Why is My Plant Browning? 5 Causes of Brown Plant Leaves

Why is My Plant Browning_ 5 Causes of Brown Plant Leaves

Why is my plant browning? It’s something we’ve all asked ourselves at some point. So, what’s the deal?

Plants have always belonged in the wild, outside where they can naturally get sun and water. Now, most of us live in a world stuck inside four walls. Our homes are full of technology, screens, and monitors, along with dust, pollution, and stale air. Now, include plants, which have been a popular addition to homes. Indoor plants can purify the air from toxins. Additionally, they can give us a higher sense of well-being and a brighter, more vibrant living space

However, there are times when your plant doesn’t look its best and might be getting crispy for unknown reasons. That’s why we’ve compiled this list of 5 reasons to answer the question, “Why is my plant browning?” Plus, we’ll discuss how to help browning plants get back to normal. So, whether your plant is displaying a few minor flaws or has downright troubling symptoms, don’t worry. This article is sure to help your indoor plants become happy and healthy once again. 

Why is My Plant Browning? 5 Common Causes of Brown Leaves

Plant leaves Browning

1. Not Enough or Too Much Water

When a seemingly healthy plant suddenly dies from being dry, we may brush it off as bad luck or think that we have “brown thumbs.” However, this may not be the case. Instead, it might be because you’ve watered your plants incorrectly. Many people tend to buy a pretty-looking plant and give it plenty of attention – for the first few days. Giving your plant a daily watering can make it lazy and grow weak roots.

Plant owners will often eventually get bored of having to water a new plant every day. So, we water it less and less until we force it to adjust to the lack of water by shedding its leaves. When people see this, some assume the plant is dying and immediately throw it out.

The truth is, if your plant’s soil becomes dry, water won’t effectively soak the roots and will just pass through. Unfortunately, when we see that the drainage has plenty of water, we assume the soil is saturated. But, in reality, the opposite is happening. 

Tips to Avoid This:

  • Because retailers mostly sell plants in small pots, it’s best to repot them into bigger plant pots right away. When there’s more soil, it can hold more water and will stay moist for longer. It’s also essential to make sure that your plant’s new pot has drainage holes. 
  • It’s best to water your plant less often. However, when you do give them a drink, make sure to do so under a faucet. This way, you’ll soak them thoroughly. Alternatively, use a watering can with a generous flow. This technique prevents your plants from getting root rot and promotes stronger roots.
  • Remember that soil won’t be able to absorb water if it gets too dry. If this happens, put the pot in the sink and slowly trickle water to soak the soil. Do this for about 15 minutes. 
  • One way to give your plants water without the added mess is by keeping them in a shallow plant tray and watering it until full. Over the next few days, the soil will keep absorbing the water in the tray. Doing this will give you more time before you need to water your plant again. 
  • Did you know? Clay pots tend to dry plants out much faster. If you don’t think you’ll be able to water your plants consistently, avoid using clay pots. Instead, use a plastic or ceramic planter to keep them moist for longer.

2. Why is My Plant Browning? Lack of Light Could Be the Issue

If you’re an indoor gardener, you know that proper lighting is essential for keeping your plants healthy. But what you might not realize is just how much light plants need. Compared to the ambient light in an artificially-lit room, direct sunlight is much brighter (by hundreds of times). But because the human eye is amazingly adaptive, it can make this seem like a small change. While we may not realize that a spot isn’t bright enough, your plant certainly will. When a plant senses there’s not enough light, they’ll become floppy, skinny, pale, and may shed leaves. Eventually, a lack of proper lighting can even lead to a plant’s death. So if you want your indoor plants to thrive, make sure they’re getting plenty of bright light. Your plants will thank you for it!

