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Specific Houseplants

How to Prevent Spider Plant Brown Tips


8 min read

If you’re a gardener, you’ve probably experienced this houseplants heartbreak…

You get your new spider plant, pot it up, and then the tips of the leaves turn brown or black. I’ve been through it too with my spider plant.

Leaves usually start turning a brownish color due to various careless mistakes on our part – moisture, stress, and sunlight overexposure being the most common factors.

So, let’s discuss what you can do in preventing brown tips or your spider plant turning brown!

6 Most Common Reasons for Brown Tips on Spider Plant Leaves

Watch my video on bringing a neglected little spiderling plant back to life on my YouTube channel.

Chlorophytum comosum are popular indoor plants for their ability to thrive in sub-optimal growing conditions like indirect light. They’ll even produce spiderlings and flowers without too much effort. However, it’s pretty common for the leaves to look dead, black, crispy, or brown.

Here are a few reasons why your leaves may be turning brown and how you can prevent this from happening.

To get rid of brown leaf tips on your spider plant, follow these easy steps every day / week:

  1. Consistent watering – water only when the soil is almost dry
  2. Bright indirect sunlight if growing indoors; partial to shaded light if growing outdoors
  3. Feed with weak water soluble fertilizer – in the event of salt buildup, thoroughly flush the soil with water
  4. Water it with fluoride-free water
  5. Monitor humidity levels

By the way – check out our full guide on the spider plant if you’re wondering about spider plants care.

Stress from Overwatering or Under-Watering

Water stress is a common cause of brown leaf tips on spider plants and can be due to both over and under-watering your plant.

In the case of over-watering, excess water causes root rot, which stops the flow of water and nutrients to the rest of the plant, resulting in brown leaf tips. Without fixing the problem, it will cause brown tips on spider plant and eventually kill your precious houseplant.

In the case of under-watering, the leaves will slowly dry out. Chlorophytum comosum likes soil that mostly dries out between waterings, but doesn’t completely dry out. Lack of moisture will turn your plant leaves brown.

With an under-watered plant, simply evaluate the potting mix you’re using and the moisture level in your container, then make sure to give it a frequent watering.

As for an overwatered plant, if the root rot is too extensive, you’ll have to remove those areas of the plant to give your plant a fighting shot at survival.

Now, if your next question is how often to water a spider plant to ensure it never has to deal with water stress, then simply put your index finger into the soil of your plant. If the first two inches are dry, your plant needs to be watered!

Also, make sure to repot your over-watered plant in fresh potting mix or some kind of fresh soil. To prevent over-watering, make sure to use a well-draining soil and a pot with a good drainage system. Always remember to empty the saucer some time after watering your plant – this will ensure that your spider plant’s soil doesn’t absorb unnecessary moisture.

Fluoride Content in Water

Over time, fluoride can be toxic for your plants! Oftentimes, spider plants suffer from browning tips when you subject them to tap water laden with fluoride. Tap water is often fluoridated to help prevent tooth decay.

Fluoride from tap water eventually builds up in your potting mix and starts hurting its health. It will inhibit your plant’s natural photosynthesis process and can even damage some of its tissues. Eventually, it will leave your plant leaf’s stomata and turn the edges brown. So, make sure your tap water doesn’t have fluoride in it. 

If you suspect that fluoride is causing brown leaf tips, regularly flush out the soil with distilled water. To flush the soil, pour a few containers of distilled water into your plant’s pot and give it a few minutes to completely drain out. Once it’s drained out, flush and drain it again.

Rainwater works wonders in flushing out the tap water fluoride from your plant’s soil. Also, use a soil with high calcium levels to prevent potential fluoride toxicity, which will prevent brown tips.

Overfertilizing Causing Salts to Build Up

Salt buildup from over-fertilizing is also a common cause of spider plant brown tips. Giving your spider plant too much fertilizer will cause plant toxicity and might even damage your plant’s roots – this will eventually turn the leaf tips brown. 

A quick fix to over fertilizing is to repot your plant in fresh soil. You can also stop fertilizing your plant and flush the soil with water. This will flush out the excess buildup of salt accumulated from frequent fertilizing and return it to a balanced state.

A spider plant only needs to be fertilized once every 3 months during the growing season. Use a diluted, balanced, water soluble fert to feed your spider plant.  Don’t go overboard!

Too Much Sun Exposure

Spider plant outdoors planted in shade won't suffer from brown or black tips
Notice the shaded sun this will get throughout the day when planted outdoors. Source: Ventilago

Spider plants placed in your outdoor garden like shady spots and even decent moisture in their soil. They don’t like the scorching sun – it gets too hot and the soil dries up completely. So, make sure to place your spider plant outdoors in a shaded area with moderate light.

As for indoor spider plants, place your plant in a place that has access to bright, indirect or filtered light. It will grow happily without forming any brown tips. Overexposure to direct sun will burn your plant’s leaves, and baby spider plants, and cause brown tips! Keep your mother plant happy to keep those pups happy too.

Low Humidity Levels

Spider plants need high humidity levels to thrive and blossom. In low humidity, spider plants will dry out and they’ll acquire brown tips. So, during the winter season, make sure to place your indoor spider plant in a room with high humidity.

During the summer season, you can keep the humidity level high by timely watering, grouping it with other houseplants, or using a humidity tray. This will help you maintain a healthy spider plant.

Diseases

If your spider plant leaves turn black, it’s a sure sign of bacterial leaf blight or root rot. Leaf spot starts outs as light spots on the leaf tips, which slowly turn brown and then black. Bacterial leaf spot is often the result of overly hot and humid conditions. Root rot causes leaf collapse, and sometimes a mushy plant base.

To prevent the spread of these diseases, avoid overhead watering and remove all affected leaves and damaged foliage. If these diseases start affecting the stems, then you will sadly need to dispose of your plant as it will die, and could infect other houseplants in your garden.

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Should I cut off the brown tips on my spider plant?

A: You can easily cut the brown tips with sharp scissors without hurting the plant.

Q: How do you fix brown tips on spider plants?

A: There are multiple reasons plants develop brown tips on your plants, so figure out the cause before trying to solve the problem.

Q: How often should you water a spider plant?

A: Water every week or so, or when the soil is dry up to your second knuckle.

Q: Does spider plant need direct sunlight?

A: Instead of bright direct sunlight, give your plant bright indirect light. Too much direct sunlight will burn the plant.

Q: Do spider plants like to be misted?

A: They do appreciate higher humidity in the form of a daily misting or plant humidifier. Use distilled water as opposed to tap water in low humidity environments.

Q: How do you perk up a spider plant?

A: Give it proper watering, and remediate any pest or disease issues and your spider plant will perk up.

Q: What does an overwatered spider plant look like?

A: Look for chlorotic, faded leaves that sometimes turn yellow or brown. This is a sign you’re overwatering, and certain plants are highly susceptible to this condition.

Q: Do spider plants like coffee grounds?

A: While this is often touted as a good way to fertilize your plant, it could burn the spider plant roots. Therefore, stick to plant formulated fertilizers.

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