Questions & Answers

Brown Tips on Houseplants Leaves – A Reason Why!

While running some errands recently, I noticed a Chlorophytum – “spider plant” in a hanging basket.

It seemed great from a distance. Lots of leaves and hanging “pups.” Looking closer I noticed on the leaves a lot of brown tips.

Why Brown Tips on Plants?

Growers don’t seem to have the same problem with brown leaf tips while growing the plants.

What is different from the growing end and moving indoors?

Sure, the plant moves indoors, with some stress caused by reduced lighting (using additional indoor lighting aids) and acclimatizing the plant. Yet, one solution might not seem so simple.

What is it? – Water

Water is water – right?

It’s not that easy. Let’s look at the variations in the water that a grower uses and the water that most people use at home on their crops.

Growers Water

Most growers (producing indoor houseplants) have wells with electric or diesel pumps. The pumps draw water directly from the ground or soil.

Unlike the water that is found in most cities, this water hasn’t been treated by the local water treatment plant.

Many farmers start collecting and “cleaning” water before they use it on their crops.

I didn’t say add chemicals but clean the water. They are doing this through REVERSE OSMOSIS.

Water is pumped through a screen that is fine enough to allow water molecules to pass, but stops dissolved solids, such as salts (fertilizer) and other chemicals.

This “clean” water helps growers produce plants that have less problems with disease and they have cleaner foliage.

Homeowner or City Water

Tap water or city water is different. The water that comes out of your kitchen faucet has most likely been treated.

Years ago cities began to add chlorine and fluoride to the water supply. Fluoride may be fine for your teeth but many indoor plants are not fond of it.

Lynn Griffith from A & L Labs states:

“Fluoridated city water usually has 1 ppm (parts per million) of fluoride, four times the amount considered safe for sensitive plants.”

Don’t get the idea that if you water your plants with water from the kitchen they are going to die. What does this have to do with brown tips on your plants anyway?

Over time some of these minor chemicals such as boron and fluoride build up in the leaves.

This buildup shows itself in the form of brown leaves on plants or tip burn on Dracaenas, and spider plants. Spathiphyllums – the Peace Lily plant show distorted or yellow leaves with high boron.

There are other reasons for brown tips on indoor plants:

  • Plant pests such as spider mites and other pests
  • Too much fertilizer
  • Too much water leading to plant root rot
  • Not enough water
  • Chemical burn
  • Plant diseases such as powdery mildew, bacterial leaf spot, and fungal diseases.
  • Too much of direct sunlight
  • Bad air circulation
  • Not having enough nutrients (calcium deficiency, magnesium deficiency, iron deficiency, phosphorus deficiency

It’s a great way to start using good water on your plants.

How Can You Get Good Water?

The easiest way to help you get “good” or “better” water for your plants is by filling a container out of the sink with water and letting it sit overnight. This will at least allow the dissipation of chlorine.

Many people use distilled water because it lacks the chemicals found in tap water.

Professional plantscapers must deal with using and moving water around all the time. Some of them have no problems and others it’s a battle.

If you face browning tips on your plants, try setting out some water the night before you water.

Helping to stop the potential headache of brown spots caused by chlorine and fluoride is just another way to make your plants more enjoyable.

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