Why Your Philodendron Plant is Dying (How to Save it)

Last Updated on August 22, 2022 by Stephanie

The reason for a dying Philodendron is over-watering, under-watering, cold temperatures, or too much sunlight. The leaves of philodendrons turn yellow due to the saturated soil. They also turn brown from sunburn or underwatering. Temperatures cooler than 50degF can be the cause of a dying philodendron.

Philodendrons are tropical plants that prefer hot and humid environments; ideally, locate your philodendron in a room with temperatures between 65degF to 85degF (18degC to 30degC). To create a microclimate similar to the native environment of the philodendrons, mist the leaves once or twice a week.

Water the philodendron as often as required to keep the soil evenly moist. To ensure the best moisture balance, add perlite to your potting mix. To save your philodendron, place it in indirect light in warm, moist soil. Mist the leaves frequently. The plant should be showing signs of recovery, with new growth appearing in the active growing seasons of Spring and Summer.

Cause of Yellow and Drooping Philodendron Leaves

The most common reason philodendron leaves turn yellow or droop downwards with an overall dying appearance is overwatering. The leaves can also turn yellow from underwatering, which often results in brown margins.

By far the most common cause of philodendron leaves turning yellow is too much moisture around the roots which can be caused by overwatering, slow draining soils, pots without drainage holes in the base, or because of the use of saucers, trays, and decorative pots underneath the philodendrons pot which prevents excess water escaping.

Philodendron is a tropical plant that grows in hot, humid climates that receive frequent rains. However, they prefer soil that retains moisture and drains well.

If the soil is too saturated or boggy, it will prevent root respiration. This can cause leaves to become yellowed and droopy.

Root rot can occur if roots are left in saturated soil too long. It is important to treat the problem immediately.

philodendron near hammock

How To Save Your Dying Philodendron (Yellow and Drooping Leaves)

  • Stop watering right away: Philodendrons require soil that is evenly moist but not damp or boggy. Allow the soil to drain for several days.
  • Inspect the root ball: Lift the philodendron out of the soil and inspect the root ball. Root rot is when the roots are dark brown or have a mushy texture. To promote healthy growth, snip any roots that look rotten with a pair of sterile pruning shears. To prevent the fungal disease from spreading to healthy tissue, wipe the blades with a disinfectant-soaked cloth. Then, replant the plant in a new pot and new potting soil. You dont need to remove roots if they are in good shape and have a lighter color.
  • Check the soil: Ensure that your philodendron is planted in well-draining potting soil. Some potting soils contain wetting agents, which can make the soil stay too moist for prolonged periods. Your potting soil may drain slowly or feel too moist. To improve drainage and maintain a porous structure, add 3 parts regular potting dirt to 1 part perlite.
  • Check the drainage: Philodendrons should always be planted in pots with drainage holes in their base to allow excess water to escape and prevent water pooling around the roots. Saucers, trays, and decorative outer pots can prevent excess water from spilling into the home, but it can also cause water to pool around the roots causing the philodendron leaves to turn yellow. Regularly empty saucers, trays, and decorative outer pots after watering to let the soil drain properly.

If the philodendron is suffering from root rot, then you can remove the diseased roots and plant them in fresh soil. However, this is quite a drastic step, and it is possible for the philodendron to die back due to shock.

Keep the soil moist but not saturated if the philodendron has to be replanted in new soil because of root rot or slow draining soils. This helps to reduce transplant shock.

The philodendron should be showing signs of recovery as new growth emerges. At that point, you can trim any yellowed leaves.

When you have the correct soil profile, and the philodendron is placed in a pot with drainage holes to allow excess water to escape after watering, the plant will be healthy. Typically, the plant should be watered once a week in Winter and Fall and 1 to 2 times per week during active growing in Spring and Summer.

Related: How Often and How Much to Water Your Philodendrons

Why Your Philodendron is Not Growing

If the philodendron leaves are not growing, and the plant generally appears to be dormant or even dying it is likely not growing properly. This can be from getting too much shade, too little light, poor water supply, pot-bound roots, insufficient fertilizer, or lack of soil aeration.

Philodendrons are prized for their indoor growth ability. However, they do prefer indirect, bright light. Their growth can slow down if they are placed in the shade.

