Elephant Ear Leaves are Turning Yellow – Causes & Solutions
With large, dramatic leaves shaped like a heart, the Elephant Ear plant is commonly kept as a houseplant in colder regions or grown outdoors in warm climates.
It’s categorized as a tree plant and also goes by the names of Colocasia or Taro. Needless to say, this tropical plant is all about leaves, so when those grandiose green leaves turn yellow, you may rightfully wonder what’s wrong with your Elephant Ear plant.
Unfortunately, there are many possible causes to why the leaves of your Colocasia plant may turn yellow.
But hang in there — help is on the way! In this article, I will help you identify the possible causes and the remedies you can apply to stop the leaves on your Taro plant from turning yellow.
Yellow Leaves on Elephant Ear Plant
In most cases, yellow leaves on an Elephant Ear plant are always a sign of a problem. And it’s usually a problem of how well the plant’s requirements are being met.
Fortunately, you can address most of the underlying problems and prevent leaves from turning yellow in the future.
Here are the things you must check when you notice yellowing leaves on your Colocasia:
– Watering Problem
When it comes to watering an Elephant Ear, you must focus on two things — don’t underwater or overwater your plant.
Granted, these are two extremes, but it’s surprisingly easy to fall into any of the two categories.
Because the plant produces large foliage, it needs quite a bit of moisture in the potting mix. But not so much that its roots become constantly wet or sit in standing water.
It also doesn’t like to dry out completely — after all it’s a tropical plant that needs moisture and humidity to thrive.
To carefully balance these two requirements, here’s what to watch out for to get this plant’s watering requirements right:
- When watering, water until you see water coming out of the drain holes at the bottom of the pot
- Allow excess water to drain, then empty the saucer
- Use chlorine-free, room temperature water
- Wait for the top layer of the soil to dry before you reach for the watering can again (check how moist the soil is by inserting a finger in the potting media).
Overwatering is usually the bigger problem of the two, but you can just as easily dehydrate your Elephant Ear plant if you forget to water it during hot summer days when evaporation is increased, for example.
Always check if the soil is moist, dry or drying out, and adjust your watering schedule accordingly.
– Lack of Humidity
Another potential cause of yellowing leaves is a lack of humidity in the air. Accustomed to a high humidity environment, the Elephant Ear plant will struggle in dry environments.
Its leaves turning yellow, is a sign that the plant is struggling to survive in low humidity. The solution is to increase humidity levels or move the plant to a naturally more humid area in your home (e.g. kitchen).
A humidifier will also help solve the problem and so will an evaporation tray that you can make yourself.
Just because your indoor environment may seem comfortable to you, your Calocasia may find the air too dry. Monitor humidity levels and try to keep them at around 60% or higher around the plant.
– Strong Sunlight
It may seem counterintuitive to protect this plant from the sun but be mindful that even in its natural habitat, the Taro receives dappled or filtered sunlight at most.
Whether you grow this plant in the garden or keep it indoors, position it so that it receives bright, indirect light.
Unfortunately, the large leaves of the plant aren’s as resistant as their name may have you believe — under strong direct light, they’ll get scorched surprisingly fast.
Even indoors, you should prevent your Elephant Ear plant from sitting under direct sunlight. Check the exposure of your windows and position your plant in a bright spot, where it doesn’t get hit directly by the rays of the sun.
– Fertilizing Issue
Overfertilizing your Elephant Ear plant can also cause its leaves to turn yellow, which may come as a surprise since Elephant Ears are generally heavy feeders.
To produce their large foliage, these plants need regular feeding, however, overdoing the ratio of the fertilizer and the frequency can cause problems, which may manifest as leaf discoloration.
I recommend that you use a water-soluble fertilizer, high in nitrogen that will stimulate leaf production and leaf growth.
I don’t use the fertilizer more often than once a month. By using it more often, you increase the risk of overfertilization, which can cause the leaves to turn yellow.
A nitrogen-deficiency can also cause leaf discoloration. But that will usually manifest differently. Older leaves may turn yellow, while young leaves will have a very light green color.
– Pests or Disease
Pests are another offender on the list of problems that may cause yellow leaves in your Taro plant.
Sap-sucking insects such as spider mites, mealybugs and aphids are often found on indoor houseplants.
As these pests suck away the sap in the leaves of the Elephant Ear, they drain it of moisture and leave it lifeless and weakened. This will accelerate the yellowing of leaves.
Pests problems are much easier to prevent than to treat. You should always keep the leaves clean and dust-free and spray the plant with soapy water or an organic pest repellent as a preventative measure.
Should you need to treat an ongoing infestation, I recommend that you use neem oil or a horticultural oil, both of which can help decimate the pest population.
Fungal leaf diseases can also cause the leaves of your plant to turn yellow. Dirt on the leaves coupled with moisture will increase the likelihood of fungal leaf problems.
These can be even harder to treat, but luckily I can recommend neem oil for this issue too. If the fungal disease is expanding, you may even need to remove affected leaves to better contain the issue.
– Natural Process
Luckily, not all yellow leaves on your Elephant Ear are a problem. Some just happen because of the natural aging process of the plant or as the plant enters dormancy.
If only older leaves are affected, particularly those on the lower side of the plant, then your plant is simply shedding it’s old leaves to drive more energy towards new growth.
Therefore, sometimes yellow leaves aren’t a problem, but you should still go through all the possible cases and examine your plant just to make sure you haven’t missed something.
What to do With Yellow Elephant Ear Leaves?
Once the leaves on your Elephant Ear plant turn yellow, there’s no going back. These leaves will stay yellow and even become brown, if the problem persists, or fall off after a while.
Since these leaves will die anyway, you can go ahead and remove them. You should use a clean, sharp blade and cut them off all the way at the base.
Sometimes, a gentle but firm tug will also do the trick and the leaf will come off by itself.
It’s advisable to cut off heavily infested leaves or diseased leaves because it makes it so much easier to contain and manage a pest infestation or fungal leaf disease problem.
Yellow leaves on your Colocasia are a sign that your plant is struggling either because of a watering imbalance, lighting or humidity problem, disease or pest issue.
But it can also be a sign that your Taro plant is shedding its old leaves in preparation of new growth.
If you notice the leaves of your Elephant Ear turning yellow, use this article as a checklist to assess which of the issues I discussed may be the underlying cause.
As for remedies, changes in your plant care routine and prevention measures are sure to contain and solve the problem.