dig your finger into the soil, you’ll discover that it’s saturated and boggy. Likewise, you’ll be able to tell if root rot disease has infiltrated your pilea when the roots turn a dark brown or black and become mushy.

Mold growth on the soil’s surface is another sign of overwatering. The same thing happens when green and yellowed leaves fall off prematurely.

How to Fix a Yellowing Overwatered Pilea

If you have overwatered your pilea, you don’t want to wait another second. However, if the roots are still intact and free of rot, remove the watering can and allow the potting mix to dry.

Before you begin, ensure that the growing medium is adequately drained and that the pot has enough draining holes at the bottom:

  • If the potting mix has poor drainage, replace it with a well-draining, slightly rich growing medium (Check the latest price on Amazon here).
  • Switch to a good terracotta pot if you have a plastic or glazed ceramic pot.
  • If there aren’t enough holes, make some at the bottom of the pot.

In extreme cases where roots have decayed or the potting mix is too slurry, repotting is the best and possibly the only option.

In the future, avoid overwatering your pilea. Instead, wait until the top inch of potting mix dries out before watering again.

[2] Bacterial Problem is Causing Your Pilea to Turn Yellow

Yellow Spots on Pilea Due to Bacterial Leaf Spot
Yellow Spots on Pilea Due to Bacterial Leaf Spot

Pileas are not particularly prone to disease. However, when grown as houseplants indoors, they become susceptible to bacterial problems.

Pelias turn yellow due to bacterial wilt, the most common cause of this symptom. In most pilea species, it is a bacterial infection caused by Pseudomonas Cichorium.

The infection typically darkens the veins of stems and leaves. The leaves, in particular, are prone to wilting and developing yellow spots that quickly spread to cover the entire foliage.

Pileas with Xanthomonas leaf spots, on the other hand, develop watery lesions. These water-soaked spots, which may be surrounded by yellow, are usually regular in size and have a sticky substance oozing from them.

The bacterial spots will grow and merge to form larger yellow patches if the conditions remain moist.

However, in drier conditions, the bacterial lesions frequently dry out and turn reddish-brown without enlarging, giving your pilea a yellowed speckled appearance.

Management and Control of Bacterial Problems in Pilea Plants

Bacterial infections are usually highly contagious and spread quickly. As a result, you should snip off all diseased plant material and dispose of it properly.

Consider repotting your pilea in a new pot with a fresh growing medium batch.

To control the disease and prevent future outbreaks, you should do the following:

  • Keep your pilea plants from becoming overwatered.
  • Avoid splashing or spraying water onto the leaves using a porous and well-draining pot.
  • Keep your houseplants from being overcrowded.
  • Avoid using overhead irrigation.
  • Do not expose your pilea to temperatures that are too low.

[3] Fungal Problems

Fungus Causing Pilea Root Rot Disease

Pileas are also susceptible to several fungal diseases, including gray mold (Botrytis blight), powdery mildew, Pythium root rot, and Myrothecium leaf spot disease.

Other rare fungal problems that affect the pilea plants include Southern blight (Sclerotium rolfsii), rust, Rhizoctonia aerial blight (Rhizoctonia solani), and Anthracnose. (Source: University of Florida)

These fungal problems cause the plant to turn yellow by interfering with photosynthesis, damaging leaves, and causing nutrient deficiencies. Let’s take a look at the three most common fungal issues.

Fungal Leaf Spots

Symptoms: Fungal leaf spots in pileas can be caused by various fungi. Small brown lesions with yellow edges on the leaves are common signs and symptoms.

Furthermore, these areas may have target-like patterns of concentric rings. In most cases, multiple fungal leaf spots combine to cover the entire leaf, resulting in yellowing, wilting, and eventual wilting before the leaf falls off.

Solution for Fungal Leaf Spots on Pilea

The first thing you should do is eliminate all infected plant matter

You can then spray your pilea using Bacillus amyloliquefaciens, tebuconazole, myclobutanil, chlorothalonil, or copper soap. Alternatively, you can opt for a broad-spectrum fungicide (Check the latest price on Amazon here).

While fungicides can help to prevent future infections, you should also use other preventive measures, such as:

  • Avoid splashing or spraying water on the foliage.
  • Increasing air circulation around your pileas
  • Keep your plant from becoming overwatered.

Gray Mold (Botrytis Blight) 

Symptoms: Botrytis blight (also known as gray mold) is a fungal disease that primarily affects pilea leaves. On the leaves, the problem will appear as small yellow spots with long streaks.

The foliage will soon be covered in yellow, and the flowers will have some orange or black lesions.

Solution for Gray Mold on Pilea

Overwatering, high humidity, and a lack of air circulation all contribute to the growth of gray mold on your pilea. Because of this, moving your pilea away from the problems would be a good thing to do.

Here’s how to get rid of gray mold:

  1. Use a sterilized cutting instrument to remove any diseased plant materials as soon as possible.
  2. Take your pilea to the shower or outside and hose or wash away the majority of the gray mold.
  3. Using a broad-spectrum fungicide, thoroughly spray the leaves.
  4. To encourage the growth of new leaves, provide some foliar nitrogen nourishment.

Photosynthesis Is Hampered By Powdery Mildew

Powdery Mildew of Pilea
Powdery Mildew of Pilea

Symptoms: Powdery mildew affects all pilea species. This spore-borne fungal disease infects pilea leaves, causing small necrotic lesions covered in powdery white substances.

