Spider plants are popular houseplants with a reputation of being highly adaptable and resilient. The plant can thrive even in less than perfect conditions and it’s rarely affected by pests or diseases.
Except for brown tips. Why do spider plant tips turn brown? And is it something serious?
It’s quite common for spider plant tips to turn brown. The underlying reason is usually something related to its keeping conditions, which means in most cases, you can remedy the problem by making necessary adjustments in your spider plant care regimen.
In what follows, I’ve created a practical and easy-to-follow guide to determine the cause of spider plant tips turning brown and the remedies you can apply.
Spider Plant Brown Tips – Causes & Remedies
If you notice that your spider plant has developed some brown tips, don’t panic. While the condition isn’t benign, nor aesthetically pleasing, it’s also not as dangerous as you may fear, and by making certain changes and adjustments, you’ll be able to get rid of this issue.
Here’s a quick overview of what may be causing brown tips on your spider plant:
- Direct sunlight
- Watering issues
- Inadequate humidity levels
- Feeding issues
- Water quality issues
As you can see, it all boils down to making sure your spider plant care routine is designed to serve the needs of the plant and that you’re not making mistakes that can undermine all your other plant care efforts.
Here’s what you need to review in your plant care routine to get to the bottom of the problem and fix the issue.
Is Direct Sunlight Causing Browning Tips?
While a little direct sunlight is unlikely to affect the spider plant, too much sun exposure can certainly cause brown spots or browning tips.
To avoid scorching caused by exposure to direct sunlight, choose a location that gets bright indirect light or semi-shade. Both may work well for this plant that’s not demanding when it comes to light conditions.
Check to see if your spider plant is getting too much sun and find a different location for it if it does. Remember that a bit of shade is beneficial to the plant, and that spider plants like a bit of moisture, so pick a location which protects the plant from drying out too quickly.
Once out of direct sunlight, you can get rid of brown tips by either snip off the tips with a sharp pair of scissors or remove the damaged leaves entirely. Give it some time to see if the plant does better in its new location.
Is Over- or Under-Watering Causing Browning Tips?
Both overwatering and not giving the plant enough water can cause browning tips on your spider plant. Take a step back and assess your watering routine — are you giving your spider plant too much or too little water?
Do you wait for the top of the soil to dry out before watering? Are you keeping your spider plant close to a heat source that quickly dries out the soil?
Spider plants enjoy an evenly moist soil. Soggy soil or a constantly dried out soil is going to cause browning tips. Overwatering can also cause root rot, which is an often-fatal condition for your plant.
If you find that you’re overwatering or underwatering your spider plant, make sure you adjust your watering routine to correct the mistakes you’ve been making.
If underwatered, a spider plant will recover if you start watering it more frequently. Overwatered spider plants are a bit more difficult to nurse back to health, especially if the roots are already damaged.
You can try to clean the roots by removing rotten and squishy roots, keeping only the firm, healthy roots, and replant the spider plant in a fresh pot to see if it recovers. Hold off the watering for at least a week.
Is the Lack of Humidity Turning Your Spider Plant Tips Brown?
Spider plants will thrive in moderate humidity. So, when winter comes and the air in our homes dry out increasing the humidity around the plant is a good way to prevent browning tips.
If your home is dry, you can try to relocate the plant to the bathroom or kitchen, where humidity levels are usually higher than in the rest of the house.
Alternatively, you can group plants together to increase humidity, or use a humidity tray or a humidifier.
Increasing humidity around the plant in very dry seasons will help it bounce back to normal health and prevent tips from browning again.
Is Overfertilizing Causing Browning Tips?
Spider plants aren’t high feeders, but minimal fertilizing can help the plant thrive a bit better. Still, keeping fertilizing to a minimum is much better than going overboard.
I fertilize only in spring and summer and even then, only once a month, tops. Sometimes, if my plant is in good shape and otherwise not in need of a boost, I only fertilize every other month, with half-strength fertilizer, and I stay away from fertilizers with a high fluoride and boron content.
An overfertilized spider plant may have both leaf damage and root damage. If the roots are also “burned” by the fertilizer, this will cut off the supply of nutrients to the leaves, essentially leading to the entire plant drying out.
What if you’ve overfertilized your plant? Can you still save it? It depends. If the damage is too extensive, your plant is beyond help.
What you can try is either flush the soil multiple times with water to wash away excess fertilizer or replant your spider plant in a pot with fast-draining soil.
Can Bad Quality Water Cause Browning Leaves?
For spider plants, water quality is also important, not just the quantity. Most of us use tap water to water our houseplants. And that’s fine as long as you aerate the water (let it sit overnight) to allow chlorine to evaporate.
Apart from chemical disinfectants that can cause browning leaves, another chemical that’s added to tap water — fluoride — can also cause the tips of your spider plant to turn brown.
Your tap water may contain added fluoride, or it may be naturally high in fluoride.
Fluoride will not immediately damage your plant, but it can build up over time and cause browning leaf tips.
To find out if your tap water has fluoride in it, you may need to contact your water supplier who can give you a water report, or you can take a sample of your tap water to a local lab for analysis.
If it’s determined that your tap water has a fair amount of fluoride in it (minimal levels are unlikely to cause damage to your plant), you’ll need to look for alternative sources of water for your spider plant.
Rainwater is a good and healthy alternative to tap water, so you may need to collect rainwater.
Another possible solution would be to install a tap water filter in your kitchen. You’ll need one that can remove fluoride and chemical disinfectants.
The reason why fluoride is undesirable in the water for your plants or in the fertilizer you’re using is because it inhibits photosynthesis and causes tissue damage.
While fluoride won’t kill your plant, it will certainly make it look less pleasing aesthetically.
Do Browning Spider Plant Tips Go Away or Do You Need to Cut Them Off?
Once the plant’s leaves turn brown, they don’t revert back to their original color. Not even if the damage is localized at the tips. Therefore, any changes or adjustments you make while caring for this plant will not reflect immediately in already damaged leaves, but it will prevent further browning.
Therefore, already brown leaves can be cut off, pulled out of the plant completely, or brown tips can be snipped off.
Whichever method you use, make sure you use sharp tools and disinfect them all with rubbing alcohol to prevent any cross-contamination and infection to the plant.
To prevent further problems, make sure you’re clear on the growing conditions most beneficial to spider plants and you adjust your plant care regimen to these conditions.
To sum up the above recommendations:
- Don’t overwater or underwater your spider plant
- Make sure your plant is not exposed to prolonged direct sunlight
- Make sure the water you’re using on your spider plants is free of chemical disinfectants and fluoride
- Don’t overfertilize
- Increase humidity around the plant in dry seasons
By understanding the needs of your spider plant and building routines that sustain these needs, you’ll be able to prevent not only brown tips but a host of other issues.
Spider plants are great for beginners because of their adaptability and resilience. As you can see, in most cases, browning tips aren’t a particularly dangerous issue, but it’s important to find the source of the problem as browning tips may be only a first symptom of a much bigger problem.
When trying to figure out what may be wrong with your spider plant and what may be causing brown tips, review your plant care routine by going back to the basics — watering, light, humidity, soil, etc.
By carefully analyzing these parameters, you’ll soon be able to figure out what may be behind your spider plant tips turning brown.