Brown leaves on plants: what do they mean?

The leaves can convey many messages about the health of the plant. They are the most vulnerable to unfavorable conditions, and therefore the first to react when something is missing or excess.

Therefore, it is important to know why brown leaves appear on plants , so that we can find out what we can do so that the problem does not get worse.

There are many reasons why a plant can end up with brown leaves. Knowing the causes is important, since this way you will know what to do to correct the problem and, also, to prevent it from happening again:

Old age

The leaves, even those of evergreen plants, are renewed from time to time. This is a natural process that will always start with the lowest leaves , which are the ones that have been on the plant the longest.

Of course, this cause should not worry us at all. Depending on the species, it will take more or less for them to turn brown and fall. For example, those of cold-climate conifers, such as Pinus longaeva , can remain green for years; but those of the Brachychiton populneus only live a few months.


Deciduous trees lose their leaves

Deciduous or semi-deciduous plants are those whose leaves turn brown at some time of the year (it can be in autumn-winter in temperate regions, or shortly before or after the start of the dry season in tropical and subtropical regions), and then fall. This is a survival strategy that we should not give too much importance to , as it is natural.

Lack of water

When a plant is suffering from a lack of water, the leaves will begin to turn brown from the newest to the oldest leaves, from the tip inward.

To recover it, it will be enough to water a lot , until the water comes out through the drainage holes or until the earth is well soaked, for which if it is in a pot, what will be done is to put it in a basin with water and leave it for about 30 minutes.

The soil does not hold water

If we irrigate but the water we see that it is difficult for it to filter, that it is difficult for it to penetrate the ground or that it goes towards the edges instead of going inwards, then it is that the earth is so dry that it is unable to retain the water, or that the mixture we have used is not correct.

Therefore, if we have the potted plant we have to take it and put it in a basin with water ; On the other hand, if it is planted in the garden, it is highly recommended to make a tree grate (a kind of low barrier around it with earth that will prevent the water from being lost).

The roots have problems

The root system needs to be in a soil that allows it to have a good development. But when it is not like that, that is, when the ground is too compact or too wet, they can be damaged. We can know this if the leaves turn yellow or if they fall off, and if growth stops. To avoid losing it, we can do several things:

  • Potted plant : we will take it out and wrap the earth bread with absorbent paper for 24 hours. If the next day it is still wet, we will remove the paper and put a new one on it one more day. Afterwards, we plant it back in the pot and don’t water for 2-3 days.
  • Plant in the garden : the ideal is not to water until the soil is dry. It can also help to prune it a bit to reduce its water needs.


… In outdoor plants

There are plants that want sun, others shade, and then there are others that prefer to be in an area where the star king only gives them a few hours. But even the former, although they are genetically prepared to withstand the impact of the sun’s rays, have to acclimatize before.

Bearing this in mind, even if you buy a cactus for example, or any other plant that wants sun, if in the nursery they had it in shade you have to get used to it little by little ; that is, you have to expose it for one or two hours every day to the sun, early in the morning. Increase the exposure time gradually, from week to week.

… In indoor plants

Although it may not seem like it, indoor plants can also get sunburned. This occurs when they are placed next to a window, since what is known as the magnifying glass effect occurs, destroying the cells of the most exposed part of the leaf, causing it to turn brown.

For this reason, you have to find a room where there is clarity, but always trying to avoid placing them right in front of the window .

Pests or diseases

Sometimes, especially when a plant is being affected by some fungal disease, the leaves can turn brown. Therefore, it does not hurt to check them from time to time , because that way we can see if there are any insects that are harming them, or if they may have an infection.

The most common pests are: spider mites, mealybugs, whiteflies and thrips. All of them can be treated with ecological insecticides, such as diatomaceous earth or potassium soap.

As for diseases, the ones that most often have are: powdery mildew , mildew , fusarium and anthracnose . As they are caused by fungi, they must be fought with fungicides, being highly recommended those containing copper or sulfur.

The leaves turn brown for some reason

Has it been useful to you?

Brown leaves on plants: what do they mean?

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