The Q&A Archives: What should I do?

Question: Most of my houseplants have brown tips on their leaf ends..what is the cause and how do I fix that??

Answer: There are several reasons for browning leaf tips on houseplants. Dry air caused by low humidity is the foremost cause. Grouping your houseplants together and using a humidifier or a pebble tray with water in it to raise the immediate area humidity level can help. Both winter heating and summer air conditioning limit humidity; drafts of any kind are also bad. Another common cause is build up of salts in the potting soil. To counter this, make sure you are not overfertilizing and remember to periodically leach the soil. This means watering the plant until water pours out the bottom holes, allow it to drain for a bit and then repeat. This flushes out any build up in the soil. If your plants have been in the same pots for several years they may need repotting with fresh soil. The old soil could be very compacted and this can cause foliage problems. Plants in pots that are too small may wilt often and eventually show some foliage damage as a result. Under watering can also cause tip burn; most plants like an evenly moist soil but not a sopping wet one. Overfertilizing can cause problems as well. Make sure you are not exceeding the label rates and decrease fertilizing in winter when their growth naturally slows due to reduced light levels. Finally, some plants are extra sensitive to the chemicals in tap water. You might try watering with distilled, filtered, or bottled water. Hope this information helps you troubleshoot!

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