Plant Signs: What Leaves Can Tell You About A Plant’s Health

The leaves on a plant are like a barometer. They can tell you what is happening to the plant. If you look regularly, you will be able to tell when your plant needs help and come to the rescue.

The leaves on a plant are also like the food factory for a plant. Leaves use the sun to make their food. Leaves use the chemical called chlorophyll to capture energy from the sun. 

They then use that energy to combine with water from the soil and carbon dioxide from the air. With those elements, the plant makes sugar. 

This process is called photosynthesis and shows you how vital the healthy leaves on a plant are.

If conditions disrupt this process, the leaves on a plant will show it. Here are some signs to watch for:

To Much Water

Check the soil your plants are in regularly. It will not harm the plant to push your finger down into the soil an inch or two to see how moist the soil is. 

If the soil is moist, then there is no need to water. You can also purchase an inexpensive moisture meter. 

The meter is inserted into the root ball of the plant and will tell you how much water is in the soil.  If you use a meter, it will eliminate any guesswork on your part.


Just as not enough water will adversely affect a plant, so too will too much water. 

If the leaves on your plant are wilting, but the plant has plenty of water, then it may be drowning. 

Not only do the roots of your plant take up water, but they also take up oxygen from the soil. 

If the soil is so wet that there are no air pockets, the plant cannot take up oxygen, and you will see the leaves wilting.

Leaves Turn Brown and Wilt:

If you have overwatered your plants, the leaves will turn brown and feel soft and limp in your hand.


When the roots of a plant absorb more water than they can use, the pressure of the water begins to build up in cells that are in the leaves of the plant. 

These overloaded cells will burst and form blisters that look like lesions. When the blisters erupt, warty type growths form where the blisters were. 

Yellow Leaves: 

Yellow leaves are another symptom of overwatering that is readily seen in the leaves of the plant.

Leafs Falling Off:

Leaves falling off of a plant will indicate both too much and too little water. If young and old leaves are falling off and there are no buds opening, then this is a sign of too much water.

Tips Of Leaves Turn Brown:

Usually, the first sign of overwatering, when the tips of the leaves turn brown, is a sure sign of overwatering.

Leaves Turn Yellow

When the leaves on a plant turn yellow, it signals that the plant is under stress. There are several reasons why this might happen, and we will explore them below.

Moisture Stress

This can be from either over or under-watering. Yellow leaves can signal under watering, so check the soil in the pot to see if it is dry. 

Put the pot (that has drainage holes) on a dish so that the plant can recollect any water that overflows. 

That way, the plant can absorb any water it was able to the first time. If you have checked the soil, it is wet; you need to water the plant less frequently.

Not Enough Light

A plant's leaves will turn yellow if it does not get enough light. Photosynthesis is the process by which green plants use sunlight to synthesize foods from carbon dioxide and water. If your plant is in low-light situations all the time, the photosynthesis rate will decrease. Try moving your plant to an area where it will receive more indirect sunlight.


The leaves on a plant are sensitive to heat and cold, and the temperature can affect the leaves. 

Cold drafts on a tropical plant will result in the leaves turning yellow. When exposed to heat or air conditioning drafts, leaves can turn brown. 

Try to position plants where they will not be in the direct path of these types of drafts.


Just as you do, plants need nutrients to stay healthy and grow. Plants use water to carry moisture and nutrients back and forth between the roots and the leaves. 

Nutrients are usually taken up through the roots from the soil. The essential nutrients that a plant needs to grow are nitrogen, phosphorus, and potassium. 

Each one of these nutrients plays its role. Nitrogen helps to make green leaves. Phosphorus helps make strong roots and blossoms on flowering plants. 

Potassium is essential in helping the plant fight off disease. Know too, that different plants require nutrients in varying amounts. 

If you choose to fertilize your plants, consult with your local nursery to determine what is best for each plant type.

a. Yellow Leaves

This can signal that your plant is not getting enough of the nutrients that it needs. 

It can also be caused if you are using hard water, as the calcium in the water will cause the leaves to turn yellow. 

It can also be a sign of nitrogen deficiency. In this case, you will see that the plant’s top leaves will be the first to go yellow.

b. Dark Green Leaves Turned Downward

This could be a sign of overfeeding. It signals that the plant is trying to process too many nutrients. 

If this is happening to the leaves on our plant, cut back on the solution that you are feeding the plant and see if the plant improves. 

c. Leaves Curl Upward

The opposite of leaves turning downward, this can indicate that the plant is missing a needed nutrient.  

If potassium is needed, older leaves will curl upward and turn yellow. If calcium is needed, younger leaves will curl upward and become stiff. 

A blue hue along the edge of the leaves that curl upward will indicate that the soil's copper levels are too low. In these cases, all-purpose fertilizer will provide emergency nutrients for your plant. 

d. Leaf Color

Plant leaves will tell you a lot about the plant's condition in the color that they display. 

If you see a yellow-green color on the older leaves of the plant in the area of the tips and center vein, it could indicate a nitrogen deficiency.

 Leaves that are dying at the tips and have purplish or dark green hue signals that the plant needs phosphorus.

In Conclusion

Plants help us, humans, in lots of ways. The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) found that plants filter out some of the harmful compounds in the air and make the air healthier to breathe. 

They can filter pollutants like formaldehyde and benzene. Besides cleaning the air, they act as humidifiers in whatever room they are located. 

By checking your plant's leaves regularly, you will be able to tell if your plant needs a little help from you