Stuff NZ Newspapers


Brown or wilting leaves are often a sign of too much or not enough moisture. Browning leaves, just like yellow leaves, are a sign of stress. One very common issue is that your plants have received too much sun, even to the point of being sunburned. Lack of humidity can also cause the browning of leaves, especially when heaters and heat pumps fill houses with dry, warm air. Plants particularly prone to browning in dry air are ferns, like the maidenhair fern. Likewise, if you place your plants on a windowsill in winter, the cool air that radiates from the glass can turn leaves brown. Here are some other common symptoms and their probable causes. • BROWNING OF LEAF TIPS OR EDGES Browning of leaves can be caused by lack of humidity, using the wrong fertiliser or using too much, poor water quality (high chlorine, fluoride, sodium, boron, soluble salt levels), incorrect soil pH, spray damage from insecticides, oil or leaf-glossing materials or even environmental pollutants in the air. • NEW GROWTH IS WILTING OR BURNED This could have a range of potential causes including excess fertiliser (leaching will be needed to save your plant), cold draughts, hot draughts, too dry, too warm, sunburn or freeze damage. If your plant is in the correct position, consider your air conditioning or heating, or if you could be over-fertilising. • ENTIRE PLANT HAS WILTED If the plant is thirsty this will happen and to avoid overwatering, it can be suitable for many indoor plants to let them wilt slightly before giving them a deep drink. If the plant has been watered regularly you may have overdone it and the plant could be suffering root rot. Otherwise, over-fertilising and exposure to cold temperatures can also cause this problem. • STUNTED PLANTS Stunted plants are a result of root damage by either excess fertiliser or too little or too much water.