What Causes Yellow Spots on Dracaena Marginata [And How to Fix]

There are several reasons why your Dracaena Marginata leaves are turning yellow. The most prominent of these are overwatering and exposure to unfiltered tap water.

But there could be other problems at play here. To help you solve your Dracaena Marginata problems, we have rounded up 10 reasons why Dracaena Marginata leaves turn yellow and what you can do to treat them. Keep reading to learn more.

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The Leaves are Being Overwatered (or Underwatered)

One of the things that can cause Dracaena Marginata leaves to turn yellow is that the plant is exposed to too much water.

The color and hue of the yellow also give clues about what your plant needs. If the yellow leaves look lifeless and dull, your Dracaena Marginata plants may be getting too much water.

Dracaena Marginata plants prefer a damp environment that is not wet or saturated. Their roots need air – just like we do.

The plants do not like a damp environment because it leads to root rot and the eventual demise of the plant

This is why it is essential to stick to a regular watering schedule. The quickest way to remedy this problem is to cut back on the water. Re-evaluate your Dracaena Marginata watering schedule.

Check the plant to assess its moisture. First, you can conduct a finger test to see how wet the soil feels.

Soil that feels soggy and moldy is a clear indication of overwatering. In some cases, the first inch of the soil feels fine to the touch but digging deeper reveals more moisture.

If the first two to three inches of the soil feels dry, you can water the Dracaena Marginata again. In ideal conditions, you only need to water the plants every week.

In rare situations, the plant’s roots may emerge from the soil to get more air. It is also possible for the roots to have grown through drainage holes to clog them.

Cold Stress

Rapid fluctuations in temperature – both hot and cold – also affect the health of your leaves. A few cold drafts can also result in the yellowing of your Dracaena Marginata in California.

Always keep an eye on your plant’s temperatures. It would be best to cover your plants for the night if a frost has been forecasted.

Freezing temperatures are very likely to rupture your plant’s cells due to the formation of ice crystals.

Quick intervention is necessary to prevent, or minimize, freeze damage to plant tissue and various cold injuries.

Once the cold temperatures have subsided, you can prune the damaged foliage. Take care only to remove dead parts.

Look for green tissues under the outer layer of the leaves. If you find signs of greenery, the plant is alive and may recover on its own.

But don’t remove the cold-damaged foliage right away. They may look unsightly but will insulate the rest of the foliage from further injury.

The Quality of the Water is less than the Ideal

The tap water may be to blame for yellowing your Dracaena Marginata leaves. These plants are susceptible to chemicals and minerals such as salts, chlorine, salts, and fluorides from the faucet.

It is not recommended to use tap water with Dracaena plants. If you regularly water your Dracaena Marginata with tap water, it will accumulate unhealthy levels of chlorine and fluoride.

This could poison the plant and cause its leaves to turn a shade of yellow, before ultimately turning brown.

When watering the plant, you should preferably use water that is free of the chemicals mentioned above. Ideal sources include distilled water, rainwater, and bottled water.

If you don’t want to invest in bottled water, you can use tap water by treating it. Leave the tap water in an open-air container for about 24 hours before watering your plant.

Doing so will allow the chemicals to dissipate into the air, making the water safer for your Dracaena Marginata plant.

Suboptimal Lighting

Dracaena Marginata requires indirect light (medium to bright) to thrive. It tolerates low light conditions, but its growth rate will slow considerably.

The ideal place to keep your Dracaena Marginata is near an east-facing window. This provides a good balance of light from the sun without burning the plant in the process.

Your Dracaena Marginata plant may be receiving too much light if its leaves curl up. And if the Dracaena Marginata isn’t getting enough light, it will grow out pale leaves with a clear loss of variegation.

This is because insufficient light disrupts the photosynthesis process, causing the plant to become malnourished.

It wilts and causes the leaves to lose their vibrance. This is also a clear sign that it’s time to repot your Dracaena Marginata.

