8 Ways To Prevent Cordyline Leaves Turning Yellow

Cordyline or Hawaiian ti plants are popular as living decor in many houses. If you have a cordyline plant, you likely want to keep it looking nice, and to do so you will need to give it the best possible care. 

In this article, we will be going over 8 reasons why your cordyline plant’s leaves could turn yellow and the best ways to prevent it. Even if you are a plant novice, after reading this article you will be well equipped to keep a happy, healthy cordyline houseplant. 

8 Ways to Prevent Cordyline Leaves from Turning Yellow

The best defense from yellowing cordyline leaves is a good offense. Giving your plant the best possible care will make it resistant to pests and other diseases that could affect its leaves. 

1. Too much water

One common reason many plants end up with yellow leaves is overwatering. Soggy soil can lead to root rot, and as roots rot they stop absorbing water and nutrients. This leads to leaves turning yellow and dying off. 

For optimum growth, you will want to water your cordyline plant once or twice per week when the soil is either dry or close to dry. Most plants will benefit from twice-a-week watering, but it’s important to test the soil saturation with your finger first. If the soil is still wet try again in a day or two. 

Soil is also an important part of preventing overwatering. Make sure when you choose your soil that it is well-draining and nutrient-dense. An ideal mixture is 2 parts FoxFarm Ocean Forest to 1 part perlite, but you could substitute the FoxFarms brand with most organic potting soils. 

2. Not enough water

While too much water can lead to yellowing, so can too little. If you have been out of town or forgotten to water your plant and you notice the soil is bone dry and the leaves are yellowing, don’t worry. 

Weather permitting, carry your plant outside and give it a nice shower from your hose for 2-3 minutes. Let it stay outside in a shaded area while the water drains out and it dries. Then go back to your normal watering schedule. If it is too cold to take your plant outside, you can also try placing it in your shower with lukewarm water. 

3. Poor water quality

Cordyline plants can be more sensitive to water quality than many other plants. If you notice yours turning yellow, it could be that your water quality doesn’t agree with it. The best way to water your plant is with collected rainwater or fish tank water. If you don’t have either available, bottled spring water can also do the trick. 

4. Too hot

These plants come from Eastern Australia, Southeastern Asia, and Hawaii. Here they enjoy temperatures ranging from 60-85 degrees. In our homes, these plants really prefer to stay between 68-80 degrees. So if your house is getting hotter than that, or if your plant is directly under a vent, it could be getting burnt or drying out.  

If you think your plant could be suffering from the heat, try watering more frequently and/or moving the plant to a different area in the house that is cooler. 

5. Low humidity

Cordyline plants thrive in moderate to high humidity and when they dry out their leaves can turn yellow. For most of us, moderate to high humidity does not describe our houses, but don’t worry, there is a fix for this! 

The easiest fix for low humidity is to add a humidifier to the area where you keep your plant. This will raise humidity levels, but not so much that it causes damage to your walls or furniture like misting might. 

A cheaper option is to make a pebble tray. As water evaporates from the pebble tray, it raises the humidity around your plant. To make one, you simply fill a tray of your choice with rocks of your choice, add water to just below the rock line and then place your plant on top.

Make sure to check your tray when you water your plant to be sure that it stays filled. 

6. Rootbound

If your plant is root bound, there is a good chance it is no longer absorbing nutrients or water efficiently. This can cause the leaves to turn yellow and the plant to start looking droopy and wilted. 

To prevent your plant from becoming overly root bound, you will want to check its roots every spring, and if they are starting to outgrow the pot, replant them. An ideal pot will have a drainage hole and will be roughly 2 inches larger in diameter than the previous planter. 

Getting your plant into a new pot with fresh soil should help, but if you want to give your plant optimum care, you can also start fertilizing it once a month in spring and summer with 10-10-10 fertilizer. 

7. Too much sun

Cordyline plants prefer bright indirect light. While green-leafed types can tolerate full sun, most will burn when exposed to hot direct sunlight. If you notice your plant has browning or crispy-looking yellow leaves, it may be getting too much light. 

You can solve this by moving it around the room and seeing where it prefers. Sometimes, even plants of the same species and type can prefer different spots in the house, so it can take some trial and error to find your plant’s sweet spot. 

8. Natural shedding

Cordyline is a moderate to fast-growing plant species. As it grows, it will shed its old leaves and usually, these leaves will turn yellow before falling off. If you have tried everything and made sure you are giving your plant optimal care, it could just be that the leaves that are turning are old. Remove them with sharp clean shears and wait. If more turn yellow in quick succession, there is likely something you are missing, but if they don’t, your plant is probably just growing. 


Cordyline plants are fabulous additions to most homes. They come in a wide variety of colors and they are evergreens, so you don’t have to deal with annoying winter die-offs or long periods of death-like dormancy. 

If you want to add a cordyline plant to your home, this article has hopefully given you everything you need to succeed.

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About Me

Hi, I'm Joe! I'm the head of SEO and content management at Bloom and Bumble. I'm a huge plant lover and over the years my home has become more like an indoor rainforest. It has taken a lot of trial and error to keep my plants healthy and so I'm here to share my knowledge to the rest of the world.

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