Chlorophytum Comosum, which is more commonly known as The Spider Plant Ribbon Plant or Spider Ivy, is an increasingly popular perennial house plant.It adapts easily to indoor life and requires a minimal amount of care.
Yet the much-beloved spider plant can be vulnerable to some health problems, particularly developing brown tips.
You might be wondering why are the tips of my spider plant turning brown? This is not an uncommon issue.
Fortunately, it can be prevented or corrected with a little extra care. Of course, resolving the problem starts with diagnosing the underlying cause.
In this article, we’ll explore the interesting biology of the spider plant, common problems like brown or black tips, and how to resolve them.
What Causes Brown Tips On A Spider Plant?
There are a few things that can cause brown or black tips on a spider plant. Some of the more common culprits include:
- Chronic plant stress from over or under-watering
- Low humidity or overly dry indoor conditions
- Watering with high fluoride water
- Mineral salt build-up from excess fertilizer
- Excessive sun exposure
On the face of it, a little black-brown on the plant’s tips isn’t an immediate cause for concern. Many people respond to the aesthetic change quickly, in hopes of restoring their spider plant’s overall appearance.
However, black and brown tips are not immediately a sign of a severe problem. Yet it’s not something you should ignore either.
Why the Leaves on Spider Plants Are Turning Brown on the Tips
The following is an in-depth solutions to common spider plant problems.
1: tap water that has added fluoride Causes Spider Plant Tips To Turn Brown
Fluoride is a common additive in municipal water to help prevent tooth decay. However, it can be toxic to some plants. It tends to be a long-term problem that develops slowly over time.
The fluoride essentially inhibits the chemical process of photosynthesis that the plant’s leaves rely on.
Eventually, the fluoride toxicity moves through the stoma and leaves to affect the tips of the spider plant, which causes the telltale brown or black spots on spider plants.
If you have well water, this is likely not the underlying cause. If you suspect fluoride is the culprit, which is more likely to occur in a more mature spider plant, you might want to change the water source to bottled distilled water or spring water.
Just make sure to double-check the label to see if it too has been enhanced with fluoride.
How To Deal With A Plant Affected By High Fluoride Water?
If the fluoride contamination is significant, you will need to flush it out of the soil. This calls for flushing the soil with distilled water by pouring a high volume of water into the pot and then draining it a few minutes later.
You will then need to let it dry out like normal and repeat the process.
If the plant is slightly rootbound you could also try potting it up with more fresh potting medium.
This will let the roots expand into the potting medium that is free of fluoride. It could even encourage new, vigorous growth.
Uneven watering Causes Brown Leaf Tips On Spider Plants
brown tips on spider plants can be related to stress caused by overwatering as well as underwatering.
Overwatering might also cause yellow to develop on younger leaves. It can also lead to root rot, which interrupts the flow of nutrients the plant needs to thrive. As it continues the tips can turn brown and black.
In an underwatered there simply isn’t enough crucial moisture getting to the leaves. In some of these cases, the volume of water might be right, but a nearby heat source like a vent could be drying the soil out faster than normal.
Dealing With brown tips on spider plants Caused By Uneven watering
The easiest way to deal with watering stress is to adjust your watering frequency. With an underwatered plant the increased moisture will usually correct the plant on its own.
With an overwatered spider plant, things can be a little more difficult. Especially if the excess moisture caused root rot.
If the problem is minor you might only need to trim away the affected leaves, and the plant will gradually adjust as the soil dries out.
It might also help to remove the drip tray shortly after watering. This will reduce the available moisture to the lower roots.
Lack of Humidity can Cause Brown Leaf Tips
A spider plant’s ideal growing conditions require high humidity levels. In a low humidity environment, such as a home in winter, the leaf tips can dry out causing brown tips on spider plants. In many of these situations, the season can also be a factor.
In the summertime, watering the plant on time can help restore the humidity around the plant. Grouping it with other plants can also help them retain their humidity.
Dealing With Leaf Tips Caused By Humidity Issues
In the winter, when the air is typically dryer, you may need to place a humidifier near the spider plant or in the same room.
Moving the plant into an upper shelf or above a cabinet in the kitchen might also help as this tends to be a more humid location to leaf tips turning brown.
