3 Causes of Brown Leaf Tips and What You Can Do About It

Are you struggling to keep your plants leaves from getting brown edges? If you’re seeing curling, crisping or crunchy leaf tips, trust me…I’ve been there, too! I’m going to share the 3 main causes of crispy leaf edges and what you can do to keep your plants foliage gorgeous and healthy!

Cause 1 –  Inconsistent Watering

If you struggle to maintain a consistent watering schedule for your plants, you might be seeing brown leaf tips. Other than succulents (which I don’t consider houseplants – another topic for another day), most houseplants prefer even moisture. Instead of letting them get overly dry one week, drenching them the next, then just a sprinkle the following week, try to check on your plants every few days to establish when they are ready for more water. Lots of plants are happy to allow their top inch or two of soil to get a little dry between waterings, so once you feel that happening (by sticking your finger into the soil), it’s time to water. Just don’t overdo it and always make sure you let the pot drain, rather than allowing water to pool at the roots. Keeping a plants “feet wet” can easily cause root rot. I’ve found it helps to set a reminder on my phone to check on my plants twice a week. I pick a time when I know I’ll be home and can go around sticking my finger in the soil to check on everyone. If any of them are dry, I water. The others just hang out till the next checkup. Once you learn how often your plant wants to be watered, it will be easy to set up a regular routine of watering.

Cause 2 – Low Humidity

Most of the plants we keep as houseplants are native to very tropical areas near the equator, which means the climate is very humid. The average humidity in a tropical forest is 75-90%. The average humidity in our homes is 45-55%. It’s easy to understand why a plant might have a hard time adjusting to the dry air. But not to worry, there are a few ways you can help your plant friends out.

Try grouping your plants together, which helps keep the humidity level up around all of them. I try to group my plants together in a few areas of my home for this reason (and it makes checking on them easier because they aren’t spread all of my house).

Another way to increase humidity is to place your pots on a tray or saucer of pebbles that is filled with water. As the water evaporates it creates additional humidity for your plants. Just remember to fill the pebble tray regularly.

And of course, you can always add a humidifier. I held out on doing this one for a couple years. I thought humidifiers were for “cray plant people”, plus I live in Florida where it’s already very humid all year and our home is around 60% humidity so I thought this was just “too much” for me.  That is, until I acquired a big, beautiful Philodendron Gloriosum! So I decided it was time! I actually use a large essential oil diffuser and group all of my humidity-loving plants around this humidifier so everybody is happy. And I also think I am now one of those “crazy plant people” after all. But no judgement here…nothing wrong with that!

 Cause 3 – Salt Build-Up/Fertilizer Residue

Over time, plants can be exposed to too much fertilizer and salt can build up in the soil. You can tell salt is building up if you see white crust on the top of the soil, or if your houseplants are in porous pots like terracotta, you’ll see white crust on the saucers and sides of the pot. When this happens, the salt draws moisture away form plant roots, causing less water to make it from the roots to the tips, leaving them dry and turning them brown.

It’s a good idea to repot your houseplants with fresh soil at least once year or so which can help remedy this situation. You can also flush the soil by placing the pot in the sink or tub and giving it a thorough watering until the water runs out of the bottom of the pot. Repeat this process a couple times to flush out excess salts.

Whether you choose to develop a more consistent watering routine, add more humidity to your plant’s environment, or repot your plant friends in fresh soil, I’m confident that you got this! With a little investigation and knowledge, your plants can trade brown-tipped leaves for strong, healthy ones in no time! So now it’s YOUR turn! Tell me which plant of your plants develops brown edges most often? Which of these suggestions do you think you might try out? Comment below or head on over to our Instagram page @theseasidesucculent and give us a follow! We’d love to hear about your plant parenthood journey!


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