Plant leaves turning yellow and dying - Knowledgebase Question

Bronx, NY
Question by elb552004
August 30, 2007
Prior to tranferring this plant in another pot in July. I had this plant for since last Sept. It was growing and doing fine. Then at the end of June of this year leaves started turning brown on the ends and then browning all the way down to the stem dying. I transferred the plant into a larger pot using Miracle Gro Moisture Control. At first the plant started getting more leaves and looking good. Some of the other leaves were still brown on the end. those leaves continue to get brown and die.

Should I cut off the end of the brown leaf to keep it from spreading to the rest of the leaf?

What is wrong with my plant? What do I need to do?

My other plant has seven little leaves that look like a clover. I just brought this plant 3 week ago as a baby. Some of the leaves have started to fall off and then the stem that holding the seven leaves just drop off. The plant has grown since I had it. I was told that both plants would do well in the house without to much light. The leaves that fall off are still green on this plant. I am uusing the same moisture control dirt. I know the ddirt is not the problem.

Cause my other plant started having problems before I even changed the dirt and pot. Help

What do I need to do? Can you help me. Thank you

Answer from NGA
August 30, 2007


Without knowing the specific plants, it is a little difficult to make recommendations. However, for the first plant, the brown tips can be a sign of underwatering or drying out too soon due to needing repotting into a larger pot. This is plausible since it began to do better afterwards with healthy new growth.

Some plants will develop brown tips in reaction to chemicals in municipal tap water such as fluoride. (Use rainwater or bottled water to water.) Sometimes fertilizer salts accumulate in the potting mix over time and cause brown tips as well. (Leach the soil by watering heavily, allow to drain, and repeat in quick succession.) Some plants will develop brown tips in reaction to lack of humidity, something to consider, although more common during the winter heating season when our indoor air is so dry. Some plants will naturally lose their older foliage as new foliage develops, so what you are seeing might even be normal.

In any case, once browned the tips will not turn green again, so you can trim them off. The cut edge will probably brown as a result of being cut, so sometimes it is just as well to remove the entire leaf all at once depending on how it looks to you.

The clover type plant might be an Oxalis of some sort. These generally have a dormant period when they dry up and die back to rest, then regrow. When this happens, however, the foliage usually dries up rather than just collapses.

So, I suspect you may be overwatering. Overwatering can lead to foliage loss and crown or stem rot problems, as well as root or tuber problems. The moisture holding polymers in the soil mix could contribute to this because the soil is treated to stay moister longer. This means you need to water less often than you would with a polymer-free soil mix. Too, oxalis need a very well drained soil mix, often with coarse sand or perlite added to it, rather than one that holds extra moisture.

Oxalis also needs bright light (indirect light will do but it should be bright), so it may be a combination of overly wet soil and lower light levels. Finally, some types of oxalis grow best in cooler temperatures while some do fine in heat; a cool lover might collapse of kept outside when temperatures are very high. I hope this helps you trouble shoot.

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