Also called Chlorophytum comosum, spider plants are one of the most common houseplants. They are excellent and beautiful additions to your house, especially in hanging baskets because of their arching stems and long ribbon-like foliage that spill over the baskets’ edges.
All their beauty can, however, be compromised by the occurrence of brown tips, which may also be a cause of concern for you.
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What Causes Brown Tips On Spider Plants?
1. Water stress
One of the major reasons that your spider plant is getting brown tips is either because of too much water or too little water. While the soil in which you have your spider plant should be allowed to slightly dry out between irrigations, letting it dry completely will cause brown tips.
Some of the reasons your spider plant is not getting enough water may include;
Improve the soil quality by adding in some organic material like manure or mulch.
In the case of under watering, the plant will slowly start to dry out, causing the brown tips, and in the case of overwatering, the plant will develop root rot, which restricts the nutrient and water flow to the other parts of the plant.
If your plant is browning because of overwatering and you notice that the root rot has not spread that much, you can try removing the affected roots and replant them. However, if the damage is too much, you might have to throw the plant away.
2. Water quality
The quality of the water your plant receives matters just as much as the quantity. Tap water, especially treated, contains minerals like fluoride and chlorine, which over time may accumulate in your plant’s system.
The chemicals affect the plant's natural process of photosynthesis and even cause damage to a lot of its tissues, harming its health.
While it’s important to have your spider plant in well-fertilized soil, over-fertilizing could be the reason you lose your plant. Too much fertilizer causes high salt contents in the soil, damaging your plant’s roots and causing toxicity.
4. Sun exposure
While the sun may good for photosynthesis, spider plants don't love too much direct sunlight because it may cause sun scalds, or sunburns to your plant, causing the tips to brown. But why does it only burn the tips, you may wonder?
Well, since the plant has blade-like leaves, condensation happens at night along the tips after a long sunny day. When you expose your plant to direct sunlight, those water droplets at the tips will act as a magnifying glass and burn the tips!
Also, too much sunlight will increase the rate at which water evaporates from the soil and cause your plant to have water stress.
5. Low humidity levels
Spider plants require a lot of humidity to grow healthy and strong, which is one of the reasons why they are great for your bathroom. Low humidity levels increase the rate at which water evaporates from the leaves, causing water stress.
6. Diseases and pests
Bacterial leaf blight is one of the major diseases you have to watch out for if you have a spider plant. It begins as little brown spots on the leaf tips, which eventually turn black. It is usually a result of very hot conditions.
If you notice that the leaf blight is minimal and there are only a few spots, consider plucking the affected leaf and avoid overhead watering. However, if it has spread to the stem, it sadly means there may be no hope for your spider plant.
Also, some pests like aphids may attack your plant and suck up the juice from it, causing it to brown at the leaf tip.
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How To Avoid And Eliminate Brown Tips From Your Spider Plant
Prevention is better than cure, and now that you know what causes your spider plant to have brown leaf tips, it’s important to know how to avoid that problem and deal with it at its early stages.
1. Flush the soil
If you suspect that your spider plant is browning because of fluoride in the water or salt build-up due to fertilizer, flush the soil you have it planted in if you have it in a pot. To do that, you need distilled or rainwater and ensure that the container has an outlet.
Pour the distilled or rainwater into the container and let the excess water drain out through the outlet. Let it drain out completely and repeat that a couple of times to ensure that most of the chemical contents are eliminated.
If you have your plant outside in the garden, you can replant it in fresh soil without any chemicals.
2. Change your fertilizing schedule
After flushing the soil and removing all the excess salt build-up, fertilize your plant once after every three months, and use a balanced, diluted, and water-soluble fertilizer.
3. Shade your plant
If you have your plant out in the garden, ensure that you have it in a shaded area, either under other tall trees or under the extended roof of your house. If your plant is indoors, have it next to a window that receives indirect morning sun but not evening sun because it tends to be hotter.
Also, ensure you rotate your in-door plant often to avoid one side getting too much heat than the other.
4. Beef up the humidity
To keep the surrounding of your spider plant humid, avoid having it near any heat sources like the fireplace or air conditioner. Also, don't have it near the fan.
You can try using a humidifier or have it around other house plants, especially during the summer and winter seasons when the humidity is low.
5. Change your watering techniques
Instead of using tap water, use distilled or rainwater for your plant to eliminate any fluoride or chlorine build-up. If you cannot access distilled or rainwater, you can use a water filtration system to rid the water of any chemicals and minerals. You should also ensure that you water your plant only when necessary.
But how do you know when to water your plant? You need to dip a finger into the soil where you have your spider plant, and if the first two inches of your finger are dry, it's time to water it. Also, avoid having your plant near a fan or any heat source, as that will fasten evaporation.
Also, avoid overhead watering, as that could be one of the reasons why your plant is suffering from bacterial leaf blight.
It is also important to maintain a watering schedule because it keeps you from overwatering your plant or leaving it to over-dry between the irrigations.
If it accidentally dries too much, you can try water-soaking your plant.
6. Use appropriate pots
Ensure that the container you use is appropriate for your plant’s size to avoid messing up its root system. As it grows bigger, move it to bigger containers and ensure they all have holes that let out excess water to prevent root rot.
7. Prune your plant
If you notice that the browning has only occurred at a small portion of the leaves, trim that out, maintaining the original shale of the leaf. That will help prevent the spread of the problem to the rest of the plant.
Pruning and trimming the plant also improves the circulation of air and nutrients to all parts of the plant.
Spider plants are not very hard to take care of. All you have to do is keep a close eye on it and its environment.