Anthurium are well-known houseplants with beautiful leaves and colorful flowers. As such, you if you notice your anthurium leaves turning brown, it can stressful.
In this article, I’ll explain why this happens and the possible causes. For each potential cause, I’ll also discuss how to fix the issue.
Why does your Anthurium have brown leaves? Anthurium leaves turning brown is often caused by excess sunlight which results in sunburn. But it can also be caused by overwatering, lack of humidity and acclimation to new environments.
Therefore, identifying the cause of the issue is the first and most important step before you start solving the problem.
Reasons for Anthurium Leaves Turning Brown
Anthurium leaves turning brown can happen for different reasons. This is why it is not a good idea to try and go with a one solution fits all policy.
Instead, diagnosing and identifying the root cause of the problem is the most important thing you need to do when you anthurium has brown leaves.
In most cases, the solution will be straightforward once you know what’s causing it.
Therefore, you’ll be spending much less time there.
Below, I’ll go through the different reason why anthurium leaves turn brown to help you understand what is happening and how you can fix each issue.
Natural aging is the best scenario in that it means that nothing’s wrong with your anthurium.
Instead, the brown leaves are caused by natural aging.
Leaves age as time passes. And after a while they will turn yellow or brown then wilt. After a while they drop. This is part of the plant’s natural cycle to give way for new leaves to emerge.
It is also needed for the plant to keep growing.
For this reason, when the yellowing or browning is due to aging, the bottom leaves are the ones affected. These are the bigger, older leaves.
The key here is that only 1 or 2 leaves should turn brown or yellow at a time. And it should not keep on happening all the time. After all, it takes a while for leaves to mature then get old.
So, if you see many leaves turn brown or yellow at the same time or one after another (and continues spreading), there’s something else wrong that’s going on.
However, if it is due to natural aging, then don’t worry. Nothing’s wrong with your plant.
Instead, just continue giving it proper care.
Too Much Sunlight
Anthuriums thrive with bright, indirect light indoors and partial shade outdoors.
And while the plant enjoys getting plenty of light, there’s such a thing as too much light.
This usually comes in the form of very strong, harsh or intense sunlight. But it can also be due to having grow lights too near the plant especially those that emit a good amount of heat.
The problem here is that the plant can only tolerate so much intensity, exposure and heat. After a while, the leaves will turn brown due to heat damage.
In more serious cases, you’ll see burn or scorch marks on the leaves that are dark brown or black. These will look like paper that’s been burned a bit when match gets too close to it.
The marks won’t cover the entire leaves like that of heat damage where the entire leave or most of it can turn brown. But you’ll get nasty burn marks on a few to some foliage.
For this reason, it is a good idea to keep the plant away from direct sunlight or full sun.
While it can tolerate about 2-3 hours of this daily, more than that from mid-day sun (10:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m.) will turn its leaves brown and damage them. In some cases you’ll see yellow or pale/faded leaves a well.
How to Fix Anthurium Brown Leaves Due to Lighting Problems
The good news is that anthurium brown leaves caused by too much light is easily fixed. All you need to do is move it to location that’s less bright.
The thing I like to look for here, it to place it where the sun’s rays don’t hit the plant and its leaves.
This allows you to avoid direct sunlight, especially that during the hottest times of the day.
Do note that how much light your home gets will vary at different times of the year. The most intense light occurs during summer. This is also when its rays emit the most heat.
So, you want to make sure that the plant stays away from direct sunlight during this time.
On the other hand, winter is when light intensity can significantly decrease. Additionally, there will be fewer hours of sunlight as well.
Thus, be careful with the darker locations in your home.
In some cases, you want to monitor how much light a northern exposure gets if you leave your plant there. The north has the least amount of light of all four directions.
So, the light coming from the north during winter may get a bit lot.
Unfortunately, just as too much light can cause anthurium leaves to turn brown, lack of light will also negatively affect your plant’s growth.
So, regulating the amount of light your plant gets so it does not get too much or too little is important.
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Overwatering is usually the biggest problem houseplant owners will experience. That’s because we all tend to be too generous with water when it comes to our plants.
Unfortunately, too much water can damage the plant.
The most common symptom of this is yellow leaves. However, after a while you’ll also see brown leaves occur as well.
In some cases, you may see brown tips and edges on yellow leaves.
If you see this happening, always check to see if overwatering is the issue.
Overwatering can occur in many ways. Therefore, it is not always about giving the plant too much water. Instead, it can be due to:
- Watering the plant too frequently.
- Using a pot that is too big for the plant (this is called overpotting).
- The soil the plant is in does not have ample drainage.
- The pot the plant is in has not drainage holes. Or the holes are too few or too small.
- You keep the plant in low light and poor ventilation.
Root Rot Due to Overwatering
The reason why overwatering is known to be the number one cause of houseplant death is root rot.
Root rot occurs when you overwater the plant.
That’s because tropical plants including the anthurium don’t like wet feet. That is, the roots get into problems when there’s too much water or the soil stays wet for too long.
As a result, the roots can suffocate because they’re surrounded by water and cannot breathe. In some cases, the damp conditions result in fungal disease.
When this happens, the fungi will eat through the roots destroying them.
Either way, root rot occurs and the roots die in the process.
Therefore, it is important to allow the anthurium’s soil to dry about halfway (50% from the top) before adding watering. This keeps it safe from root rot.
How to Fix Anthurium Leaves Turning Brown Caused by Overwatering
If your anthurium has brown leaves and you suspect overwatering, check the soil.