Powdery mildew causes the foliage and, in some cases, the stem to turn yellow in more severe cases. This could lead to wilting and stunted growth.

How to Fix Powdery Mildew in Pilea Turning Yellow

Powdery mildew is less challenging to treat and control than other pilea fungal issues. Here’s how to go about it:

  • Remove the thin layer of dust-like substance from the foliage by wiping it down.
  • Spray your pilea with organic fungicides such as neem oil and pyrethrins or chemical-based fungicides.
  • Keep the environment clean and improve air circulation.

[4] Pilea Not Getting Enough Water

Signs of Underwatered Pilea
Signs of Underwatered Pilea

One of the most common causes of those sad-looking yellow pilea leaves is a lack of water. So watering problems are officially the most likely cause of pilea turning yellow.

Dehydrated pilea will have extreme curling, drooping, and wrinkling of leaves in addition to yellowing foliage.

Stick your finger into the soil once more to check the moisture level. Of course, you can get a simple soil moisture meter and avoid drowning your pilea.

No matter which method you use, if the soil feels dry, crumbly, and light, your pilea is severely dehydrated. As a result, it cannot absorb nutrients effectively, resulting in the yellowing of the foliage.

How to Treat an Underwatered Pilea Plant

The majority of pilea plants require moderate to heavy watering. However, if the soil is bone-dry, you must water it deeply by allowing it to absorb water through drainage holes in a bathtub or sink.

Irrigate your pilea plant when the top 1″ of the potting mix dries out to avoid this happening again. During hot weather, you should water more frequently.

[5] Pale Coloration of Foliage Due to Too Much Light

Signs of Pilea Sunburn
Signs of Pilea Sunburn

The pale coloration of pilea leaves is frequently associated with excessive light exposure. This is a common problem in the early spring as the light intensity increases.

Pilea plants exposed to excessively bright light will develop yellowing and light-colored leaves.

How to Fix

You must provide adequate lighting for your pilea. Because most plants prefer bright, indirect light, avoid direct summer sunlight, which can scorch the foliage.

Turning your pilea plant every other week is critical to ensure uniform light exposure.

[6] Insect Infestation is Causing Pilea to Turn Yellow

In peak health, your pilea plant should be pest-free. First, however, keep an eye out for the three main culprits that can wreak havoc on pilea plants.

Aphids

Symptoms: There’s a good chance your pilea has aphids if some of the leaves are drooping and there are yellow spots on them.

These sap-suckers also excrete honeydew, which causes sooty mold to grow on the upper surfaces of the foliage. These tiny bugs come in white, brown, black, green, and red colors.

Solution: Spray the pilea leaves thoroughly with neem oil every 5-7 days until the aphids are gone.

Spider Mites

Symptoms: Look for white webbing and specks on the leaves and stems of your pilea to see if you have a spider mite infestation. If the infestation is severe enough, the foliage will turn partially or entirely yellow.

Solution: Wash the webbing and spider mite colonies on the leaf undersides of your pilea outside or in the shower. Use a gentle lukewarm water jet.

Insecticidal soap, neem oil, or insecticide should be sprayed on the tops and undersides of the foliage.

Mealybugs

Symptoms: If your pilea plant is infested with mealybugs, the affected leaves will have white fuzzy stuff on the undersides.

These tiny insects resemble a flour dusting on your plant. Another warning sign is black mold on top of the foliage.

Solution: Most mealybugs can be removed by hosing down your pilea plant. Rub rubbing alcohol on the foliage to kill and eliminate them entirely.

[7] Micronutrient Deficiency

Micronutrient Deficiency Causing Pilea to Turn Yellow
Micronutrient Deficiency Causing Pilea to Turn Yellow

It is easy to mistake sunburn for a potassium deficiency in your pilea plant. But, on the other hand, the leaves will turn brown and appear burned at the edges and be yellow.

In the case of a nitrogen deficiency, your pilea leaves will turn yellow, soften, and curl inwards. In addition, the foliage may turn brown and fall off. It usually starts with the older and lower vegetation.

Yellowing can also occur as a result of a lack of iron. Chlorosis is a yellowing caused by a lack of iron.

Treatment and Prevention of Nitrogen & Potassium Deficiency in Pilea Plants

Consider feeding your plant a high-nitrogen feed or adding an amino-acid supplement to your monthly fertilization to treat a nitrogen deficiency.

To ensure optimal potassium absorption, keep the soil PH between 6.0 and 7.0. To compensate for potassium deficiency, apply a high-potassium fertilizer.

Some Yellowing is Natural

Old Leaves Turning Yellow and Falling Off
Old Leaves Turning Yellow and Falling Off

Lower leaves will always turn yellow and drop off because they are the oldest, in my opinion, just following nature’s course! They will be replaced with new, lovely green ones.

There’s nothing you can do about it, but you can prune out some old, sad-looking leaves to make your pilea look better.

Should I Remove Yellow Leaves from Pilea?

You can remove yellow leaves from your pilea unless most of the foliage has yellowed. In that case, you should wait until it sprouts new leaves before removing the yellow ones.

Can Yellow Pilea Leaves Turn Green Again?

Yellowed leaves are unlikely to turn green again in almost all cases. However, your pilea will soon sprout lush green foliage if you fix the underlying problem.