Why Are My Spider Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?

  • By: Carl Adams
  • Time to read: 7 min.

It is always disappointing to find out that your potted plant is experiencing some type of health issue. It is even more disappointing if it is an issue that may be of your own doing. Which can sometimes be the case with spider plants that have leaves turning yellow. Let’s take a closer look.

Why are my spider plant leaves turning yellow? Yellow leaves on a spider plant indicate an over-watering or underwatering problem, too much fertilizer, too much light, shock due to change of environment, temperature and humidity problems, watering with salty water, pests, and disease.

Causes Of Yellow Leaves In Spider Plants

The following is a list of possible causes for the yellow leaf coloration:

1) Over Watering or Under Watering

The average amount of water needed per week depends upon your climate zone, soil type, size of the pot, number of leaves in each cluster, and whether you have any other houseplants growing nearby. Spider plants need about 1 inch of water weekly during summer months when temperatures reach 90 degrees Fahrenheit. During winter months, they require less frequent but more thorough watering.

On overwatering, you notice brown spots appearing on the surface of the leaves; this may mean that the roots are not getting enough oxygen from air circulation. This condition should be corrected immediately as it will cause root rot. You must also ensure adequate drainage around the base of the pots so excess moisture does not collect at the bottom where the roots reside.

On the other hand, underwatering means that the soil becomes soggy and heavy, which prevents proper aeration of the roots. If left untreated, the roots become weak and eventually die off. The leaves then turn yellow and may also die if the condition is unattended. It’sIt’s essential to keep the soil moist but never wet; otherwise, the roots cannot absorb nutrients properly.

2) Too Much Fertilizer

Fertilizers such as Miracle Gro®, fish emulsion, composted manure, etc., contain nitrogen, phosphorus, and many other minerals required by spider plants. These fertilizers help increase the growth rate and promote healthy foliage.

However, excessive use of these products can lead to nutrient deficiencies. When this happens, the leaves start looking pale greenish-white and gradually turn yellow. In some cases, the entire plant dies.

In addition, some fertilizers tend to burn out quickly because of their high pH levels. When used excessively, alkalinity tends to leach away calcium and magnesium ions from the soil. As a result, the plant suffers from chlorosis – a greenish discoloration of its leaves.

This condition usually occurs after several weeks of continuous application of fertilizers. To avoid burning out the plant, apply only one-third of the recommended dose every two weeks.

3) Excessive Light Exposure

While sunlight provides essential vitamins A, B6, C, E, K, and folic acid, it has been known to damage the photosynthetic process in certain species of plants. Some varieties of spider plants do better under bright lights than others. For example, ”Sugar Daddy” prefers full sun, while ”Candy Apple Red” thrives best in partial shade.

When exposed to excessive sunlight, spider plants develop leaf scorch. They lose color and texture and ultimately wither.

4) Shock Due to Change of Environment

When moving a spider plant into new surroundings, it needs time to adjust to changes in temperature, humidity, light exposure, and soil composition.

When exposed to sudden changes in temperature, humidity, wind speed, barometric pressure, etc., the plant reacts by closing up its stomata. Stomatal closure reduces transpiration, causing water loss through the leaves. As a result, they appear wilted or even dead.

Spider plants have tiny pores called stomata, located between each pair of veins on the underside of the leaves. Each stoma allows gas exchange with the surrounding air. Spider plants grown indoors for long periods are often prone to this problem.

5) Stress Caused By Poor Soil Quality

Poor quality soils cause poor root development, resulting in stunted growth. By poor quality, it means that there is not enough organic matter present in the soil. Organic matter helps retain moisture and improves drainage.

Without adequate amounts of organic matter, the soil dries out too fast, leading to stress. Because of inadequate nutrition, the leaves begin to look yellow, unhealthy and sometimes drop prematurely.

6) Temperature And Humidity Problems

If your house gets cold at night, you may notice that your spider plants will be affected more severely during the winter months. The same goes if your home becomes overly hot during summertime. If temperatures fluctuate frequently, the plant’s roots cannot maintain an ideal environment.

It also does not like extreme fluctuations in humidity either. During dry spells, the plant loses much-needed water. Overly humid conditions make the plant susceptible to fungal diseases, which in turn causes yellowing of leaves.

7) Pests & Disease

Pest insects such as aphids can quickly infest spider plants-aphid feeding results in distorted foliage and deformed flowers. In severe cases, these pests can kill entire plants. Other insect problems include whiteflies, mealybugs, scale insects, mites, slugs, snails, and ants.

These pests feed off the sap produced by the plant. Their presence indicates that the plant is suffering from nutrient deficiencies. This could lead to chlorosis, necrosis, and other symptoms.

