Why Is My Elephant Ear Turning Yellow? [And Solution to Fix]

Wondering, “Why is my elephant ear turning yellow?” Well, you’re not alone. Many elephant ear plant owners in the U.S. face a similar issue.

Elephant ear, also known as taro, is a tropical perennial with striking, deep green leaves. Its foliage turns yellow due to improper watering, inadequate sunlight, temperature alterations, and other reasons. 

Let’s explore these reasons in detail!

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Reasons Your Elephant Ear Is Turning Yellow

Here are some reasons that help answer the question, “Why is my elephant ear turning yellow”:

Exposure to the Wrong Temperatures

Your elephant ear might lose its lively green hue due to weather changes. You might have exposed your plant to a cold draft. Exposure to cold weather can turn a Taro’s leaves yellow. 

Since it’s a tropical plant, you should not keep it near an air conditioner or vent that can blow out cold air. Protect your indoor elephant ear by keeping it in warmer temperatures.

The ideal temperature range for this Southeast Asian native is 70 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit. If the plant gets exposed to cold drafts, transfer it to a location where it can thrive.

You can also mist the leaves to maintain the plant’s preferred humidity level, making it appear livelier.

Low Humidity

The elephant ear plant is accustomed to living in a habitat with high humidity. It will struggle in dry conditions; if its leaves turn yellow, the plant is struggling to survive in low humidity.

You can try relocating your plant to a naturally humid area or raising the humidity in the room where you have kept the planter.

For more humidity, put the planter on a large saucer filled with water and pebbles. You can also use a small air humidifier to mist the plant.

Inappropriate Watering

When it comes to caring for a plant, most plant parents struggle with watering. Improper watering can lead your elephant ear leaves to turn yellow.

Both over- and under-watering your plant will turn its leaves yellow. Over-watering essentially suffocates the plant and keeps the nutrients from reaching the leaves.

However, if your plant is under-watered, it might not be able to absorb the nutrients it needs to thrive since water is the medium that transports these nutrients to the plant.

So, it can be a bit challenging to determine whether the cause is over-or under-watering. However, you can use a tip to figure it out.

Assess the soil in the pot that has your elephant ear. Stick your index finger into the soil to check its moisture before watering the plant.

If the finger is dry, make sure to water your plant. If the planter overflows, leave it on a dish so the plant can absorb the water.

Wait until the soil appears to have dried out a bit before watering the plant again. Taro plants need almost 2 to 3 inches of water weekly to thrive.

If the soil is too wet, do not water the plant until it has dried. Keep an eye out in the future not to water the plant excessively.

Improper Sunlight Exposure

Your elephant ear plant leaves can turn yellow when they do not get enough sunlight. Since this plant prefers warm light, put the planter in a spot where it receives more indirect sunshine.

Ideally, a Taro plant needs bright, indirect sunlight for long hours. If you expose it to harsh, direct sunlight for an extended time, the leaves will get damaged.

However, improper exposure will result in your plant’s death. After all, your elephant ear needs light for photosynthesis. If it does not receive light, it will lose its color, and its leaves will eventually fall off.

So, the best place to keep your elephant ear plant is in an area that receives filtered, indirect light for long hours. If your plant’s leaves turn brown and crisp, you expose it to too much light.

Ideally, you should keep your taro plant near a window with ample indirect light. Keep turning the pot weekly or twice a week so that all your plant’s leaves get equal sunlight exposure.

Mineral Toxicity

The quality of water you give your elephant ear can also cause its leaves to turn yellow. Taro plants can face mineral toxicity from tap water that is tainted.

It can cause the plant’s leaves to grow yellow spots. The best way to prevent that is to use distilled or filtered water.

If you have to use tap water or rainwater, treat it with a few drops of a dechlorinating agent before watering your plant. It keeps the plant leaves from turning yellow.

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Lack of Appropriate Nutrients

If you’re still searching for the answer to “why is my elephant ear turning yellow,” you might find the key in the nutrients your plant is getting.

