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Can I Cut the Brown Tips off My Spider Plant? (Solved)

A harrowing experience with my spider plant (Chlorophytum Comosum) is when the tips of its leaves turn brown.

Many factors, including overexposure to sunlight, fertilizer burn, high fluoride content, low humidity, and water issues, can cause spider plants to have brown tips.

Brown tips rarely pose a significant threat to your plant’s health, so you don’t need to be extremely worried.

However, the brown tips on your spider plant can detract from the plant’s aesthetic appeal, raising the question of whether you should remove them.

Fortunately, you don’t have to worry about hurting your spider plant by cutting off the brown tips of your spider plant. Instead, snip them off at an angle to maintain the shape of the leaf or remove the affected leaves from the plant entirely. Ensure your pruners are sterile and sharp to avoid fungal and bacterial infections.

Why Does My Spider Plant Have Brown Tips?

If you notice brown tips on your spider plant, one or more of the following factors are likely to be to blame:

[1] Water Stress

Brown tips on underwatered Spider Plant
Brown tips on underwatered Spider Plant

Spider plants with brown tips are usually the result of water stress. Underwatering or overwatering are the two extremes of water stress.

Unfortunately, aside from a few minor differences, the symptoms of an overwatered spider plant and an underwater spider plant are nearly identical.

Root rot and oxygen deprivation cause brown tips on spider plants that have been overwatered. The leaf tips will turn brown because nutrients and water will not reach them.

On the other hand, underwatering reduces the amount of moisture and nutrients that can be absorbed by the soil. As a result, the edges and tips of the leaves will turn brown and crunchy.

Brown tips on overwatered spider plant
Brown tips on overwatered spider plant

Spider plants that have been submerged for an extended period often appear sunburnt and wilted. The pot is usually lighter than usual, and the soil is almost always light gray and bone dry.

In either case of water stress, the leaves may turn yellow and collapse.

How to Fix a Spider Plant with Water Stress and Brown Tips

To begin with, you must remove the brown tips and any leaves that are more than a shade of yellow. Even if your plant recovers from the stress, the leaves will not turn green.

The spider plant must be placed in a tub or sink filled with water if underwatering is the cause. It will continue to soak up water until the soil is completely saturated. Drain any extra water out of the saucer’s drainage holes before putting it back on.

If brown tips result from overwatering, there is no quick fix. Check the roots for any signs of rot first.

Cutting off rotten and dead roots can aid recovery and prevent resurgence if decay is present. Hydrogen peroxide or cinnamon can be used to treat healthy roots.

Finally, you’ll either dry out your plant or repot it in a new batch of growing medium.

 [2] High Chlorine and Fluoride Content in City Water

Spider Plant Brown Tips Due to Tap Water
Spider Plant Brown Tips Due to Tap Water

Spider plants are susceptible to chlorine and fluoride, which is why it’s essential to keep them out of the water. Unfortunately, most spider plant brown tip cases are caused by tap water, which may shock you.

Most municipalities in the United States add chlorine and fluoride to city water to kill microbial and prevent tooth decay. Unfortunately, these harsh chemicals can accumulate in the soil and burn the roots of your spider plant, causing damage.

Not only that, but fluoride is particularly phototoxic, which means it damages leaf tissue and inhibits photosynthesis.

On the leaf margins, reddish-brown tips are often a sign of fluoride toxicity, while tarnish-gray tips can be caused by high levels of boron. (Source: University of Florida)

How to Fix a Spider Plant with High Fluoride and Chlorine Content

If you find that high levels of fluoride and chlorine are causing brown tips on your spider plant, there are some things you can do to fix and prevent the problem from happening again.

First, flush these chemicals by thoroughly watering them with distilled or filtered water. Then, repeat the flushing process until the chlorine and fluoride levels are significantly reduced.

To counteract any fluorides, use a calcium-rich potting medium.

Use distilled or bottled water to avoid the buildup of these chemicals. You can either install a water filtration system or use rainwater.

[3] Inadequate Humidity Levels

Spider plants thrive in humid environments. However, the leaves will dry out in low humidity and turn brown at the tips.

While spider ivy is regarded as an excellent houseplant, it is frequently unhappy during the winter when in-house humidity levels drop due to central heating running.

