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Brown leaf tips: What are the causes in houseplants and can you just cut them off?

Just when you thought you actually had a green thumb because your houseplants are thriving so beautifully, you realize: the plant has brown tips. Now you’re probably wondering if you’ve done something wrong, and if so, if there’s anything you can do. We summarize what may be the causes of brown leaf tips on palms and what you can do about it.

Brown leaf tips – cause of the dry tips.

Brown leaf tips on houseplants - causes and solution

“Why does my plant have brown tips?” The fact that the dry tips appeared during the cold winter season, of all times, is not a surprise. However, it has nothing to do with the cold. Rather, the dry heating air is the cause of brown leaf tips. The heating reduces the humidity, but the plants need it. The result: the plant gets brown leaf tips. So if you notice brown leaf tips, this could be a sign that you should increase the humidity.

Why do plants get brown leaf tips - drought, waterlogging or frost

Why do houseplants get brown leaf tips in the summer?

But it’s not just winter that can cause dry tips on leaves. Summer can also be dry and often cause this problem, especially with palms. But why do palm trees get brown leaf tips? It’s simply due to the climatic conditions of their native countries. In tropical areas, despite the summer heat, the air is very high, so they are among the plants that need quite a lot of moisture. In our latitudes, on the contrary, this is not given. For this reason, the tips of the leaves can also dry up.

Cut and prevent brown leaf tips - monocot, monstera, calathea

How high should the humidity be to avoid brown tips on the leaves?

A humidity level of 50 to 70 percent is optimal for plants to avoid brown leaf tips on green plants. To achieve this, you need to do something about it, because our climate does not always provide such humidity to the air, especially if we talk about indoor. What can you do to humidify the air?

The monocot is a moisture-loving plant


What to do about dried up leaf tips?

Humidify the air or plants

Spray indoor plants with water in winter

Something you can do right away is to spray the plant. Then, make it a routine and continue to moisturize the leaves regularly this way. It is best to use boiled water for this, but let it cool first. Daily spraying is a wonderful idea in winter to combat dry heating air. In this case, it is even recommended not to turn off the heating. This is because by adding heat, you create a climate similar to what tropical plants are used to.

Care tips for tropical palms - Sufficient moisture against dry heating air


If you don’t have the time or like to forget to regularly humidify your houseplants against brown leaf tips, you can also place a humidifier near the plants instead. Alternatively, a few small bowls with water are also suitable. This water evaporates and increases the humidity in this way.

In succulents, brown tips mean waterlogging and too low temperatures

Note: Drought is not always the cause when leaf tips turn brown. With succulents, for example, this could be a result of too much moisture and low temperatures. So in this case, do not increase the humidity at all, but change the location: dry, bright and warm. The leaves of the orchid also turn brown when waterlogged. In garden plants, in turn, dry tips may indicate frost damage, among other things.

Cut off brown tips of leaves

Dry tips of the leaves at low humidity

Even if you have now optimized the needs and provide your plants with the right amount of moisture, the brown tips on the leaves may bother you visually. Are you wondering if you can cut off brown tips on leaves? In fact, you may take this step, but there are a few things you should keep in mind when doing so:

  • The withered areas that you want to cut off should not be too extensive.
  • Cut off only the most necessary! The more you cut, the larger the wounds that the plant will have to heal afterwards. And that costs it a lot of strength.
  • Nevertheless, leave a narrow, brown edge when cutting. If you cut directly into the greenery, you will cause new wounds, where brown edges can form again.

Is it allowed to cut off brown leaf tips - Important tips and steps

  • Instead of cutting straight off the top, you can try to mimic the natural leaf shape so that the cut is not so noticeable afterwards.
  • Use proper scissors when cutting brown leaf tips! These should be sharp so as not to cause unnecessary injury.
  • Above all, clean and disinfect the scissors so as not to transmit diseases. Alcohol works well.
  • If you cut the tips on several plants, disinfect again after each plant.

Brown leaf tips on houseplants – Which plants are prone to this?

Brown leaf tips on palms due to lack of humidity

As mentioned earlier, palm species in particular tend to get brown leaf tips. But other species can also suffer from drought or other problems. The following plants are often affected and should therefore be provided with sufficient moisture:

  • Avocado
  • Calathea
  • Dragon tree
  • Monocot
  • Ficus
  • Green lily
  • Cherry laurel gets brown leaf tips when damaged by frost
  • Monstera
  • Oleander
  • Olive tree