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I bought this Calathea earlier in the year (UK based) and it’s recently started to show yellow leaves, see pictures.

It’s had about 3-4 yellow leaves now, all of them at the bottom of the plant nearest the soil. I’ve removed the yellow leaves as per advice I read online. The leaves aren’t crispy at all.

My question is why is this happening and is there anything I can do to stop it?

I have upped the watering of the plant as I thought Calatheas needed moist soil, maybe I went too far? I’m struggling to get the balance right when watering this plant. I use tap water, maybe this is the issue? I don’t fertilise this plant (it’s winter in the UK).

I’m aware the leaves need a clean which I will do shortly.

Any thoughts about the cause of the yellow leaves would be much appreciated. Thank you!!

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  • Did you manage to have a peek on the roots? – Bence Kaulics Jan 7 at 16:04
  • Thanks for your answer, very helpful. I think it may be root rot as you say, the soil is still pretty moist. How can I tell if the roots are rotted? I'm not sure what I'm looking for! Thanks again. – Megan Jan 8 at 21:41
  • Black and mushy roots that can even stink are signs of rot . Not all but most plants' roots should be white or creamy colored when healthy. – Bence Kaulics Jan 8 at 22:26
  • Thank you. It appears to be rot, I’ll try out the solution you suggested. – Megan Jan 9 at 11:40
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It is possibly not because of the tap water. That would cause mineral build-up in the tips and edges of the leaves which would lead to crispiness in those areas not yellowing in general.

Low humidity would cause similar symptoms as tap water, crispiness instead of overall yellowing.

Based on that you have upped the watering I would suspect root rot. You could try to remove the plant from the pot without disturbing the root ball too much to see if there is any rotted roots visible.

If there is rot you can try to repot the plant (even if it is winter) into a drier substrate. Make sure to gently clean the roots and cut off any rotted parts.

If you would not like to do such a drastic measure as repotting the plant, you could use diluted Hydrogen Peroxide to treat it.

From How To Use Hydrogen Peroxide For Root Rot?:

Root rot is most commonly caused by poor soil aeration or over watering.

Mix one part 3% percent hydrogen peroxide with two parts water and carefully pour it over the plant’s root system with a watering can or spray bottle.

This will kill off the bacteria which causes root rot.

Additionally, hydrogen peroxide will break down once absorbed in the soil, releasing extra oxygen and encouraging root growth by creating more space in the soil.

You may use this same mixture to disinfect potting mix or soil prior to planting.

If you do not repot make sure to gently loosen up the top of the soil with a chopstick or other tool to increase the aeration of the soil so it will dry faster. You can also consider moving the plant to a place where the soil could dry a little faster in general.

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