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Root Damage

Root damage is a common reason why Dracaena Marginata leaves turn yellow. Damaged roots struggle to deliver what the plant needs.

To check the plant for root damage, gently slide it out of the pot and take a closer look at it. Healthy plant roots will look whitish yellow. Rotting roots will smell foul.

If your Dracaena Marginata has rotten roots, it may be time to consider a new plant.

Suboptimal Soil pH

Soil pH is a major reason why Dracaena Marginata leaves turn yellow. This is because soil pH influences the plant’s access to nutrients.

The availability of nutrients changes in response to the pH value. The ideal pH value for the Dracaena Marginata plant is between 6.0 to 6.5.

When the pH value strays higher or lower than the plant’s optimal pH range, some nutrients will become less viable to it.

Even though the nutrients may be present, the plant simply can’t take them up – even if you fertilize it. The leaves will turn yellow until you sort out the pH imbalance.

Carrying out a simple soil test will help you learn the pH value. This will help you make soil amendments to restore the ideal pH balance for Dracaena Marginata.

Once this happens, the nutrients become available and the plant’s color is back on track.

Nutrient Deficiency

Your plants can go through a nutrient deficiency. Some nutrients are easy to absorb. Nitrogen is a good example of a nutrient that is easily absorbed.

A nitrogen deficiency can turn the plant leaves yellow. If you believe that your Dracaena Marginata plant has a nutrient deficiency, proper fertilization may help.

You can also study how the yellowing starts to find clues about common nutrient deficiencies, such as:  

Nutrient DeficiencySymptoms
NitrogenThe older leaves will start yellowing first. As the problem gets worse, the yellowing moves outward, eventually making its way to the younger leaves.
PotassiumIt shows when the leaf edges turn into a  bright shade of yellow, but the inner leaf stays green. Older leaves will appear yellow first, with the edges turning brown.
MagnesiumThe plant develops yellow patches between its veins. The yellow spreads to the rest of the plant, with the leaf edges turning yellow last.
IronYellowing starts between the veins and quickly makes its way across to younger leaves.
SulfurAffects the newest leaves first, before turning them completely yellow.  

Having a closer understanding of nutrient deficiency may require experience. Don’t be afraid of consulting an experienced gardener on this issue.  

Fungal Disease

Dracaena Marginata plants may also get yellow leaves because of fungal diseases. The most common fungal infection is the fusarium leaf spot. This contagious disease can affect the entire plant.

The best remedy is to separate the affected foliage and treat the whole plant with a fungicide.

To prevent this fungus from affecting your plants, avoid watering your plants from the top. Instead, water your leaves from below rather than pour water over them.

If you believe that your Dracaena Marginata is infected with Fusarium leaf spot:

  • Remove the plant from its pot and isolate it
  • Clear out the potting mix lose from the roots
  • Prune away the affected leaves, roots, and stems
  • Apply fungicide to the entire plant
  • Report the Dracaena Marginata into a new or sterilized pot with clean, fresh potting
  • Keep the plant isolated in a well-ventilated area. Use water sparingly.

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Fertilizer Causing Yellow Leaves

Fertilizer salts can also cause the plant leaves to turn yellow. If you suspect that your Dracaena Marginata plants are over-fertilized, flush the soil with distilled water to clear out the excess salts.

Always use a balanced liquid fertilizer during the plant’s growing season (which is from spring to mid-autumn).


Dracaena plants are also very likely to attract pests, especially if the leaves have been weakened because of a sub-optimal watering schedule.

Mealybugs, scale, and spider mites can quickly spread through the plant if the leaves are weak. If you find a pest infestation on your Dracaena Marginata, use a forceful shower to remove as many of the pests as possible.

Remove the damaged leaves and stems, making sure to treat them with insecticidal soap. Ensure to examine your plants regularly to identify a pest infestation at its earliest stages.

Wrapping Up

So there you have it, 10 reasons why your Dracaena Marginata plant may be turning yellow. Thoroughly inspecting the leaves will provide clues about what may be causing them to turn yellow.

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