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Leaves Turning Dark Green: Surprising Causes and Solutions

When a plant’s leaf turns or begins to turn dark green, it may indicate a problem that can be caused by the plant’s growing conditions.

The main reason for leaves turning darker green is excessive sunlight. When a plant doesn’t receive enough sunlight, its leaves begin to produce more chlorophyll, which gives the plant its green color. As chlorophyll concentration increases per unit area on the leaf, it appears darker green than usual. 

Excessive use of fertilizer and overwatering can also contribute to the overproduction of chlorophyll as a natural response to boost growth by creating the provision to absorb more sunlight for photosynthesis.

Thankfully, most dark green leaves are caused by things that can be easily fixed. This article will explain how different factors affect the leaves’ color. 

Why Do Leaves Turn Dark Green?

The leaves of most houseplants tend to be the brightest parts of the plant, but what do you do when they start turning dark green? It’s not a disease and it doesn’t mean that your plants are dying. Three factors that can cause the dark green color of leaves are sunlight, water, and fertilizer. 

Lack of Sunlight:

Chlorophyll gives green color to the plant and is of two types chlorophyll a and chlorophyll b. Chlorophyll is the primary pigment responsible for capturing the most light. 

Chlorophyll b is an accessory pigment that absorbs light of shorter, blue wavelengths and sends it to chlorophyll a. Then, chlorophyll carries out photosynthesis. 

If a plant is not receiving enough sunlight, the leaves start to increase the production of chlorophyll b. Chlorophyll b captures the low-intensity light and sends it to chlorophyll a for photosynthesis. Due to the increase in chlorophyll b, the leaf turns dark green. 

Sunlight is good, but most houseplants don’t require full light, and there are safe places you can place them around the home that will ensure healthy growth.
Refer to our full guide on plant placement here.

Providing balanced lighting is crucial, and we have found an effective and durable artificial grow light on amazon that provides the right spectrum of light to get the job done. You can find it by clicking here.

grow light

Overuse Of Fertilizer:

Fertilizers are a must for the development of plants and seeds. They help make up for the absence of certain nutrients in the soil. They make the soil more fertile and speed up the growth of plants. 

However, the excessive use of anything is not good. Overuse of fertilizers can cause problems in plants, such as leaves turning dark green. The darkening of leaves is linked to the misuse of nitrogen and phosphorus fertilizers. 

Nitrogen is a necessary nutrient for the maintenance and proper growth of plants. The misuse of nitrogen fertilizer can influence the plant to absorb more nitrogen than it needs. The excess nitrogen leads to massive plant growth and excessively green leaves. 

Phosphorus is another nutrient that is vital for the progress of plants. The misuse of phosphorus fertilizer can lead to excess phosphorus absorption in the plant body. The overdose of phosphorus can cause slow growth, leaves turning excessively green with dying ends, and late maturation of plants. 

See our articles on leafy problems:

Pale plant leaves
Plant leaves too small
Transparent plant leaves
Plant leaves splitting

Overwatering:

Excess water only causes dark green leaves in some plants. These plants are mostly desert plants like aloe vera. It is not so common in other water-loving plants. 

When overwatered, desert plants tend to absorb all the water. They store the excess water in their bodies. These plants can not bear the stress from the extra water as they are not used to holding so much water. 

Slowly, their cells start to erupt, causing damage to their body. The leaf tissues also suffer from harm. This damage is seen in the form of dark green leaves.

If you suspect that your soil is overwatered see our article on how to dry overwatered soil.

To test the moisture and pH of the soil you can use the cost-effective Trazon Soil 3-in-1 Meter. It not only tests for pH but also moisture content and light intensity. You can find it by clicking here!

Trazon Soil pH Meter 3-in-1 Soil Tester Moisture

How Do Environmental Factors Affect Dark Green Leaves?

Environmental factors such as weather conditions or habitat can affect dark green leaves. For instance, rainforests can have more than a hundred tall trees growing in a small area. This can lead to a continuous fight for survival due to fewer resources. 

The lower leaves of trees and smaller plants have limited access to sunlight. They absorb whatever sunlight they can get to survive. 

These harsh conditions can compel these plants to make some changes like increasing the production of chlorophyll b.

Chlorophyll b absorbs low-intensity light and sends it to chlorophyll a for photosynthesis. This adaptation helps the lower leaves to make food and survive in the rainforests. 

Weather conditions can also influence dark green leaves. An example is greener plants and shade-loving plants still growing in colder weather. Plants with dark green leaves and shade plants are adapted to surviving in low-intensity sunlight. 

So, during winter, when most plants are dormant, these plants are active and continue to grow. Evergreen plants have more chlorophyll, which they use to absorb low-intensity sunlight during winter. They are adapted to use whatever light they get to carry out photosynthesis. 

