Kalanchoe leaves turning yellow is a problem that keeps many succulent lovers up at night.
The reasons behind this are so varied that it can get overwhelming to figure out the exact cause.
That is why we have narrowed down the most common causes to help you out. Go through our guide to find why your plant is acting the way it is.
- Why Are Your Kalanchoe Leaves Turning Yellow?
- How To Fix The Problem
Why Are Your Kalanchoe Leaves Turning Yellow?
The leaves of your Kalanchoe blossfeldiana might be turning yellow due to diseases such as rot or badna virus; unfulfilled watering needs can also be the culprit. Sometimes, zinc deficiency, sunburn, severe drops in temperature, or pest attacks might also cause this issue.
Learn how to distinguish yellowing caused by these different reasons in-depth here.
– Kalanchoe Top Spotting
Kalanchoe top spot is a disease caused by a virus called badna virus. The Kalanchoe leaf problems seen in this infection include deformity and numerous yellow spots that appear sunken.
This virus is mostly transmitted via insects that are common to household plants. It is also transmitted through seeds.
– Root Rot Fungal Disease
Root fungal rot is often the number one reason why succulent leaves turn yellow. It is a pretty serious disease that has been known to kill the Kalanchoe plant in the span of a few weeks.
– What Fungal Rot Looks Like
The initial symptoms of fungal rot begin with yellowing and swelling of the leaves. A rotten smell begins to emanate from the infected plant.
Brown-colored rot spots appear first on the leaves and later spread over to the stem. These spots are round, moist, and covered with mold. During the later stages of the disease, leaves begin to fall off the plant one by one.
The fungi that produce fungal rot of the roots multiply in soil that is under waterlogged conditions. Maybe you are watering this plant more than once every two weeks, or maybe the soil you are using is too tight and is not letting water pass through.
Lastly, maybe the pot you are using contains a very small and useless drainage hole. All these are factors that encourage fungal growth within the soil.
– Zinc Deficiency
Zinc deficiency is one of the most common problems with Kalanchoe plants. It produces very classic tell-tale symptoms that a well-informed plant carer will catch within days.
The symptoms start with the yellowing of leaves between the veins. The leaves curl at the edge and become distorted. Long-term zinc deficiency causes the stems to become flattened and excessively branched.
Collect a small sample of your soil and send it to a laboratory for analysis. Various home testing kits are available that allow you to test your soil at home. You will find that soils rich in phosphorous are especially prone to zinc deficiency.
– Kalanchoe Being Under Watered
One often overlooked cause behind yellowing leaves is underwatering. Now, as drought-resistant succulents, it is very hard to underwater the Kalanchoe plant unless you were off on vacation and forgot to water them for months on end, for example.
Alternatively, the drainage properties of the pot and the soil where the Kalanchoe is being grown might not be good enough. Water is draining out faster than it should and the soil does not have the ability to retain moisture in it.
A kalanchoe plant that is underwatered will show other associated symptoms too. These include soil that is dry and crumbly all the way from top to bottom. The leaves themselves become paper-like, thin, and crinkly. The pot begins to feel very light compared to how it normally does.
– Overwatered Kalanchoe
Succulent leaves turn yellow instantly when overwatered. This is because they are overall drought-resistant and store water in their roots and leaves for long periods of time. Overwatering also leads to Kalanchoe leaves turning soft and mushy.
They swell up until they are unable to hold their weight up, eventually falling down altogether. The soil in such a case will be runny and wet. The pot can also give you an indication — it will be heavier to lift than usual.
Kalanchoe leaves curling at the edges and becoming yellow can be due to sunburn. Your Kalanchoe succulent plant requires bright but pretty indirect light so that it can produce food and flowers.
It will tolerate direct sunlight for a couple of hours very well, but any longer than this and it will begin to get sunburnt. The sunburn gets especially severe if the plant is parched for water and the surrounding air lacks enough moisture.
Yellowing due to sunburn is easy to diagnose. A plant kept outdoors without any shade is the most susceptible. One that is placed on a windowsill of a southern-facing window is equally at risk.
– Severe Drops in Temperature
Is your plant still outside despite it being winter? Do you keep it near a window that stays open all night? Is it placed in a room that is chilled all the time by air conditioning? The yellow leaves might be due to shock from the cold.
