Spider plants are among the most popular house plants, partly for the fact that they are renowned for being easy to look after. These stripy green friends seem to grow and reproduce at the speed of light and even flourish with the most minimal care. However, they still deserve a little care and attention.
One of the clearest signs your spider plant needs some TLC is when the tips of the leaves start turning crispy and brown. There are several causes of spider plant brown tips, and your plant could be suffering from one or several of these. The good news is that all of them are relatively easy to solve with some simple spider plant care.
Once you have identified what might be causing your spider plants’ brown tips, use the advice below and they will be looking lively and fresh again in no time!
Too much direct sunlight
By far the easiest problem to solve, and therefore the first thing to check, is whether your spider plant is suffering because of direct sunlight.
Although spider plants like sunlight, they are like vampires when it comes to direct sunlight. They certainly won’t thank you for placing them on a sunny windowsill!
Direct sunlight will burn their leaves, causing their colour to fade and develop brown tips. As lovers of humidity, spider plants are very content in shady environments. They also don’t like getting too hot and will suffer for this reason if in direct sunlight.
One of the simplest spider plant care tips: just move your spider plants out of direct sunlight! They will be able to cope with dappled sunlight but their long stripy leaves will be more at home in the shade.
Not enough humidity
Spider plants love humid environments such as a steamy kitchen or bathroom. If they are in a very dry environment, particularly if they are above a radiator, this may develop spider plant brown tips.
If your spider plant’s brown tips appeared during the winter, it could likely be related to lack of humidity. Having the heating turned up to the max causes the air in your home to become very dry, which isn’t so great for your spider plant.
To resolve this you can move your spider plant into the bathroom or kitchen where there is greater humidity. Alternatively, you can group your plants as they’ll release moisture into the air.
You can also place your plant in a humidity tray. This is a shallow tray of pebbles with a small amount of water at the bottom. You can place it near or under your plant to work. As the water evaporates, it increases the humidity around your spider plant. The pebbles are there to stop your plant from actually touching the water.
If your house is particularly dry you can up your spider plant care by giving your plant the occasional spray with a mister.
Too much or too little water
Both underwatering or overwatering your spider plant can cause a spider plant to develop brown tips.
If you allow the soil to dry out entirely between watering you are not giving your spider plant enough water. Although you may be watering your spider plant regularly, if it is in a very warm or dry environment such as above a radiator, the soil will quickly dry out and need regular watering.
If your spider plant’s leaves look limp, this is an indication that you are not watering enough. Letting this happen repeatedly can cause spider plant brown tips.
On the other hand, if your plants are left to sit in excess water, the roots will begin to rot. It is the roots that absorb water for the plant so, ironically, this can cause the plant to lack water, and cause spider plant brown tips.
If left unattended, root rot can eventually kill your spider plant. So, if you think overwatering might be the cause of your plant's suffering, it is important to take action!
How to solve
To inspect for root rot damage, take your spider plants out of their pots and brush off the soil from the roots. You will need to remove any parts of the roots that are rotten. Try to remove as much of the soil as possible, as it contains the microbes that are causing the root rot. After, fill the pot with fresh soil.
To avoid this, follow these 2 important spider plant care tips. Firstly, check there are sufficient drainage holes in your plants' pot. Secondly, always check your plant 20 minutes after watering, and pour away excess water left in the dish to ensure your plant isn’t left sitting in water.
If the root damage is extreme your plant may not recover. However, spider plants are renowned for their constant growth and many offshoots. Therefore, it is likely that even in the worst-case scenario some of the offshoots growing from your original plant will live on!
Getting your plant’s watering schedule right is the best way to keep it happy. Try to only water your stripy pal when the top inch of the soil is dry. Increase your watering schedule in the summer, as your plant will be growing faster and the heat will dry out the soil quicker.
Too much fluoride in the water
In some areas, water is naturally high in fluoride, and in others, fluoride is added to the water to help prevent tooth decay.
Too much fluoride can harm certain plants and can be another reason why the tips of your spider plant’s leaves are turning brown.
If there’s a lot of fluoride in the water you use, this can build up in the plant and inhibit effective photosynthesis. This is unlikely to be enough to kill your plant but can cause toxicity that causes spider plant brown tips.
To prevent brown tips, try using rainwater to water your spider plant instead. You can also try regularly flushing the excess fluoride from the plants' soil.
To do this take your spider plant outside and slowly pour a large watering can full of rainwater into the plant’s soil. Let it filter through the soil, out the bottom of the pot, and drain away. Repeat this two more times.
If you are looking at your spider plant’s brown tips and reaching for the fertiliser, STOP! Fertiliser could be the very cause of the problem.
Much like too much fluoride, over fertilising your spider plant can cause spider plant brown tips. This is because excessive amounts of fertiliser can damage the plant's roots and prevent effective nutrient absorption from the soil.
The spider plant care to treat excessive fertiliser use is the same flushing method described above. Repeat this 3 times over the next few weeks. Alternatively, you can re-pot the plant in fresh soil.
To avoid overuse of fertiliser use only half as much as recommended. House plants grow slower than plants that are outside and therefore need less fertiliser. Make sure you don’t fertilise your plant more than every three months, and only do so during the growing season. This is typically from Spring to Autumn.
On a final note
Once you have figured out the cause of your spider plant brown tips it is easy to stop the cause with our useful spider plant care tips. However, these care tips will not get rid of existing brown tips on the plants’ leaves. These are parts of the leaves that have died and will not be able to come back to life.
If you want to remove the brown tips from your plant, take a pair of sharp scissors. Then, sterilise them with boiling water or cleaning alcohol to avoid creating infection and cut the spider plant’s brown tips.
You may want to cut the leaf at an angle so it retains its pointed end, However, this will result in a greater open wound where infection could occur, so we don’t recommend it. If only a few leaves are suffering from brown tips, you may prefer to pull the entire leaf. If you do this, try to pull the leaf from the base so that the whole leaf comes off.
With this spider plant knowledge up your sleeve, you will be able to give your beloved spider plant the care it deserves and ensure no future harm comes to your trusty striped friend!