Calathea with Yellow Leaves

cazzieAugust 5, 2010


My calathea has gained a few unwanted crisp yellow leaves (usually green). I really want to trim them off, would this be advisable?

Also, does anyone have any idea why they have turned this way? The plant was in a sorry state when I inherited it from the previous tenants of my flat. I have since re-potted it (as its previous pot had no drainage holes) and placed it in a room that gets plenty of indirect sunlight (as it was previously placed in a south facing window).

The humidity is very low so I have began misting it daily. I plan to invest in a pebble tray, I just havent got round to that yet.

Any advice would be fab,


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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

From the perspective pf energy management, if the leaves are net users of energy instead of producers, the plant will shed the leaves on its own. If they are almost all brown, they will probably continue on that course. Once a plant part becomes a net user of energy, the plant first translocates all the nutrients and bio-compounds in the organs (leaves, branches ...) it's preparing to shed that it can mobilize. So it's better to allow the leaves to stay on until there is no green left to them. You can temper that knowledge by considering where the plant is in its growth cycle and how much you're considering removing. A few leaves here & there in the summer when the plant should be bursting with energy is a little different than removing 90% of the foliage in the middle of winter because it's just ratty looking. Plant food = photosynthate. No leaves = no photosynthesis = no photosynthate = a major blip on the radar screen.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 6:05PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Oh yes .... forgot - there are a number or cultural conditions that might have caused the dying leaves, but to narrow it down, you'd prolly have to answer some questions or provide a lot more info than what you've so far shared. It's unlikely the misting is doing any good at all, even though they require high humidity.

Direct sun is not at all a good thing, and that it was previously in a pot with no drain hole virtually ensures that it was subjected to high soluble salt levels in the soil - probably the main cause of ratty foliage on slowly declining plants.


    Bookmark   August 10, 2010 at 6:12PM
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my calathea had some leaves turned yellow after a hot day althought i mist and water it regularly and put in indirect sunlight how can i stop turning the rest of the leave to yellow

    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 5:08PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

Maintaining plants with largely unspoiled foliage is not dependant on misting, or regular watering beyond supplying the plant's needs appropriately. By that I mean that you should water on an as-needed basis, rather than on a schedule. If your plants have burned leaf tips and or margins, you'd be wiser to focus your energies on determining the actual reason for the spoiled foliage (usually over-watering or a high level of soluble salts in the soil) than to rely on ineffectual misting in the hope it can keep the actual cause of the spoiled foliage in check - it won't, and often creates other unwanted issues.

Determining the actual cause of the yellowing foliage would require more info. The odds-on favorite would be over-watering, but you would need to eliminate insect infestations, nutritional deficiencies, a poor/compacted soil (which goes hand in hand w/over-watering) pH issues, and a few other possibilities. Actually, the best detective work, when trying to isolate problems, is done by checking possibilities off the list that you have determined to be non-issues. Usually, it leaves you with one or two possibilities that are relatively easy to choose between ..... but again, that requires more input from you.

It's a whole lot easier to look at tending houseplants as a holistic system. If you start with a poor soil, the foundation of your planting, you're going to be fighting it in one form or another for the life of the planting. Your soil is the most important decision you'll make when it comes to tending plants. It determines how easy/difficult your job will be, how large the margin for error is, and it plays a very significant role in determining the level of satisfaction you'll ultimately glean from your efforts. Most of the problems that are discussed on this forum are directly related to a poor soil and/or the inhibited vitality that is tied directly to a weak root system. Roots are the heart of the plant, and if the roots aren't happy - ain't no part of the plant happy.


    Bookmark   June 30, 2011 at 11:56PM
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Cazzie.. Calatheas are fussy, difficult plants..You mentioned your Cal was in a sorry state from the previous tenants care. Or lack of....

You asked why your Cal was having problems. I find a few reasons. No drainage holes, possibly dry air, and facing a south window. Of course, if south was obstructed, or the Cal was several feet away, light wouldn't be the culprit. But, heat would be.

When you took possession, 'because of its condition,' it was similiar to starting one step back. It'll take two steps foreward before your Calathea resumes beauty and health.

When foliage browns/yellows, I trim edges, leaving aproximately 1/8th inch of brown/discoloration on the leaf.

If cut in healthy green sections, there's a good chance the brown/yellow will spread.
Leaves that are 80% brown or yellow or more are removed entirely. That particular leaf will never revert to green.

It's important nutrients focus on healthy leaves..another reason discolored leaf/ves should be removed.

Since you've taken over, sounds like you've made proper care choices, but it will take time. Resuming back to its originally healthy state will take twice as long to undo what the previous tenants did...As I stated in my first sentence, Cals are fussy/difficult plants.

Aside from trimming discolored leaves, the only other suggestion I'd like to add is, place in a room that isn't too hot. Doesn't matter which season, or whether or not heat is from strong sunlight or artificial heat.

Do not overwater, or keep soil constantly wet. Test soil before watering. If it's moist, wait a few days and retest. Once the soil looks/feels crumbly, give a hearty drink, water entire rootball.

Until your Cal regains health, withhold fertilizer. Instead, if you can get hold of a root stimulant, like Superthrive, use this product. You'll be amazed.

Caltheas should never be over-potted..they prefer snug-fitting roots.

Well-draining soil, with a handful of true soil, is best. Depending on the species, some do better in shallow containers, since roots tend to spread horizontally.

Keep misting, and don't forget a weekly shower. Good luck, Toni

Spraying leaves and setting on stones/trays helps with humidity. Showering in sink, even once a week, perks up foliage.

    Bookmark   July 1, 2011 at 1:46PM
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