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Why Are My Dracaena Marginata Leaves Turning Yellow?

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If you have a dracaena marginata, you may have noticed that it is one of the easiest houseplants to maintain.

Apart from adding beauty and clean, tropical air to your home, this plant can thrive in most conditions. Sometimes, you might notice yellowing in the leaves and wonder why your dracaena marginata leaves are turning yellow.

Dracaena Marginata Leaves Yellow

The leaves of your dracaena marginata are turning yellow because of unsuitable care and growing conditions. Root rot, sunlight, watering violation, and humidity levels could cause yellowing of leaves. Pests, soil nutrients, aging of leaves, and recent transplanting could also cause yellowing.

The Dracaena marginata belongs to the Dracaena plant family; its nickname is the Madagascar dragon tree because it is a native of Madagascar. Incidentally, the word dracaena in ancient Greek signifies a female dragon.

The dracaena plant fits this description because of its red-tipped stems, the female dragon’s blood color.

In this article, I will explain why the leaves of your dracaena marginata are turning yellow. I will also discuss whether yellowing leaves are always a cause for concern.

In addition, I will answer some of the questions people frequently ask about dracaena marginata leaves turning yellow.

Why Your Dracaena marginata Leaves Are Turning Yellow

You may notice that the leaves of your dracaena are turning yellow. If a lot of the plant’s leaves turn yellow, it is a sign that something is not quite right and should be a source of concern.

Below are some reasons why your dracaena marginata leaves are turning yellow.

Root Rot

As the name implies, when the roots of your dracaena marginata rot or begin to rot, the plant’s leaves start turning yellow. One of the causes of root rot is poorly drained soil; the soil holds too much water, leading to root rot.

If root rot goes unchecked, the yellowing of the leaves continues, and your plant could eventually die.

You can prevent root rot by ensuring that the pot where you have planted your dracaena marginata has drainage holes at the bottom. The holes help drain any excess water from the plant, thus preventing root rot.


If you have placed your dracaena marginata in direct sunlight, the sun rays could burn the leaves, making them turn yellow. Your dracaena marginata thrives best in bright, indirect sunlight. Therefore, place it where there is no direct sunlight or diffuse the light with sheer curtains.

On the other hand, if you place your dracaena marginata in an area with little light, the leaves could turn yellow because the plant is not receiving enough natural light.

It is therefore best to balance the amount of natural light your plant receives to prevent its leaves from turning yellow.

Watering Schedule

If you water your dracaena marginata irregularly, the leaves can start turning yellow. For instance, if you water the plant daily or every other day, this could lead to water violation, causing yellowing of the leaves.

If too many people water the plant without a watering schedule, the same can happen.

You should therefore avoid watering your dracaena marginata daily. It is advisable to water the plant thoroughly weekly during the hot months because those are the months that it grows most. You should thus create a weekly watering schedule and stick to it.


When you give your dracaena marginata too much water, the leaves can begin to wilt and turn yellow. The reason is that excess water leaves the soil soggy, leaving the root system with insufficient oxygen.

When the oxygen in the roots is limited, the plant cannot breathe properly, leading to yellowing of the leaves.

It is better to water the dracaena thoroughly and regularly and allow the excess water to drain out to prevent stress on the plant and the eventual yellowing of the leaves.

The plant does not grow much during the coldest months and does not require frequent watering. You can water it monthly instead of weekly during such months.


If you do not give your dracaena marginata enough water, the leaves could also turn yellow.

When your dracaena marginata turns yellow due to underwatering, the leaves could eventually fall off as the plant desperately tries to conserve moisture. To prevent underwatering, maintain a regular watering schedule.

Water Quality

The quality of the water you use to water your dracaena marginata could also be causing the yellowing of the leaves. Dracaenas are sensitive to some chemicals in water, such as fluoride and chlorine.

You find these chemicals mainly in tap water; it is, therefore, best to use rainwater or distilled water to water your plant.

If you decide to use tap water, put it in a container and leave it in the open air for a day before pouring it on your dracaena marginata. The chemicals dissipate, and the water is good to use on your plant.

Humidity Level

The dracaena marginata is a tropical plant and thus thrives in high humidity levels. If the air around your dracaena marginata is too dry, the leaves start turning yellow; if the yellowing continues, loss of leaves may follow. It is essential to ensure that your plant gets proper humidity, especially in the colder months.

You can boost the humidity around your plant by using a humidifier or misting it regularly during cold weather. In addition, you should also place the plant on top of a tray filled with pebbles.

When the excess water drains from the holes on the bottom of the pot, it settles on the tray, and the plant’s humidity improves as the water evaporates from the stones.

Sudden Temperature Changes

Temperature fluctuations could lead to yellowing of the leaves and the death of the plant.

Like many plants, your dracaena marginata does not appreciate sudden temperature changes. Since your dracaena marginata is a tropical plant, it prefers warm temperatures of 50 to 70 °F (10 to 21 °C).

Therefore, ensure that you place your plant away from heaters or windows that bring chilly breezes. Also, put the plant in the house when temperatures outside are below 50 °F (10 °C).

