Are Your Houseplant Leaves Getting Brown Tips or Edges

Are your houseplants getting brown tips or edges? There are three main causes.

1. Low Humidity- If the humidity in your room is low and the houseplant requires a higher humidity, the tips and edges of the leaves may dry and turn brown. To keep this from happening, we need to raise the humidity around the plant.

We can group plants together in an area. All plants give off moisture, some more than others. If we group plants together, we create a micro environment in that area which has a higher humidity than the rest of the room.

A second way to raise the humidity is to place the houseplants on pebble trays. A tray with pebbles or gravel is placed under a plant. Water is added to the tray until it is just below the top of the pebbles. The water will evaporate around the houseplant raising the humidity.  Be sure the plant pot is clearly above the water.  If the plant pot is allowed to sit in the water, we can encounter another problem called root rot.

Misting is another way to raise the humidity temporarily, but for long term effects several mistings a day would be required.

2. Floride or boron found in normal tap water may build up in the leaves causing the tips to turn brown. Many houseplants, including peace lilies, are susceptible to this.  Allowing tap water to stand in an open container for a day will allow some of these gasses to evaporate, but this may not be enough.  It is best to use rain water or distilled water to water your houseplants.

3. A build up of soluble salts from fertilizer will also cause leaf tips to turn brown. If you see a white substance on the top of the soil in your plant pot, a build up of fertilizer salts is the likely culprit. To clean out the excess salts, take the plant to a sink ot bathtub (or outside) and pour enough water with no fertilizer into the plant pot so that at least half of it runs through the plant and out the bottom of the pot.   Wait about 5 minutes and pour that same amount through again.  This time it will all run through.  Repeat once more.  This will wash the excess salts out of the soil.  Don’t fertilize the plant again for 2 to 4 weeks.  When you resume fertilizing, reduce the strenght of the fertilizer solution being used.  At nurseries, they always pour enough water throught the plant at each watering to leach out the excess salts.  This is not always practical in our home setting.