I love the beautiful polka dot plant my friend gave me for my new apartment. But I recently noticed that its striking pink and green leaves were turning yellow, which made me worry that I was doing something wrong.
Polka dot plants can become yellow for various reasons, such as receiving too much water or not getting the nutrients or sunlight required for healthy growth. The yellowing is a sign of a problem that will worsen if not addressed and which can cause the plant to die.
In this article, I will tell you everything you need to know about why your polka dot plant is turning yellow and how you can get your beautiful plant back to health the way I did so it continues to thrive.
Why Your Polka Dot Plant Is Turning Yellow
One of the most common reasons your polka dot plant is turning yellow is that it’s not getting enough water it needs or getting too much of it.
You can tell if you’re giving your polka dot plant too much water if you can see that its leaves are yellowing and starting to fall off. Overwatering also causes root rot, which can be fatal for the plant.
By comparison, as Hunker reports, a sign that you’re not giving your polka dot plant enough water is if its leaves are turning yellow without falling off the plant or the plant is wilting.
How Often To Water a Polka Dot Plant
To ensure that you give your polka dot plant the right amount of water it needs, you need to consider if you’ve planted it outdoors or indoors.
If you’ve planted your polka dot plant outside, alter your watering schedule according to the seasons.
- During the summer, water your plant regularly. Your polka dot plant will flower and grow during this season, so it needs regular watering. Check that the top quarter-inch of soil is dry before watering it so that you don’t cause the roots to rot.
- During winter, water the polka plant less. The plant won’t grow as much when the weather is cold so you can water it less. Ensure the top half-inch of soil is dry before watering it.
- During spring, stick to the summer schedule. You’ll notice that your polka dot plant will have buds and might even start to flower in spring, so follow the same watering schedule that you use during summer.
If you’ve planted your polka dot plant indoors, you must consider the pot you’re using, as some materials will maintain moisture better than others.
- Terracotta pot. If you’ve planted your polka dot plant in a terracotta pot, water it every five to 10 days. These pots are clay which may lose moisture quickly.
- Plastic pot. If you’ve planted the polka dot plant in a plastic pot, aim for less regular watering. Plastic retains moisture effectively.
- Ceramic Pot. If you’ve planted the polka dot plant in a ceramic pot, check the soil to see if it’s dry before watering it. Ceramic pots retain moisture quite well. An unglazed ceramic pot requires more frequent watering.
Other Reasons Why Your Polka Dot Plant Is Turning Yellow
If you’re not over-or under-watering your polka dot plant, but its leaves still look yellow, there are other things to consider.
The Polka Dot Plant Needs More Sunlight
A polka dot plant needs bright, indirect sunlight. Don’t place it in direct light as its leaves are sensitive to the harsh UV rays. By putting it in an area of indirect light, you’ll prevent it from becoming yellow or wilting. You’ll also ensure that the light enhances its beautiful pink and green spots!
Note that bright, indirect sunlight is bright enough to cast a shadow. As Bob Vila reports, windows in the home facing north and east directions are best for this type of light.
The Polka Dot Plant Is in Direct Sunlight
While not giving your plant enough light will cause its leaves to become yellow, too much direct sunlight is also problematic. If you’re letting your plant get several hours of direct light every day, this will burn its leaves, producing yellow spots on them. The polka plant does not fare well in overly bright and sunny areas.
The Polka Dot Plant Needs More Nutrients
You should fertilize your polka dot plant, ensuring it will have all the nutrients it needs to grow healthy. If you don’t, you could see that your plant’s leaves start to turn yellow from a lack of nutrients. How regularly you fertilize the plant depends on whether you plant it in the garden or keep it indoors.
- Fertilize outdoor plants once a month. Make sure you give the plant fertilizer once a month during its growing season. An excellent fertilizer to use is a balanced one, as it contains the same amount of nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. To apply it, dissolve half a teaspoon of fertilizer in one gallon (3.7 liters) of water, then pour it over the soil.
