Brown Leaves On Houseplants: Caring For Houseplants With Brown Leaves

Potted Houseplant With Brown-Yellow Leaves
(Image credit: Yelena Khayrullina)

Houseplants are a fabulous thing to have around. They brighten the room, purify the air, and can even provide a little bit of company. That’s why it can be so distressing to find that your houseplant leaves are turning brown. Keep reading to learn more about why houseplants turn brown and what to do if you have houseplants with brown leaves.

Reasons for Brown Leaves on Houseplants

Houseplants are special because they’re kept in an unnatural environment. They depend upon you for everything nature would normally give them and they let you know when you slip up. Brown leaves on indoor plants almost always means that the plants are getting too much or too little of something important. Light – One very common problem with indoor plants is a lack of light. If your plant isn’t getting enough light, its leaves will start to turn brown. If the brown leaves are on the side of the plant facing away from the light source, you can be pretty sure this is the problem. Water – Too little water is another frequent reason for brown leaves on indoor plants. In this case, the browning and curling usually starts at the base of the plant and moves up. Humidity – Lack of humidity is another common problem, and one people don’t usually think of. Tropical plants, especially, need more humidity than a home is likely to give them. This usually causes the leaves to brown just at the tips. Try misting your plant with water or setting the pot in a dish of small stones and water. Heat – Too much heat can also be a problem and tends to lead to leaves that brown, curl, and fall off. This problem tends to come with too little water or too much sun, so try making those changes first. You can also move the plant to a spot where it receives better air circulation.

Caring for Houseplants with Brown Leaves

So what do you do when leaves on houseplant turn brown? Simple. In most cases, pinpointing the cause and remedying it will correct the issue. In the meantime, you can cut away the brown foliage and discard it. Once the causal agent has been fixed, new healthier foliage should begin to take its place.

Liz Baessler
Senior Editor

The only child of a horticulturist and an English teacher, Liz Baessler was destined to become a gardening editor. She has been with Gardening Know how since 2015, and a Senior Editor since 2020. She holds a BA in English from Brandeis University and an MA in English from the University of Geneva, Switzerland. After years of gardening in containers and community garden plots, she finally has a backyard of her own, which she is systematically filling with vegetables and flowers.