Brown Spots On Houseplant - Knowledgebase Question

Miles City, MT
Avatar for picknick
Question by picknick
October 28, 1999
I am having problems with a houseplant. I think, but
am not sure, it's called an ivy plant. When I received
this plant about a year ago, it was very healthy. About
two months after I received it, the leaves start to turn
brown and eventually fall off. I am looking at three
examples from the same plant. The first leaf has brown
spots appx. 1/8 inch to 1/4 inch in diameter all over
the leaf. On another leaf one whole side is brown and
shriveling. The third example has consumed almost the
whole leaf and there's only a small green spot on the edge
left. The stems appear healthy and green, as are the
leaves until the brown spots consume them. I have had the
plant in a north facing kitchen window since I received it,
and it seems to have adequate water. After seeing this
problem I cut a stem from the plant and started another
one. It was fine for a while too, and now it's starting
to do the same thing. It is also in the kitchen window.
I leave the window blinds half open. I have experienced
problems with this kind of plant before, i.e. yellowing
leaves and also the brown spotting. Help!

Answer from NGA
October 28, 1999
Your growing conditions sound adequate, however you might want to try the following: promptly remove and and throw away any affected leaves so they do not serve as a source of reinfection, open the shades to allow more light to enter, fertilize according to package instructions with a water soluble fertilizer for foliage plants, water moderately so the plant is neither soaking wet nor bone dry (check with your finger and see if the soil is moist or not), and rinse the foliage top and bottom sides once a week in tepid water -- a kitchen sink sprayer is ideal for this. Based on your description I am not sure what the problem is, however it is possible that an insect such as spider mites is causing the problem. If so, washing weekly with plain water (and/or several applications of insecticidal soap according to the label instructions) should help as would increasing the humdity level around the plant by placing it on a tray of pebbles with water nearly to the top of the pebbles but not touching the bottom of the pot. I hope this helps.

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