Tips to Avoid This:

  • It’s best to choose leafy house plants, as these are well-adapted to growing under shady areas. In the wild, lush plants tend to live under the thick rainforest canopy. These plants are the best suited to survive inside low-light rooms of a home. 
  • Food plants, such as carrots, tomatoes, and basil, don’t like places that are too dark. In fact, a lack of light will prevent them from producing a harvest. So, don’t be so hard on yourself if they fail to give you anything. Instead, consider employing a grow light.
  • If you see that your plant needs more light, keep it next to a windowsill and leave the blinds open. 
  • South-facing windows or skylights will provide your plants with the best light. East and West-facing windows are the next best. North facing windows will provide plants with the least amount of light. 
  • For the most part, it’s best to leave plants alone and avoid moving them as much as possible. This way, their leaves can naturally orient themselves to the light. Relocating or shifting them too much may cause older leaves to die.

3. Why is My Plant Browning? Could be from Over Fertilizing

When dead leaves and other matter decays on the forest floor, the ecosystem recycles their nutrients. We usually dispose of our plant’s dead leaves inside our homes, so fertilizers replace the lost nutrients. However, many people tend to put too much fertilizer on their plants. As a result, we unintentionally burn the roots. Even when appropriately watered, an over-fertilized plant will still wilt. Or they may have browning leaves or leaves that feel too soft, as though they’re made of cloth. Of course, this leads to our original question: “Why are my plant’s leaves browning?”

Tips to Avoid This:

  • Potting soil often comes with added fertilizer or a lot of organic material. In these cases, you won’t need to add any more fertilizer for a while.
  • Always read the instructions included on the fertilizer package. And, when in doubt, use less than the recommended dose. Also, be sure to use fertilizers that are marked safe for indoor plants. 
  • When possible, use solid rather than liquid fertilizers. Time-release fertilizers are less likely to burn the plant’s roots. 
  • Refrain from giving fertilizer to your plant until it shows new leaves with green veins. Watch for a plant that’s pale in coloration or showing a lack of new growth. Having fresh leaves that grow to be smaller than the old ones is another warning sign. These are indications that your plant needs fertilizer. 
  • Generally, houseplants that shed many leaves and dead flowers, and fast-growing plants, need more fertilizer. However, make sure to read up on the type of houseplant you have, as others may need less. 

4. Dry Air

Having low humidity in your home can cause heat stress for plants. And, because the air in your home is driest in winter, this can be an especially tough time of year. In fact, it can be especially devastating to ferns, parlor palms, and orchids. Such dryness can cause them to develop brown streaks or result in a loss of leaves. 

Tips to Avoid This:

  • If you live in a dry area, it’s best to choose plants that can withstand these conditions. Bulbs, succulents, and most other plants with woody stems are great choices. 
  • If your plant needs a humid area to survive, keep it in the bathroom. This way, it can get steamy air whenever you have a shower. Just make sure the bathroom is also well-lit. 
  • Keep your houseplants together, as they can raise the air humidity as a group. 
  • A quality humidifier can have just as good of an effect with plants as they do with people. 
  • Setting your pot in a tray full of gravel and water can raise the humidity through evaporation. 

5. Mistaking it as Dead

Just because your plant has browning or falling leaves and looks unhealthy doesn’t mean it’s dead. Plants can regrow themselves after experiencing shock or trauma. In fact, many tropical plants even go into a dormant state depending on the season. 

Tips to Avoid This:

  • Many indoor plants, such as amaryllises and poinsettias, can become dormant and come back on their own. When this happens, there’s no need to panic because this is part of their natural cycle.
  • If your plant looks dead, trim off the dead or dying parts, and give it some TLC. See what happens after a while, but don’t immediately dispose of it. 
Why is my plant browning?

Why is My Plant Browning? – The Wrap-up

Once you learn to identify these problems, you can begin to correct them. Your plant should then get back to giving you green, healthy foliage. Now that we know how to answer these top 5 reasons for “Why is my plant browning,” your plants have a chance! Your indoor plants may be browning, but we hope these tips will help you become an expert plant parent. Caring for plants indoors may not always be easy. However, it is still a gratifying experience that anyone can enjoy. We just need to be willing to put in extra effort for our plants now and then. 


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