Plant Problems: Brown Spots

The last thing you want on your beautiful greenery is browning! If you’re noticing some unsightly brown spots on your houseplants, we’re here to help. Keep reading to diagnose the cause of the problem and remedy it.

Cause: Low humidity 

Crispy brown spots on the tips of your plant’s leaves are usually a sign of low humidity around your plant.

What to do:

  • Cluster your plants together. Plants naturally release moisture through their leaves, and by grouping them, they can create a pocket of humidity.
  • Make a pebble tray. Fill a shallow dish or tray with pebbles and add water, making sure that the tops of the pebbles stick out slightly above the level of the water. Place your potted plants on your pebble tray. As the water evaporates into the air, your plant will get the humidity and moisture it needs.
  • Use a humidifier. By keeping a humidifier going daily, your plants will have a constant stream of moisture.

Cause: Pests

Irregular marks and spots on your plant leaves could be a sign of a common houseplant pest: spider mites. If you look carefully, you may also notice fine webbing on the underside of the leaves. 

What to do:

  • Isolate the infected plant from your other plants.
  • Give your plant a good shower with room temperature water and rub each individual leaf to remove all webbing. 
  • Create a spray solution of 1 tablespoon of Castile soap in 1 quart of water. Once your plant has been washed, spray it down with the solution and quarantine it from your other house plants.
  • Spray the plant once a week for four weeks until there are no longer signs of spider mites. At this point, you can reintroduce your plant back with your other houseplants.

Cause: Too much light

Brown, burnt spots on your plant’s leaves, brown leaf tips, or even pale, yellowed leaves are all signs that your plant is getting too much light. If your plants are a little too close to a bright sunny window, or artificial lights, the leaves can become burnt or scorched. 

What to do:

  • Move the plant further from the window or bright light source.
  • Rotate your plant every couple of days for even light exposure.

Cause: Dry soil

Brown leaf tips or brown dying leaves can be a sign of under-watering, especially if your plant is also drooping.

What to do:

  • Before watering, check the moisture level of the soil. You can do this with a moisture meter or by sticking your finger or a chopstick 2 inches into the soil. If the soil sticks onto your finger or the chopstick then the soil is still moist and does not need to be watered. 
  • If the soil is dry, give your plant a thorough watering. Allow the water to sit in the pot for 5-10 minutes, then tilt out the excess. 
  • Note: Each plant requires a different level of moisture, so it’s important to understand your plant’s specific watering needs

Cause: Water quality

When it comes to the type of water you use to water your plants, filtered water is best! Although most plants can tolerate tap water, some are very sensitive to the chemicals found in most tap water. The build-up of chlorine and fluoride from tap water can damage the roots of plants over time resulting in browning leaves.

What to do:

  • Use filtered water, or fill your watering container and let it sit uncovered overnight before watering to allow chemicals such as chlorine and fluoride to evaporate.