Why does my houseplant have brown leaf tips and edges?

Question:

Why does my houseplant have brown leaf tips and edges?

Answer:

Brown leaf tips or edges can happen on any indoor plant but are common on some species like spider plant and dracaena.  Trimming the brown portions off the leaves with a scissors can improve appearance, but new browning will occur if the root cause is not addressed. 

Brown Leaf Tip on houseplant
Trimming the brown portions off the leaves with a scissors can improve appearance, but new browning will occur if the root cause is not addressed. 

Low Humidity

The most likely cause is low humidity.  The humidity levels in homes is often low, especially during the winter months.  Raise humidity levels by using a humidifier, pebble tray, terrarium, or by grouping plants together to allow their collective foliage to hold-in more humidity. 

Inconsistent Watering or Improper Fertilization

Inconsistent watering, in particular allowing plants to dry out too long between waterings, will cause leaf edges and tips to turn brown.  Excess salts can build up in the soil when too much fertilizer is applied which can also lead to brown leaf tips.  Water and fertilize appropriately to prevent further browning.

Water Quality

Too much chlorine and other chemicals in the water, such as fluoride, can cause brown leaf tips, especially over an extended period of time on sensitive species like spider plant, ti plant, dracaena, prayer plant, and calathea.  Use a different water source if this issue is suspected.

Learn more about identifying and treating problems with your houseplants from this article: Diagnosing Houseplant Problems

Answered by
  • Specialist
  • Consumer Horticulture Extension
Last updated on
May 29, 2024