Why Are My Elephant Ear Leaves Turning Yellow?

Taking good care of elephant ear plants can significantly add charm and visual appeal to your property. Whether you’ve planted them indoors or outdoors, the large, conspicuous leaves will make a statement throughout the seasons.

But it can be worrisome when your elephant ear leaves start to turn yellow. Despite all the hard work, there are times when this discoloration in your plant leaves may be inevitable. The good news is that the cause of the yellowing might be nothing too serious. 

Worried about elephant ears turning yellow? Read on to understand the cause of elephant ear plant leaves turning yellow so you can figure out what to do next.

Inconsistent Watering

Inconsistent watering can result in elephant ears turning yellow. Like any other plant, water is essential in transporting nutrients from the soil to the plant. Elephant ear plants require lots of water to produce the large foliage. However, the question of how much water the plant needs can be perplexing.

Under-watering means you deny your plant the water it needs to transport important nutrients. As a heavy drinker, the elephant ear plant won’t absorb nutrients, thus turning the leaves yellow.

Similarly, over-watering can suffocate your plant and hinder nutrient absorption. If not addressed early, overwatering can cause yellowing.

Be sure to strike a balance when watering your elephant ear plant. Avoid under-watering or over-watering to ensure your plant remains healthy.

Too Much/Little Sunlight

Too much or too little sunlight could cause your elephant ears to turn yellow. Elephant ear plants thrive in bright, indirect sunlight, and exposure to direct sunlight can be detrimental to the leaves. Direct sunlight burns the leaves, causing discoloration.

Inadequate sunlight can also cause yellowing in elephant ear leaves. If you keep your plant in the dark or in a place with too much shade, you deny it the sunlight needed for photosynthesis. And without photosynthesis, the plant won’t make its food, thus turning the leaves yellow.

If you keep your plant indoors, shift it to a room that receives indirect sunlight or near the windows. For outdoor plants, move them to appropriate spots where they can receive indirect sunlight.

Unfavorable Soil Conditions

When trying to fix inconsistent watering for your elephant ear plants, it’s advisable to consider the soil condition. Soil that won’t drain properly can subject your plant to root suffocation, rotting and diseases. Such soil will cause your plant leaves to turn yellow and fall off.

Soil pH will also dictate how healthy your plants grow. Elephant ear plants do well in a soil pH of 5.5 to 6.5. The leaves will turn yellow with time if the soil pH is higher. The correct soil pH ensures your plant has access to the required nutrients.

Soil with few nutrients can hamper your plant’s growth and health. Such soil is unfavorable for your elephant ear plants and can cause discoloration with time. You can mitigate this by adding plenty of organic matter to the ground to increase nutrients level.


While elephant ear plants are heavy feeders, over-fertilizing can result in yellowing. Elephant ear plants require a lot of nutrients, which is why regular fertilizing is essential. The plant has large foliage that needs regular feeding to maintain its health and sheen.

The problem comes in if you overdo it. Over-fertilizing means you’re providing nutrients higher than the required amount or frequency. Overdoing it can result in leaves discoloration, among other growth problems.

Your ear plants require nitrogen to stimulate leaf growth. Ensure you’re applying the right amount of nitrogen-rich fertilizers that are water-soluble. Also, apply nitrogen-rich fertilizer once every month to avoid over-fertilizing.

Root Damage

If you’re growing potted elephant ear plants, you’ll notice the plant tends to grow fast. Using smaller pots puts your plants at risk of outgrowing the pot.

When the plant outgrows your pot, the roots become compacted, inhibiting water and nutrient absorption. Too many compacted roots may result in root rot, thus causing the leaves to turn yellow.

Check the bottom tray to tell if the plant has outgrown the pot. If you find roots sticking out, your plant requires a bigger pot. You can repot before root rot has begun to provide enough room.

Pest Infestation

A pest infestation can be another cause for your elephant ears turning yellow. If you’ve taken care of indoor plants, you might have realized they’re susceptible to sap-sucking insects. Such insects include spider mites, aphids, and mealybugs.

When these pests attack your elephant ear plant, they suck the sap in its leaves, draining the moisture required for growth. As a result, the leaves become weakened, and if not taken care of, it can cause the leaves to turn yellow and fall off.

Ensure the leaves are always clean and spray soapy water on the plant to prevent pest infestation. If already infested with pets, use neem oil or insecticide oil to kill them.

Natural Causes

Natural processes such as aging and dormancy can cause the leaves of your elephant ear plant to turn yellow.

Unlike other causes, natural causes should not worry you. The aging plant leaves are likely to turn yellow and fall off. This is not a problem because as the plant sheds the old leaves, new ones tend to grow.

Similarly, your plant could be preparing to go dormant for the season. When that happens, your plant leaves lose the vibrant green color and start to turn yellow.

This natural process should not worry you because it occurs when the cold seasons begin. You can cut off the yellow leaves as you wait for the next season.

Final Thoughts

Why are my elephant ears turning yellow? The reason for the yellowing of your elephant ears could be inconsistent watering, unfavorable soil, sunlight issues, over-fertilizing, root damage, pest infestation, or aging.

Don’t worry if your elephant ears are turning yellow due to old age or dormancy. Be patient with your elephant ear plant; with time, it’ll return its vibrant green leaves.

Leave a Comment