Dieffenbachia Leaves Turning Yellow: Causes and Treatments

Dieffenbachia is a genus of tropical flowering plants in the family Araceae. The genus is native to the Americas, where it is distributed from Mexico to Argentina. Dieffenbachia species are commonly known as dumbcane, parrot plant, or elephant’s ear.

Dieffenbachias are evergreen perennial herbs or subshrubs with fleshy, often laciniate leaves. The leaves are borne on petioles and are typically patterned with white and green. The flowers are small and borne in inflorescences that emerge from the leaf axils. Dieffenbachia species are pollinated by flies and beetles.

Dieffenbachia species are cultivated as ornamental plants for their striking foliage. They are popular houseplants but can also be grown outdoors in shady areas. Some Dieffenbachia species are considered invasive in certain areas.

Like any other plant, Dieffenbachia leaves also become yellow. While it’s not a good sign, this issue can be fought once the causes of Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow are identified.

Dieffenbachia Leaves Turning Yellow: Causes

Here are some of the most common causes of Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow.

Excessive Watering

When a Dieffenbachia plant is overwatered, the leaves may turn yellow due to a lack of oxygen in the roots. When the roots are constantly wet, they are unable to take in oxygen from the soil. This can lead to the leaves turning yellow and eventually dying. Overwatering can also cause the leaves to turn yellow due to nutrient deficiencies. If the roots are constantly wet, they may not be able to uptake nutrients from the soil properly. This can lead to the leaves turning yellow and eventually dying.

Harsh Temperature

50 F – 80 F is the ideal temperature range for Dieffenbachia. Any temperature under or over the range can prove to be detrimental to the plant if exposed to it for longer periods of time. While the Dieffenbachia can tolerate a range of temperatures, it does best in warm, humid conditions. If the temperature drops too low, the leaves may turn yellow and begin to drop off.

Low Humidity

Low humidity can be a cause of Dieffenbachia bottom leaves turning yellow for a few reasons. One reason is that the leaves are not able to take in enough water and moisture from the air, causing them to dry out and turn yellow. Another reason is that low humidity can cause the plant to experience drought stress, which can lead to the leaves turning yellow.

Inadequate Amount of Water

When a Dieffenbachia plant is underwatered, the leaves will begin to turn yellow. This is because the plant is not receiving enough water to properly support its growth. Without enough water, the plant will start to wilt, and the leaves will turn yellow and eventually brown. If the plant is not watered soon enough, it will die.

Direct and Excessive Sunlight

Direct and excessive lighting is one of the main reasons why Dieffenbachia leaves turn yellow. The sun’s ultraviolet rays can cause the leaves to discolor and eventually turn yellow. Too much sun can also cause the leaves to dry out and drop off. If you notice your Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow, try moving them to a spot where they will receive indirect sunlight.

Nutrient Deficiency

Nutrient deficiency is a common cause of Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow. The most common nutrient deficiencies that can cause this problem are nitrogen and phosphorus. A lack of any of these nutrients can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually die.

Nitrogen deficiency is the most common cause of this problem, and it can be caused by a number of factors, including improper fertilization, over-watering, and soil that is too alkaline or acidic. Since nitrogen is a primary element in amino acids that are responsible for a plant’s growth, a lack of nitrogen can stunt the plant’s growth.

Fungal and Bacterial Diseases

Fungal and bacterial diseases are often a cause of Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow. Fungi and bacteria can cause yellowing by infecting the leaves and stems, causing them to rot. This can lead to the plant not being able to take up water and nutrients, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow and eventually die.

You can often observe overwatering causing fungal diseases since humidity is a ground for the growth of a fungus.


Pests are a cause of Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow. Common pests that attack Dieffenbachia include mealybugs, aphids, spider mites, and scale. These pests feed on the plant’s sap, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow. In addition, pests can introduce diseases to the plant, which can also cause the leaves to turn yellow.


Aging is one of the primary causes of Dieffenbachia bottom leaves turning yellow. As the plant ages, it slowly begins to lose its ability to produce chlorophyll, the green pigment that helps it absorb energy from sunlight. This process is gradual, and eventually, the leaves of the Dieffenbachia will turn yellow as they lose their chlorophyll content. You may then notice these leaves dropping off the plant, which is a natural process.

Root Bound

Root bound is when a plant’s roots have become so entangled that they can no longer effectively absorb water and nutrients from the soil. This can be a cause of Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow because the plant is not able to get the nutrients it needs to thrive. When a plant is root bound, the roots can actually start to strangle the plant, which can lead to death. If you notice that your Dieffenbachia leaves are turning yellow, it is important to check the roots to see if they are root bound. If they are, you will need to replant the Dieffenbachia in a larger pot with fresh soil.

Transplant Shock

If you observe your Dieffenbachia bottom leaves turning yellow after repotting, it’s probably suffering a transplant shock. Transplant shock is a less common cause of Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow. When a plant is transplanted, it goes through a period of adjustment as it establishes its roots in the new soil. During this time, the plant may experience a number of stresses, including a change in temperature, water, and light conditions. These stresses can cause the plant to go into shock, which manifests as yellowing leaves.


