Air plants, which get their name because they don’t have roots and thus don’t need soil, are a gorgeous, creative accent for any home. But, like any plant, they have ways of telling us they are unhappy. Find out what it means if the tips of your air plants start to turn brown.
Why are the tips of air plants turning brown: Air plants can have brown tips if they have too much water or too little. It can also be a sign that the air is too dry or that there is a pest infestation. Brown tips may also mean that the plants are too close to a window that is south-facing.
What does it mean when the tips of air plants turn brown?
Air plants need a specific set of conditions for optimal growth. If this doesn’t happen, the plants can overcompensate or shut down parts of themselves to preserve their energy.
Brown tips on air plants are a sign of a larger problem. It is the plant’s way of directing resources to the heart of the plant and sacrificing other, less important parts instead.
While a little bit of brown on the tips isn’t too worrisome, the brown color can spread to the rest of the plant, which means that larger parts of it are dying.
What causes air plant tips to turn brown?
Too much water
Even though air plants don’t have roots, they still need some water. However, it’s important not to flood them.
If the tips of your air plants are turning brown, check the leaves to feel their texture. If they feel soft or mushy, this is a sign the leaves have taken on too much water.
Other signs of too much water can include mold growth. If there are white spots in addition to brown tips, this is another sign of overwatering.
Too little water
Conversely, your air plants can turn brown at the tips of not enough water. To diagnose this problem, again feel the leaves.
A dry, papery texture is an indication that your air plant isn’t getting enough water.
Water high in minerals
Without any soil, it can be hard for air plants to regulate the nutrients and elements they absorb. All they have is water, so if your water isn’t pure or is overly rich in minerals, this can result in brown tips.
Try to use either distilled water or purified water. This shouldn’t be a major expense as air plants don’t need a lot of water.
Too little humidity
Air plants can be grouped with other tropical plants, so they need a similar environment. A room with humidity is much better than a room that has dry air.
You can try using a mister to keep the air around your air plants moist and have a slow release of water into the leaves. You can also place a pebble tray nearby.
The water will slowly evaporate into the air from the tray, creating a microclimate that is humid only where the plants are, so you don’t have to worry about excess humidity where you don’t want it.
Not enough air circulation
To ensure air plants aren’t oversaturated with humidity, proper airflow is needed to better regulate their environment. This includes both how they are arranged and their location.
Don’t group air plants together, as this will overcrowd them. Also, make sure the area they are in gets a bit of a breeze. An open-planned living room is more ideal than a closet.
Even though air plants need sunlight, they can get too much-concentrated light if you have them near a window with southern exposure. The sunlight is amplified through the window, making it too hot for the plants. As a result, the tips can start to turn brown as they dry out.
It’s better to mimic the natural growing conditions of air plants, which prefer shady areas. Aim for ambient light rather than full sunlight.
Unfortunately, pests are always a concern with plants, even indoor ones. Common insects that like air plants include spider mites and mealybugs.
When there is an excess of moisture in a plant, it will attract bugs. Look for whole in the leaves or eggs on the underside of the plant.
A cotton swab dipped in alcohol can be used to kill off any bugs. This can take a bit of effort but will have the desired results.
How to deal with the brown tips of air plants?
When your air plants have tips that are brown, this is a warning sign. The good news is that if you pick up on the warning sign in the early stages, you will be more likely to solve the problem and return your plant to full health.
Start by assessing the air plant. Feel the leaves to understand their texture and look for any other spots that are black or white in color.
Then, adjust your behavior as needed. This can be sticking to a more routine water schedule or relocating your plant so it isn’t in direct sunlight.
How to prevent air plant tips from turning brown?
Watering is the biggest reason for brown tips so make yourself a watering schedule and stick to it. Aim to water your air plant once per week although if you can, two or three times is even better.
In order for your air plants to soak up enough moisture, leave them in water for up to two hours every two weeks.
Also, be aware of the humidity levels in your home. If your air is dry, use a mister to increase the moisture level around your air plants.
You will also want to adjust your plant care through the different seasons. Winter brings dryer air, so mist more during these months.
Likewise, summer temperatures can grow hotter so you may need to increase your watering or soak your air plants once a week instead of every two weeks.
Don’t despair if your air plants are starting to turn brown. This is a sign that something is wrong but if you catch it in the early stages, you can still improve the health of your plants.