Try to keep the spider plant away from any heat vents, which can further dehydrate the surrounding air.
Browning leaf tips On Spider Plants for Over-Fertilizing
Excess fertilizer in the spider plant’s soil can start to develop into concentrated mineral salts. This can further lead to toxicity and contamination which affects the health of the root mass. Left unchecked these excess minerals can reduce the plant’s ability to absorb and distribute water to the leaves. In time it causes the brown leaf tips in Spider Plants and potentially die.
How to get rid of brown tips on spider plants Due To Excess Fertilizer?
Lighting Issues Causing Brown Tips On Spider Plants
Ideally, a spider plant wants dappled light to shade with even moisture. When a spider plant is left out in full sun it can become too hot and dry.
This can cause damage throughout the foliage, which tends to manifest first in the narrow, sensitive leaf tips or leaf tips will turning brown.
Dealing With Brown Leaf Tips Caused By Excess Sun Exposure
Of course, the first way to deal with brown tips on spider plants is to move the spider plant out of the sunny location and place it in an area of the house where it is properly shaded. Make sure that the plant has proper moisture and humidity.
As long as the damage isn’t severe, the plant should correct itself over time. If the spider plant’s leaves have been badly damaged, you may need to trim off the brown, black, or dead tips.
It’s okay to cut burned leaf tips off?
With some severe cases or black or brown spots, the spider plant needs to be trimmed back or pruned. Sometimes referred to as “Sprucing” it can also help to restore the plant’s aesthetic appearance.
To do this you can either pull out the entire affected leaf or simply trim it slightly with a sharp pair of scissors.
It’s also a good idea to clean the scissors with isopropyl alcohol before and afterward to prevent spreading any fungal or other plant diseases.
It helps to snip at an angle to mimic the naturally pointed tips of the spider plants leaves. If you are careful, casual observers won’t even notice that you trimmed the plant.
How to Keep the Ends of My Spider Plant from Turning Brown
One of the things that help make spider plants so popular is the fact that they are so low maintenance. Yet there are a few things you can do to give your plant everything it needs to reduce and prevent brown tips on spider plants.
1: Consistent Watering Based On The Plant’s Condition
Ideally, you should only water a spider plant when the potting medium is mostly dry. It helps to feel the soil before watering to make sure that you aren’t overwatering it.
Pay attention to the plant’s needs and conditions. The last thing you want to do is overwater it and affect the health of the roots.
5: Be Mindful Of The Sunlight
Out in nature spider plants prefer to grow in partial to full shade areas. When you bring them indoors, they don’t want direct sunlight, however, they do need some degree of indirect light in order to carry out photosynthesis.
It’s best not to fall in love with one single spot. You might have to move the spider plant two or three times to find the ideal light level that it prefers.
You might even need to move it from one season to the next depending on the amount of natural light that is coming into your home.
If possible, you might want to prioritize a location that has an eastern exposure. Many plants prefer morning light, which also helps warm them up after a cool night. Then shade in the afternoon protects them from heat stress.
3: Alter Your Fertilizing Schedule
Spider plants don’t need a lot of fertilizer. A light dose of a foliage-based fertilizer every two to three months. If you do happen to over-fertilize, then you might need to flush the soil.
4: Use Fluoride-Free Water On Your Spider Plants
If you have municipal water, then it most likely has fluoride in it. Your local water board or city council can give you more information on the fluoride content.
If possible, you might want to simple source fluoride-free spring water or distilled water and keep that jug tucked away just for watering the spider plant.
By following these basic requirements and keeping an eye out for potential problems, your spider plant should continue to grow and thrive for many years to come.
Spider plants are prized for being low maintenance and sometimes even easy to replicate.
If you see some black or brown spots, take a patient approach to address them. Sometimes some minor changes and a little careful leaf trimming is all that’s needed to restore its healthy appearance.
Lindsey Hyland grew up in Arizona where she attended University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture. She has supplemented her formal education by working on various organic farms, including spending a semester abroad in India.
Growing and/or raising just about anything gets her excited. She is especially passionate about environmental justice and low-tech, sustainable ways to better run small-scale farms and homesteads. Lindsey started Urban Organic Yield to discuss gardening tips and tactics.
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