How to Fix

The best way to ensure adequate humidity levels and keep your spider plant happy is to keep it in a humid environment during the winter. Ideal locations include the restroom or kitchen.

Use a humidifier (Check the latest price on Amazon here), a pebble-filled water tray, or a hose to mist your plant every few hours.

You can also create a humid microclimate for your spider plant by grouping your houseplants.

[4] Too Much Sun Exposure

Spider Plant Brown Tips Due to Sunburn
Spider Plant Brown Tips Due to Sunburn

Spider plants thrive in shady areas or in bright, indirect light. However, these succulents will become scorched or sunburned despite their hardiness if left in direct sunlight for an extended period.

As a result, if your Chlorophytum comosum is exposed to too much direct sunlight, it will develop brown tips. In addition, Sunburning may cause brown spots to appear on the foliage.

How to Fix

When the days are longer, and the sun is more intense, sunburns are most common in early spring. Bring your outdoor potted spider plants indoors, or at the very least provide them with some shade, to avoid this.

If you’re keeping your plant indoors, ensure it gets medium to bright but indirect light exposure. Occasionally, moving the pot a few feet away from a south-facing window solves the issue.

[4] Fungal Diseases

Spider Plant Brown Tips Due to Fungal Diseases
Spider Plant Brown Tips Due to Fungal Diseases

Even though spider plants are generally trouble-free, they are susceptible to fungus infection. A pest infestation, overwatering, or nutritional deficiencies can all cause your plant to succumb to this problem.

Leaf spots, root rot, or both are the most common fungal diseases that cause brown tips. During the cold winter months, fungal pathogens are most active, generating the most damage to leaves.

Tiny brown lesions appear first on the leaves’ undersides and margins. Then, large brown patches will form as they expand and merge over time.

The affected leaves will eventually turn brown or black and fall off the plant as a result. Disease damage to the foliage margins is a common cause of the brown tips.

Treatment Measures

Always follow sanitary gardening practices, such as:

  • Not handling leaves with wet or soiled hands
  • Cleaning and sterilizing cutting tools before and after use
  • Ensuring ample spacing between your houseplants
  • Removing and discarding any dead plant matter and debris
  • Avoiding splashing or wetting of foliage

To chemically control your spider plant, use an appropriate copper-based fungicide or sulfur as an alternative treatment option. Prevent recurrence by using a mild fungicide in the early summer.

[5] Too Much Fertilizer Salts in the Soil

Spider plants are susceptible to fertilizer salts or chemicals, like those found in city tap water. Increased fertilizer feeding can cause salt buildup in the soil, which is toxic to your plant and usually shows up as brown tips on the leaves.

Roots can also be damaged by the soil’s buildup of excess fertilizer salts. As a result, your plant’s ability to absorb nutrients and water will be compromised. A lack of nutrients will cause the leaves to dry out and turn brown at the tips.

How to Fix a Spider Plant with Overfertilizing Problem

The first thing you should do is stop applying fertilizer.

The next step is to soak the soil until water drains from the drainage holes. Excess salts from fertilizer can be washed away by repeating this process several times.

When repotting your spider plant, you can choose to use a new, well-drained potting mix.

Why You Should Cut Off Dying Spider Plant Leaves

The development of new, healthy foliage can be aided by pruning your spider plant of any dead or dying leaves. After all, brown leaves aren’t going to come back to life or turn green any time soon.

These dying leaves are useless for your spider plant because they are unlikely to function, retain moisture, or photosynthesize.

In addition, wounds on these leaves can harbor harmful pathogens or serve as entry points for bacterial and fungal infections, which only exacerbate the situation.

The best course of action is unquestionably to cut them out.

How to Trim Brown Spider Plant Leaf Tips

When the tips of your spider plant’s leaves turn yellow, it looks less than appealing. Fortunately, these brown tips can be removed without doing any harm to your plant.

Cut them off with a sterile knife, scissors, or pruners that are well-kept and well-bladed. Snip at an angle to preserve the foliage’s tipped shape.

After each cut, disinfect the pruning tool with isopropyl alcohol to prevent the spread of pathogens from one leaf to the next.