Diseases caused by fungi, bacteria, viruses, nematodes, and algae can affect indoor and outdoor spider plants. Symptoms vary depending upon what type of disease affects the plant.

Common diseases that cause yellow leaves in spider plants include bacterial blight, powdery mildew, downy mildew, rusts, and Fusarium wilt.

8) Salt In Your Water

Saltwater fish tanks are notorious for killing all kinds of aquatic life, including plants. When salt accumulates in the soil around the base of the plant, it eventually kills the plant.

To avoid this problem, use fresh tap water instead of ocean water when watering your spider plants. Too much salt in the water makes the soil harden and compact.

9) Overcrowding of roots in a small pot

Overcrowding of roots leads to reduced circulation within the plant. Reduced circulation prevents the proper uptake of nutrients and oxygen into the leaf tissue. Eventually, the plant becomes yellow and may die because it has no way to get rid of excess carbon dioxide.

CO2 buildup inside the plant creates high acidity levels, which damages cell walls and ultimately leads to death.

leaves turning yellow

How To Fix Yellow Spider Plant Leaves

1) Keep the Plants away from excess sunlight

Indoor-grown spider plants do better than those raised outdoors because their roots receive constant light throughout the day.

They grow faster and healthier. However, if you want to keep them outside, place them where they get plenty of sunlight but don’t overheat. You should never leave them inside without any protection against direct sun exposure.

2) Give Them Enough Nutrients

Nutrient deficiency leads to the yellowing of leaves. Spider plants need a balanced diet consisting of nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium, calcium, iron, copper, manganese, zinc, boron, chlorine, sulfur, silicon, sodium, chloride, sulfate, nitrate, phosphate, and carbon.

Make sure that each element is present in proper proportions. For example, if you have low phosphorous levels, add some fertilizer with high phosphorous content. However, in doing this, be sure not to overfeed your spider plant with nutrients or, instead of to over-fertilize.

3) Use Proper Soil Mix

The best way to ensure healthy growth is to provide an excellent growing medium. A well-balanced mix of pebbles, sand, perlite, vermiculite, bark chips, compost, leaf mold, sphagnum moss, coco coir, etc., provides nutrients required for optimal growth. Avoid using clay soils since they tend to hold moisture too long, causing root rot. Also, avoid adding fertilizers directly into the potting mixture. Instead, apply them on top of the soil before planting.

4) Add Some Mulch

Mulching helps retain heat and keeps weeds under control. Apply mulch about 1 inch thick around the base of the stem. Do not cover the whole area; just enough so that there is no bare ground exposed. If you live in an extremely hot climate, consider covering the pots with plastic wrap until winter arrives. The plastic will help protect the plants during cold weather.

5) Don’t Let Pests Get Inside

Aphids, whitefly, mealybug, scales, slugs, snails, ants, and spiders love moist environments. Therefore, make sure that your house stays dry at all times. Remove debris regularly and wash windows frequently. Clean up spills immediately. Spray pesticides only after consulting with a professional pest controller.

6) Check for Diseases

If you notice yellow spots on the leaves, check whether the affected areas contain fungus. The fungus can be treated by spraying diluted bleach solution. Be careful, though, as bleach may cause burns. Alternatively, spray neem oil mixed with water onto infected areas. Neem oil works very effectively against fungal diseases. It also repels insects like aphids and whiteflies.

7) Water Your Plants Regularly

Watering is essential for keeping your plants alive. In fact, most indoor plants require more frequent watering than outdoor ones. Indoor plants usually experience less rainfall than outdoor plants. This means that they must rely heavily on artificial irrigation systems. Keep your plants appropriately watered even when it’s raining or snowing. Never let them sit in standing water. Use fresh water instead of tap water because it contains minerals that could harm your plants. You should use distilled water for cleaning purposes.

8) Report outgrown spider plants into bigger pots

When spider plants grow beyond their original size, moving them from smaller containers to larger ones becomes necessary. Repotting ensures better air circulation, which prevents disease development and, consequently, yellow leaves. You should use fresh new potting material every time you report.

9) Give Them Enough Space

Plants grow better when given adequate space. They don’t mind being crowded, but they do get stressed out easily. Provide ample room between plants and keep away from direct sunlight. Place your plants where they receive indirect light.


In conclusion, if your spider plant is yellowing it could be one of several causes. You will have to go down the list and examine the possible issues a little more closely.

Eliminate the potential causes one by one and mark them off the list as you check it out.

In addition, make sure you check the roots on the plant so that you can make sure they are healthy. Root problems can be possible from time to time with container plants.

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