WHY DO I HAVE BROWN TIPS ON MY SPATHIPHYLLUM?

We have received this question a lot lately, so let's dig in and see if we can give you some answers. Or more questions.

First, there are many reasons that the tips may be turning brown. The plant can be over-watered, under-watered, have too much heat, have too much fertilizer, or any combination of these factors and others. Then we throw into the mix all of the different varieties and its gets very confusing on why you get brown tips.

Today, there are we many varieties of Spathiphyllum grown. Some are grown primarily for the abundance of flowers they produce and flowers come at some expense. The cost is that the nutrients that are going to the flowers are not going to the plant. These plants usually have a lot of foliage, and may require more water to support the foliage. You may notice lighter colored leaves and if these plants are allowed to dry out too much you can get browning tips.

The older leaves are on the bottom. Is this where the brown tips are occurring? If so, these leaves are not "pulling" food the same way that new rapidly growing leaves do. Your brown tips and leaf loss in that case may be natural.

What about varieties that are not grown for flowers like Lynise, Supreme and Sensation. These plants are usually grown in 10 inch and larger pots and may present you the same problem in looks, but for a different cause.

In the nursery these plants are watered and fertilized on a regular basis. They may be watered every day or every other day. All of a sudden the plant is shipped to a nursery or garden center and it isn't receiving the same treatment.

They may get less water and the fertilizers (salts) which are in the pot are getting higher because of the reduced moisture and can be burning the roots.

Speaking of under-watering, there are two ways (and probably more) to do this. The first is just not watering the plant enough and allowing the plant to wilt down before watering. A little droop may be OK, but not laying on the ground. I will admit this is rarely the case with house owners.

The second method is what I'll term "fake watering". We think we water but we really don't. This occurs when the soil has dried out, the soil may even be pulling away from the pot and the plant is re-watered. The water is going to take the path of least resistance and heads to the bottom of the pot. The soil may become moist in areas but the root ball or soil mass doesn't become sufficiently moist. It may be moist enough to let the plant perk up but the soil is still too dry. Again, this can be salts or the plant protecting itself by reducing the amount of foliage it needs to support. Result - Brown tips.

Water slowly and not in one small area.

Over-watering can cause brown tips also. The root system is just not able to use all the water you provide. The roots may be swimming in water and rot off. Less roots means less leaves, and the plant will usually begin by losing the oldest leaves first.

Too much heat is another possibility. You may be asking yourself how can I have too much heat, it's 72 degrees in the house. That may be true but a plant sitting next to the window can be heating up more than you realize. We all have hot and cold spots indoors.

Why do I have brown tips on my Spathphyllum? There are many reasons!!!

Plants are great communicators and they really re-act in ways that we can understand if we stop and look at the situation. Plants may not tell us what is wrong BUT they do tell us to LOOK something is wrong.

When you're looking for answers to WHY, on your plants, ask some questions. I find many times that it is the little things that we may not pay attention to that have caused the problems.

Did anything change in the environment?
Something as simple as - Yes we opened the house up after a long winter to air things out. The temperature was still a little cool but a light sweater was all I needed. Did the plants get a sweater?

Is the plant actively growing? Putting out new leaves with good color.

ALL valid questions.

Don't assume that because you have some brown tips that your plant may need to be repotted or need fertilizer. It may be just the opposite.