The Q&A Archives: Watering Houseplants

Question: Why do the edges of the leaves of my houseplants turn brown and brittle? Am I watering them to much or not enough?

Answer: Browning leaf edges can indicate dry air, overwatering, underwatering, overfertilization, or a salt build-up in the potting soil. It could also be a result of fluoride or chlorine in your tap water. Try misting the plants, especially during the winter months when indoor air is dry. Water when soil begins to dry out and water thoroughly so some water drains from the bottom of the pot. Don't water again until the soil just begins to dry out. Try fertilizing with a half-strength dilution of liquid fertilizer every 4-6 weeks during the growing season. Finally, if you suspect salt build up, flush the soil periodically by watering thoroughly, waiting 30 minutes, flooding the soil again until water runs out the drainage holes, waiting 30 minutes and flooding the soil again. Good luck with your houseplants!

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