Bacterial Leaf Spot Pests

The leaves of your dracaena marginata could be turning yellow due to bacterial leaf spot pests. These pests are microscopic organisms that attach themselves to the plant’s leaves, causing disease, spots, and discoloration.

If you do not act quickly, the creatures could damage your plant’s leaves totally and kill the plant eventually.

It is good to inspect your dracaena marginata periodically to notice any bacterial leaf spots before they destroy the leaves.

When you see bacterial leaf spots on the leaves, remove and destroy the affected leaves. Doing so prevents the pests and disease from spreading to the adjacent leaves.

After removing the affected leaves, you could also use a natural treatment such as a solution of Neem oil to eradicate the pests from the plant. Do so as soon as you notice the yellow spots on the leaves to prevent them from further destruction.

Soil Nutrients/Fertilizer

Like all indoor plants, your dracaena marginata thrives in soils rich in nutrients; if the soil lacks nutrients, your plant’s leaves could turn yellow.

The best way to ensure that the soil has the nutrients your plant requires is to add some fertilizer. A houseplant liquid fertilizer containing nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium is ideal for your plant.

Additionally, too much fertilizer could also make the leaves of your dracaena marginata turn yellow.

You should not over-fertilize your plant; doing so causes fertilizer salts to build up in the potting soil leading to yellowing of the leaves. Preferably, feed your dracaena marginata once a month in the growing seasons.

Avoid feeding your plant during winter as growth is dormant. If you have been overfeeding your plant, you can flush the soil with water to remove excess fertilizer.

Place the pot in a tub, open the tap and let the water run – excess fertilizer will run out with the water through the holes at the bottom of the pot. 

Aging Leaves

Sometimes, the yellowing of the leaves on your dracaena marginata is natural; older leaves at the bottom of the plant become yellow and fall off. After the yellow leaves fall off, your plant gets the energy to produce new leaves.

The new leaves will gradually grow, and your dracaena marginata will look great once again.

So, if the yellow leaves are at the bottom of the plant and they are more than a year old, do not panic. The old leaves will fall off, and new ones will eventually grow.

Recent Transplant

If you have recently transplanted your dracaena marginata, it could be the reason the leaves of your plant are turning yellow. When you transplant your dracaena marginata correctly into a bigger pot, it will thrive.

It can experience repotting stress if you transplant it incorrectly; it includes yellowing leaves, stunted growth, and wilting.

Although you can save your dracaena marginata if it is suffering from repotting stress, it takes time.

The best thing is to remove the yellow leaves to grow new leaves. In addition, pamper the plant, water it strictly according to the watering schedule, ensure the natural light and humidity levels are just right, and feed it.

Are Yellowing Leaves Always a Cause for Concern?

Yellowing leaves on your dracaena marginata are not always a cause for concern. As your dracaena marginata grows taller and matures, the older leaves on the lower part of the plant turn yellow with age. The yellow leaves start dropping off naturally, and new leaves eventually grow in their place.

So, one or two yellow leaves on your dracaena marginata should not be a cause of concern. However, if many leaves turn yellow, especially on the upper part of the plant, then you should get concerned.

Frequently Asked Questions

Suppose you are already growing a dracaena marginata or are planning to grow one. In that case, you could have numerous questions about the plant.

Here are several frequently asked questions about dracaena marginata and their answers.

Should I Remove Yellow Leaves From Dracaena Marginata?

When you notice yellow leaves on your dracaena marginata, you can remove them. Even if you do not remove the yellow leaves, they will eventually die and fall off naturally. So, when you remove them, you give the plant the chance to generate new leaves quickly.

In addition, the yellowing leaves could be a result of pests. So, you should remove the yellow leaves to prevent the creatures from spreading to the healthy leaves and damaging the whole plant.

Can Yellow Dracaena marginata Leaves Turn Green Again?

The yellow leaves on your dracaena marginata cannot turn green again because they have no chlorophyll. Since chlorophyll provides the green color in leaves, you cannot save them when they lose chlorophyll. The yellow leaves eventually die and fall off, and new green leaves grow in their place.

However, suppose the leaves turn yellow because of nutrient deficiencies. In that case, there is a likelihood of some of the leaves turning green with treatment.

Should I Worry if the Yellow Leaves Fall Off From My Dracaena Marginata?

You should not worry if the yellow leaves fall off your dracaena marginata. The yellow leaves are dead, so they will inevitably fall off eventually.

Be glad when they fall off because they make your plant unsightly and prevent new, green leaves from growing.


The dracaena marginata is a slow-growing, drought-resistant, and tough houseplant that you will enjoy growing. In essence, your dracaena marginata should be evergreen in all seasons; one or two leaves may turn yellow now and then due to aging.

However, if many leaves turn yellow, it could be an underlying issue that you should address immediately.

When you take care of your dracaena marginata and grow it under ideal conditions, the color of the leaves remains intact, and the plant also thrives. The dracaena marginata could add color and beauty to your space for years to come.