The Q&A Archives: Brown Tips on Houseplant

Question: I have a house plant. All the tips are turning brown and I do not know why.

Answer: Without knowing what plant and its growing conditions, it's difficult to pinpoint, but I will give you some options to consider. Brown tips on houseplant leaves is fairly common and may be caused by a variety of things. First is the shock of moving from the relatively "perfect" conditions at the grower, to a retail store, and then to a home, where conditions may be quite different. It may be receiving too much or too little light and water. Stick your finger in the soil and water deeply (water should run out the drainage holes) when the top inch or two of soil is dry. Overfertilizing and salt in the soil is also common. Both fertilizer and water contain salts that build up in the soil. The roots absorb salts and it shows up as "salt burn" or yellowing and browning along leaf margins. I recommend you first put your plant in the sink and "flush" or "leach" salts out by slowing watering it, allowing water to soak through the soil and drain out the bottom. Do this about once per month. Examine it to make sure roots are not growing out of the bottom of the pot. If they are, repot into the next larger size. If you've already repotted, transplant shock can also cause yellowing and browning, but if conditions are right, the plant will quickly bounce back. I hope this info helps!

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