I have used a cost-effective Liquid Fertilizer called Purived to help my plant leaves and stems boost their overall health. You can find it by clicking here!

purvied for stronger leaves

What Is The Effect Of Sunlight On Dark Green Leaves?

Sunlight is the primary component for the development of excessively green leaves. The amount of exposure to the sun and the intensity of light can affect dark green leaves significantly. The plant growing in high intensity and broad sunlight has bigger leaves, and the leaves have a light green color. 

However, the plant growing in the shade or in low-intensity sunlight has smaller leaves, and the color of the leaves turns excessively green. 

The chloroplasts in light green plants are scattered through the cell in a regular fashion. But the chloroplasts in excessively green leaves shift inside the cell. They try to move to get as much sunlight as possible and avoid shadowing other chloroplasts to consume full light. 

If these plants are suddenly exposed to daylight, the chlorophyll will burn and get destroyed. The plant will lose all its stored water to transpiration and might die in some cases. 

Also, plants growing in the shade make specific modifications to their structure for survival. These shade plants either make their leaves grow towards the sun, or they start producing more chlorophyll b. 

In both cases, the shade plant can absorb more sunlight. This sunlight is used for photosynthesis to make food for the plant. Plants growing in the shade or receiving low-intensity sunlight survive using this mechanism. 

Is Dark Green Leaves a Good Thing?

Well, it depends on the cause of excessively green leaves. For example, if a lack of sunlight causes dark green leaves, it might be good in some cases. 

For instance, a plant living in an area not receiving much sunlight can increase the production of chlorophyll b, which will lead to the leaves turning excessively green. 

But even though the sudden color change of leaves may seem alarming, it is just a survival mechanism for keeping the plant alive and healthy in such harsh conditions. So, it is rather beneficial for the plant. 

However, if the dark green leaves are due to nutritional abnormality or negligence, it is not a good thing. You need to sift through your plant and figure out what is causing dark green leaves. Then, after knowing the cause, please fix it. 

For example, if the leaves are dark green due to lack of sunlight, slowly introduce your plant to indirect sunlight. However, avoid exposing your plant to direct sunlight immediately as it can damage it. 

If the dark green leaves are due to misuse of fertilizer, try mulching your soil. This will minimize the extra nutrients and minerals and fix the nutritional imbalance in your plant.

Should I Remove the Dark Green Leaves?

The answer is No. Even if abnormalities in the plant cause excessively green leaves, you don’t need to cut them off. 

The growth rate might slow down, and new leaves might not form, but your plant will keep on growing despite these excessively green leaves. 

So, it is unnecessary to cut those dark green leaves off. All you need to do is take care of your plant and fix the cause of these excessively green leaves. 

Dark Green Leaves Vs Light Green Leaves

The primary difference between dark green leaves and light green leaves is their relation to nutrients. Nutrients are vital for trees and plants. These are seventeen essential nutrients that your plant needs for proper development. 

Nine out of seventeen nutrients are macronutrients These macronutrients are the ones plants prefer in high doses. 

While the remaining eight are micronutrients that your plant consumes in low doses. The absence of these micronutrients or macronutrients can cause several problems in plants. 

For instance, excessively green leaves can be caused by excess minerals like nitrogen and phosphorus. The extra intake of nitrogen and phosphorus can cause rapid growth in plants, and also, leaves might turn dark green.

On the other hand, light green leaves are signs of a healthy plant. The light green color of leaves indicates there are no problems with your plant. 

Your plant is receiving all the essential minerals in a balanced amount, and there are no signs of nutritional abnormality. 

Dark Green Leaves Through Intervention

While most leaves are mildly firm, some leaves are extra soft. If you handle these soft leaves harshly, they might be damaged. In the worst-case scenario, they might rip apart.

Although it is not uncommon, the mishandling of a soft leaf can also cause it to turn dark green. If you apply pressure on a delicate leaf, the pressed area will be crushed. 

The tissue surrounding the region might suffer from damage causing the pressed spot on the leaf to turn dark green. Hence, you need to take extra care of such soft leaves and touch them with gentle hands. 

The Takeaway

The green color of the leaves is an indication of a healthy plant. It means your plant is taking part in photosynthesis normally, and there are no health problems with your plant. 

However, if the leaves start to turn dark green, it might not always be a good sign. There are many reasons why your leaves are turning dark green, such as excess water, low sunlight, and nutritional abnormalities. 

In some cases, pressing on a soft leaf for too long can also lead to dark green spots on the leaf surface. 

Although dark green leaves can be evidence of an underlying problem, you don’t have to cut them off. We advise you to address the problem and find a solution. 

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