The hidden messages behind yellow and brown leaves

Yellow or brown tips on a plant - does this picture look familiar to you? Most likely, yes. Yellow and brown leaves are one of the most common problems that gardeners face. However, there are so many reasons for this issue that it is almost impossible to sort things out without additional help. 
So let’s consider the reasons why yellow and brown leaves may appear.

#1 Natural aging

Like all living things, the leaves of your plant have a lifespan. The lower leaves turn yellow and die off. If you notice this from time to time in your plant, it's nothing to worry about. It is a natural process and your plant is perfectly healthy. 
If you are bothered by old yellowing leaves, you can cut them off gently with a sharp, sterile tool.

#2 Dry indoor air

Most houseplants come from the tropics. And the tropics have warm and humid air. So, for many plants, too dry air is destructive.
Note: It's important to note that increasing humidity is not watering your plants more often. Overwatering can lead to root diseases and create favorable conditions for the development of fungal diseases.

To increase the humidity, you can:
  • Spray your plants more often.
  • Place a humidifier nearby. By the way, this is not only good for the plants, but also for you and your loved ones.
  • Place the plant on a tray of moist moss, pebbles or expanded clay. This way, you will increase the moisture only around your plant.

#3 Watering with the wrong water

While tap water is a common choice for watering plants, some species may be sensitive to its quality. Brown or yellow spots on plants may indicate a negative reaction to poor water conditions.
Proof that the water is not suitable for watering is a white coating on the surface of the soil. 
To fix the situation, proceed as follows: 
  • Remove the top layer of soil and replace it with new, plant-appropriate soil.
  • Ask the AI-Assistant which water is suitable for your plant.
  • Avoid watering with the tap water and only use water that is suitable for the plant.

#4 Insufficient or excessive watering

The reason why underwatering and overwatering are mentioned together is because both lead to the roots not receiving enough moisture. While it's clear how roots can lack moisture from underwatering, the question remains - why does overwatering also result in insufficient moisture for plants?

It's simple. For the roots to absorb the right amount of water for the plant, oxygen is a must. Overwatering can deprive the roots of oxygen, hindering the proper penetration of moisture. That's why it's crucial to water your plants with the right amount of water they need. You can calculate the perfect amount of water for your plant by using our Watering Calculator.

Also, take care of the following:
  • Analyze the quality of your drainage and drainage holes. Drainage holes should be of a size that holds the right amount and drains away unnecessary water.
  • Don't forget to water your plants on time. You can set a Care Task on watering for this purpose. Or, you can buy an automatic waterer for your plants.
  • Buy a soil moisture meter. Use the device every time before watering to see how much water your plant needs.

#5 Plant damage by pests

Pests are a more serious cause than those described above. If you notice pests on your plant, you need to take immediate actions. Doing nothing can not only kill an infested plant but also infect healthy ones!

You need to take a holistic approach to pest management:
  • First, immediately isolate the diseased plant from other plants;
  • Wash the leaves with a soapy solution;
  • Increase humidity in the air;
  • Use insecticides to get rid of pests;
  • Transplant the plant into fresh, uninfested soil by treating and disinfecting the container beforehand.

#6 Inadequate lighting

Improper spots can also cause discoloration of the leaf tips. Both a lack of light and too much light can cause such symptoms.

If you're unsure whether your plants are getting the right amount of light, use a Light Meter to be sure.
If it appears that your plant is being burned by the sun's rays, move it to a more shaded location.
And if your plant does not get enough light and you can't find a brighter spot - you have to think about purchasing artificial lighting. 

#7 Cold or draughts

Many plants can tolerate low temperatures, but few plants like sudden changes in temperatures and draughts. As a result, slightly yellowish spots appear on the leaves, which turn pale until they become translucent.
The source of draughts and cold air currents can be not only an open window, but also a running air conditioner or fan. When airing out a room, be sure to remove any containers with plants and avoid placing them directly under an air conditioner or fan. This will help prevent any damage to your plants from excessive cold or draughts.

#8 Improper feeding

Some plant owners mistakenly believe that the more nutrients, the better. But this is wrong in the crust! It can be the cause of yellow and brown spots on the leaves and sometimes even on the stems.
But, it can also be a signal of a nutrient deficiency as well. 
To determine deficiency or excess, look at the soil. If there is an excess, as with hard water, there may be a buildup on the soil which will need to be removed, suitable soil added, and the fertilizer regimen adjusted.

Here are the 8 main reasons why leaves turn yellow or brown. If you notice a change in the color of your plant's leaves, don't panic right away - it's probably normal or an easy fix. 
And to be sure of what's going on with your plants and to treat them before it's too late, use the Plant Doctor feature. And remember - PLNT is always here to help!