Chlorophytum Comosum, 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 the tips of my spider plant are 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.
For further reading on types of spider plants to grow and how to propagate them:
Table of Contents
- 1 What Causes Brown Tips On A Spider Plant?
- 2 Why The Leaves On Spider Plants Are Turning Brown On The Tips
- 3 Uneven Watering Causes Brown Leaf Tips On Spider Plants
- 4 Browning Leaf Tips On Spider Plants For Over-Fertilizing
- 5 Lighting Issues Causing Brown Tips On Spider Plants
- 6 It’s Okay To Cut Burned Leaf Tips Off?
- 7 How To Keep The Ends Of My Spider Plant From Turning Brown
- 8 Conclusion
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 solution to common spider plant problems.
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 a 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, interrupting 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.
Things can be a little more difficult with an overwatered spider plant, 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
When the air is typically dryer in the winter, 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. During this time, brown leaf tips may start to appear on the spider plants, ultimately leading to the death of the plant.
How To Get Rid Of Brown Tips On Spider Plants Due To Excess Fertilizer?
- If you suspect mineral salts from excess fertilizer is the root of the problem, you could try transferring it to a larger pot with some fresh potting soil.
- Flushing the root mass by soaking it with distilled water might also help release some of the built-up mineral salts.
- Going forward you will need to change your fertilizing strategy. Bear in mind that a spider plant doesn’t need a lot of fertilizer. You really only need to give it a single dose of foliage boosting fertilizer once every three months.
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 the 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 start 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?
The spider plant needs to be trimmed back or pruned with some severe cases or black or brown spots. 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 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 plant 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 that they are so low maintenance.
Yet, you can do a few things 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.
2. 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 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 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 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.
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 studied at the University of Arizona’s Controlled Environment Agriculture Center. She continued her gardening education by working on organic farms in both rural and urban settings. She started UrbanOrganicYield.com to share gardening tips and tactics. She’s happy to talk about succulents and houseplants or vegetables and herbs – or just about anything in a backyard garden or hydroponics garden.