Orchid Care: Why Are the Leaves of My Orchid Plant Turning Yellow?

Orchid Care: Why Are the Leaves of My Orchid Plant Turning Yellow?


There can be several reasons why the leaves of your precious orchid plants are turning yellow. One thing is for sure, though, it’s not happy and it’s calling out for your help.

Find out what yellowing leaves in orchids mean and what to do about it.

Overexposure to direct light

One of the top reasons why leaves of orchid plants, specifically phalaenopsis orchids, turn yellow is sunburn.  If you believe this is the case, move your orchid in a well-lit but roofed area if you’re keeping it outdoor.

However, if it’s currently on your windowsill or anywhere near it, we recommend fitting your windows with a sheer curtain. This way, your orchid can still bask in the morning sunshine but won’t get scorched by intense afternoon heat, especially during summer.

Remember that most orchids thrive in bright, indirect light. A proven indicator that an orchid plant is getting adequate light is that its leaves are a radiant, grassy kind of green. On the contrary, a dark green leaf means it’s kept somewhere without sufficient access to light. While most orchid plants can survive low-light conditions, the chances of it reblooming are quite unlikely.

Stress due to low temperature

A sudden or extreme drop in temperature can also be causing its leaves to turn yellow. Optimal temperatures for orchid plants should be anywhere between 65 and 80 Fahrenheit during the day and 60 and 70 Fahrenheit in the evening.

Lack of feeding/fertilization

Orchids need to be fed, particularly during their growing or blooming season. Yellow orchid leaves could be an indication that it has some sort of nutrient deficiency.  Experts recommend following a weekly, weakly schedule when it comes to feeding. By reducing the strength of your orchid fertilizer, you are lowering your risks of burning its roots or stressing the plant. Make sure you use a well-balanced orchid fertilizer free of urea, so it will have a good range of nitrogen availability, which is beneficial to your orchid. Do your feeding after watering your orchid plant good and proper.


An overwatered orchid, or any plant for that matter, looks limp, lifeless, leaves can be yellow, and soil is soaking wet. Orchids love moisture but they don’t want to be stuck in soggy soil that will quickly rot their roots and make them vulnerable to plant diseases.

Salvaging an overwatered orchid plant is possible but challenging. It’s easy for things to go downhill when this happens.

The best route to take is to prevent this painful scenario from happening. Water only when the topsoil is dry to the touch. Follow a regular watering schedule. Believe it or not, your orchids have higher chances of surviving when they’re underwatered than when they’re overwatered -- which is the number one culprit behind houseplant casualties, by the way.

Signs of aging 

Lastly, you should also check if the yellowing leaves are from the bottom part of the plant or just occasional ones.  This could just be a part of the normal aging process of your orchid plant. In this case, those yellow leaves will soon fade, fall, and will be replaced by new, healthy foliage.

Did we miss anything? Tell us in the comments below.

Nov 07, 2019

I have been really busy and I haven’t been so hands on my plants as I like to be. Just noticed one of my orchids middle leaf is yellowed, It pulled right out the middle of my plant. I’m so sad, it is very dark in color, the leaf isnt wanting of water, it has a purplish color around the leaves that’s how it’s been since I bought this one. So it has a spike with buds, looks very good. My first ever spike, I’m only 1-1/2 years into orchids. So I’m still a newbie at growing orchids. I am very worried that the middle of the plant where the leafs come up is not looking very good. Is this plant dyeing? Is there a way to save it? Should I cut the new spike off? Please help?

Lori Lawrence
Jun 03, 2019

Hello Irina! Thank you for your comment. The key is to spot the yellowing early on and counter it immediately. Chances are, if you’re the one, hands-on taking care of your orchid plant, you’ll be able to narrow down the root of the problem. Once the problem’s been addressed, your orchid will bounce back easily.

Orchid Republic
Jun 03, 2019

Hello, It is good prevention plan, but how to proceed when this situation already in palce?


Irina Melamud

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