Why Is My Peacock Plant Leaves Turning Yellow (And How to Fix It)

Calathea makoyana, or the peacock plant, is a beautiful foliage plant popular among indoor gardeners. Its silvery green leaves, dark green veins, and ordered splotch pattern make it unique. Peacock plants are forgiving to beginner plant owners. Despite their looks, they are pretty robust. However, sometimes their leaves turn yellow. Why does it happen, and what can you do about it? Let’s find out.

Peacock Plant

Calathea makoyana is a tropical evergreen native to brazil. The peacock plants get their name from the pattern of dots on the leaves. The dots are dark green on the top leaf and purple on the bottom leaf. Their colorful large pointed ovate leaves make them sought after.

Their natural habitat is the forest floor underneath a canopy. They like bright indirect light. Thrive in moist but not soggy soil rich in humus and humidity. Peacock plants are evergreen perennials

Why Is My Peacock Plant Leaves Turning Yellow?

Here are some reasons why you found your peacock plant leaves turning yellow and their solutions.

Poor Drainage

People think drainage means letting water drain out of the end of the pot. That’s not all there is to it. Drainage is ensuring that there is enough air and moisture around the roots. The roots get damaged if there is too much of one.

If the soil mixture holds too much water, there is no room for air around the roots. If there’s not enough water, then the plant will face drought. In both these situations, the plant suffers. If you’re asking why is my peacock plant turning yellow, chances are it has poor drainage.

Read: How Often to Water Peacock Plant?


To provide plants with proper drainage, we combine soil with something that holds onto moisture and creates air pockets in the soil. Stuff like coconut coir and peat moss are good at retaining moisture.

To improve the airflow, we add something with large grain sizes. Things like gravel, pebbles, sand, or chopped up will work. The appropriate soil mixture also has amendments to perfect the pH and make it nutrient-rich.

Under Watering

Water is necessary to maintain life. All living things need water in some way or the other. Plants need water to spread food and nutrients to all parts of the plant body. Water also carries toxins and by-products out.

When a plant doesn’t get enough water, the condition is known as drought.

The first sign of drought is wilting. However, if the plant is not watered, its leaves start turning yellow one by one.


To solve the problem of under-watering, water the plant at least once a week. Check the soil often to see if it has dried or if it is still moist. Checking the soil regularly should ensure proper watering.


You’d think that since too little water is an issue, too much water wouldn’t cause the same thing. It seems confusing to hear that both over and under watering can cause the leaves of peacock plants to turn yellow.

When you water the plant too often, the roots get damaged. These damaged roots stop carrying water and nutrients up to the leaves.

Now you have the same drought even though you’re giving the plant so much water.


To ensure that you are not overwatering the plant, you must wait for the top inch of the soil to dry out completely before adding more water. If the soil is moist, then it doesn’t need more water.

Sometimes overwatering happens even though we wait for the top inch to dry. If the pot is too big for the plant, there will still be water to use despite the dry top inch. Watering it at this point will be too much. A pot that’s too big for the plant can cause root rot. Choose the pot sizes wisely. There should be some room for roots to continue to grow but not too much.

Root Bound

Nothing makes you happy like watching your plant grow and become luscious with so much beautiful foliage. As the plant grows larger on top, so does it grow on the bottom under the soil. The roots grow farther and deeper in search of more nutrients and water to satisfy the growing plant.

The roots grow until they hit the wall of the pot. Then they change direction and continue to grow. This repeats until the roots become a tight knotty mess. The plant is known to be root bound when there is little room for soil and the pot is mainly filled with roots.

Roots coming out from the drainage hole are an early sign of a plant becoming root-bound. Roots sticking out of the top of the plant signify the plant becoming seriously root bound. When a plant is root bound, despite its roots covering so much surface area, the plant doesn’t get enough nutrients. The roots become damaged and even start rotting. If you find your peacock plant leaves turning yellow and it’s been long since you last repotted, it could be root bound.

Click to know: Why are my Peacock plant leaves pointing up?


You must take it out of the pot to check if the plant is root bound. If you find a huge mess of roots with very little soil, you can be sure it’s root bound. Break up the roots a bit and trim some of the outer roots. If you see some roots become very soft compared to the rest, remove them as they are rotting.

Use a sharp knife or scissors to trim the damaged part of the roots. Now you can place the plant in a larger or deeper pot. You could cut the plant roots until they fit in the original pot. Do not remove too many root nodules. If desired, you could break the plant into several cuttings to propagate in separate pots.

Nutrient Deficiency

When we lack an essential nutrient, we become sick. If we don’t get enough vitamin C, we get scurvy, and lack of iron causes anemia. Just as we don’t do well without essential nutrients, plant leaves start turning yellow. Even though you’re doing everything right, you might still be asking why my peacock plant leaves are turning yellow. If that’s the case, your plant might be deficient in nutrients.


Knowing which nutrient your plant is missing causing the leaves to turn yellow, is challenging. It could be nitrogen, potassium, magnesium, or many others. The best solution is to change your fertilizer to all-purpose plant food with everything. The deficiency should be treated when you give it all the nutrients it needs. You will see new green leaves growing soon.

Soil PH

humans need their water to be at a certain ph. If the pH is lesser than or exceeds a specific limit, consuming that water is terrible for our health. The soil a plant lives in is also a certain ph. When we water the plant, the water becomes a similar pH to the soil.

Calathea makoyana prefers their water to be slightly acidic. It’s best between 5.5 and 6. For reference, the water we drink has a pH of seven. If the pH of the soil becomes too high or low, the plant leaves will turn yellow.


You can check the pH of the soil using a home testing kit easily found at your local plant store. Most kits include testing strips that turn a specific color to tell you The ph.

To alter the pH of the soil, we add different soil amendments. To increase the pH from very acidic to slightly acidic, we can add bone meal, wood ash, lime, or crushed egg shells. To bring the pH down from neutral or basic to slightly acidic, we can add sulfur, compost, or mulch to the soil.

Can a Yellow Leaf Turn Back Into a Green One?

Once a leaf starts turning yellow, the plant gives up on it, and so should you. Since the leaf can no longer photosynthesize like it’s supposed to, the plant no longer wastes any resources. It starts to reabsorb anything of value from the leaf. The leaf turns more yellow and brown as it dies. You should remove it from the plant before it attracts any pests or fungal infections. You can pluck the leaf using your hand or cut it with a gardening scissor. If you choose to cut it, have fungicide handy to apply to the cut area.

Explore: Best Growing Conditions for a Peacock Plant in Central Florida

What to Do With Your Yellow Leaves?

We take good care of our plants, so seeing a leaf die hurts us. However, that leaf can still be helpful to us. Instead of throwing it in the trash, you can use it with your kitchen vegetable scraps to make homemade compost. This way, you can give the leaf a proper send-off and avoid sending your organic waste to the landfill simultaneously


Seeing yellow leaves on our beautiful foliage plants is worrisome. Even the most experienced indoor gardeners can make mistakes sometimes. We’ve shared why you might find your peacock plant leaves turning yellow. We hope we have helped you identify and rectify the problem.

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