Why Are My Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow?

Why Are My Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow?


The appearance of the leaves reveals a lot about the health of your Phalaenopsis orchid. That’s especially true if you’re asking yourself: "Why are my orchid leaves turning yellow?" But a yellowing orchid is not the end of the world. So, here are some of the factors that could be in play if you see your orchid leaves turning yellow.

Orchid Leaves Turning Yellow? Check the Light

An orchid with yellowing leaves may have been exposed to direct sunlight. You may actually see a white patch with dark brown spots surrounded by yellow. A good orchid care tip to remember is to always put your orchid in a place that receives sufficient indirect sunlight. If you want to display your Phalaenopsis orchid on a windowsill, north and west-facing windows are best as they provide the least direct sun exposure.

And if you don’t have windows facing in either of those directions, don’t worry. Orchids also do well in artificial light.

Temperature Can Cause Yellow Spots

Temperatures that are too low can also cause orchid leaves to turn yellow.  You never want to keep your orchid in a room under 60 degrees Fahrenheit.

Generally, keeping the thermostat set between 65 and 80 will keep your orchid thriving. Also, keep your orchid away from open windows, fans, and air conditioning vents. Orchids don’t like drafts. And remember your orchid prefers relatively high humidity levels (between 55 and 75 percent).

Overwatering Can Lead to Yellowing Leaves

Overwatering your orchid can lead to root rot, which can, in turn, cause its leaves to turn yellow. If your orchid is suffering from root rot, repotting in fresh new potting media will set the plant on the path to recovery. If you see your plant still has some healthy green roots, trim the rotted roots before repotting.  

The good news is Just Add Ice orchids only take three ice cubes, once a week, so you never have to worry about overwatering.

The point of using ice cubes is that they melt slowly – releasing the water in a slow drip. Even if you see multiple stems coming from the same plant, three ice cubes are enough.

Diseases Cause Leaves to Turn Yellow

This is one of the more common causes of orchid leaves turning yellow. There are two types of diseases to watch for.  

If your orchid has a spotty appearance but smells fine, it’s likely a fungal infection. Typically fungal diseases start out as yellow areas on the undersides of leaves. As these spots develop, they become visible on both sides of the leaf and turn brown or black.

If you notice a foul smell, there’s a good chance your orchid has a bacterial infection.

In both cases, move your orchid away from other plants. Then, remove the infected area with a sterile razor blade or a pair of scissors and spray the plant with a fungicide

You can see there are a number of factors that can cause orchid leaves to turn yellow. Healthy orchid leaves are strong and hold their shape. To help you troubleshoot the next time your orchid leaves turning yellow, download our Orchid Care Tipsheet. Keep it handy for information on contaminants, care after blooming, repotting and much more.

Or visit our orchid care section to learn how to solve orchid problems.