The prayer Plant also known by its botanical name Maranta Leuconeura is a houseplant that is native to South America and is known for its wonderful leaves with patterns. The prayer plant gets its name because its leaves fold up at night in a way that looks like how we fold our hands for prayer a phenomenon that is called the Nyctinasty movement. When you see the leaves of your prayer plant turning yellow or brown it means that there is an issue with your plant and you should try and find the cause and fix that issue. Besides the Marantas, Cetanthe, Calathea, and Stromanthes are also considered part of the Prayer Plant Family.

Takeaway: Reasons For Prayer Plants Having Yellow Leaves?

Prayer plant leaves turn yellow because of exposure to cold weather, waterlogged soil, too much watering, lack of humidity, lack of iron, or pests and diseases. Prayer Plant leaves can also turn yellow due to excess sunlight or too little sunlight or by drastic changes in temperatures the plant is exposed to. The cucumber mosaic virus is another issue that can cause prayer plant leaves to turn yellow. If you don’t like the look you can cut off yellow leaves

Causes of yellow leaves on prayer plant

Cold Weather & Frost Exposure

Cold weather can cause prayer plant leaves to turn yellow as prayer plants cannot handle cold very well and temperatures below freezing will kill them. Prayer plants are primarily native to the tropics so the lowest temperature that they can handle is above 60 degrees Fahrenheit with some of the varieties being able to handle temperatures as low as 55 degrees Fahrenheit however if the temperatures fall lower and the plant is exposed to that the leaves of the prayer plant will start turning yellow. The ideal temperature range for this plant to maintain green and healthy leaves is between 65 to 80 degrees Fahrenheit.

When buying prayer plants make sure you do your purchase during the summer months else if buying in winter make sure that you have a heat pack or you drive as soon as possible to home else a chill injury can happen to these plants and the plant leaves will turn yellow.

Waterlogged Soil

Waterlogged Soil can cause prayer plant leaves to turn yellow because If your prayer plant is left in soil that has poor drainage and so is waterlogged it causes oxygen around the plant to reduce which in turn leads to the yellowing of prayer plant leaves and can in some extreme conditions lead the plant to die.

Waterlogged soil can happen not only because of bad drainage of soil but also if you water your plants when the pot of your plant is in the saucer and you leave the water remaining in the saucer in this case instead of excess water draining from the soil will instead absorb more water from saucer leading to waterlogged soil. The best way to fix this is to water the plant in your pot by taking it out of the saucer watering and then waiting until all the water drains out from the holes in the bottom of the pot and then returning it back to the saucer.

Waterlogged soil can also be caused by choosing a bad potting medium the right potting mix should include peat or a coir-based potting mix that can ensure that the soil drains well.

Another issue that can easily cause waterlogged soil is using a pot without a drainage hole in the bottom and having rocks and gravel at the bottom so take care that when you buy a pot it has drainage holes at the bottom.

Waterlogged soil leads to the yellowing of leaves as an initial sign but eventually, it may lead to root rot and then to the eventual death of your plant so it is important to prevent waterlogging.

Too Much Water

Even if you have soil that is well draining too much water can cause the yellowing of prayer plant leaves as it is difficult for most people to control and get the amount of watering done correctly.  Prayer plant and all the other members of the Maranta plant family have problems that staying in waterlogged soil causes their leaves to turn yellow which is the first sign of bigger problems like root rot that can lead to the death of your plant so its important to get the amount of watering correct. The right amount of water for the prayer plant as they require more water than what a normal houseplant does but also should not be overwatered the best way to handle this is to check the soil of your plant two times a week and only water the plant if the top of your soil does not feel moist and the pot does not feel heavy.

Lack of Humidity

Prayer plant leaves can turn yellow due to lack of humidity also as the plant has a problem with lack of moisture as well as too much moisture. Lack of humidity is a problem that is usually seen in the winter months as the air inside your house usually becomes too dry due to indoor heating and then you can see leaves of the prayer plant turning yellow and sometimes even brown. The ideal humidity range that a prayer plant needs is usually in the range from 40 to 60 percent and these plants are very sensitive about it. The best way to check the humidity of your house is to buy a hygrometer.

If you have seen lack of humidity is a problem with your prayer plant you can increase the humidity of your prayer plant in the following ways

  1. Mist the leaves of your prayer plant by using a mister or a spray bottle.
  2. Use a humidifier to increase the humidity surrounding your prayer plant.
  3. Move your plant to a room with higher humidity such as a bathroom or kitchen provide they get the right amount of sunlight.
  4. Keep a humidity tray consisting of water and pebbles or gravel on a tray near your plants.
  5. If your plant is small you can move it inside a glass terrarium.
  6. You can also group the houseplants together so that they can increase humidity for each other.


Too much sunlight or too little sunlight both issues can cause prayer plant leaves to turn yellow. The ideal condition for a prayer plant is that it needs bright but indirect sunlight else its leaves will turn yellow so try keeping your plant in a room having a window facing south or southeast and keep them away from windows facing north.

Lack of Iron

A lack of iron can cause your prayer plant leaves to have a yellowish tinge. If you know for sure that other issues are not affecting your prayer plant then you should investigate the pH of the soil and see if your prayer plant is too alkaline which is causing your prayer plant to not be able to absorb iron from the soil causing your prayer plant to become too yellow. If the plant is not able to absorb iron from the soil it causes the plant to be not able to produce chlorophyll which causes an issue called chlorosis. Chlorosis is a lack of chlorophyll that reduces plants’ ability to do photosynthesis to create food for themselves which in turn causes leaves to turn yellow. The ideal pH for a prayer plant is around 6 to 6.5 and you should test your soil to find its pH and take corrective action. You can always correct chlorosis by using a liquid iron fertilizer and use it as per the instructions provided on the package.

Fungus, Virus & Pests

Fungal Diseases, pests, and cucumber mosaic virus can also be the cause of yellowing of prayer plant leaves. Pests like spider mites cause leaves to have a yellow tinge . Fungal diseases like Helminthosporium leaf spots can cause the plant leaves to have a yellow spot that can spread and become tan.

Helminthosporium leaf spots are caused by waterlogged soil, leaving the plant in water that is standing or overwatering so a correction in watering will fix that problem. If you face this problem then try to ensure that you water only the bottom of the plants in the morning itself and don’t leave plant leaves wet so that water evaporates by evening. You can kill the fungus on plants by using an insecticide or neem oil.

The Cucumber Mosaic virus also causes the leaves of the prayer plant to turn yellow. If you have yellow leaves that alternate with green and healthy leaves then the Cucumber Mosaic virus will be the reason for that. If the Cucumber Mosaic virus is troubling your plant you will see even new leaves coming out as distorted while the older leaves would have started turning yellow there is no solution for this virus and the only thing you can do is destroy the prayer plant in order to prevent this virus from spreading to other houseplants.

Should I Cut Off Yellow Leaves of Prayer Plant

If you don’t like how yellow leaf looks then yes you should cut the leaf out of the prayer plant as once a leaf has become yellow it will not turn back and look green again. For a maranta you can cut the leaf all the way back untill the vine but do take the time to make sure leaf has become completely yellow before you cut it.

Takeaway: Fixes For Prayer Plants Having Yellow Leaves?

To fix prayer plant leaves turning yellow the first thing you should do is check the growing conditions and see if overwatering, waterlogged soil, sunlight or low humidity is the cause and fix that if not then check for any pests or diseases and if you don’t see that finally see if you can give it a shot of liquid fertilizer having iron

By Pete