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Plant Care

Why Do My Indoor Plants' Leaves Turn Brown?

April 10, 2023

If you're a veteran plant parent or just beginning to exercise your green thumb, you may wonder why your indoor plants' leaves turn brown. While this is definitely concerning, it's also a super common issue that many plant lovers face. In this article, we'll explore some of the reasons why indoor plants' leaves turn brown, including environmental factors, pests, and diseases. We'll also offer some tips on how to prevent and treat brown leaves so that you can keep your plants happy and healthy. ‍

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Indoor plant turning brown at the end of the leaves

1. Under watering

The most common cause of browning is inconsistent watering. If you’re having difficulty remembering to water your plants, it might be because you’re not consistently watering them. Depending on the plant and its needs, it can take anywhere from 1 hour to 3 days for the soil to dry out completely after being watered properly. 

One way to tell if your plant is ready to be watered is to stick your finger about an inch into the soil. If it feels dry, it's probably time to water your plant. Some plants will show visible signs of thirst, like drooping or wilting leaves. It's important not to rely solely on visual cues as some plants may not show any visible signs of dehydration until it's too late. So, checking the soil moisture level regularly is the best way to ensure your plants are getting the water they need.

2. Overwatering

Overwatering is the most common cause of brown leaves. When you water your plant, make sure that the soil feels dry before you water again. If it's not dry, wait a few hours and check again. Too much water can lead to root rot, which will cause your plant’s leaves to turn brown before they die off completely.

Make sure that the soil has adequate drainage, so that excess water can easily flow out of the pot. If there aren’t any drainage holes in your pot, add some or get a new pot. Also, wait until the top inch of soil is dry before watering your plant and avoid watering your plant on a set schedule. Instead, check the soil moisture level regularly. You can always use a moisture meter to accurately measure the soil moisture level and avoid overwatering your plants.

3. Not receiving enough light

Plants of all kinds need light to create their own food and it is vital for their growth and health. However, the amount of light the plant needs may vary depending on the kind of plants you have.  You house plant might signal to you that’s not getting enough light when its growth slows down or when the leaves start to turn yellow or drop off. To fix this, try moving the plant to a brighter location where it can receive more indirect sunlight. Often, modern house windows are treated to minimize UV light, try opening the window to let the sun shine on your plants. Alternatively, consider using grow lights to supplement natural light. If you can't move the plant, try pruning back any branches or leaves that are blocking the light. It's important to note that different plants have different light requirements, so it's essential to research the specific needs of your plant and ensure that it's getting the right amount of light. By making these adjustments, you can help ensure that your house plant thrives and stays healthy.‍

4. Lack of Humidity

You may need to increase the humidity in your home depending on the plant you have. Most plants need humidity levels averaging around 60%. Succulents and cacti prefer lower levels between 25-35%, while some tropical plants thrive with up to 90% humidity levels. To increase humidity indoors, you can use a humidifier or spray plants and soil with water.

5. Pest/Diseases

Plant diseases and pests like viruses, bacteria, fungi, and insects can quickly damage your plants. In some cases, they can even kill them, which makes it essential to know what they are so you can begin treating your plant immediately. If you notice any unusual spots on the leaves or webbing on the plant, it's important to identify the issue as soon as possible. Make an appointment to show a Plant Expert what’s happening to your plant so you can troubleshoot causes. 

Once you've identified the issue, you can start treating it with the appropriate method. This may include using natural remedies, such as neem oil or soap sprays, or chemical pesticides for more severe cases. In some cases, it may be necessary to remove affected leaves or repot the plant. It's important to take action quickly to prevent the issue from spreading and potentially causing irreversible damage to your plant.

6. Salt Build-Up in the Soil or Improper fertilization

Salt build-up can be caused by using too much fertilizer or over-watering. Salt build-up can also be caused by using tap water that contains too much salt. The salts in the soil may have been leached out of the soil, leaving behind an unsightly residue on top of your plant's leaves and stems at the end of their growth cycle. If you suspect salt build-up, flush the soil with water to remove any excess salts. You can also try using distilled or filtered water for watering, as tap water can contain high levels of minerals that contribute to salt build-up. For improper fertilization, start by checking the label instructions and ensure that you're using the right amount of fertilizer. If you've been fertilizing too much, reduce the frequency and amount of fertilizer you're using. Alternatively, you can repot the plant in fresh soil to dilute the excess fertilizer. It's important to monitor your plant carefully after making these changes to ensure that it's recovering properly.

Indoor plant with leaves turning brown at the end

If you're seeing brown tips on your plants, it might be time to take a look at the water they're getting and their overall care. There are many tips on how to prevent this from happening but if you don't want your plants to turn brown, we recommend much more attention to taking care of them. For more information, talk to one of our Plant care Experts and get customized advice by submitting a request in our Mavyn app or Mavyn website.