Epic Gardening is reader-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Learn more
Plant Problems, Specific Houseplants

Troubleshoot and Fix Dieffenbachia Yellow Leaves


6 min read

Dieffenbachia, also known as dumb cane, is one of the most common houseplants since it’s easy to take care of. However, dieffenbachia yellow leaves can occur if it is not being taken care of properly.

Most of the time, you can easily tell what’s wrong and fix it before things get worse but sometimes, it is harder to tell where the problem lies. If your dieffenbachia plant has yellowing leaves, no need to panic.

Read more to find out why your plant has yellowing leaves and what you can do to fix it.

7 Reasons for Yellowing Leaves on Dumbcane

Keep a watchful eye for yellow leaves on your dumbcane
Keep a watchful eye for yellowing leaves on your dumbcane. Source: narin

Moisture Stress

Dieffenbachia yellow leaves may occur because of underwatering or overwatering your plant. Since dieffenbachia is a potted plant, it is vital to give your plant the amount of water it needs because it’s not getting it from rain, in-ground soil, etc.

If your plant is root bound it may also experience water stress, and this can cause yellowing. To remedy this, up-pot your dumbcane into a container that is a couple of inches wider than the current one. Use fresh medium, and gently separate the roots before planting them into the new pot.

If the leaves are not green anymore, check the pot to see if the soil is soaked or dry:

  • If the soil is wet, reduce the number of times you are watering your plant since too much water can cause the roots to drown and leaves to yellow.
  • If the soil is dry, start watering it more regularly or your plant will die with dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow and then brown.

Aging

Dieffenbachia is one of the most popular houseplants because it lives for a long time. But like all living things, it eventually starts aging. The green leaves turn yellow as the plant grows. This process is completely normal. Eventually, the leaves will simply fall off when the time comes. When all the leaves fall off, it is a good idea to trim the stems and cut back foliage to spur new growth.

Weather

Another common reason why you might see dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow is the weather. Houseplants prefer warm temperature and if it gets really cold, the leaves of the plant are affected. If your houseplant is on a window ledge or near an air conditioner during the winter season, make sure to place it somewhere where it gets bright light but doesn’t get too cold or drafty.

Insufficient Sunlight

Unlike plants in your garden, a houseplant does not get the same amount of sun during the day, even if exposed to bright indirect light. Exposure to too much direct sunlight can cause a plant leaf to turn yellow and droop. Before you know it, all the leaves will turn yellow.

If your plant is placed in the middle of the room away from a light source, it’s best to move it closer to the window sill, where it can get offset direct sunlight during the day. If it is already on the sill, you probably want to add a sheer curtain or move it just slightly away from the direct light source. During the winter season, you can give additional artificial light to make sure your plant leaves don’t change color.

Infection

Yellow patches on the leaves can also be a result of an infection. An infection will not only make the leaves yellow, but it will also discolor the flowers and deform the stem. If the infection has spread throughout the plant, it is best to move the plant container away from other plants or change the pot entirely. Make sure to cut the leaves that turn yellow and sterilize the tools before using them on other plants.

Root rot is a common fungal disease that can strike plants under water stress due to overwatering. One of the symptoms of this disease is dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow and becoming mushy at their base, as the fungus enters the plant through the roots, and moves into the foliage.

To treat this disease, remove the damaged parts, and cease watering for a time to see if the problem persists or passes. If it doesn’t, try repotting your dumbcane into a new pot with fresh media. Remove the damaged roots in the transfer, and wait for new growth to tell you it worked.

Nutrient Deficiency

This one may be a little hard to crack since you might not even realize this is happening. Your dumb cane plant may be changing color because it is not getting enough nutrients, especially nitrogen. Make sure to fertilize your plants with a diluted houseplant fertilizer regularly to prevent the leaves from yellowing.

Pests

Spider mites are one pest that feed on dumbcane. As they do this you may notice dieffenbachia leaves turning yellow. They feed on the sap of the plant’s foliage and cause leaf curl and yellowing. In infestations, they’ll weave webs around the leaf. You can manage them with neem oil, wiping the leaves with a damp cloth, or insecticidal soap.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Does overwatering affect dieffenbachia?

A: If you water the plant too much, your plant can suffer. It may become hard for the roots to absorb all of the water, which can lead to the death of your plant via root rot.

Q: Can brown or yellow-ish leaves turn green again?

A: Once your dieffenbachia plant is dry and the leaves change color, they will not turn to their original color again. Simply cut them off so they don’t affect others.

Q: Should I cut yellow leaves off dieffenbachia?

A: Most of the time removing leaves that are turning yellow is the best course of action. The only time to forego leaf removal is when there aren’t many leaves on the plant to begin with.

Q: How often should I water my dieffenbachia?

A: Water once a week in the growing seasons, and once every other week in dormancy.

Q: How do you tell if yellow leaves are from overwatering or underwatering?

A: Overwatering causes limp, slightly moist brown or yellowing leaves. Underwater causes crispy ones.

Q: Does dieffenbachia need a lot of sunlight?

A: It does, but indirect sunilght is best. Too much direct full sun can cause singing.

Q: Should dieffenbachia be misted?

A: You won’t need to mist your dumbcane, but it doesn’t hurt in very dry environments.

Q: Do yellow leaves mean root rot?

A: If they are yellow and accompanied by soggy bases, the potential is pretty high.

Products in this article