Calla Lily Leaves Turning Yellow? 6 Common Causes And Solutions

Are your Calla Lily leaves turning yellow? If so, don’t despair! In this article, I outline some major causes for yellowing leaves in callas and explain how to fix the problem.

Calla Lily Leaves will suffer from yellowing mainly due to deficiency of certain nutrients in the soil, such as iron, zinc, and nitrogen. Yet, other reasons might also lead to this discoloration.

If you want to know more about these problems, keep on reading as we take an in-depth look at the causes of yellow leaves as well as what you can do about them!

1. Lack of Nutrition

The first and most common reason why your calla lily leaves are turning yellow is the lack of proper nutrition, which can happen for several reasons. In that case, the yellowing of the plant is known as “Chlorosis”.

Calla lilies are originally from South Africa and they typically grow around swamps. Swamps’ soil is usually noticeably rich in certain nutrients, which are necessary for this bulb plant to grow.

These nutrients include essential minerals, such as iron, magnesium, and zinc as well as nitrogen compounds.

If your plant fails to obtain these nutrients from the soil, it won’t be able to produce chlorophyll, which is the compound responsible for the green color of the leaves and other parts of the plant.

Due to the soil-taxing requirements of the plant, soil mixes with little or no fertilization may not be enough to provide the plant with the necessary ingredients for a radiant green color.

Lack of nutrition is easily the most common cause for yellowing of calla lily leaves. Yet, you can also identify it by the structure of the leaves. 

Unlike other problems with the plant, the leaves will look generally healthy except for the color, so you’ll notice little to no drooping or mushiness in the leaves. 

In that case, the best way to solve the problem is simply by purchasing a highly nutrient potting mix or adding some fertilizers to your soil in order to ensure that your plant is getting all the needed nutrition to thrive and grow.

Calla Lily Leaves Turning Yellow

2. The Soil is Too Wet (Overwatering)

We’re all excited to water out new plants. However, in some cases, too much water may do more harm than good, which is exactly the case in calla lily plants.

Ideally, you should water the calla lilies once a week when the rhizomes are actively growing, providing the soil with about 1 inch of water or a little more if you live in a relatively hot area.

While roots absorb water from soil, they still need a room to breathe. So, if you water them too much, the roots will suffocate, leading to a condition known as root rot.

As the roots start to rot and die due to excessive water, the leaves will get remarkable access to water but little to no nutrition from the soil. This leads to the characteristic appearance of the leaves where they’re yellow but also noticeably mushy and droopy. 

You can also confirm overwatering by checking the roots of the plant, as they’ll be noticeably dark (brown or even black) instead of clear or white. 

Additionally, if you put your finger in the soil, you’ll notice that more than 1 or 2 inches of the soil are moist.

To fix this problem, all you have to do is stop watering your plant and allow the soil to dry out until the topsoil is only 1 inch moist. You should also remove all heavily damaged and dark yellow leaves.

Alternatively, if your plant is heavily damaged or the soil is too wet for the plant to tolerate it, you can repot the plant in fresh soil and allow the plant to heal before watering it back.

In some cases, root rot may happen even when you’re not overwatering the plant. In that case, your soil is suffering from poor drainage.

This allows the water to accumulate and replicate the effect of overwatering. To solve that, you need to improve the drainage of the plant by using a perlite mix.

spade in a pot of wet soil

3. Lack of Proper Soil Medium

We’ve previously discussed that soil nutrition is very important for calla lilies. However, the nutrients in the soil aren’t the only important thing for growing the plant.

If the soil isn’t the right medium for the calla lilies, they might end up not absorbing these nutrients from the soil, leading to chlorosis and yellowing of the leaves.

Calla lilies naturally live in acidic soil, ranging from 5.5 to 6.0 in pH level. In other words, nutrients won’t reach the plant if your soil is fairly alkaline.

You’ll be able to identify this problem by noticing the symptoms despite proper soil watering and fertilization. However, the only way to confirm it is by using a soil pH testing kit and making sure that your soil is within the healthy range for calla lilies.

If the soil is alkaline, you can solve the problem by transporting the plant to a new acidic soil or acidifying the soil directly by watering the plant with an acidified solution. 

You can prepare that by adding about 2 tablespoons of apple cider vinegar for every gallon of water. Make sure that you keep track of the soil’s pH as you apply this treatment.

a pile of soil with a small plant emerging. background has two empty plant pots

4. Stress Due to Recent Repotting

Calla lilies aren’t the hardiest plants out there, and they can be pretty sensitive to changes in the environment. These changes may end up causing the plant’s leaves to turn yellow, droop, or even fall off.

This happens due to a phenomenon that is common in many plants, known as “repotting stress”. 

As the name suggests, when a healthy plant is transferred from one medium to a completely new one, some of the leaves may start to yellow.

Repotting stress is usually a temporary safety measure that the plant makes in order to survive significant changes in the environment.

In that situation, the plant enters energy and nutrition-saving mode by partially or completely cutting off the nutrition of some of the leaves. 

One sign of repotting stress (in addition to recent changes in the environment) is that some leaves will stay green. Simply remove all the yellow ones and allow the plant to adjust to its new environment.

5. The Plant is Suffering from a Disease

There are plenty of diseases and pests that may end up causing the leaves of a certain plant to go yellow. 

Among the most common pests that calla lily plants are susceptible to are spider mites and fungus gnats. Both of these pests are capable of turning some or all of the plant’s leaves into yellow. Here’s how to identify each one of them:

  • Spider Mites: Usually hide beneath the leaves and you can identify them by the webbing between the leaf and the stalk as well as the yellowish spots on green leaves.
  • Fungus Gnats: These gnats hide in the soil, so they’re difficult to spot. They cause significant root damage, turning the leaves of affected roots yellow.

To get rid of these pests, you can use special pesticides that are designed to exterminate them safely, but it’s always recommended to leave that job to a professional.

6. Natural Life Cycle of the Plant

Lastly, just like the blossoms of the plant, the leaves may start falling as the plant goes into energy preserving mode, which is usually in the winter when the temperature drops below 50 degrees F (10 degrees C). 

Luckily, you don’t have to worry about it as the leaves will grow green again in the following season!

Final Thoughts on Calla Lily Leaves Turning Yellow

This wraps it up for today’s guide that walks you through all the possible reasons why your calla lily leaves are turning yellow. 

As you can see, chlorosis in calla lilies can happen for a variety of reasons, but in most of these cases, you’ll be able to save your plant by following the solutions provided above.

For that reason, it’s important that you check for all the characteristic symptoms of each case so that you’re able to identify your plant’s problem and get rid of it successfully.