If the temperature around your indoor plants falls below 50 degrees Fahrenheit, they will begin to undergo cold shock. This condition manifests in the form of Kalanchoe leaves turning brown, and yellow, and then eventually falling off.
The plant drops its discolored leaves one by one to conserve energy. If the conditions of cold persists, the growth of the plant stops completely and it might become near impossible to revive it again.
– Root Damage
Your Kalanchoe succulent plant might turn yellow if its roots are damaged. Damaged roots lose their ability to absorb nutrients and provide them to the rest of the plant. The leaves in turn lose their chlorophyll molecules and become yellow.
This condition is super confusing to diagnose. You need to carefully evaluate the plant and its surroundings. Check off all other common causes of yellowing first before jumping to this conclusion.
This is because root damage can only be 100 percent confirmed by taking the roots out of the pot. They will appear brown, in comparison to healthy roots which are white.
– Why Root Compaction Occurs
Multiple reasons might be responsible for your Kalanchoe undergoing root damage and yellowing. The most common ones are given here.
- Heedlessly inserting a stick or a pencil in the pot might damage the roots. You might be using this method to check the soil’s moisture level.
- Root compaction occurs when the roots of the plant outgrow their pot and become suffocating. They don’t have the space to grow any further or obtain nutrients, water, and oxygen. This might happen when you fail to repot your plant in a bigger pot every year.
- Root damage also occurs when you use soil that is too compacted. This soil not only has poor drainage but also poor air and nutrient flow. Roots cannot grow healthily in such soil.
- Bacterial and fungal attacks will also cause root damage. Two of the most common diseases have been discussed above in great detail.
Pests are a real nuisance in houseplants and are often associated with yellow spots forming over the leaves of the Kalanchoe plant. The most common bugs you need to beware of are mealybugs, spider mites, aphids, and scale insects. These are all parasites that feed off the nutrients from the leaves.
Most insects are large enough to be seen and you can easily tell that your plant is under attack. They will be seen under the leaves in especially large amounts. Aphids, on the other hand, are very small and often not as easily identified.
How To Fix The Problem
You can fix yellowing foliage on your Kalanchoe plant by treating the cause first. The most common solutions are adding zinc to the soil, providing a warm and moderately bright environment for the plant, and treating pests and diseases in the most effective ways.
Find all these solutions here.
– Add Zinc to Your Soil
In order to treat Zinc deficiency, add commercially produced Zinc sulfate or Zinc oxide to your soil. In addition to this, increase organic substances like peat and compost within the soil. This will help retain zinc within the soil.
Maintain the pH of the soil within a range of 6.0 to 6.5, which is just ideal for Kalanchoe. A high concentration of phosphorous in the soil decreases the absorption of zinc by the roots. Hold off on using phosphorus-rich fertilizers generally.
– Treat Root Rot Like a Pro
The sooner this problem is identified, the more chances you have of successfully treating it. Read the list below to learn what you can do to treat a plant that is yellowing as a result of root rot.
- Use a rake to loosen the soil around the roots before taking them out. You’ll have to be very gentle since the roots are already in a fragile state.
- Discard the soil and the pot entirely. They must not be recycled so it’s best to just burn them off.
- Lay your plant on a piece of dry paper. The parts that are completely blackened by rot need to go. Use your sharpest shears and just chop them off.
- Follow this up with a generous spray of fungicide.
- Again, pot the plant in newly-mixed potting media within a brand new pot.
- Continue spraying the fungicide according to the schedule given by the manufacturer. You may need to carry on with this once a week for many months.
- In the unfortunate event that your plant still doesn’t make it, don’t add it to compost or any other soil. It is infected and, just like the old pot and soil, must be burned off.
– Improve Watering Habits
Kalanchoe watering needs can be tricky to figure out if you are not used to keeping succulents. It doesn’t really need to be watered that much or too often. Even during the hotter months of the year, you will need to water them barely once every two to three weeks. In winters, watering just one time each month should be fine.
Still, you must always check the dryness of the soil first before giving water to this plant. It is most useful if you want to prevent over-watering it. We usually just shove our fingers into the surface of the soil. If at least the top two to three inches is entirely dry, only then can it be watered.