- Fertilize indoor plants every fortnight. Indoor polka dot plants require more regular fertilizer because they’re limited to the nutrients they get in their pots. Dilute a quarter-teaspoon of fertilizer in one gallon (3.7 liters) water. Pour this solution over the soil around the plant.
Pests Have Infested Your Polka Plant
Another reason your polka dot plant is yellowing is that pests are feeding on it. Common culprits include spider mites and mealybugs. Soapy water eliminates these pests and works well to remove their outer, waxy coating, so they die, as UC Master Gardener Program reports.
You can also purchase a specially formulated product to remove spider mites and mealybugs. I recommend Earth’s Ally 3-in1- Plant Spray (available on Amazon.com). It kills insects such as mealybugs, spider mites, and aphids effectively, and it’s organic, so you won’t have to worry about spraying toxic chemicals in your home.
Where in the U.S. Do Polka Dot Plants Thrive?
While ensuring that your polka dot plant is getting enough sunlight, water, and nutrients, that’s sadly not always enough. If you want to keep your plant in the garden, it’s essential to consider the region where you live, as it requires certain conditions to survive and thrive.
Polka dot plants thrive in U.S. zones 10 and 11. Zone 10 includes southern Florida, Hawaii, and southern California, while Zone 11 includes Hawaii, Florida Keys, and Puerto Rico. Polka dot plants need warm and humid weather, so these key areas are best for polka dot plant growth.
Since these plants require temperatures of 60 degrees Fahrenheit (15 degrees Celsius) or higher, if you don’t live in the zones mentioned above, you need to keep them as indoor plants to protect them against the cold in winter.
How To Look After Your Polka Dot Plant: Additional Tips
A polka dot plant should be in a humid, warm area of the home or garden. General care tips to help it thrive include: pinching back its tips, checking for mildew, and dealing with issues such as root rot that can arise from overwatering.
Pinch Back Its Growing Tips Every Week
“Pinching” refers to how you should remove the growing tips of the stems so that the plant grows multiple tips in its place. This growth will help your polka dot plant become bushier as it promotes lateral growth rather than vertical growth.
It’s also an excellent way to remove yellowing leaves to free up space for healthier leaves to grow.
Give Your Plant 50 Percent Humidity
Your polka dot plant needs to grow in 50-percent moisture conditions. If your home doesn’t have enough humidity, you can increase it for your plant. Fill a shallow pan with ornamental gravel and water, and use this as a tray underneath the plant. When water on the tray evaporates, it will give the plant enough humidity.
Check for Mildew
If you’re overwatering your polka dot plant, you might notice a powdery grey-white substance forming on its leaves. This white powder is mildew. As The University of Vermont Extension Department of Plant and Soil Science reports, you can remove it by applying a blend of baking soda and horticultural oil to the affected leaves.
Make sure you eliminate mildew as soon as you see it, as it causes young leaves to become yellow and dry out.
Tackle Root Rot Quickly
As we mentioned earlier, root rot can be fatal for polka dot plants. To deal with it fast to bring the plant back to health, check for white, firm roots. If these are present, you can save the plant. As Masterclass advises, replant the plant in fresh soil with good drainage.
A potting mix for containers works well to prevent soil compaction, so plant roots get the water and nutrients they need to grow.
If you’re trying to grow a beautiful polka dot plant, but its leaves are yellowing, you might be over-or under-watering it. Or, there might be other reasons why your plant’s not looking as healthy as it should. Armed with the above information, you should discover why your polka dot plant is yellowing and what you can do to give it a new lease on life.
I’m Elsa, and I love gardening. I started GardeningElsa.com as a resource for other gardeners, and I offer expert advice on gardening topics such as plants, flowers, herbs, and vegetable gardening. On my website, I share my latest tips and tricks for creating beautiful gardens. When I’m not working on my website, you can find me in my own garden, tending to my plants and flowers. Read more about me.