Too much shade can cause the leaves to shrink and the stems to become leggy as the plant seeks more light. Relocate your philodendron is a brighter area of the home to stimulate more growth.

Mist once or twice a week to keep the soil moist.

Philodendron can stop growing due to drought stress, so it is important to water as frequently as required to keep the potting soil moist (but not saturated) to promote good, healthy foliage growth.

If the philodendron is in the same pot for a prolonged time, the plant may outgrow it and become pot-bound. This can lead to a decrease in nutrients in the soil.

To improve the health of your philodendron, you can re-pot it in a larger container with more soil. A general-purpose house fertilizer can be used to provide nutrients for the philodendrons growth.

Only feed your philodendron when it is actively growing. Philodendrons should be fed once a month to ensure growth and health.

If the potting soil gets too compacted around a root ball, this can cause oxygen to be excised from the soil. This will prevent root respiration and affect the philodendrons ability for proper function. This could cause the philodendron to stop growing.

If the soil in your pot is too dense, report into 3 parts normal potting soil to 1 part perlite. Perlite improves the structure of the potting soil, allowing water to drain more easily and increasing the soils aeration so the plant can grow properly.

Cause of Philodendron Leaves Turning Brown and Dropping

If entire leaves turn brown (or their margins) and/or leaves curl or droop, it is likely due to low humidity, too much sunlight, or overwatering.

Philodendrons can be found in tropical climates, where they thrive in high humidity and frequent rains. They also enjoy living under the shade of trees that provide indirect, bright sunlight.

If the philodendron is in a location with lots of direct, then the leaves tend to turn brown in patches or have a generally scorched appearance. The leaves can become dry and shriveled from too much sun.

Philodendrons are able to grow in high humidity in their natural range. If the leaves are directly in the path of forced air, air conditioning, or convention currents from heat sources, this can cause excess moisture to be sapped from them quicker than the roots can absorb water. This can lead to browning as a sign that the plant is stressed.

Philodendron thrives in well-draining soils, but they also need to be evenly moist due to high humidity and frequent rainfall.

If the philodendron leaves are not watered enough or too often, they can become droopy and brown. This is an indication of drought stress. Philodendrons are able to recover from drought stress if they are properly watered. They should show signs of recovery within 2 to 3 watering cycles.

Cool temperatures lower can also cause your philodendron to die back. The optimal temperature from growing philodendron is between 65degF to 85degF (18degC to 30degC).

How To Save Your Dying Philodendron (Brown Leaves and Drooping)

  • Soak the soil: Give the pot of philodendrons a good soak so that water drips from the drainage holes at the base. This will ensure that the soil is moist enough to reach the roots. You can cause drought stress by watering too often. The soils surface will become moist, and the roots below it.
  • Water your philodendron: Water as often as is required to keep the soil evenly moist (but not saturated). Give the soil a good soak and then check the soil moisture over the course of the week. Give the philodendron an adequate soak once the soils top inch has dried out. This ensures that the soil is moistened to the right level, so that root rot does not occur.
  • Mist the philodendron: Misting once or twice per week with water helps create a humid microclimate that mimics the high humidity in the philodendrons natural environment. If the leaves become brown or droopy, keep them out of direct sunlight and wind currents.
  • Check location: Always locate the philodendron in bright, indirect light. Too much sun can cause the leaves to become brown and appear scorched. The leaves that are scorched by the sun will not recover, but it wont necessarily kill the philodendron if they are moved from full sun to shade.
  • Tend to Leaves: Trim back any sun burnt brown leaves for aesthetic purposes; however, if the majority of the philodendron leaves are brown due to sunburn then wait till new growth emerges before cutting back too many leaves as cutting back most of the foliage could also cause the plant to die of shock.
  • Check Temperature of Surrounds: Ideally, locate the philodendron in an area of the home between 65degF to 85degF (18degC to 30degC) and avoid temperatures lower than 50degF (10degC) whilst the plant is recovering. Avoid placing your philodendron near a drafty area. Also, avoid putting the leaves in direct contact with cold windows. This can lead to the plant dying back.
Stephanie

Stephanie

Went from an inexperienced gardener to a half-decent one over 10+ years. I cover anything from general indoor plant guides and lawn care, to succulents and flowers. Super happy to share my tips and tricks with you :)