Why do houseplants leaves turn brown? A practical guide


I love having houseplants in my home. They’re a simple way to brighten the rooms and also purify the air. This is why it’s so upsetting when they start to turn brown. I always keep up with my houseplants and provide good care, but this still happens. Houseplants leaves brown for a variety of reasons which led me to look into what was happening. What I found was surprising but helped me take care of my plants.

Why do houseplants leaves turn brown? The primary reasons why houseplants leaves turn brown is because they’re kept in an unnatural environment. Plants depend on you for light, water, heat, and humidity. If any of these environmental factors are not ideal, it can lead to the leaves turning brown.

The good news is that you don’t have settle for houseplants that aren’t healthy or don’t look good in your home. While not every plant is going to thrive indoors, I was able to turn some of my plants around by identifying what exactly was causing the problem and then addressing it. You can use these tips as well if you run into problems with your houseplant leaves browning.

Browning leaves due to too much or too little water

This was my first thought when I started to notice brown leaves and stems on my plants. After all, most plants are going to dry up when they don’t have adequate water. It’s a good idea to assess your plants and see if they have dry stems and brown leaves. One of my plants had large leaves and started browning from the lower leaves.

If this looks familiar on your plants, then you may be under-watering it. Unfortunately, the same symptoms can occur when you over-water your plant. This is because over-watering will damage the roots which then does not allow them to take in enough water and ultimately leads then to under-watering.

If you’re not sure whether you’re over or under-watering, it may be a good idea to take a look at your soil. I was able to feel my soil beds and noticed that they were dry and appeared as though they hadn’t been watered in days. When the soil beds were too damp, it was easier to understand that I had been over-watering. The soil in the plants is a good indicator of moisture levels being high or low so take a look here first.

The good news is that it’s fairly easy to solve this problem. I started by trimming off the brown leaves. After all, they weren’t going to grow back and just made my plants look bad. If the entire stem dried, I pruned it off and then tried to propagate the pruned stems with stem tip cuttings.

Then, I made sure to water my plant thoroughly but avoid over-watering. It was helpful for me to make a watering schedule to avoid this problem in the future.

Normal Aging and Low Humidity

I also found out that plants often drop their lower leaves as they mature. This is especially true for plants such as ferns and some types of philodendron. This doesn’t mean that there’s anything wrong with the plant. In this scenario, the best thing to do is simply prune the old leaves away.

However, when it comes to tropical plants, they are accustomed to a damp climate. This means that the air is humid and some plants don’t tolerate dry weather as well. For example, if you live in a humid area, then you might be fine with your houseplants.

If you live in a dry area though or like to use a dehumidifier, then you will probably run into a few problems along the way. Some houseplant leaves are going to turn brown when the air in the house is too dry. This is especially true when your tropical plant gets a lot of direct sun or during the colder months when the heat is running which dries out the air.

The best solution to this problem I found was that I moved my plants away from heaters and direct sunlight as much as possible. They often did better when I put the plants on a dish full of pebbles and then put a layer of water in the petals. While this step didn’t make my home more humid, it created humidity just around the plant itself. Finally, I made sure to trim off any dried leaves to keep my plant looking nice.

Browning Leaf Tips

I’ve also noticed that there are some plants which develop brown leaf tips but this doesn’t spread to the rest of the leaf. Doing some research on the subject was a frustrating process as it can be difficult to diagnose. Some of the more common culprits included polluted water, erratic watering, overfeeding, or a combination of these factors.

Plants that have long strappy leaves like spider plants seemed to have this problem more often. This seems to be due to the fact that the water has to travel farther to keep the cells at the tip of the leaves well-hydrated.

Another cause that can be a problem depending on your water supply is salt build-up. If you live in an area that has softened water, then you may be surprised to find out that the salts can build up in your plants, causing the tips of the leaves to brown.

The best solution to this problem seems to be taking a close look at how you care for your plants. I had to evaluate whether I wasn’t watering my plants appropriately if my water was clean, and other factors when it came to planting care.

Since I found the brown tips to be undesirable in their general appearance, I trimmed the edges of the leaves off when they turned brown. By cutting right outside of the area where the green turned to brown, this mostly fixed the problem. When new leaves emerged, I was able to enjoy the whole, fresh green leaves.

Excess Fertilizer

Like any other living thing, plants need a steady food source. For healthy plants. I use fertilizer but I didn’t realize that using too much could cause brown leaves. Browning that appears around the sides and the tips of the leaves are often caused by too much fertilizer. This is because over-fertilizing a plant will lead to root damage. This then affected their ability to take in water, making them just appear like I was under-watering the plant.

The good news is that most plants don’t need much or even any fertilizer during the winter months. This is when I found that fertilizing my plants led to them developing brown plants. I also would notice that fertilizer would build upon the soil surface.

The solution to this problem was fairly simple, thankfully. Instead of fertilizing every week, I tried to avoid fertilizing when it was colder outside and spacing out when I fertilized the plants. This solved my problem.

Pests and Diseases

This was also a tough solution. After all, there is any number of pests that can infest houseplants. Some of the more common culprits included spider mites and aphids. The fungus has attacked the roots of my plants, making it seem as though it was being overwatered.

Most of the pests that attacked my plants could be seen by the naked eye, but some of them were hard to detect. Doing a thorough inspection of the plant leaves was a good way to find out if this was the problem. Brown bumps, white fuzz, and webbing around and on the plant leaves were usually a sign of pests. Similarly, brown spots that appeared in the center of my leaves were usually caused by diseases.

The bad news about this problem was that the solution wasn’t always a straightforward one. Although this was challenging, one of the best things that I did was dispose of any truly infested plants to save the rest of my indoor garden. After all, pests spread quickly and can damage the rest of your plants. Another solution that worked for more minor problems was an insecticidal soap and neem oil. These were great when trying to eradicate minor pest or fungal problems.

When treating my plants, I also made sure to prune back any infested areas of the plants and any brown leaves. I then made sure to allow the plant some time to rest and then continued to monitor them for any other signs of pest infestations. I made a video on dealing with pests such as aphids, whiteflies and mealybugs all known for causing these symptoms in plants, You can view that below. If you ever struggle with pests it is a must-watch.

Keeping the Problem At Bay

So, what do you do when you find the leaves on your houseplants turning brown? The answer is fairly simple. It’s best to find the source of the cause and remedying that particular issue. In the meantime, make sure that you cut away any of the brown leaves and get rid of them. Once you find and fix the root cause, then you’ll see healthier foliage taking its place.

Conclusion

Once I learned the causes of brown leaves, I found that most of my plants were flourishing without these or other related problems. You can also use these tips to learn more about what causes the problems and how to best handle your house plants.

I hope you enjoyed this blog post about leaves turning brown. I trust it answered your question fully. If this was of interest to you, why not consider checking out some of my other blog posts and subscribing to the blog so you don’t miss future content.

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And remember folks, You Reap What You Sow!

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