Brow leaf tips and brown new growth

alocasia_nanc(5 - chicago)September 17, 2011

On my otherwise healthy plants i have been noticing that the leaf tips are turning brown. and some of the new growth is turning brown before it can mature. It is happening in my peace lily, zebra plant, Scindapsus pictus (silver philo), and my pothos. i only water once a week and have only fertilized once (miracle grow bloom booster watered down). any ideas?


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Hi Alocasia. Do you test soil before watering? You said you water once a week. Plants shouldn't be watered by schedule.
Some soil might dry out fast therefore need water more than once a week and visa-versa.
It's actually worse watering when soil is already wet, even though over-watering doesn't cause brown leaf tips, but it does cause other problems.

It's possible you're underwatering, using soil that dries super-quick, the air is too dry or using water straight from the tap without waiting 24 hours. Four reasons leaf tips brown.

Is the brown spreading towards the center or other parts of leaves?

Do any of the reasons I listed sound familar?

One other thing. If the air is dry, please mist daily. Keep a sprayer nearby plants, 'leave water in the sparyer so it's room temp,' and spray away.
I'm not saying your plants will stop browning, but it will surely help.

Did you check for insects like Mealy Bug? I doubt this is the problem, but plants should be inspected as a precaution. Insects suck sap, and mar/discolor leaves. Toni

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 3:45PM
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alocasia_nanc(5 - chicago)

it could be that i am not letting the water set 24 hours before i water. i generally use it right out of the tap.

the brow is pretty localized to the tips of the leaves and flowers. and i am spray crazy and mist almost every day.

i will pick up a moisture meter from work on monday and start using that.

i did move my peace lily and silver philo closer to the window as they were the two most affected and not near a window, so we shall see if that helps.

off topic but you will probably know...
what does sun burn/damage look like in a plant. because my alocasia x has one leave that is a ugly yellow/green/brown bruise color. and it started turning after my DH decided to "sun" my poor plants.

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 6:05PM
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tapla (mid-MI z5b-6a)

One of the most common causes of necrotic (dead) leaf tips and margins is over-watering. The mechanism by which this occurs arises from the fact that soggy soil reduces the oxygen essential to root function and metabolism, so roots are not efficient enough to move water to the plant's most distal parts - leaf tips and margins.

The TWO most common causes of poor foliage are over-watering and a high level of solubles (salts from fertilizer and tap water) in the soil. Both of these maladies are exacerbated by heavy soils that are watered in sips to prevent root rot.

Sunburn shows up as grey or silver areas on the foliage as the chlorophyll is bleached (oxidized) by the same free oxygen radicals found in hydrogen peroxide, also a powerful bleach/oxidizer. Following the short period of gray/silver blotches, foliage will turn brown, or sometimes black in plants with succulent foliage. 'Red' isn't in the realm of possibility because these oxidants would destroy the pigments that cause red coloration in plants.

I use soils that require very frequent watering - usually daily in the summer months, and I can't remember the last time I had a plant with poor looking foliage. Fast soils allow me to water copiously and flush accumulating salts from the soil each time I water w/o any concern about root rot or suppressing root function because of soggy soil. I can also fertilize frequently at reduced rates with no worries about the level of soluble salts in the soil interfering with water and nutrient uptake.

I wouldn't put much faith in the idea that letting your water rest for 24 hours is going to play a significant role in correcting your foliage issues - it won't. It's possible that chlorine (an element necessary for normal plant growth) and fluoride might be marginally contributory to your issues, but the fluoride in drinking water isn't volatile (doesn't dissipate) and nearly all municipal water suppliers are using a non-volatile form of chlorine as well. Almost all causes spoiled foliage issues can be found within the triangle formed by soil choice, watering habits, and nutrition. Unless your plants are next to a heat source (register/radiator, under hot lights, on top of a TV .....), most other cultural conditions like low humidity, chlorine, fluoride .... will be marginally contributory.

Most growers take a giant step forward in their ability to produce consistently healthy plants with the least amount of effort once they've come to understand the importance of soil choice to their success. Getting your plants into a healthy, fast draining soil that holds little or no excess water provides a foundation you can build strong plants on. Heavy soils that support excess volumes of water are inherently wrought with issues that find you fighting the soil constantly instead of letting the soil work FOR you. More on that if you wish.

I would abandon the use of any fertilizer for plants in containers that have the middle number (phosphorous) higher than either the first or third numbers (nitrogen and potassium respectively). No plant uses more P than either N or K, so it makes no sense to supply it in excess because an excess is limiting. When all the calculations are done, fertilizers in the 3:1:2 RATIO (RATIO is different than NPK %s) come closest to providing nutrients in the ratio plants actually use. This is very important when growing plants with temperamental foliage because it allows you to supply nutrients at the lowest level possible w/o nutritional deficiencies. LOW levels of soluble salts in the soil greatly increase your chances of producing plants with healthy leaves. Questions?


    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 8:06PM
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jean001a(Portland OR 7b)

Any chance of pictures?

Here's how to post them

Here is a link that might be useful: how to post images

    Bookmark   September 17, 2011 at 11:44PM
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Hello Alocasia...What a day! Looks like a grey, winter day..5 days before autumn is officially here. :)

When you mist, avoid buds and flowers. You can spray around them, but don't make contact. Water, with or without chemicals will discolor,'brown' flowers. They fade faster, too.

Sunburn bleaches leaves. My Spider, 'kept indoors,' was placed in a sunny west window this summer. It was meant to be temporary, but w/indoor and outoor gardening, I forgot to place in it's regular spot. Its leaves turned grey, dull-colored and lifeless.
One summer, I've set a Cactus, 'sun-lover' in front, facing west during mid-day sun without acclimating. A bad idea. The following day, the entire plant was red. lol.

Which direction window did you put your Peace Lily in? Toni

    Bookmark   September 18, 2011 at 1:57PM
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