Having plants is wonderful, very relaxing and does wonders for mental and emotional wellbeing... until you detect the first problem and don't know what might be causing it. It's those moments when we wish plants had a voice and could tell us what's bothering them or what they need. But don't despair, plants have their own way of expressing themselves, and it is through their leaves. If you see that the leaves of your plants are brown, dry and brittle, this can happen for various reasons. We will show you how to make a diagnosis and how to fix it.
what causes brown leaves?
Water flows throughout the plant through the stems, from the roots to the tip of the last leaf. When the plant's water supply is suspended for some reason, there is not enough to reach the tips of the leaves. This is why the leaf tips are often the first to be affected by this problem. As there is not enough water to keep the leaf tissues hydrated and flexible, the cells dry out and die.
There are different situations that can prevent water from flowing properly, with the efficiency the plant needs to remain healthy and radiant. From root problems, over- or under-watering, too much sun exposure, over-fertilisation, among others. You should also be aware that all plants have a life cycle, in which older leaves die and make room for younger ones.
Types of brown spots on leaves
- Brown, dry tips:
The tips of your plant's leaves look dry, brown and crumble if you touch them. This happens when there are problems with watering or fertiliser.
- Brown spots on the leaves
These are brown, dry spots that appear randomly on the leaf surface, sometimes in circles or shapes, and spread to dry out completely. This problem has to do with fungal or parasitic problems, which you should identify and treat.
- Completely brown leaves
The leaves of the plant start to discolour a little, turn yellow and then dry up and fall off. This usually occurs on the lower leaves. This is nothing to worry about, as it is part of the life cycle of the plant. Leaves age and fall off naturally.
- Diagnose and cure your plant
While it is not possible to turn a brown leaf back to green, you need to correct the situation that is affecting the plant to avoid affecting the rest of the leaves. To do this you must identify the problem by looking at your plant closely.
- Check the leaves
If you notice that the brown tips of the leaves are concentrated in one section or that only the youngest leaves are affected, this may be due to direct sun exposure. Move it to a space where it will not be exposed to the sun's rays for as long.
- Look at the substrate and drainage
Depending on the species of your plant, the substrate should feel cool and somewhat moist, but never too compacted or waterlogged. If it is too wet, that it feels almost like mud, the roots will start to rot, it will not be able to develop new roots and water will not circulate well. If it is so dry that it has become compacted around the root, air will not circulate and water will run off the sides, without reaching the roots.
In both cases you should gently remove the plant from its pot. If the problem is excess water, check the drainage holes in the pot and place a layer of gravel at the bottom. Wrap the soil ball in absorbent paper and replace it a couple of times when it gets wet. Loosen some of the soil with your hands and mix with dry soil before replanting.
In case of problems due to lack of watering, you can move the substrate a little to aerate the roots, plant and water by immersion, i.e. place it in a bucket of water so that it absorbs water from underneath. Allow to drain well.
- Excess fertiliser:
The solution is very simple: water abundantly to wash away the excess minerals in the fertiliser. Let the plant drain well and be careful not to puddle it.
Dedicated to creating an army of cacti, succulents, poodles and cats to help me conquer the world. In the little free time I have left, I play, write and dance.