What Causes House Plant Leaf Ends to Die?


Houseplants are a special addition to every home. They not only add aesthetic appeal, but they also increase air quality and add ambiance. Houseplants are also relatively low-maintenance. Remember to water them occasionally and place them in the correct light, and most will flourish. However, there are a few tell-tale signs that a houseplant is in distress, and one of them is dead leaf ends. In addition to treating the overall cause of dead leaf ends or brown dry spots throughout the plant, you can remove the affected foliage. For a long-term solution, however, it is necessary to find the underlying problem.

Water Quality

  • One of the most common reasons for dead leaf ends in houseplants is additives such as fluoride, chlorine and salt in tap water. The amount of chemicals used to treat water may be safe for human consumption, but it is generally extremely toxic to houseplants. Common houseplants that suffer most from poor water quality include spider plants, bamboo and golden pothos. To prevent spotting and dead ends on plants due to poor water quality, allow houseplant water to sit overnight to allow some of the additives to evaporate. Using filtered water or reserved rain water will also help.

Soluble Salts

  • Soluble salts are also a derivative of poor water quality. However, when the water evaporates the salts remain in the soil. Over time these salts begin to build up. In addition to brown leaf ends, houseplants suffering from excessive salt will lose leaves or show signs of reduced growth. According to the Texas Master Gardener Handbook, compiled by Texas A&M University, plants may also form a salt crust on top of the soil or around the outside of clay pots. Address this issue by watering correctly. Do not regularly allow houseplants to sit in excess water. In addition, leach the plant every 4 to 6 months.

Air Quality

  • Dry air is another cause of brown leaf ends. According to John Begeman in the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences at the University of Arizona, dry air in places like Arizona is problematic for tropical plants such as anthirium, philodendron, schefflera and other leafy plants. But it is not just arid regions of the United States that are prey to dry air. Dry heat during the winter months can also take its toll on houseplants. Remedy this by using a humidifier in or around houseplants.

Too Much Heat

  • The dead leaf ends on houseplants often appear to be burnt. And sometimes this is the case. Houseplants with low sun exposure tolerance that are placed against a sunny window will begin to show burnt or dead leaf ends. Check the sun requirements for each particular plant and move the accordingly. A low-sun houseplant does not have to be bustled into a dark corner; just moving it a few inches away from the window may make a world of difference.


  • Fungi generally do not directly cause the leaf ends to die. However, they will cause the leaf ends to turn brown and appear spotted or dead in places. Fungi form along the roots of houseplants that are left in standing water. This is another reason to ensure that houseplants have proper drainage and that excess water is removed.

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  • Photo Credit Photo by Leah Deitz
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