You can do so by feeling the surface of the soil. If it feels wet, then it’s very likely there’s overwatering.
The next step I’ll usually take is to check for root rot. I know that this is quite an aggressive move. But I do this to have peace of mind. This way, in case there are rotting roots, I catch it earlier than later.
Once you pot the plant, remove the excess soil so you can clearly see the roots.
In the best case scenario, there is no root rot.
You can easily tell since healthy roots are white in color and firm to the touch, although they are quite flexible.
On the other hand, rotted roots are black or brown in color. They stink, so you can’t miss the odor. The roots will also be soft and mushy.
If there is no root rot, you have two choices.
- Put the plant back into the pot. Then let the soil completely dry before you water again. But when you do, adjust your watering schedule to avoid overwatering from happening again.
- Repot the plant in dry soil. This takes a bit more work. But it is also safer. Here, repot the plant in fresh, dry, well-draining soil. This way, you don’t wait for the wet soil to dry. Instead, let the plant recover immediately.
How to Save Your Anthurium from Root Rot
On the other hand, in case there is root rot, then your goal is to try and save the plant.
Root rot is dangerous for plants because the roots are how the plant absorbs water and nutrients. Once too many of them rot (or die) they won’t be able to support the entire plant.
Even worse, root rot tends to keep spreading. So, it can eventually destroy the entire root system.
When too many of the roots have rotted, there’s just no saving the plant no matter what you do. Thus, it is crucial to treat root rot immediately.
Here’s how to fix root rot and try to save your anthurium with brown leaves due to overwatering (and root rot).
Once you see rotting roots,
- Sterilize a pair or scissors or pruning shears.
- Cut the rotted rots. Be careful not to prune any of the healthy roots. You want to keep all of them intact.
- To get all the rotten roots, wash off any excess soil as well.
- If more than 1/3 of the root system was rotten, you’ll also need to prune 1/3 of the plant (stems and leaves). This gives the remaining roots a better chance of supporting the plant and keeping it alive.
- Repot your pruned anthurium into a clean pot with new, fresh dry potting mix.
- Don’t water the plant for the first week after repotting.
- Keep the plant in bright, indirect light.
The goal here is to give the plant some time to recover.
Note that it may or may not recover even if you give it proper care from here. But at this point, you’ve done all you can, and it is up to the plant to try to save itself.
It will take a few months for recovery to happen.
Too Much Fertilizer
Like overwatering, over fertilizing is another cause of anthurium leaves turning brown. Again, home growers tend to be over generous with fertilizer because they believe that more is better.
Since fertilizer helps the plant grow faster, adding more will make it get bigger quicker as well.
Unfortunately, that is not entirely true.
The reason is that commercial fertilizers contain salt which to toxic to plants.
Too much salt damages both the roots and leaves of the plant. As such, when you add fertilizer, you’re also adding salt in the process.
Therefore, it is important to regulate how much fertilizer you use.
In most cases, over fertilizing occurs because:
- Too much fertilizer is given each time
- The plant is being fed too often
- The plant is given fertilizer even when it is not actively growing
All of these result in salt build up in the soil.
And when this happens, you’ll later see brown leaf tips as well as brown spots on leaves. Ironically, with too much fertilizer, the plant won’t grow as expected.
How To Fix Brown Leaves in Anthurium Due to Over Fertilizing
To fix anthurium brown leaves due to too much fertilizer, you can take a 3 step process.
The first thing is to stop feeding the plant. Ideally, don’t feed it for the next 6 months. This will allow it to recover. And it will begin growing new, healthy leaves again.
The second thing to do is flush the soil.
Here, run water through the soil for about 5 to 10 minutes. You can use a watering can or a garden hose. Pour directly on the soil not over the leaves.
Also, try to divide the time between different parts of the soil to distribute the water.
This will cause the water to keep dripping from under the pot. In doing so, it will carry the excess salts and other remnant minerals out from the soil (along with the water).
The third option is to repot.
If flushing the soil was enough to help the plant get better (and stop the continuous development of brown leaves) then you won’t need to do this step.
However, if the salt buildup is extreme and the plant continues to deteriorate or produce brown leaves, then repotting is your best option.
Here, unpot the plant and brush off as much soil as you can. The goal is to let the plan start “fresh” in new, well-draining potting mix with no fertilizer.
This will allow it to recover faster.
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Adjusting to Changes in Environment
One of the things you may notice as a new plant owner is that soon after you bring home a plant from the nursery or store, it starts to act funny.
In some cases, it may develop brown leaves. Other times, the leaves may even drop.
Unfortunately, this does happen and it can by worrisome.
However, this is one of the more minor issues that cause brown leaves on anthurium plants.
The reason is that it is not adapting to its new living conditions. Acclimation to new environments can cause anthurium leaves to turn brown.
This is especially true if your homes conditions are very different from what it is used to in the nursery or garden center.
As such, the changes in light, humidity, temperature and other factors cause this.
How to Prevent Anthurium Brown Leaves Due to Environmental Changes
In most cases, anthurium brown leaves due to acclimation and adapting to environmental changes will resolve itself.
But it can take some time.
Depending on how different your home’s conditions are to where it was growing, this can take a week to several weeks at least.
As such, try to keep conditions in your home as close as possible to what the store’s environment was. This way, very little adaptation is needed.
It is also a good idea to only buy plants from reputable sellers. This way you know the plant is healthy and it is just acclimation that’s causing the brown leaves.