Taro leaves can turn yellow due to a lack of appropriate nutrients. You need to provide your plant with balanced nutrients to prevent this.

When your plant is not getting enough nutrients, the foliage veins remain green, but the leaves turn yellow. The leaves at the top start yellowing before the rest of the plant follows suit.

If you notice this, make sure to fertilize your plant with an appropriate high-quality fertilizer. Follow the instructions on the back of the package.

Use a soil test kit to determine the nutrients your plant needs. Use organic fertilizer to provide nutrients that will bring the green color back into the foliage. Fertilize the plant during spring and summer.


Your taro leaves might turn yellow when you over-fertilize your plant. Typically, these plants need frequent feeding to maintain their giant foliage and keep leaf discoloration at bay.

However, over-fertilization can lead to a lack of new foliage growth and yellowing leaves. You can fix this problem using a nitrogen-rich, water-soluble fertilizer only once a month.

Such a fertilizer will promote new leaf growth. You can space out the use of fertilizer to avoid over-fertilizing your plant. Follow the instructions on the bag to keep from over-feeding the plant.

Lastly, do not fertilize your plant during fall or winter.

Root Damage

Root damage can cause your elephant ear to turn yellow. The plant roots can get damaged due to many factors, including root rot from over-watering and using a container that is too small for the roots.

When your elephant plant outgrows its container, its roots will get compacted. Since taro plants outgrow their planters quickly, they can be difficult to manage.

The roots might not be able to provide enough water, oxygen, and nutrients to the leaves, resulting in drooping and yellowing. Examine the bottom tray to determine if your plant has outgrown its pot.

If you can see roots pointing out, you must report your plant. You can also prune the roots a bit to avoid overgrowth. Additionally, keep the soil well-aerated. Well-draining soil can minimize root compaction.

Also, keep an eye on the color of the roots. They likely suffer from root rot if they have a foul odor and look discolored. If they appear slightly cream-gold, they are healthy.

Dormancy & Natural Life Cycle

Dormancy might be why your elephant plant is turning yellow. Study the plant’s natural life cycle. The older leaves will turn yellow before falling off.

It’s a natural process that you cannot control or alter. As the weather becomes colder, you can cut back the yellowing leaves so new leaves can grow during spring.

Furthermore, you can cover the plant in mulch during extreme winters. Also, keep it in a room with the ideal temperature to prevent the leaves from yellowing.

Improper Soil Conditions

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Yellowing in an elephant ear plant can also be due to poor soil conditions. You need to keep the plant in a well-draining, porous soil that is in the form of crumbs.

Don’t place an elephant ear plant in rocky soil. These plants thrive in soil with an acidic pH ranging from 5.5 to 6.5. If the pH level is more, it will harm the plant due to a lack of nutrients.

Moreover, your soil might lack organic matter, keeping the plant from receiving the needed nutrients. You can add fertilizer to the soil or replace it with soil with the right pH value.

Diseases & Pests

Sap-sucking parasites like spider mites can deplete your plant’s water supply. If your elephant ear is weak or stressed and has a pest infestation, it can cause its leaves to turn yellow.

Yellowing fronds and leaflets are the first sign of a pest infestation. Keep your plant free of dust to prevent mealybugs, scales, spider mites, and aphids from attacking it.

Spray the leaves with warm, soapy water every few weeks and clean each leaf with a soft cloth. You can also use pesticide oil to kill the pests and their eggs. Wipe the leaves with a soft cloth to remove the residue.

The Bottom Line

Even though elephant ear plants are hardy tropical perennials, they need adequate sunlight, water, and temperature to thrive. Otherwise, their leaves will start yellowing.

To answer “why is my elephant ear turning yellow,” you must keep an eye on the soil pH, your plant’s nutrient intake, temperature variances, sunlight exposure, water needs, and root health.

If you check all the boxes, your plant will regain its beautiful deep green hue.

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