You can use a pencil or a stick in lieu of a finger too. A moisture meter is a brand new fancy gadget that accurately measures how moist or dry the soil has become. We totally endorse it as a worthwhile investment for those who are serious about keeping succulents.
– Remove It From Under Direct Sun
If your plant is turning yellow because of sunburn, then it needs to be moved to a safer place. This will stop further damage but the leaves that have already been affected will not revert back. You will simply have to keep them or prune them off.
If you want to keep this plant in a yard or patio, always provide some kind of shade. This can be in the form of a tarp or a larger plant placed next to it. A northern side-facing wall is also good at blocking out the harmful rays of the sun.
Inside the house, place the plant somewhere near a window. Of course, you can’t place it under very low light too. A southern-facing window needs to be covered during the harsh mid-afternoon hours. The eastern and the western-side windows are fine too.
– Maintain Warm Surrounding Temperatures
If a temperature drop is behind your Kalanchoe’s yellow foliage, you need to act immediately. Move it indoors if it is fall or frost season. If this isn’t possible, then at least cover them with a plastic plant wrap.
Indoors, always close the windows at night even if it is summer. This is especially important if the night temperatures in your region drop under 55 degrees Fahrenheit.
Keep your house’s thermostat setting within a range of 60 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit. These must not be put directly under a vent. Keep the plants somewhere where direct blasts of air cannot reach them.
– Treat Root Damage
Before you can treat root damage, you might first confirm its diagnosis. Also, find out the reason why this has happened. Only then can you treat it the right way.
- If the Kalanchoe succulent leaves becoming yellow is due to the roots being root bound, then repotting is a must. Have your pot sit in water overnight to loosen the soil, then carefully lift the plant out and repot in a larger pot. Ideally, this plant should be repotted every year at the very least.
- If root damage is due to compacted soil, then you need to repot the plant in fresh soil. Make sure that the new soil you use is looser and more well-aerated than before. You can do this by adding pieces of bark, coco coir, and perlite to it. Also, include soil in moderate amounts to improve the loaminess of the soil.
- When checking the soil for dryness prior to watering, insert the pencil or the stick near the boundaries of the pot. Don’t push it using substantial force near the center of the pot. That’s where the roots are at their most vulnerable.
– Get Rid of Bugs
Bugs are the worst when it comes to growing Kalanchoe. They eat up all the food that your plant makes and forms yellow spots and patches on the leaves. The good news is that you can debug your plant within a few days if you know the correct way to do it.
Read on as we explain the whole debugging process as concisely as possible.
- Move the plant away from the rest of the collection for isolation purposes.
- These bugs need to be removed from the plant manually. How you do it is up to you. You can either pick them off one by one using tissue paper. You can also put them under a tap to rinse them off.
- Buy an insecticidal spray with good customer reviews and spray it onto the plants accordingly.
Should I pinch off yellowing Kalanchoe leaves?
Yes, you can pinch off yellowing Kalanchoe leaves as they indicate poor health.
How do I rejuvenate my yellow Kalanchoe leaves?
To rejuvenate yellow Kalanchoe leaves, prune away the damaged ones and adjust watering and lighting.
How often do I water yellow Kalanchoe leaves?
Water yellowing Kalanchoe leaves when the soil is dry to the touch, usually every 1-2 weeks depending on humidity and light.
Now that you are well-versed in the causes behind succulent leaves turning from green to yellow, it is time to go through the most pertinent points as a conclusion.
- Take care to fulfill the needs of the Kalanchoe plant scrupulously. Indirect light, watering only when the soil starts to really dry, and maintaining temperatures on the warmer side are the most important things to keep in mind.
- If the yellowing that is occurring is due to diseases like rot or badnavirus, then you need to treat the plant as soon as possible.
- Don’t use a fertilizer that is rich in phosphorus. This causes zinc deficiency in the plant.
- Kalanchoe leaves falling off after yellowing can be due to pest infestations. Wash the plant to get rid of as many pests as you can, then spray a generous amount of insecticide to kill their larvae as well.
We are sure that you are now all set to become a Kalanchoe expert and problems like yellowing foliage are a piece of cake for you to solve.
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