Reasons for Brown Tips on Houseplant Leaves

Generally, poor watering habits can lead to brown tips on houseplant leaves.

The best way to water a houseplant is to thoroughly flush it until water runs freely out the drainage holes. Shallow watering can cause brown tips on the leaves. However, brown tips are also an indication of lack of humidity.

A lot of houseplants are native to jungle conditions, so if your home is very dry, you’ll need to mist your plants and give them a shower every few days. Furthermore, brown leaf tips can also indicate a buildup of salts from too much fertilizer or from softened water.

Don’t use too much fertilizer on your houseplants and if you use softened water, buy distilled one.

What causes the brown tips?

Some types of plants are more susceptible. Such are: peace lily, spider plant and dieffenbachia.

Plants react to elements and compounds in the soil that are often introduced through the water. Things like fluorine, chlorine and sodium.

Avoid tap water treated with chlorine or fluoride. Sometimes allowing water to sit overnight might help. Water from a mechanical water softener is very dangerous for houseplants. Naturally soft water, like rainwater or melted snow, is great.

Low indoor winter humidity and dry air worsen leaf tip crisping.

What to do if you have brown leaf tips?

Unfortunately, once the leaf tissue becomes brown and crisp, there’s no reverting that tissue back to normal.

The only two options are to remove the entire leaf if it’s very ugly, or to scissor-trim the dead tip tissue into a naturally tapered leaf point. Then encourage new, healthy, normal leaves to sprout.

To stop leaves from turning brown you should: (1) repot the plant into fresh high-quality potting mix (2) “leach” the plant by placing it in a sink, watering copiously until water drains through, and repeat immediately twice more (3) change the water source (4) fertilize only during periods of active growth in spring through September, while avoiding the non-growth months of winter, except for flowering plants like African violets.

Houseplant Humidity Guidelines

Homes with central heating are dry during fall and winter. What is more, the same is true in summer for houses where the air conditioner runs a lot. Cacti and succulents thrive in dry conditions, but most plants don’t.

You should either grow plants that like or tolerate dryness, or you raise the humidity in your home. A humidifier is the simplest and most obvious solution. Most houseplants will benefit from the added moisture.

If you don’t want to buy a whole-house or room humidifier, try setting a small vaporizer near the plants.

Furthermore, grouping plants helps, too, because moisture released by one plant can be picked up by another. Keep in mind that despite their love for humidity, plants need good air circulation to ward off disease.

It is important that leaves of individual plants should not touch. You should try to give each plant breathing room. Finally, spray your plants frequently with a fine mist of tepid water.

Mist in the morning so that plants have a chance to dry during the day. Misting at night encourages disease. Besides increasing the humidity around plants, misting also helps deter some insects, especially red spider mites.

Generally, poor watering habits can lead to brown tips on houseplant leaves.

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