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What to do when Polka dot plant leaves turn yellow & fall off

The leaves of polka dot plants (also known as Hypoestes phyllostachya) can turn yellow and brown for reasons within or beyond your control. Here are the most common causes and steps you can take to make the foliage of the polka dot plant look green and healthy again.

Underwatering or overwatering is bad for Polka dot plants

Improper watering is usually the main culprit when yellow or brown leaves start to develop on Polka dot plants. As plants that originate from regions like Southeast Asia and Madagascar, polka dot plants do enjoy frequent but light watering. A puddle of water, however, shouldn’t remain on the soil after the plant gets watered as that could encourage root rot to develop and this, in turn, can cause yellow leaves. How often you water the polka dot plant will depend on factors such as whether you are growing it indoors or outdoors and the general humidity, temperature, and light intensity.

On the flip side, underwatering may cause polka dot plants to develop yellow leaves as it may cause interference to the chlorophyll (the pigment that gives leaves their green color) and, in turn, start the discoloration process.

As a general rule of thumb, it should be okay to water polka dot plants once a week. Adjust the watering accordingly as the season changes.

Proper drainage of water from soil

You won’t be able to properly gauge the frequency of watering the polka dot plant needs if it is being grown in soil that doesn’t drain well. Compacted soil can cause a number of issues for polka dot plants such as preventing root growth, reducing nutrient absorption, and preventing oxygen absorption. All of this can cause leaves to turn yellow and fall off. you will know if the soil is waterlogged by creating a tiny hole on the soil surface and filling it with water. If the water hasn’t drained after a few hours then you are dealing with clogged soil problems.

To stop more leaves from turning yellow, you will most likely need to transplant the polka dot plant into soil that drains well. One way of doing this is by mixing the soil with material like perlite, compost, and shredded leaves.

Excessive sunlight or lack of sunlight

Yellow leaves can also form on polka dot plants due to changes in sunlight conditions. Prolonged exposure to direct sunlight, for example, can harm plants because it can result in sunburn and the scorching of leaves. Lack of sunlight could have the same negative effect on polka dot plants as it would result in the leaves not getting enough light to drive photosynthesis. Lack of energy would then cause the leaves to wilt and gradually become discolored.

Try to position the polka dot plant or provide it enough cover or exposure so that it receives an optimal amount of sunlight, which is about several hours of bright, indirect sunlight per day.

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