Having brown tips on spider plants?
Don’t worry because in this article, you’re going to learn why your lovely spider plants’ tips are turning brown or black. Secondly, you’re going to learn practical steps you can take right now to correct the situation.
If this sounds interesting, then let’s begin:
Generally, a spider plant's browning is most commonly caused by overfertilization or by excess minerals in the water. Flushing the soil with distilled water or rain water is the best way to reduce and prevent brown tips.
But this is not the only reason.
Common Causes of Brown Tips on Spider Plants
1. Chemical build up through the water or over-fertilizing
Most studies report that normal irrigation water contains between 1.0 to 10 milliequivalent (me/l) of chlorides and fluorides per liter of water. This is a normal range unlikely to harm your plants.
However, the problem arises when this number exceeds 10 me/l. After long periods of watering your spider plant with this kind of water, fluorides are likely to accumulate thereby causing browning.
The surest and easiest way to detect excess fluoride build up is the appearance of reddish brown tips. Another culprit to watch out for is Boron which manifest itself when the leaves develop greyish tips.
Normal range for Boron should be 0.7 – 3.0 me/l – anything more than that will harm your plant.
These chemicals are mainly to blame when it comes to brown tips on spider plants but applying fertilizers in excess could also cause the problem.
Sadly, most gardening newbies, sometimes even green thumbs result to more fertilizing at the slightest sight of tips browning.
Never do that.
And, stay till the end to find out some of the measures you can take today to correct this problem.
Pro Tip: It's always a good practice to keep your plant clean by removing any dead leaves that make your spider plants unsightly. Below is a video on how to go about it:
2. Scorching from the sun
Spider plants are shade loving plants and appreciates indirect sunlight. However, too much sun exposure could burn your plant leaves making them to turn brown.
These sun burns are also referred to as sun scalds.
But one question most articles online don’t answer is; why the brown spots as a result of sun burn only appears along the tips?
As we all know, the spider plants’ leaves are blade-like in shape. Due to these reason, condensation appears along the tips of the leaves at night after a long hot day.
Now, when you expose your plants to direct sunlight, these tiny water droplets get heated up and burn the tips just like a magnifying glass.
Shop for Plant Shelters, Greenhouse Kits, and Season extenders
3. Bad Watering Habits
It is a proven fact that of all the care given to plants, watering is probably the one cultural practice that causes the most problems. Especially when overdone or otherwise.
In this case, overwatering causes water-logging which creates conducive environment for diseases such as root rots to thrive. When this happens, your plant will hint at a problem by the tips of the leaves turning brown.
Similarly, underwatering your plants will cause your spider plant leaves to dry out which in turn means minimum translocation of water and food materials.
The leaves will continue turning brown and if you don’t resolve the issue, the plant will eventually die. So, if too much or too little are both problems, what should be the optimum quantity?
To find out more, read this article - How to Water Potted Plants and Keep them Happy
4. Inadequate Humidity Levels
Spider plants love plenty of moisture. This is the reason why they do so well in bathrooms and other high moisture places.
By the way, here’s a list of 19 Bathroom Plants that Absorb Moisture
You can keep the humidity level high by timely watering, grouping it with other houseplants, or using a home humidifier.
5. Bacterial leaf blight
Bacterial leaf blight starts out as light lesions on the leaf tips which gradually turn brown.
Bacterial leaf spot and tip burn occurs in hot, humid conditions and is characterized by yellowing in the leaf margin and browning edges.
Brown tips on spider plants could be a sure sign that they have been infected by bacterial leaf blight. If that’s case, don’t worry because in the next section we’re going to discuss how to efficiently control this problem regardless of the cause.
So, stay with me:
How to Get Rid of Brown Tips on Spider Plants – Step by Step
What You’ll Need
- A water can
- A disinfectant (bleach or running alcohol preferred)
- Pruning shears
- Distilled water or rain water
- Water-soluble fertilizer or houseplant fertilizer (20:20:20)
- Houseplant potting mix
Pro Tip: Start with the easiest and most common solution and if there’s no observable change, proceed with more advanced troubleshooting. The steps below follows this principle.
Step #1: Flush the spider plant's soil with one gallon of water per quart of container size. Pour some of the water onto the soil slowly, and allow the excess water to drain outside or in a sink. Wait a few minutes then pour in more. Continue this until the excess water drains out completely.
Step #2: Water the spider plant regularly with distilled or rain water. Check the soil with your finger to ensure it feels moist at a depth of one inch. If it doesn't, water it with until it drips through the bottom of the pot. Pour out any water that remains in the tray or saucer so the plant isn't sitting in it.
Step #3: Trim off the brown tips with sharp, sterile pruning shears. Cut at an angle to maintain the sharp tip shape of the leaves. This can help to avoid the spread of bacterial leaf blight to unaffected areas of the plant.
Step #4: Fertilize spider plants no more than once every two or three months during the growing season, and use 2 tablespoons of 20-20-20 water-soluble fertilizer or another complete fertilizer for houseplants mixed with 1 gallon of water and replace one watering with the solution, applying the same amount you would normally use to water the plant.
Step #5: Ensure that you’re only using pot planters with drainage holes at the bottom to avoid root rots – check out this article for great recommendations – 13+ Best Indoor Pot Planters for Home Decoration.
Step #6: Increase air circulation by thinning out or potting into a bigger container. Remember, we mentioned that spider plants prefer humid atmosphere? But so does the bacterial leaf blight – when the plant has been infected, this will alleviate the problem.
Step #7: Avoid overhead watering. This does two things – 1st it prevents bacterial leaf blights and second it prevents the water particles which act like magnifying glass that scorches the leaves with the help of direct sunlight.
Pro Tip: Learn the 3 best methods for propagating spider plants at home.
There you have it.
7 simple steps to prevent brown tips on spider plants once and for all, and 5 common reasons why the browning occurs in the first place.
Armed with this information, you won’t feel helpless when this problem appears. After all, the beauty of spider plants lies in their remarkable leaves and you don’t want to do anything to harm them, do you?
I hope this helps.
Back to you.
Water Quality Evaluation - fao.org
Image credit: Camilla1991