Spider plants have been one of the most popular houseplants for decades. Known for their attractive appearance and ability to withstand a lot of neglect.
However, as with all indoor houseplants, spider plants Chlorophytum comosum (kloh-roh-FY-tum kom-OH-sum) have basic requirements.
These need to need to be met for the plant to remain healthy. Read our article on Chlorophytum Comosum care.
When needs are not met:
- Spider plants may yellow
- Develop brown spots or stripes
- You may start seeing brown tips
Of these, the most permanent damage are brown tips. The damage cannot be reversed, so it’s important to diagnose the cause quickly.
What Causes Brown Tips On Spider Plants?
When you notice brown tips on spider plant leaves, it’s a sign that one of a number of things is potentially wrong with your plant.
The most common causes are chemicals, dehydration, and excessive heat or light.
There are two primary causes of chemical burns in spider plants: water and fertilizer.
It’s best to avoid any form of chlorinated water, such as tap water, as spider plants are very sensitive to this chemical.
Tap water also contains excess fluoride, which can cause serious harm to the plant.
Try using distilled water for plants instead, along with the occasional hydrogen peroxide treatment.
If you must use tap water, pour it and allow it to sit in an open container overnight to allow some of the chemicals to evaporate or use a Zero filter.
Fertilizer is the other big cause of chemical burns.
Your spider plant only needs a small amount of houseplant fertilizer, if any. It’s easy to go overboard or forget to dilute it enough.
Excess fertilizer can kill a plantlet and do serious damage to the mother plant.
Details on Fertilizing Spider Plants here.
This is often seen in spider plant leaves turning brown along the leaf margin and tips.
As a final note, using a diluted water-soluble liquid plant fertilizer works best for most homeowners.
Spider plants find many types of pesticides (including neem oil) very sensitive to certain chemicals found naturally in these products.
Take care to avoid over-fertilizing. Flush the soil occasionally to avoid salt buildup if you aren’t changing it out annually.
Watering spider plants can be a bit of a balancing act. They prefer moist, well-drained soil and need a pot or container with adequate drain holes.
An airplane plant can easily suffer water stress if given too much, which leads to yellow leaves and the risk of root rot.
Meanwhile, too little can result in dried, brown leaves, starting at the tips.
To prevent overwatering your indoor spider plants, make sure you use well-draining potting soil in a container providing proper drainage.
Water when the first 1″ to 2″ inches of soil is dry. This is usually every 2 to 3 weeks if you wish to keep a consistent watering schedule.
Your spider plant can withstand missing a watering here and there, although too much will cause browning tips.
Try to never miss two waterings in a row, and make sure to leave the soil moist when going on a trip so the root ball won’t run out of water.
Excess Heat or Light
Spider plants hail from the temperate woodlands of South Africa, where they enjoy high humidity and are shaded from the sun by taller plants.
It’s not necessary to recreate the humid conditions of its homeland, but you may wish to place a humidity tray nearby if you feel the air might be too dry.
As bathroom plants or in kitchens are both great locations for the common spider plant, as they have a higher humidity level, whereas bedrooms and living rooms often have a lack of humidity.
You can also take your plant outdoors during light rain, as the rainwater is quite healthy for indoor plants.
Meanwhile, direct light conditions can result in leaf tip burn, as the plants are adapted to moderate light.
You can keep a spider plant in anything from low light to bright, indirect sunlight.
Bright light brings out any variegation and allows the plant to produce tiny white flowers when other conditions are right.
However, always avoid direct sunlight, as the leaves easily burn, and any moisture on the leaves from misting or humidity can make the burns even more severe.
Can You Salvage Leaves with Brown Leaf Tips?
Sadly, once the tips of a leaf turn brown, there’s no way to restore them.
Can you leave the spider plant leaves turning brown on the plant?
You can leave the damaged leaves on the plant without them causing harm, but it will detract from the visual appeal.
Most spider plant owners instead carefully prune away any spider plant leaves that have brown tips. Make sure not to remove too many leaves at a time. Give the plant has a chance to replace them.