Dieffenbachia Leaves Turning Yellow: Treatments

Chlorosis or leaves losing their color can’t be treated. More often than, pruning is the best way out. However, some measures can ensure some outclass changes. Here are some ways to nurse your Dieffenbachia leaves back to life.

  • If the potting mix is compacted or doesn’t drain well, hold off on watering and replace it. Aside from that, make sure your pot has ventilation holes for drainage and that water is disposed of in a saucer or cachepot. However, avoid squeezing the soil to remove more water, or else the roots will be harmed.

After that, dip your finger in the soil and check the level of soil that’s dry. The soil till your finger’s first knuckle must be wet; otherwise, start watering the plant. As water requirements differ according to the season, plant size, etc., don’t stick to a schedule.

  • Take them somewhere cooler if there are heat waves or long, scorching summers. Additionally, keep the plants away from radiators, furnaces, fireplaces, and other appliances that may release heat.

Conversely, during chilly winters, move plants away from open doorways and shut the windows nearby to maintain an optimum heated environment. Additionally, avoid placing your plant close to an air vent.

  • The transition of a plant from a high-humidity environment to a person’s home or workplace with lower humidity might harm the plant and cause its leaves to turn yellow. Usually, after the plant has fully adapted to its new habitat, this alteration disappears.

In order to combat the problem of low humidity, you can also spend money on a good humidifier. There are a few high-quality humidifiers that are reasonably priced, so you don’t have to break the bank.

  • Water your under-watered Dieffenbachia plant thoroughly for about a month before pruning any yellowing leaves. The timely watering will mitigate the drought situation, while they wait in pruning will mitigate the stress on the plant.
  • Find a location where your Dieffenbachia plant won’t be exposed to direct sunlight for more than 1-2 hours per day. Ideally, the plant should be kept out of direct sunlight but receive brilliant, indirect sunlight all day. Hence, the placement of windows and other design elements of the room where the plants are stored play a huge part.

Seasonal variations affect your plant’s access to heat and light. To prevent extremes of too much or too little light throughout the year, you might need to shift your plant to different spots in your house.

The leaves occasionally turn yellow as the seasons change, especially in the fall and winter, when this plant’s natural growth pattern favors the dieback of older foliage.

  • Your Dieffenbachia plant may need some supplemental fertilizer. However, overdoing it has its fair share of problems. Hence, instead of fertilizing every week, get your proper plant nutrients using liquid fertilizers for only 2-3 weeks when their growing season is in full swing.
  • There are no bactericides that can effectively combat bacterial issues causing the Dieffenbachia leaves to turn yellow at this time. Therefore, you must carefully dispose of affected plants if the infection is severe. In every other case, you can isolate and trim the damaged area. However, employing bactericides using copper-based chemicals may help stop the spread.

Fungicides can be used to treat fungal infections, while root rot can be treated by repotting your plant and removing the rotted root portions.

  • To stop the infestation from spreading to other houseplants, isolate your plant if it is infected. The species of pest and the complexity of the issue will determine the appropriate course of action. Choose an insecticidal soap as directed by the manufacturer to get rid of the pests for the best results. Neem oils or mixtures of soap and water work best for killing away pests too.

If treatment fails to eradicate the infestation, you could, in rare instances, have to entirely destroy the plant.

  • There is no way to prevent your Dieffenbachia leaves from becoming yellow because aging is a natural process. When the time comes, the leaves will eventually just fall off. Trimming the stems and cutting back the foliage after the leaves have all fallen off will encourage fresh growth.
  • Dieffenbachia that is rootbound needs to be replanted right away in a bigger container. The plant can also be divided into smaller containers and replanted. Water well and fertilize your plants after you’ve planted them in a suitable container and potting soil.
  • If you notice your Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow after repotting, there’s no need to worry. Keep providing the optimal environment for the growth of the plants, and the transplant shock symptoms will disappear in a few days. Additionally, avoid any factors that can cause root damage to the plant while repotting. The situation may worsen otherwise.

To Sum It Up

Dieffenbachia leaves are among the widely used ornamental plants. The richly pigmented evergreen leaves add liveliness to any space and lift up the mood. The fresh-looking plants aren’t high maintenance but need to be cared for every once in a while.

While Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow isn’t too common, you can certainly come across the situation if the plant isn’t looked after. To avoid the situation, always pay attention to the amount of water you’re feeding your Dieffenbachia plants, as that’s the leading cause of Dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow. Having said that, don’t cut back on the plant’s humidity as that too is an important factor for Dieffenbachia plants to stay green and healthy.

Dieffenbachia plants are relatively more resilient than other plants. However, messing with their ideal temperature can result in yellow leaves. Apart from that, pests, fungal and bacterial diseases, excessive sunlight, and aging are also common causes that cause Dieffenbachia leaves to turn yellow. When a plant’s rootbound, the plant can become affected. Transplantation may work as a solution, though carelessness during the process can exacerbate the issue. Also, make sure that once repotted, the plant receives an adequate amount of fertilizer to fight off nutrient deficiency, if any.