Skip to Content

Chinese Evergreen Turning Yellow/Brown? Here’s What to Do

Chinese Evergreen Turning Yellow/Brown

Aglaonema, or Chinese Evergreens, are among the most popular and loved houseplants. Their charm, as well as the little care they need to thrive, have made them the perfect plant for both experienced gardeners and novices. However, sometimes hiccups can happen, and you are left with a plant that is turning yellow or brownish.

So why does a Chinese Evergreen turn yellow/brown, and what can you do about it? The leading causes include:

  • Improper watering (overwatering)
  • Low air humidity
  • Improper lighting
  • Pests

To resolve the issue, only water you plant when the top 5-7cm (2-3inch) of the soil is dry and ensure proper drainage. If the air is too dry, mist the leaves and keep your plant away from direct sunlight.

Of course, there is a little more you should know to take the best care of your Chinese Evergreen. Read on to find out how to guarantee your plant the best life for years to come!

Chinese Evergreens, or Aglaonema, are flowering plants native of the tropical and subtropical regions of Asia. This factor is essential to understand the basic dos and don’ts of taking care of this plant’s species. 

Indeed, Chinese Evergreen’s leaves turning yellow or brown is a common issue any grower will have to deal with during the life of your plant. And, generally, this condition relates to environmental factors. Below you can find all the possible causes and the remedies to restore your plant’s health.

Improper Watering

Chinese Evergreen Turning Yellow/Brown?: Improper Watering

Undoubtedly, improper watering is one of the leading causes of the death of any house plant. For how easy it is to take care of Chinese Evergreens, this plant is highly sensitive to watering, especially when it comes down to improper watering.

Indeed, Chinese Evergreens can suffer from “root rot,” a condition that can represent a significant threat to the health of your plant. Root rot often happens when there is no proper drainage, and the plant has been overwatered. As old water starts to stagnate at the bottom of the soil, the roots are unable to gain the nutrients they need and often drown.

Moreover, the stagnating water can become a cradle for bacteria and fungi, which, in turn, can attack the already weakened roots, causing the death of your plant. 

Often, this condition is not immediately visible, but you can identify it by looking at the symptoms the plant is displaying. Wilted and yellow leaves are only some of the effects of root rot. As the leaves become affected, it means that the bacteria have already spread through the roots, and the plant is no longer able to absorb the needed nutrients.

How to save your Chinese Evergreen from root rot

Root rot can derive from a single overwatering episode or an improper watering routine. In any case, treating this condition as soon as you notice the first signs can increase the chances of survival of your Chinese Evergreen. 

To save your plant, you should:

  1. Gently remove it from the soil.
  2. Wash the roots under running water to remove as much soil as possible.
  3. Trim away the affected roots. These are easily identifiable, as they are usually dark in color, black, or mushy. If the stage of root rot is advanced, you might have to remove a substantial part of the roots. In this case, trim some of the leaves so your plant can spend more energy in regenerating while having shorter roots. For this step, pick a clean, sharp pair of shears such as the Felco F-2 068780.
  4. Dispose of the old soil.
  5. Dip the remaining roots in a fungicide solution. While this step is optional, it can help you prevent the condition from happening again.
  6. Repot the plant in a pot that boasts good drainage. Ensure you are using fresh soil that is adequate for the needs of Chinese Evergreens.
  7. Introduce a healthier, watering routine. Water the plant only when the top 5cm (2 inches) of soil feels dry to the touch. Keep in mind that Chinese Evergreens have low water requirements.

Air That Is Too Dry

Chinese Evergreen Turning Yellow/Brown? - Air That Is Too Dry

Air humidity is another factor that can cause your leaves to look wilted and turn towards a brown or yellowish color. Indeed, Chinese Evergreens are subtropical plants, natives of geographical areas that boast high levels of air humidity.

While too much humidity can be as harmful, a more common cause of health conditions in this plant is too-dry air. Asian plants such as Chinese Evergreen need a level of humidity that is close to 60%. 

How to improve the air humidity level

There are various techniques to improve the humidity level of the air surrounding your Chinese Evergreen. 

The most straightforward strategy is to mist the leaves with a spray bottle several times a day. This trick allows you to spray water – and therefore nutrients and moisture – directly onto the leaves, which will help you see results within short timeframes.

Alternatively, you could opt to implement a humidity tray underneath your plants. While this method might take a little longer to restore the health of your Chinese Evergreen’s leaves, it represents a useful tool if you are not able to look after your plant several times a day. 

Lastly, if you have several houseplants that thrive in humid environments, grouping them can increase the humidity of their surrounding air.

Improper Lighting

Chinese Evergreen Turning Yellow/Brown? - Improper Lighting

You might have noticed that your plant has been surviving on your windowsill, yet it will be much healthier in filtered light or partial shade. Since they originally derive from shaded forest beds, subtropical plants do best when not exposed sunlight for more extended periods.

Indeed, while all plants need a level of sunlight to thrive, some have a higher shade tolerance. Too much direct sun can dry up the leaves through transpiration. When exposed to sunlight, the nutrients and water in the leaves evaporate quickly, and the plant cannot absorb replenishment fast enough to thrive. In turn, this can cause the leaves to appear brown or dark yellow.

What is the best lighting for Chinese Evergreens?

To restore the health of your plant, move it onto a shaded area. Alternatively, place it away from the sunshine shining through windows and porches. Green varieties of Chinese Evergreen boast an even higher tolerance to shade, compared to other variegated types.

Temperatures That Are Too Cold

Chinese Evergreen Turning Yellow/Brown? - Temperatures that are too Cold

Low temperatures can cause the leaves of your Chinese Evergreen to wilt and change color. Again, in this case, this factor derives from the fact that this plant is native to warm geographical areas. A frost – or temperatures dropping below 12℃ (55℉) – can cause your plant to perish.

Temperatures requirements for Chinese Evergreens

Even if these plants can stand temperatures as low as 12℃ (55℉) for brief timeframes, they thrive in much warmer environments. Ensure to keep the area’s temperature between 20℃ (68℉) and 25℃ (77℉), which are the ideal temperatures for your plant to grow strong and healthy.

Pests & Diseases

Chinese Evergreen Turning Yellow/Brown? - Pests and Diseases

Several pests and diseases can cause the leaves of your plant to change color. Some of the most common infestations include mites, whiteflies, thrips, and mealybugs. These pests attack the sup that covers the leaves of your plant, degrading their health. An easy solution to the problem is using horticultural soap to clean the leaves and get rid of the bugs.

Final Thoughts

Five different factors can influence the health of your Chinese Evergreen and cause it to display yellow or brown leaves. These include watering, air humidity, lighting, temperature, and potential pests infestations. Introducing a proper watering routine is the first step to preserve the health of your plant.

However, you should ensure that a Chinese Evergreen is also away from direct sunlight and located in a warm, humid area of your house.