Indoor Yucca Plant Leaves Turning Brown: 9 Main Causes

I’ve had an indoor yucca plant for over five years now (which is quite long for an indoor yucca), and during that time, I’ve had to deal with brown leaves a LOT.

The truth is, you’ll probably always have some brown parts on the leaves, especially around the tips, and this is most often caused by too much or too little sunlight or issues relating to watering, i.e., over or underwatering. It can also just be due to age, which is something that you can’t have any impact on.

Keep reading to learn 9 of the most common reasons for indoor yucca plant leaves turning brown, as well as what you can do about it.

9 Main Causes Of Indoor Yucca Plant Leaves Turning Brown

Here’s the 9 most likely reasons why your indoor yucca plant’s leaves are turning brown.

1. Overwatering

Like most houseplants, overwatering is an issue for yuccas as well and can cause the leaves to turn brown.

It always surprises me how often most people water their houseplants, but the truth is you only need to water a yucca when the top few inches of soil become dry.

If you water your yucca too much, the soil will become saturated with water. This will create the perfect environment for root rot, an issue that affects lots of plants like Calatheas and Majesty Palms.

Root rot is caused by a fungus that becomes active in overwatered conditions or simply due to the roots suffocating in water.

This stops the roots from absorbing essential nutrients and moisture from the soil, causing the leaves to turn yellow and then brown and eventually killing the entire plant.

2. Underwatering

Underwatering a yucca can also cause a yucca’s leaves to turn brown.

Brown tips on a yucca plant
Brown tips on my yucca plant with brown edges, likely due to underwatering in this case

This is something that I have personally been guilty of (see image above), and it causes the edge of the yucca leaves to turn brown first, which is a telltale sign that your yucca needs to be watered.

Luckily this is not a major issue – just give your yucca a generous watering, and it should come back to life pretty quickly.

3. Too Much Sunlight

Although yuccas are desert plants, when kept indoors, they become sensitive to light.

If your yuca is exposed to direct sunlight for multiple hours a day, it can scorch the leaves, which creates spots with black centers and yellow/brown edges.

These leaves will eventually die, and you can prune them off right away if you don’t like how they look.

4. Lack Of Sunlight

Although too much sunlight can scorch the leaves, too little sunlight can also cause issues as well.

Every plant needs sunlight for photosynthesis. If your yucca doesn’t receive enough sunlight, it will slowly die, and the leaves will turn brown as part of this process.

Bright, indirect sunlight is the best option for indoor yuccas (more on this later).

5. Fluoride

Fluoride is found in tap water and can cause fluoride toxicity on yuccas which can lead to brown tips and spots along the margin.

I actually noticed this when I first brought my yucca home and watered it with tap water for a few weeks. Turns out that using distilled water is much better…

6. Poor Soil Quality & Drainage

Yuccas tend to do well with lower-quality soil, but I’m a big fan of using nutrient-dense soil for all of my houseplants, and I’ve noticed a difference compared to regular potting soil.

If your soil isn’t nutrient dense and you don’t fertilize, then your yucca will suffer, and the leaves may start to die at a faster rate.

I like to add compost to my yucca potting mix for this reason.

Having adequate drainage is also crucial as it helps to prevent overwatering.

You should always have drainage holes in the bottom of your pot, as well as well-draining soil to help excess water drain quickly.

7. Fungus

Fungal leaf spots can develop in damp or humid environments, especially if you mist your yucca plant (something you should never really do).

These are quite similar to sun scorch spots and occur as small brown spots with yellow halos.

Affected leaves should be removed, and then you can treat the rest of the plant with a fungicide.

8. Pests

Common pests like aphids and mealybugs can affect yuccas and damage the leaves, causing them to turn brown and die.

Most of the time, you just need to rinse your yucca down with a hose every day until the infestation stops, but in severe cases, you’ll need to use an insecticide.

9. Normal Aging

It’s completely normal for yucca leaves to die due to age, and during this process, they will turn brown and eventually fall off.

Yuccas usually live around five years when kept indoors, so you can expect to go through quite a lot of leaves during that time.

I’ve found that I lose a couple of leaves every one or two months on average and less during the winter.

How To Prevent Your Yucca Leaves From Turning Brown In The Future

As I said before, it’s pretty difficult to eliminate browning completely.

There are some things you can do to reduce it greatly, however. Here’s a collection of tips that have helped me the most with my yucca.

Water Properly With Distilled Water

Watering is probably the number 1 thing that people get wrong with not only yuccas but most houseplants in general.

Yuccas only need to be watered when the top few inches of soil become dry. You can use your finger to check this quickly, and it’s an easy rule to remember.

Overwatering can lead to root rot and other issues which can greatly impact the health of your yucca, so it should be avoided where possible.

Make sure your drainage holes are not blocked as well.

Underwatering can also be an issue, but it’s better to leave your yucca in underwatered conditions rather than overwatered.

Opt for distilled water rather than tap water to help prevent brown spots on the leaves.

Brown spots on a yucca leaf
Using regular tap water can make spots appear (learn from my mistake!)

Make Sure The Humidity Is In The Correct Range

Yuccas tend to do well with low to moderate humidity. As desert plants, they are happy with dry conditions, but a humidity of around 50-60% is also fine as well.

You shouldn’t put your yucca somewhere where the humidity is higher, like your bathroom, for example, and opt for drier places.

Use A Good Soil Mix & Fertilize

Regular potting soil mixed with compost and perlite is my preferred potting mix for yuccas for a few reasons:

  • Adding compost boosts the nutrient contents of the soil.
  • Perlite helps to improve drainage, which lowers the risk of overwatering.

If you don’t have time to make your own soil mix, you can use a cacti potting mix, as they tend to work well for yuccas.

Choose The Right Placement For Your Yucca

Yuccas thrive with plenty of bright, indirect sunlight.

I have had the most success placing my yucca set back from a south-facing window, but you can experiment with different areas that provide this type of sunlight.

Remember that direct sunlight will scorch the leaves and cause them to turn brown.

In Summary

The truth is a lot of things can make your yucca leaves turn brown, and it’s pretty much guaranteed that you’ll have some brown spots on your yucca most of the time.

As long as the brown spots are not forming in a pattern or taking over lots of leaves, then it is likely just due to age. I recommend double-checking this guide to see if you are meeting the other care requirements just to make sure you aren’t missing anything.

I’ve tried to include everything I wish I knew before I got my yucca and the lessons learned from over five years of keeping a yucca, so use it to your advantage.

Photo of author

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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